Friday, July 29, 2011

Miyazato captures Evian Masters by two strokes -

“This year I was playing for Japan” says a teary-eyed but happy Ai Miyazato only moments after sinking her winning putt at the Evian Masters in France Sunday.

The 26-year-old Okinawa darling won the event by two strokes over Stacy Lewis of the United States in the tournament she calls “my favorite tournament”. Miyazato first won the Evian Masters in 2009.

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Mike's Ryukyu Gallery: Photo of the Week: The Dragons of Ginoza

It's an action packed week for Ryukyu Mike and the photos waiting for developing may just have to wait awhile longer as the pile grows.  Here is a photo taken Monday night at the Ginoza tug-o-war.

This shot was taken by zooming-in on the village banner flapping in the breeze attached to about a 30 foot bamboo pole.
Mike has more about pole dancing at Okinawan festivals later on in this story...

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A Japan Photo per Day - Japanese traditions, Bon Odori Dance

An old story says that Maudgalyayana (Mokuren in Japanese), one of the closest disciples of Buddha, had several supernatural powers: he could talk to ghosts or gods, travel with the speed of light, walk on water and float in the air…

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Shelbyville Times-Gazette: Local News: Karate...but not the Kid (07

There was no "wax on, wax off" when Ray Wiser was learning karate, even though his teacher was the student of Mr. Miyagi.

The real Miyagi. Miyagi Chojun -- the founder of Goju-Ryu Karate-Do. Wiser studied under one of Miyagi's star students, but never did have to wax a classic car.

"It was a little more detailed than that," laughed Wiser when asked about the famous movie scene.

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Okinawan town files grievance, saying U.S. trashing local beaches - Okinawa - Stripes

A Japanese town that sits beside two of the largest military bases on Okinawa filed a formal grievance this week over U.S. personnel leaving trash on the city beach and letting dogs run unleashed in local parks, according to U.S. Forces Japan and local media reports.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Man returns wallet from 1945 | Blackfoot Morning News

A former Moreland man has become a national celebrity in Okinawa because of the simple gesture of returning an enemy soldier's wallet.

Durl Gibbs came into possession of the wallet during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945. He returned it to the soldier's daughter earlier this year.

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Guam Buildup News - Tokyo Inches Closer to Bond Sales Deal;

Tokyo may be a step closer to funding its 2011 national budget, which includes $440 million for the transfer of U.S. Marines to Guam, as Parliament seems set to authorize bond sales needed to finance the budget next month.

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Monday, July 25, 2011

Mike's Ryukyu Gallery: Silly Sign Sunday (Photo) Jul 24, 2011

This Sunday's Silly Sign compliments of  guest photographer,  Maurice Dudley.  He lives on the island of Okinawa, Japan and has the sense of humor required to spot a great silly sign, capture a photo of it and share it with the world.
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Remembering Ernie Pyle - Helena

On Easter Sunday — April 1 — we reached Okinawa, the site of one of the Pacific’s bloodiest battles, an 82-day epic resulting in tens of thousands of deaths.

“That’s where we really, as far as the fleet in concerned, took our major losses,” There were kamikaze attacks, casualties and burials at sea, which, make quite an impression.

Around that time, there were rumors that Pyle was on board, one of three war correspondents along.  “Pyle had a personality that preceded him,” Tooze said. “He was a unique individual.”

"Pyle’s trip to the far Pacific was going to be his last operation, he said as he left Guam. He went ashore with Marines at Okinawa, and then wanted to go ashore at Ie Shima, an island group a few miles west of Okinawa....

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Cables show inflexibility of both US and Okinawa | Pacific Daily News

Two once-confidential cables from the U.S. consulate in Okinawa reveal the closed-door political dealings that have run underneath the Futenma Air Station controversy in recent years.

The cables, both of which were released by Wikileaks in May, show how diplomats from the United States and Japan have pursued a compromise that will preserve a base relocation plan but allow Okinawan politicians to keep their public promises.

