Today I visited the the UNESCO World Heritage Site named Sefa Utaki in Okinawa, Japan. It was one of the best photography days I've had in a long time and I'll probably keep every image that came out of my camera. This photo is of a couple, Hiroshi and Natsumi who were visiting from Tokyo. They smiled and gave the peace symbol not knowing how that drives foreign cameramen, like me, nuts. But, they were friendly and complimented my photography so, I emailed them a file of this picture large enough to print.
Probably for the past five years, whether it was a weekday or a weekend, every time I have visited this site it has been impossible to catch the island in the background under clear skies.
Barely visible, in the center of this photo, is Kudaka Jima. That is the island Okinawans believe their ancestors came from.
Catching it in this light was a dream come true for me and made it one of the best Wednesdays in my life.
Once I captured my fill of photos and headed back down the trail I smiled at everybody flipping peace symbols at cameras.
Hiroshi and Natsumi thanks for posing and I hope you enjoyed your stay. Visit Okinawa again, sometime and I'll pose and let you snap a picture of me flipping the peace symbol wherever you'd like !
On a hillside at a festival in Ogimi Okinawa, Japan last Wednesday this butterfly distracted me. I'm easily distracted, I guess. Wildlife photography, to me, is way more interesting than festival photography.
Give me a choice between shooting butterflies or a gaggle of photographers congregating around some sacred site to snap shots of a village elder performing an ancient ritual and the butterflies win everytime.
It aint like I was getting paid to do this photo shoot. So, I skipped the rituals part !
Not that I'm sacrilegious, or anything like that, I had photos of the same priestess, whatever they call her, from last year's Unjami Matsuri. I figure, if I do a magazine article on the festival, the gal probably won't be too offended if she comes out looking a year younger. This butterfly was driving me nuts.
It was the big white spots on the outside of the wings that I hadn't seen on any butterfly like this before.
This character didn't like Auto Focus. I had to go fully Manual and focus on the hibiscus flower.
Remember me saying something about packing everything because the lens you need will be the one you left at home ?
Well, my 500mm lens was in my backpack, in a car, about 2 miles away. Dammit.
The Pentax 18-250mm would get the job done. I wanted to know the name of this butterfly.
So, I captured as many shots of it as I could using Burst Mode on my camera.
This black, white and red butterfly with big white spots on the sides of its wings was a new one to me.
New to me, so I thought. Until I researched it in THE JAPANESE BUTTERFLY GALLERY and discovered it's a Red Helen (Papilio helenus).
As long as I was all set up and focused on that hibiscus I figured I might as well keep shooting whatever butterflies landed there.
Along came this character which I knew was some sort of Swallowtail.
It certainly feels better sitting through traffic jams under the midday sun in Okinawa, Japan when the construction crews put up silly signs like this: "Thank you for your cooperation and understanding to our project". By golly, it makes me feel like passing out candy canes to each and every one of them !
To appreciate what it must feel like being bombed into the Stone Age it's probably best to show you this cave from the inside, looking out. Welcome to a cave called Shimuku Gama in Yomitan Okinawa, Japan.
Over a thousand residents of Yomitan Village took shelter in this cave during the battle of Okinawa 1945.
With no flashlights or electricity this is the only daylight visible from inside Shimuku Gama. It's dark.
The only nice thing about this natural bombshelter is the watersupply; it runs right through the front door.
Outside, to the left of the main entrance, this area could be considered the patio; it's covered, sort of.
A little bit to the right of the monument in this photo is the path that you would take to enter the cave.
The monument recognizes two men, I think we should call heroes, Heiji and his nephew Heizo Higa.
The occupying forces of the Japanese Imperial Army had instructed the civilians who took shelter in the cave to kill themselves rather than be captured when American forces arrived at the cave.
When the Americans arrived at the entrance to Shimuku Gama, the Okinawan residents were perpared to take their own lives.
They had been told they would be tortured, mutilated and raped by the American beasts and belived it.
Heiji and Heizo convinced them otherwise. They had both lived and worked with Americans in Hawaii and knew that US soldiers would not harm unarmed civilians. Not one civilian from this cave died.
Unfortunately, that wasn't the case in many other caves during World War II.
It was a beautiful day up in the northern part of Okinawa, Japan Wednesday Aug 24, 2011 at the Ungami Matsuri. Here is a scene taken where the Pentax came in handy. World famous for water resistant qualities, the Pentax was my camera of choice over the Canon and Panasonic.
I wanted to get down close to the action yet, go wide angle to catch the blue skies, mountains and the three dragonboats racing towards the shore. There was a good chance I'd get wet, too.
These ladies didn't just get wet from jumping in the ocean to cheer their dragonboat teams. They did a whole lot of dancing and wetting their whistles before taking a dip in East China Sea.
My good friend LadyE from Budget Travelers Sandbox hasn't heard from Okinawa in awhile so, I decided to surprise her with this wet ladies photo for TRAVEL PHOTO THURSDAY. If you get a chance stop by and you'll see she gets excellent travel photos from around the globe.
Here is one of a few hundred photos taken in the Village of Ogimi over the past 24 hours. There will be many more colorful pictures to show as quickly as I can get them developed.
