Universal Studios Okinawa or Tropical Refresh Resort? Why Okinawa needs Velociraptors.

Can Shisa and Velociraptors Co-exisit?

Can Shisa and Velociraptors Coexisit?

At the start of the year there were whispers in the air that Universal Studios might build a theme park in Okinawa. Not long after there were rumors that officials were considering both Nago’s  Neo Park, and Motobu’s Expo Park as possible locations.

In March, Glenn Gumpel (CEO of USJ) stated that they were considering a park in Okinawa. In the last few days it has been announced that the park will be a tropical resort with the theme of relaxation without the Universal name.

It’s wonderful that giant corporations are looking to invest in Okinawa. They can help it grow as a tourist destination, but I think a somewhat generic tropical resort may be a missed opportunity if USJ and the Okinawan Government are hoping for it to bring about a new surge in tourism.

There are already several excellent resorts that cater to those looking for a tropical paradise. Busena Terrace and Hotel Orion Motobu are both superb with luxurious facilities set on pristine beaches. If visitors want to sample traditional culture they can head to Okinawa World on the south coast or Ryukyu Mura in Yomitan.  What they are suggesting sounds too similar to what we already have.  Would it really draw in new tourists or simply move them around with existing businesses actually seeing a decrease in visitors.

Universal Studios could create a new park that large numbers of tourists especially international visitors will want to see. Tokyo Disneyland and Universal Studios Japan can draw in people who otherwise wouldn’t have made the trip to Chiba or Osaka. They do this by having major attractions such as The Wizarding World of Harry Potter that can’t be seen elsewhere in Asia. 

Harry Potter however isn’t the solution for Okinawa. Blue skies and tropical heat just wouldn’t match Hogwarts or Diagon Alley. What Okinawa needs is another iconic movie series that is produced by Universal Pictures, ideally set on a tropical island, with characters that are liked by multiple generations. Bring on the velociraptors.

Jurassic Park at USJ

Jurassic Park at USJ

There’s already a Jurassic Park ride at Universal Studios Japan, but it’s a single ride amongst many. Meanwhile, the Jurassic Park movie series has been brought back to life and is more popular than ever. Jurassic World is now the third biggest movie of all time. It has taken over $1.5 billion worldwide and it hasn’t even opened in Japan. They just announced a sequel in 2018 so dinomania isn’t ending anytime soon.

Jurassic Park at USJ

Jurassic Park at USJ

Jurassic World and Okinawa is too good a match to not at least consider the possibility of a movie themed park. You can still have your relaxing tropical paradise, but with the occasional triceratops.

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Expo Park Fireworks Festival, Motobu

Expo Park fireworks festival, Okinawa

Expo Park fireworks festival, Okinawa

Last Saturday was the Expo Park fireworks festival in Motobu. The event is famous for the spectacular display of 10,000 fireworks, followed shortly after by the island’s longest traffic jam.

A few quick tips for shooting fireworks:

Capture multiple bursts of fireworks in one image using a long exposure.

Don’t open the aperture too wide or have the ISO too high or the fireworks will show up as white. In the above shot I used ISO 100, F14 and 30 seconds.

Use a nice stable tripod.

Shooting only the fireworks in the sky is one option, but including some other visual elements that are unique to that particular event may make for a stronger image. The ocean and the tiny palm trees beneath the fireworks are included in the first shot to show scale and place. However the torii gate at Itsukushima is perhaps the best background I’ve had for a fireworks image.

Itsukushima Fireworks Festival near Hiroshima

Itsukushima Fireworks Festival near Hiroshima

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Typhoon Chan-hom

Coast roads in Nakijin Town, Okinawa, flood due to heavy rains from Typhoon Chan-hom. 10 July 2015

Coast roads in Nakijin Town, Okinawa, flood due to heavy rains from Typhoon Chan-hom. 10 July 2015

Wind and rain for almost 48 hours, but typhoon Chan-hom has now passed Okinawa. Miyako took the brunt of the hit, while on Okinawa Honto some roads were flooded and a few downed trees. Okinawa Times reports, “42 200 households blackout, serious or slight injury 27.” I’m guessing most of those are fingers slammed in doors.

At the new home/office the power stayed on, and the water stayed outside. Excellent.

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Toy Stories – Erector Construction Sets

Erector Set, metal construction toy, by Alfred Carlton Gilbert

Erector Set, metal construction toy, by Alfred Carlton Gilbert

Erector construction sets were created by A. C. Gilbert and first sold in 1913.

This set from around 1934 was still made at a time when it was clearly designated as a toy for boys. On the inside of the tin it welcomes you: “Hello Boys! Build hundreds of thrilling engineering marvels, with The Great NEW ERECTOR.”

Advertising for the sets included the tag line,  Boys Today – Men Tomorrow

Erector Set, metal construction toy, by Alfred Carlton Gilbert

Erector Set, metal construction toy, by Alfred Carlton Gilbert

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Typhoon Chan-hom

Staff at the Churaumi Aquarium protect flower arrangements. Typhoon Chan-hom brings strong wind and rain to the islands of Okinawa, Japan  9 July 2015

Staff at the Churaumi Aquarium protect flower arrangements. 

Typhoon Chan-hom brings strong winds and heavy rain to the islands of Okinawa on 9 July, 2015. As the typhoon approached the staff at the Churaumi Aquarium protected the flower displays with netting.

Tourists meanwhile scampered back to their cars as heavy rain began in the late afternoon.

Visitors to the Churaumi Aquarium hit by downpour. Typhoon Chan-hom brings strong wind and rain to the islands of Okinawa, Japan  9 July 2015

Visitors to the Churaumi Aquarium hit by downpour. 

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Peace Memorial Park, Itoman, Okinawa

Okinawa Peace Memorial Park, Itoman, Okinawa.

Okinawa Peace Memorial Park, Itoman, Okinawa.

A trip to the Peace Memorial Park and the Himeyuri Monument may not be the most fun holiday activity, but it is an important place to visit. It offers great insights into the Battle of Okinawa, and a better understanding of the current political situation:

On June 23rd elderly Okinawans heckled the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as he gave a speech at Peace Memorial Park on the 70th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Okinawa.

On June 25th, during a meeting at the Liberal-Democratic Party headquarters novelist Naoki Hyakuta is said to have claimed that the two newspapers of Okinawa should be shut down because they are critical of the Japanese government.

Okinawa Peace Memorial Park, Itoman, Okinawa.

Okinawa Peace Memorial Park, Itoman, Okinawa.

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Guardians of Zakimi Castle

Masaru Higa 8th dan Okinawa Shorin-ryu Karate-Do Myobu-kan Yomitan Chapter Dojo - Zakimi Castle, Yomitan

Masaru Higa 8th dan Okinawa Shorin-ryu Karate-Do Myobu-kan Yomitan Chapter Dojo – Zakimi Castle, Yomitan

A couple of location portraits of karate masters Masaru Higa and Katsuyoshi Chibana. The dojo where they train is located just a few minutes from Zakimi Castle so I asked if we could head over there after taking the black background pics for the Karate Masters Portrait Project.

Both pics were shot using the Pentax 645Z and the 25mm wide angle. I used the Profoto B1 and a softlight white reflector for a little directional fill and to add catchlights.

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

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

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