The cables are from 2007 and 2009, but the controversy continues today.

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A bad summer for beer halls | The Japan Times Online

Summer in Japan has traditionally meant fireworks and beer halls, but this year the post-March 11 earthquake mood seems to be continuing, casting a shadow over these hot-weather staples.

Some 60 percent of firework festivals in the Tokyo area — and 20 percent nationwide — have been canceled, and beer sales are down.

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Ai Miyazato in pole position for Evian win - The Irish Times - Sat, Jul 23, 2011

Two years after first winning the Evian Masters, Japan’s Ai Miyazato is on the verge of repeat glory after a stunning 67 gave her a two stroke lead heading into the final round in France.

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Vitality City Preps for Moai Re-Launch - Manhattan Beach, CA Patch

The term Moai (pronounced mo-EYE) is a long-standing custom from the Japanese island of Okinawa where people gather for a common purpose, form meaningful social relationships and support each other in ways that reap healthy benefits.
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Guam Buildup News - U.S. Marine Presence in Okinawa, Guam Agreement Essential to Asia-Pacific Security

The continued presence of the U.S. Marines in Okinawa is essential as it deters aggression in Asia-Pacific, signals a U.S. commitment to the region, would help defeat any North Korean invasion of South Korea and serves as a convenient base for humanitarian operations, according to a Heritage Foundation analysis.

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Island hopping in southern Japan -

This is Taketomi Night, a low-key celebration of the beauty and simplicity of this tiny outcropping of coral that’s part of Okinawa, Japan’s southern island chain. As my wife and I stroll up the beach, the rough sand scraping our feet, we watch a girl plunk around in the warm waters of the East China Sea. Other folks are choosing to stay dry, their cameras and cellphones on standby to capture shots of the sunset.

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Okinawa ropes in some fun | The Japan Times Online

The Yonabaru tug-of-war on July 31 will pit the city's east side against its west in a competition that dates back some 400 years.

The contest is the climax of the city's summer festival, which takes place July 30-31. It is one of Japan's largest tug-of-war contests (second only to neighboring Naha, which is the biggest in the world).

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Saturday, July 23, 2011

China says Senkaku skipper's indictment illegal - NHK WORLD English

China has criticized a decision by a Japanese citizen panel to indict the captain of a Chinese trawler that collided with Japanese patrol boats near the Senkaku Islands in September of last year.

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Okinawaology Blog: The 5th World Uchinanchu Festival is coming! Here's the Scoop.

The first World Uchinanchu Festival was held in 1990 to promote cultural awareness among Okinawans and their friends and relatives scattered around the globe. It has since become a tremendous promotional event for Okinawa Prefecture. Each time the festival is held it seems to attract more and more overseas participants which are wonderful for the Okinawan economy.
The planning that goes into this event is tremendous and the Okinawa prefecture really goes all out to welcome back uchinanchu people who many times have been long removed from their Okinawan culture. This year’s festival will take place on October 12th through the 16th and includes many cultural events.
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Prefecture to establish U.S. office in spring -

Okinawa Prefecture is taking its relationship with the United States to a new level, announcing plans to establish an official office in the U.S. early next year to gather information about planned military activities that relate to Okinawa and base issues.

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How to win at rock, paper, scissors |

Life as an expat in Japan can be one long chain of ritual humblings, none more so than when you discover that any kid there aged five and above can thrash your imported hide at the great Japanese game of rock, paper scissors. No more, we say -- the beatings end today.

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Friday, July 22, 2011

Mike's Ryukyu Gallery: A Whatchamacallit Kinda Day in Bise Okinawa (Photos)

Today the better half and I went to the village of Bise in Okinawa, Japan.  She'd never been there before and has been bugging me to take her ever since she saw the first photos I shot, way back when, of the fukigi trees lining the streets in the little town.

