Tag Archives: japanese

Sights of Okinawa’s Streets and People – Okinawa Post 5

Whenever I travel, I find it important to get an idea of what daily life is like in that place. Taiwan, Cambodia, Thailand, Hong Kong, and now Okinawa have given me this experience and it’s ALWAYS different.

Most of these were taken in and around Naha, the financial, social, and economic capital of Okinawa. While I certainly noticed fewer old buildings, there were plenty of cultural gems found only in Japan and in some cases, only in Okinawa.

Heiwa-Dori, the famed shopping street, during the midday. Multiple streets actually intersect in this area, and it is under cover in the style of a Japanese “shopping arcade.”

As with the rest of Asia, you’ll find traditional food everywhere. Okinawa soba, varied types of tofu, sashimi, tempura – it’s pretty limitless – and delicious.

 

Above left: a pachinko parlour named “Monaco.” Above right: this Burger King requires you to take off your shoes upon entrance. Something I’ve never seen, even in Taiwan.

The Naha monorail is a great way to get around the city. Though they only have one line, it covers the important parts of the city – like the airport.

 

Above left: I’m not sure if this place is actually popular with servicemen/women, but I liked the sign. Much of Naha is off-limits to service personnel. Above right: another restaurant. Like Taiwan, it was hard to decide where to eat.

Above: a representative of the Japanese Communist Party (yes, you read that correctly!) announces an upcoming protest. Notice the MV-22 Osprey silhouette - the Japanese are protesting its use by US Marines due to safety issues. I think the restrictions on the aircraft should pass soon, but it was a pretty noticeable symbol.

Vending machines after the rain. I loved the rain in Okinawa – it was always just enough to cool things off and never stormed all day. Vending machines are everywhere.

Ice cream shop, Heiwa-Dori.

A vending machine-controlled restaurant. You order, it prints a ticket, and you get your food. Not a bad idea.

The monorail conductor.

A fortune teller waiting for business in a Naha alleyway.

Orion beer lanterns. Orion beer is a malty beer brewed on the island itself. Similar to most other Asian style lagers.

Old and new on a Naha street.

More old and new. This intrigues me about Asia and I see it all the time in Taiwan, yet never tire of it.

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Makishi Market, Naha – Okinawa Post 4

Makishi Market is located in a central part of Kokusai Dori Market, located in Naha, Okinawa. This market is much like the ones I’ve seen and taken photos at in Taiwan, though it was attached with restaurants that prepared your food and allowed you to eat your fresh fish as sashimi or a cooked dish.

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Okinawa’s People and Culture – Okinawa Post 3

These images are from a sort of park for Okinawan culture. Ryukyu Mura, or “Ryukyu Village” is a park that showcases much of the culture of the island, featuring buildings that have been moved from other parts of the island. Even if it lacks the authenticity of a real town, I’d say that this is necessary as 90% of the buildings of Okinawa were destroyed during the 1945 battle and this park does a great job preserving the culture from previous times.

One of the first things visitors will notice is the sanshin, an instrument with three strings that sounds like a banjo, is often made from snake skin, and looks similar to the Chinese bowed Erhu. The sanshin is plucked and is a mainstay of traditional Okinawan music. I’ll attach a video first, because you really need to hear it to understand it:

  

In addition, Ryukyu Mura has a bit of a “Colonial Williamsburg” feel to it as costumed staff demonstrate daily life in the Ryukyu Kingdom and in old Okinawa:

  

The rest are from a performance that

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Japanese Drum Group, Jhubei

Note: I will not be posting much in the next few weeks as I’m heading back to the US to see my family and to get “married again.” You see, my wife and I were married in Taiwan. My family was unable to make the wedding and my mom would probably kill me if she couldn’t see me get married, so we’re having a second, smaller ceremony in the US. I’ll probably be posting some images from the US – including Ohio and NYC at some point.

Today’s images are from the weekend of 10/10, when a number of drum groups visited Jhubei for an annual drum competition and concert. These shots were taken during the day – others  can be seen from a large concert the night before.

  

I know very little about this group, other than that they’re from Japan and full of energy. One of my favorite groups to see by far.

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Ogon Shrine, Jiufen

In Jiufen atop a mountain that oversees the region below is a shrine built by the Japanese rulers in 1933 who had invested in the area’s mining industry. Ogon Shrine, also known as the Gold Shrine due not to what it’s made from but because of its proximity to the gold mines, is well worth the long steep hike up the trail behind much of the gold mining museum.

The view once you get to the ruins of the shrine itself is spectacular, mixing in the sharp mountains with the ocean below.

  

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One Giant Leap

Forgive the clichéd title today. I was digging through my Spring Scream photos and realized I never posted this shot of th e lead singer of TAKAYUKIDAN, or 多火油機團, a Japanese band performing during the second and third nights of the festival in Kenting.

Next week is the Dragon Boat Festival – I hope this week flies by!

Sorry about the pun… I’ll stop now.

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Spring Scream: Samurai Attack (SA)

Samurai Attack, or SA, is a Japanese “Oi”-style punk band that formed in the 80′s and still tours extensively today. I had a chance to see them warming up and dropped into their show about halfway through. Though I couldn’t stay long, I got some of my favorite shots with the 35mm f/1.8 and attached an SB-600 to a cable to use sparingly as strobes were going all over the place anyway.

Video first, then photos below.

The personality of the lead singer helped me take one of my favorite concert images ever as he hoisted the mic above the audience to help them take part in the music. The black and white works well for punk bands, and it makes the noise from the high ISO almost acceptable!

   

Both of the above were taken with the 35mm. As you can imagine, I had great access to the stage and still managed to keep away from the mosh pit! I doubt my camera would like that experience…

The crowd was much larger/thicker than is seen here. While it’s great to show the crowd’s response, it’s sometimes hard without the right angle on the shot or a wide-angle lens.

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Spring Scream Night 2: ONC

This is the first of very many Spring Scream posts as I get photos processed, organized, and uploaded to Flickr.  The first band is a Japanese punk group called ONC. They’ve got an old school punk flavor which I prefer – very much along the lines of Rancid, Black Flag, and some other groups who I’ve always liked.

The first image is a repost from the preview, though it was my favorite. I noticed that my images from this set aren’t as great as they could be for two reasons – first, I was enjoying the show. This group was too fun to take too seriously and everyone was having a great time. Second, I hadn’t yet switched to my 35mm prime f/1.8 lens, which forced me to get up close to the stage. I worked on this the next day and really liked the results.

I originally attached the 70-300, thinking I’d need the distance with the crowds. The nice part about this festival, though was the accessibility - it was easy to move around the stage with the 35mm and the images were much, much clearer.

Before I begin, here’s a link to their Reverbnation page.

I made it a point to not forget the drummer – even though I forgot the bassist in this band! Whoops…

Actually, this should be him above. Something about the lead singer’s haircut is photogenic, though…

In retrospect, the wider angle of the 35 had a lot of advantages I just hadn’t seen until pulling it out of my bag – more on that another time.

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Hsinchu Train Station (HDR)

This HDR is a three-exposure shot taken at Hsinchu Train Station, a famous landmark from the era of Japanese colonization in this very old city.  I’ll have to get back to Hsinchu to get sites like the rennovated city gate, but until then, I’m digging through some older shots I took that were never posted.  This shot isn’t completely natural looking – still not sure what I think of it…

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More from Daniel Pearl Day

Below are more shots from Daniel Pearl Day in Taipei.  One rather great performance was a Japanese-style Taiko group.  I’ve seen these groups in the US before, but not as close as I was able to get in this case.  I’m really loving this new lens as it is fast enough to auto focus with all the movement I had during this performance.

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