Cherry blossom blooms in Okinawa

645Z1033SE900

Cherry blossom is blooming in Okinawa. At Nago Castle Ruins the dark pink blossoms add color to the stairway leading up to the shrine.

645Z1055SE900

The white pieces of paper tied to the branches of trees at the shrine are omikuji or fortune papers similar to what you might find in a fortune cookie. They are usually sold from machines at Shinto shrines. After you’ve checked your fortune most visitors tie the paper to something at the shrine before leaving.

645Z1171SE900

Hanami or cherry blossom is also a popular time for Japanese to dress up in yukata (top two images) or the more formal kimono (bottom two images) .

645Z1251SE900

Posted in Japan, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Okinawa International Orchid Show

645Z0816SE900

Okinawa International Orchid Show January 30th to February 7th at the Tropical Dream Center, Expo Park.

645Z0743SE900645Z0791SE900

At the same time is the Tulip Fair with thousands more flowers blooming within the grounds of the botanical gardens. Well worth checking out.

645Z0719SE900

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Oba-san

645Z0433SE900

This is the lady who always makes my workshop students and me delicious satandagi donuts. As I was captioning images I realized I don’t know her real name as she is always referred to as Oba-san (auntie) or Oba-chan (granny) by everyone. Will have to remember to ask her real name next time I see her!

Posted in Japan, Okinawa, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Teruya Masao 10th-dan Uechi-ryu Karate 10th-dan Ryukyu Kobudo

Teruya Masao 10th-dan Uechi-ryu Karate 10th-dan Ryukyu Kobudo

Teruya Masao 10th-dan Uechi-ryu Karate 10th-dan Ryukyu Kobudo

Teruya Masao an Okinawan gentleman who at 84 still trains in Uechi-ryu karate and Ryukyu Kobudo. He was recently awarded his 10th-dan in both styles.

Teruya Masao

Teruya Masao

Teruya Masao 10th-dan Uechi-ryu Karate 10th-dan Ryukyu Kobudo

Teruya Masao 10th-dan Uechi-ryu Karate 10th-dan Ryukyu Kobudo

Teruya Masao 10th-dan Uechi-ryu Karate 10th-dan Ryukyu Kobudo

Teruya Masao 10th-dan Uechi-ryu Karate 10th-dan Ryukyu Kobudo

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Maeshiro Shusei 10th-dan Uechi-ryu Karate 10th-dan Ryukyu Kobudo

Maeshiro Shusei 10th-dan Uechi-ryu Karate 10th-dan Ryukyu Kobudo

Maeshiro Shusei 10th-dan Uechi-ryu Karate 10th-dan Ryukyu Kobudo

Maeshiro Shusei 10th-dan Uechi-ryu Karate 10th-dan Ryukyu Kobudo

Maeshiro Shusei 10th-dan Uechi-ryu Karate 10th-dan Ryukyu Kobudo

We were introduced to Maeshiro Shusei through his student Tsueno Shimabukuro. Maeshiro sensei may be 83 but he is full of energy, something he attributes to his healthy diet. He is one of the elder statesmen of Okinawan karate.

Maeshiro Shusei 10th-dan Uechi-ryu Karate 10th-dan Ryukyu Kobudo

Maeshiro Shusei 10th-dan Uechi-ryu Karate 10th-dan Ryukyu Kobudo

Maeshiro Shusei 10th-dan Uechi-ryu Karate 10th-dan Ryukyu Kobudo

Maeshiro Shusei 10th-dan Uechi-ryu Karate 10th-dan Ryukyu Kobudo

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Winter is here

645Z0197SE640

January has arrived. Okinawa is in the feeble grip of a subtropical winter. Cool temperatures, clouds and rain, but spring is not far away.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

2015 Year in Review

645Z1833SE900

Jigokudani Onsen, Nagano

2015 began with a quick trip to photograph the snow monkeys of Jigokudani Onsen, Nagano.

645Z2070-2SE900

Yoshimasa Matsuda, Hanshi 9th-dan Okinawa Shorin-ryu Myobukan at Naminoue Shrine

Back in Okinawa I continued to document the karate masters and the people of the Ryukyu Islands.

645Z2855-2SE900

Okinawa man in yukata and straw hat, Yomitan.

A few weeks in spring were spent in the UK where I hung out with family and took pics of some local icons.