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A Japan Photo per Day - Chindon'ya, Japanese marching band

Japan is known as a traditionalist country, but even here, in time some traditional occupations disappear. One of them is the Japanese marching band, chindon’ya, street performers advertising shops or pachinko parlors, like in this picture taken in Shibuya.

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Japan issues multiple-entry visas to Chinese tourists - People's Daily Online

Hirokazu Nakaima, governor of Okinawa Prefecture and head of a Japanese delegation to China, chaired a press conference in Beijing on July 15 to announce that Japan will now issue three-year multiple-entry visas to Chinese citizens. In addition, Hainan Airlines will launch international flight services between Beijing and Okinawa on July 28.

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Video:The Yokome Brothers Keep Japanese Sanshin Alive | PRI's The World

The Yokome brothers hail from Ishigaki-jima, an island in the East China Sea that was once part of the former Ryukyu Kingdom. It’s now part of the Okinawa island chain in southern Japan. And it’s where the brothers learned to play the sanshin, a three-stringed instrument.
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Gyrocopter pilot lands in Japan - Northern Ireland, Local & National -

Mr Surplus's blog said: "We are delighted to confirm that after a nine-hour flight, Norman has safely landed at Kadena Air Force Base in Okinawa, Japan. 

"This incredible feat of airmanship has taken him from the Philippines across the Philippine Sea to Japan, quite an extraordinary accomplishment.

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20 Interesting Facts About Japan

Over the years, Japan has become one of the most interesting countries in the world. Its unique culture, great food and technological edge has fascinated and inspired the rest of the world.

However, some of Japan’s customs and tastes have been widely misunderstood, and have even baffled some. Nonetheless, these 20 interesting facts have given the world a chance to see Japan as it is: An intriguing, culturally rich and economically sturdy super-power.

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Japan |

Japan is the English name for a nation comprised of a series of islands in the Pacific Ocean, east of the main Asian landmass. The roughly 128,000,000 people who live there refer to their homeland as Nippon or Nihon, and all of them are either partially or entirely crazy.

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Amazing HDR Photos of Japan | Photography Center

Amazing HDR Photos of Japan | Photography Center

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31 Brilliant examples of Engrish fails... from mikepattonfan

In tribute to Japan and the recent trials they are still experiencing- You know, that whole Godzilla destroying their country thing - Here is a visual tribute to the ineptitude of the translation skills of the land of the rising sun and other Asian countries! And by the way, wasn't it nuclear power that inadvertently spawned Godzilla in the first place? Did we not learn anything from the great Gamera disaster of '69 and the Mothra invasion of '83? Nuclear power just ISN'T worth the ramifications of giant monsters.

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5 Steps To Ordering a Meal in Japan — zonjineko!

I live in Japan, but barely speak Japanese. I can’t help you with verb conjugation or passing the JLPT. But I have managed to eat!

Restaurants in Japan are a culinary and cultural adventure. Knowing how to act is crucial to speaking the language. They’re also great places to practice many facets of conversational Japanese!

So, here are 5 steps to ordering food in Japan.

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A Japan Photo per Day - Himawari, the Symbol of Hope and Recovery

The Sunflower (ヒマワリ - himawari in Japanese) is a popular plant in Japan, where it has been cultivated since the 17th century.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Portraits of an Island People: Umi Budo - Sea Grapes - Okinawa Photo

Umi Budo or Sea Grapes are grown in abundance in Okinawa's subtropical waters.They look just like miniature grapes hence the name "umi" Japanese for sea and "budo" for grape. They're available at local fish markets, super markets or just about anywhere that sells fresh food.

Umi Budo - Sea Grapes - Okinawa Photo

Umi Budo or Sea Grapes are grown in abundance in Okinawa's subtropical waters.They look just like miniature grapes hence the name "umi" Japanese for sea and "budo" for grape. They're available at local fish markets, super markets or just about anywhere that sells fresh food. 

Typically served fresh as a side dish and dipped in soy sauce or as a salad garnish. They are a bit salty to the taste, as one might expect from something that comes from the ocean but, they're also very refreshing to the pallet as they pop when you bite into them.

Okinawan locals swear they are an excellent source of vitamin C. At least that's what the wife tells me. Of course, according to her, everything in Okinawa is a source of vitamin this or that. In truth, I don't think she really knows what, if anything that it or anything else is good for. Like most folks, she just takes in what she hears and repeats it as the gospel.

I guess that's typical for most folks these days and exactly why I don't trust what I see, hear or read in the news. You know how it goes, one week drinking more than one cup of coffee a month will kill you and two weeks later there is some new "supposedly" scientific study that says it cures everything from AIDS to Zits!

As for me, I don't know what Umi Budo are good for. I do know that I like them in my salad. I also remember an old saying from my days in the service that goes, "That which doesn't kill you, only makes you stronger!" Another is from John Maynard Keynes who said, "In the long run, we're all dead!" 

Whatever, if you have a chance, go out and try some Umi-budo. I don't know if they will kill you or cure you but, I do know that I like em! What's life if you don't go out and live it?!

OKINAWA LOCAL TOUR GUIDE'S BLOG: Fisherman's Wharf in Yomitan, Okinawa

When I discovered this place more than 15 year's ago, I instantly knew this restaurant would be one of my favorite eateries I would go on a regular basis. Away from the crowded, noisy areas of the central Okinawa, this place embraces everyone with its calm surrounding and the endless expansion of the ocean. Many might imagine this place would be always full of people because of the beautiful location, but there are always plenty of seats available whenever I go without reservation. (Not that I mean you don't have to make reservation. It's always a good idea to reserve your seat for dinner.)
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Mike's Ryukyu Gallery: Why Ocean Day (Umi No Hi) in Japan ? A Photo Essay

It's a National Holiday in Japan Monday July 18, 2011.  Call it The Day of the Sea,  Marine Day, Oceans Day or Umi No Hi (海の日) or whatever you like.  I'm just going to show a dozen photos to explain why Ocean Day in Japan is important to me.
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A Japan Photo per Day - Red Bridge from Hakone

The great torii from Lake Ashi is one of the main attractions of Hakone, but I noticed that of all the tourists coming to admire the torii, only a few know that it is worth diverting from the path to explore the cedar forest.
If you follow the path that starts at the foot of the great torii towards East, you’ll soon find a small vermilion arched bridge…

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Monday, July 18, 2011

Ukwanshin Launches “LooChoo nu Kwa : Children of LooChoo” series T-shirts | Ukwanshin Kabudan 御冠船歌舞団

“Fwitu nu inuchi ya kutuba nu inuchi”.  ”Life of the people is in the life of their language”. With the urgency to help revitalize our Okinawan language, Ukwanshin announces the launch of the “LooChoo nu Kwa” line of T-Shirts with the remake of our “Shimanchu” line in a new design by Norman Kaneshiro.

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Okinawaology Blog: Nuchi du Takara - Life is a Treasure

I have a friend in Northern California whose mother is Okinawan and whose Father is American. She is one of many children brought into the world as a result of Americas occupation of Okinawa after WWII. She is a recent Berkely University Graduate and has been working on grant to produce the following film.

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Mike's Ryukyu Gallery: Sunday's Silly Sign (Photo) Jul 17, 2011 Smokers Doggonit !

This Sunday's Silly Sign was spotted at a convenience store in Okinawa, Japan.

It was posted on the ashtray outside the front door of the place.  That's where I go to buy my smokes and iced coffee.  

Somebody with no Slurpy Etiquette spilt a drink on the sign !

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Japan beats US in shootout to win Women's World Cup ‹ Japan Today: Japan News and Discussion

FRANKFURT, Germany —

Japan became the first Asian nation to win the Women’s World Cup on Sunday, beating the United States in a penalty shootout after both sides were level at 2-2 after extra time.

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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Kitazawa, Panetta agree on Futenma | The Japan Times Online

Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa and his newly appointed U.S. counterpart, Leon Panetta, reaffirmed Saturday that Tokyo and Washington will move forward with the plan to relocate the controversial Fu-ten-ma base within Okinawa.

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Typhoon (Ma-on), - Pacific Storm Tracker - Stripes

Typhoon Ma-on’s long, wide curve northwest toward Shikoku and northeast toward the Kanto Plain has apparently begun, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center’s latest forecast track.

Ma-on is projected to rumble 323 miles east-northeast of Okinawa by 4 p.m. Monday. The JTWC’s latest forecast says at that point, Ma-on will still be a strong Category IV-equivalent storm, packing sustained 138-mph winds and 167-mph gusts at its center, but Okinawa should experience a smidgen of that, according to Kadena Air Base’s 18th Wing Weather Flight.

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Delay in troop movement to Guam might be a good thing, project director says - Guam - Stripes

The U.S.-Japan agreement to drop a 2014 deadline for moving U.S. Marines from Okinawa to Guam might be good for the territory, according to the new director of the Joint Guam Program Office.

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Okinawa | US Military Base | Futenma | Mike Mullen

The Okinawan people view the Futenma base as symbolic of the unfair military burden they have suffered since the end of World War II. 

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Teen helmer's pic finds int'l aud - Entertainment News, International News, Media - Variety

An Okinawan pic directed by a junior high school student, has been sold to a Chinese distrib, a first for Okinawa.

Sugar Train, a production company based in the semi-tropical island, has sold the rights to locally produced pic "The Catcher on the Shore" to All Rights Entertainment.

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Okinawa Attracts Nuclear Refugees -

Okinawa has long had a steady stream of migrants from the rest of Japan, seeking beautiful beaches, cheap living costs and a slower pace of life. Now, the sunny clump of islands is welcoming a new brand of migrant: nuclear refugees.

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A Japan Photo per Day - Shinto Shrines

When visiting Japan, one of the must-see sights is (or it should be), a Shinto shrine. Among the shrines are many important cultural landmarks and architectural jewels of Japan and, on a usual trip, it is quite hard to decide what to visit…

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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Government may intervene to weaken yen: ex-finance minister Kato | The Japan Times Online

The government may intervene to weaken the yen if currency moves become "disorderly" amid the debt crisis in Europe and the debt ceiling debate in the U.S., said former top currency official Takatoshi Kato.

The yen reached 78.50 versus the dollar Wednesday, the strongest since reaching a postwar high of 76.25 on March 17.

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Fireworks, sunset concert at Ocean Expo -

Literally thousands of fireworks will light up the northern Okinawa skyline this weekend as Ocean Expo Park stages its Summer Festival 2011 before more than 60,000 happy weekend revelers. Thousands more will observe the fireworks from hundreds of boats gathered in coastal waters between Emerald Beach and nearby Ie Island.

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Why Japanese bartenders are the world's best |

Suffice to say, by bartenders I am thinking neither of college students filling pitchers -- and occasionally themselves -- from a leaky keg, nor of hostesses tipping Suntory Royal into a bleary-eyed salaryman’s glass with their left hand while otherwise engaging their right.

No, the bartenders we need consider here are inheritors of a noble tradition to whose Western imperatives they have added their own special Japanese je ne sais quoi touch of Zen in the night; a dash of obsessive compulsion and the stirring and unshaken belief that -- by God -- booze matters.
And cocktails matter most.

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Friday, July 15, 2011

Okinawa seeks to block Osprey deployment | The Japan Times Online

The Okinawa Prefectural Assembly adopted a resolution Thursday demanding that Tokyo and Washington cancel the planned deployment of MV-22 Osprey aircraft at U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.

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Japan mulls further easing travel visa rules for Chinese individuals - The Mainichi Daily News

Japan is considering further relaxing conditions for granting visas to individual Chinese visitors to boost tourism, which has been severely affected by the ongoing Fukushima nuclear crisis triggered by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, government officials said Wednesday.

Chinese tourists under the new visa arrangement are required to travel to Okinawa on their first trip, but are free to go anywhere in Japan from the second visit onward.

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Naval Air: Chinese UAVs Go To Sea

Chinese warships were recently seen, for the first time, operating UAVs at sea (over a thousand kilometers south of Okinawa).

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Typhoon 08W (Ma-on), # 8 - Pacific Storm Tracker - Stripes

Typhoon Ma-on’s forward speed has slowed since our last report, but its closest point of approach has kicked 23 miles to the east away from Okinawa as well. The latest warning, issued at 6 p.m., calls for Ma-on to skim 297 miles east-northeast of Kadena Air Base at 3 a.m. Tuesday, by which time it will be packing 127-mph sustained winds and 155-mph gusts at its center. All things considered, still a pretty powerful punch.
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Obama pushes buildup funding | Pacific Daily News |

The White House yesterday said if the Senate doesn't fund military buildup projects on Guam as planned, it could appear to Japan that "the U.S. does not stand by its allies."

This was said in a statement from the executive office of President Barack Obama, who urged senators to pass a massive military construction appropriations bill without adopting some U.S. senators' cost-cutting recommendations.

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Goya Republic: Banzai Bonsai and the end of an era

Wednesday started off being one of those days where everything turns to $#!+. I was planning to pick up Ryukyu Mike for our regular weekly escape from the wives day. The night before the weather gal said it was going to be sunny and hot. Well, it was for about 15 minutes. Once I got in the car and pulled out of the driveway, I could see the storm clouds looming on the horizon.

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A Japan Photo per Day - Japanese sports drink, Pocari Sweat

I’m used to summer heat, I can handle high temperatures, but I’m from a zone with a lower humidity and the very humid summer from Japan makes me sweat more than usual.

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Okinawans don’t fall for U.S.’s China-bashing

U.S. troops have occupied the island of Okinawa ever since World War II. In April 1945 the U.S. launched an 82-day battle to take Okinawa from Japan. The largest amphibious assault in the entire Pacific war, the battle killed half the civilian population of Okinawa. Japanese forces sustained 100,000 casualties there; 50,000 U.S. troops were either killed or wounded before Japan surrendered the island.

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Tropical Storm 08W (Ma-on), # 4 - Pacific Storm Tracker - Stripes

Still too soon to say precisely which way Tropical Storm Ma-on will head by early next week, whether it will curve north of Okinawa or continue straight ahead and plow right over it.

What’s certain is Ma-on has maintained a west-northwest track over warm ocean waters and is gradually strengthening into something that will be pretty nasty by the top of next week.

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Banzai Bonsai and the end of an era

Wednesday started off being one of those days where everything turns to $#!+. I was planning to pick up Ryukyu Mike for our regular weekly escape from the wives day. The night before the weather gal said it was going to be sunny and hot. Well, it was for about 15 minutes. Once I got in the car and pulled out of the driveway, I could see the storm clouds looming on the horizon. 

Before I even got out of town the rain was falling in sheets and the view across Nago bay just a few minutes later looked even more discouraging! A series of rain squalls was all lined up to the south and west headed in my general direction. I hoped to myself that perhaps they would quickly pass and we’d have clear skies. As I cleared the next rain squall the sky opened up just enough to reveal thunderheads towering above the peaks on the other side of the island.

I arrived at Mike’s bar about an hour later only to find him soaking wet and madder than a hatter in need of a double dose of Prozac. Between all the cuss words, I could make out that the main shutter to the building that shares his business was jammed and he couldn’t get in to get his equipment. To make matters worse, he didn’t have a key to the back entrance and the owner of the building was nowhere to be found.

To more fully understand the situation, you must understand that Mike without a camera is like showing up to your mother’s funeral in flip-flops and a wife beater T-shirt because you forgot to pack a suit. Wait a minute, Mike might actually do that! It’s more like an alcoholic without a nickel in desperate need of a beer or, more correctly, Anthony Weiner without nasty pictures of himself to email to underage girls or post on his Face-book page and twitter account.

We really didn’t have a plan that day and initially I thought about heading up north as the skies looked better in that direction. There was a coffee farm up in the hills there that I had never been to and Mike, in addition to being a camera addict is a coffee fiend. Instead, once I got Mike in the car we just headed out. We were a couple of miles down the road before Mike stopped cussing and asked, “where the hell we going?” Far, I answered but, we were in fact headed south.

It wasn’t long when Mike spotted a really cool bonsai tree. I was focused on the road and it took a minute or two before I saw what the hell he was talking about. I crossed three lanes of traffic and did a U-turn to get over closer to it. Mike didn’t have a camera but, he made do with what he did. Fortunately his cell phone has a camera built in to it. I made up my mind that we had to do something about the situation right then and there.
We weren’t too far from the Kitamura camera store in Chatan Town so after we snapped a few quick pictures of the bonsai tree, we made a “B” line for the camera store. Mike had been talking about buying a Cannon G-12 ever since they came out and now seemed like the perfect time for him to get one. I couldn’t see him suffering any more.

At first he talked about just checking it out. That lasted all of about 11 seconds. In a flash the plastic was out and the clerk was helping him program it in “Engrish” and charging up the batteries for him. A few minutes later, our favorite camera expert and Kitamura employee extraordinaire Hiro, short for Hirohito, who happens to speak perfect English showed up.

I was wandering around the store while we were waiting for Mike’s batteries to get charged when I spotted a used Pentax K-7 at a decent price. I have been shooting with a Pentax K200D for the last two years. It’s a fine camera for a beginner learning to shoot a DSLR but it is a bit limited in its range of functions. I wanted to do more and with Mike drooling over his new toy and Hiro there to help us, it wasn’t but a few seconds before I was negotiating a trade up.

Within an hour we were leaving the store with new toys in search of some blue skies to go play with them in. I spotted a patch of blue over toward the other side of the island. We drove out there only to find it pouring rain when we got there. My Pentax can handle the weather but Mike was worried about his new Cannon getting wet.

We stopped at a place for a late lunch to wait out the weather but, as soon as we got back on the road it took a turn for the worse. We ended up driving around for a while and planning future trips out with the toys but this day the weather just wouldn’t cooperate. The skies didn’t clear again until I got back home.

But, the day wasn’t a total wash. We both have new toys to play with and today marked the end of an era for me. I took my last picture with my old K200D that you see here. From now on I’ll be exploring the wilds of Okinawa and taking pictures with a K-7. Let just hope they don’t have a great deal on a K-5 or newer model any time soon.

My contribution to Travel Photo Thursday for July 14th, 2011.

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Japanese court rejects soldier's appeal in hit-and-run death - News - Stripes

A Japanese court on Thursday rejected the appeal of a U.S. soldier convicted last fall in the hit-and-run traffic death of an Okinawa pedestrian.

A three-judge panel upheld the 32-month prison sentence given to Staff Sgt. Clyde Gunn, 28, a combat medic with the 1st Special Forces Group at Torii Station, in the vehicular manslaughter of Masakazu Hokama nearly two years ago along a farm road in Yomitan.

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Time for Futenma Rethink | New Leaders Forum

Former CIA chief Leon Panetta took up his new post as US Defence Secretary on July 1, and with his appointment comes a chance for the Barack Obama administration to revise the current plans for the relocation of the US Marine Corps Futenma base in Okinawa.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Hope of the Lone Pine: As Tree Clings to Life, So Does Japanese City -

In the quiet hours just after dawn, Yasumori Matsuzaka drives through the ruins of his hometown, past the gutted hospital and the mounds of splintered wood and shattered concrete.