There are plenty of stories coming out of this trip and a few mysteries remain unsolved at the festival called Unjami ( Ungami to some) especially concerning women. Imagine that.
One of the mysteries that popped up today was this girl from Romania. That's right. A gal shows up at this remote festival in the middle of nowhere Okinawa, Japan and says she's from Romania. She's been following this blog for a year and I just found out today. How's that for a small world ?
Well I got busy shooting dragons, dragonboats, races and women dancing, drinking and beating drums then, jumping in the ocean and cheering on their dragonboat teams. I was so busy I forgot to ask the girl from Romania if I could print her name on this blog. So, I won't until she says it's OK.
Right now I'm headed out the door to go recharge my batteries and the camera's batteries, too.
Tonight, or early tomorrow morning, I'll be headed up to the Unjami Matsuri (Festival) in Ogimi Okinawa, Japan. Here's a photo from last year's Unjami.
It was an OFF year, I guess you'd call it. No big mystery events took place, as far as I know.
But, this year is the ON year. There is a portion of the festival, men can't witness.
Women, only, get to go all the way up the mountain for some sort of ritual or ceremony.
Last month was the ON year for the guys up in Ada ( SHINUGU MATSURI ). Only males were allowed to go up in the mountains for their rituals. None of us got naked.
Not many guys are really into naked men. Not in my social circuit, anyway.
Researching for the Unjami Matsuri 2011 I came across something on Google Books that I had never seen before. MATSURI: THE FESTIVALS OF JAPAN P.148 By Herbert E. Plutschow, Patrick Geoffrey O'Neill
They say stuff like, "Unjami, festival of Ogimi-mura, Okinawa prefecture and the 'naked' matsuri discussed above". YIKES !
Now, I realize that the government of Japan outlawed some of the naked stuff that used to go on at festivals of yesteryear in Okinawa, Japan. Maybe, what goes on in the mountains stays in the mountains.
So, "Naked" Matsuri got me to wondering.
I wonder what's going on up in the mountains of Ogimi tomorrow.
So far, I haven't been able to get a lady willing to pack a camera and climb the hills to get the whole story.
I wonder if the folks up in Ogimi believe in bearded ladies !
Packing up the camera gear for overnight at a festival is not something I do very often but when I do it's serious business. This photo is a shot taken just before unpacking from my last excursion.
In no particular order here is what I'm preparing to stuff in the trunk of the car for this week's festival shoot:
CAMERAS: All I can muster, clean lenses, batteries fully charged with SD cards formatted.
CLEANING KIT: Lens solvent, brush, air bulb, lens cloth and lens tissues.
SPARE BATTERIES AND CHARGERS FOR EACH CAMERA.
LENSES: Every lens available. The lens you leave behind will be the one you wish you had.
TRIPODS: Sometimes it's nice to be able to set up and use more than one tripod. Make sure the quick releases are with you before packing away the tripods.
SHUTTER RELEASE CABLES: A camera's timer is pretty much useless for festival shooting.
SD CARDS: As many as you can get your hands on. Again, make sure they are formatted.
EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE: Download cameras so you're ready for day two.
LAPTOP WITH EDITING PROGRAM: This gives you a chance to review photos off camera.
EXTENSION CORD, ELECTRICAL OUTLET ADAPTORS, MULTIPORT SURGE PROTECTOR: Use to power laptop, hard drive and recharge batteries.
BACKPACK, CAMERA HOLSTERS, LENS CASES AND COVERS.
COMFORTABLE HIKING SHOES AND A TOWEL WIPE YOUR BROW.
A change of clothes, health and comfort items, food and drink, prayer beads, insect repellent, sunscreen and all that jazz is up to you. This is just my photography tips for an overnight festival in Okinawa, Japan, not a packing list for THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY.
This is a location I plan on spending some time at in early morning and late afternoon light. I went here for the first time, today around noon. Not exactly the best lighting for landscape photography but, I just enjoyed the view and decided to take this photo.
The reason for going here was to catch a wildlife photo. The subject missed his appointment. We'll meet at this location, one of these days. While I'm patiently waiting, I'll probably get scenic shots of the whole mountain, waterfalls, flowers, butterflies and any other critters that inhabit the area. Standby for more.....
What is this world coming to facrynoutloud ? Sitting here in Okinawa, Japan and trying to read something important on a friend's blog in Scotland about folks from THE BRAVEHEART RECRUITING AGENCY I got bombarded by Japanese girls posing in their underwear. It happens almost anywhere you go online nowadays. Don't these people have anything better to do ?
I can read a little bit of Japanese. It says "95% OFF". Well put your clothes back on girl, I ain't interested.
This Gmarket is somewhere in Korea, the clothes are probably made by folks in China. I bet if you live in Antarctia, Colombia, Bulgaria, New Zealand or anywhere else in the world, you could by these items.
They even have underwear for people who can't make up their minds if they are a boy or a girl. Hah !
Gmarket, don't even think of messing with me. I gave you your 50 seconds of fame on this blog. If I wanted to buy a lady some underwear, you know what I'd do ? I'd go to Fredricks of Hollywood.