645Z3073SE900

Stonehenge, prehistoric monument of standing stones, Wiltshire, England. UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Kelpies, 30-meter high horse sculptures by Andy Scott. Falkirk, Scotland

The Kelpies, 30-meter high horse sculptures by Andy Scott. Falkirk, Scotland

645Z3661SE900

Lotus Eclat British sports car Rudding Park Hotel, a Grade I listed Regency-style country house in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, England.

Back in Okinawa I had to update the Okinawa and Kyushu chapters of the Fodors Japan travel guide.  I popped down to Iriomote to check out the options for visitors.

645Z4288SE900

Jungle Trekking on Iriomote Island, Yaeyama Islands, Okinawa

645Z4335SE900

And up to Kumamoto for a bit of history.

Japanese samurai in armour  at Kumamoto Castle, Kyushu, Japan.

Japanese samurai in armour at Kumamoto Castle, Kumamoto

645Z4742SE900

Yuki drinking green tea at the Kokin-Denju-no-Ma teahouse, Suizenji Jojuen Park, Kumamoto City

Around the same time I was  working as a location manager for the Okinawa episode of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown. A cool experience introducing Okinawa to a huge new audience.

Okinawa Peace Memorial Park, Itoman, Okinawa.

Okinawa Peace Memorial Park, Itoman, Okinawa.

On March 25th, I bought a house in the morning, then in the afternoon Yuki and I got married at the town office. A good chunk of the summer was then spent renovating the house and making it weatherproof.

IMG_1667SE900

The house ( after some elbow grease and a lick of paint!)

Yuki and I got some wedding pics done by being models for a photo class with my mate Pete Leong. Always good to have friends in the business!

12038766_10153052147465951_6080554329271465081_o

We had a few days in Hong Kong as a mini honeymoon.

645Z6103SE900

Back in Okinawa it was time to photograph the summer festivals.

Chondara at the Heshikiya Eisa Festival, Katsuren, Okinawa, Japan

Chondara at the Heshikiya Eisa Festival, Katsuren, Okinawa, Japan

645Z6752SE900

Shioya Ungami Sea Festival an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Properties of Japan, Shioya Bay, Ogimi Village, Okinawa

645Z6785SE900

Shioya Ungami Sea Festival an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Properties of Japan, Shioya Bay, Ogimi Village, Okinawa

The Karate Masters Portrait Project continued  both indoors and beyond the dojo.

645Z7078SE900

Tsuneo Shimabukuro 島袋 常雄 9th-dan Uechi-ryu Karate, 9th-dan Ryukyu Kobudo

645Z9450SE900

Yonamine Kousuke, 10th-dan Okinawa Karatedo Association Shohei Ryu, Ryukyu Kobudo Kenryoryu

645Z9546SE900

Nobuko Oshiro, Kyoshi, 8th dan Okinawa Karate-do Shorinryu, Taishinkan Association in the Sugar Cane fields of Sashiki Town, Okinawa, Japan

645Z9770SE900

Hiroshi Takamiyagi, Hanshi Goshukan Ryu Karatedo, Sunabe, Okinawa

645Z6293SE900

Kensho Tokumura, Hanshi 9th-dan Ryukyu Dento Kobujutsu Hozon Budo Kyokai Training on Heshikiya Beach, Katsuren, Okinawa.

645Z4519SE900

Masaharu Higa 8th dan Okinawa Shorin-ryu Karate-Do Myobu-kan Yomitan Chapter Dojo

645Z4543SE900

Katsuyoshi Chibana 7th-dan Okinawa Shorin-ryu Karate-Do  Myobu-kan Yomitan at Zakimi Castle, Okinawa, Japan

I also photographed a few very cool cars, and was sent on assignment by the Guardian newspaper to a galaxy far, far away.

645Z7439 editSE900

Godzilla in Okinawa, Nissan GTR

2015 Maserati GranTurismo MC Stradale sports car

2015 Maserati GranTurismo MC Stradale sports car

645Z9201SE900

Richard Napier (48) American living in Fukuoka, Japan spent 4 years and US$34,000 to build a working R2-D2 called R2-J1.

Thanks to all my family, friends, students and clients for a great 2015. Looking forward to seeing you all in 2016.

11231278_838053912938988_6582232168292547387_o

The force is strong with this one.  Photo by Toma Fumiya at the Off Camera Flash workshop with Pete Leong (Japanese version)

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment