Posts tagged ‘kokusai’

Naha’s Nighttime Landscape

These photos are from earlier in August, when a group of us went to Kokusai street in Naha for a festival. I had too many pictures to include, especially the ones I captured on our way back to the monorail station after the sun had set. Since I started getting into photography seriously, I have been intrigued by night photos, and particularly those taken with natural night lighting and no camera flash. These are somewhat random, there is no theme. I just like the mood and contrast of colors and artificial light of a city at night.

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Inside a cafe, with the fading daylight

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Canal and monorail track

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Lanterns in front of a restaurant

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The long walk back

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One of the thousands of brightly illuminated drink machines

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Ascending the escalator

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Side street

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Sharing a smoke

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Monorail arrives

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Finding the van in a parking garage

10,000 Eisa Dancers Festival in Naha

Despite my title for this entry, there are no pictures of dancers nor did we see any. Our intention was to see them, anyway.

Every year in August, 10,000 dancers march down Kokusai street in the capitol city of Naha performing the traditional Okinawan dance known as Eisa. We missed the first half since instead of parking and walking to Kokusai street, we parked farther away just so we could get the ‘experience’ of riding the monorail in Naha. Once we entered the crowded foot traffic on Kokusai street, it was seemingly intermission, so we decided to eat and have a beer. At some point during our meal, the rest of the dancers entertained onlookers while my group obliviously chowed down. I think I heard some large drum beats from my seat, but I guess I found the ice cold Orion beer more interesting at the time.

Upon leaving, it was still more crowded than normal, but the parade had disappeared down the street. We decided to just do our typical wandering around as we did 6 or 7 weeks before when we toured Kokusai street the first time.

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The monorail arrives (somehow Stanley always manages to make it into most of my photos)

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Make sure those crab claws don’t get caught in the closing doors

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Okinawa’s only monorail system

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The crowded scene on Kokusai street

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McClernon demonstrates why we missed the show

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No more Eisa dancers

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Paused in a stairwell while trying to find an interesting place

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Yummm…. Okinawan style Desperado, a shot of awamori into a glass of Orion beer

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Stopped at a Mexican cafe in the area for a taco and a Corona

Random Photos from Around the Island

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Umbrella vending machine

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A group of girls wanted to have their picture taken, so naturally they were pounced upon by a dozen Japanese guys with cameras. I just wanted to be a witness to the hilarity.

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A Banana Spider. Obviously not the scientific name for these arachnids that I see everywhere in dense jungle growth. This one pictured is actually on the smaller side. I’ve seen a few with a leg span equal to that of my hand with fingers outstretched. Once I almost walked headfirst into one (they blend in easier than you think), and they get kind of territorial and pissed-off, facing you and standing on their back 4 legs with the front 4 up and toward you. As big and mean as they seem, I would still take a Banana spider over a Camel Spider any day.

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I only wanted to take a photo of the stone monument; the duck had other ideas and began his slow charge toward me. And why is his head half red, like a Turkey??

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Habu Cats. Okinawa is full of stray, mangy cats. We started calling them ‘Habu’ cats within a week of our arrival. Habu really means the Okinawan viper snake, but dozens of things on the Marine bases are called ‘Habu-something’, like the Habu Pit (Staff NCO/Officers Club) and the Habu Trail (running path around the Futenma air base). The name stuck.

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Gee….thanks Brad Pitt

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View from Kadena Marina facing the Kerama Islands

Walking Kokusai street

Most cities have one, if not more, streets that are well-known and which people say, “you just have to go down this street.”

Naha, Okinawa’s largest city, has Kokusai street. It’s a┬ákind of┬átourist destination, shopping haven, and bar/restaurant strip all rolled into one. Kokusai street even has its own small and covered side street that branches off, which was actually pretty big by itself since someone could probably spend two hours or more just in that one spot.

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Kokusai Street

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Did Stanley want to purchase this embalmed frog money pouch? Of course he did

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The covered market

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After all the noise and people, I sought out a quiet section

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This was us figuring out how to pay the parking machine so it would unlatch a barrier from our car’s tires. Actually the funniest part of our day there was when we arrived and had to start the machine. It was entirely in Japanese and no parking lots in America worked in the same manner as this one so we pushed a bunch of buttons and, of course, nothing happened. Then an Okinawan man walked up to select his parking space and when he reached the machine, all 6 of us huddled around him to see the sequence of buttons he hit (it was green, yellow, red, I think??). When he turned around, he suddenly noticed he was surrounded by foreign Americans and there was a short awkward silence. He started walking away, then realized we couldn’t work the damned machine and came back and hit the buttons for us. That was when we understood how confused Europeans and Asians feel in our country.