The object of his pilgrimage: a tree. The solitary pine, which towers 100 feet above this pulverized city's waterfront, is all that's left of a grove of roughly 70,000 trees that once lined the beach here, and which his ancestors helped plant more than two centuries ago.

It has become a national symbol of Japan's tenacity, clinging to life amid the destruction of the March 11 tsunami, which killed more than 20,000 people and laid waste to entire communities along the country's northeast coast.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Bye-bye to the gaijin card, welcome to the Juki Net in '12 | The Japan Times Online

Reader JG is concerned about the changes to the Immigration Law that were passed in 2009 and are scheduled for implementation in July 2012.

According to the Immigration Bureau, the Ministry of Justice and immigration lawyers, the new law will bring about a few major changes.

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Mike's Ryukyu Gallery: Thatched Roof Hut in Ada, an Okinawa Village (Photo)

Two years ago was the first time I had visited the Village of Ada in Kunigami Okinawa, Japan. This photo was taken in preparation for an article on a ritual known as the Shinugu Matsuri.
The only thatched roof hut in the Village of Ada, it is where the ceremonies for this festival begin and end. 

This past week, I visited Ada, again.  Making contacts and arrangements to participate in these sort of events is important to me.

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Nissan works on recharging Leaf with solar power ‹ Japan Today: Japan News and Discussion

Japanese automaker Nissan is testing a super-green way to recharge its Leaf electric vehicle using solar power, part of a broader drive to improve electricity storage systems.
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Monday, July 11, 2011

AccessJ: Top 10 Dirty Japanese Phrases

Dirty Japanese is fun for all the family. I bought it last year, and since then about a dozen of my friends, both gaijin and Japanese have fallen in love with it's collection of... Dirty Japanese Phrases!
For the uninitiated, it’s a phrasebook containing useful to casual to very casual to vulgar, words and phrases. It's about as close to an encyclopedia of Japanese swear words as possible.
I made a post of 10 Very Dirty Japanese Phrases, but decided to let you discover those on your own and elected to list 10 family-friendly ones instead.

(Click on the post title above for more)朝日新聞社):SUMO/ Takanoyama eager to live juryo dream - English

Czech-born sumo wrestler Takanoyama has a problem that most people would be happy to have. He just can't seem to put on weight.

"Gaining weight is my problem to conquer," said the muscular 28-year-old Prague native, who began life as Pavel Bojar.

Recently promoted to the rank of juryo after 10 years in Japan, Takanoyama tips the scales at 107 kilograms, finally breaking the 100-kg barrier, and stands 187 centimeters. While that hardly makes him a lightweight compared with most people, in the sumo world, which is rife with guys carrying 180 kg or more, he stands out for his lack of girth. One wrestler, Georgia's Gagamaru, weighs nearly twice as much as Takanoyama.

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A Japan Photo per Day - Japanese traditions, Hozuki Ichi

Today, on July 10th, at the Senso-ji Temple from Asakusa, Tokyo, takes place Yonman-rokusen-nichi, the Day of 46000 Blessings. According to an old belief, if you pray at the temple on this day, the prayer will be the equivalent of 46000 days of prayers.

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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Miyazatos Paired Together in Lead US Open Group - ABC News

Though they are not related, they have an awful lot in common.

A hometown.

A last name.

And now, a tee time together with a major championship in their grasp.
Mika and Ai Miyazato finished 1-2 after the second round of the U.S. Women's Open on Saturday, setting up a third-round pairing for the two golf prodigies from Okinawa, Japan.

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1st Chinese tourists on multiple-entry visas arrive in Okinawa - The Mainichi Daily News

The first intake of Chinese tourists visiting Japan on multiple-entry visas arrived Thursday in Naha, Okinawa Prefecture, just a week after Japan began issuing them with the aim of luring repeat visitors with high purchasing power to help spur the local economy.
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DVIDS - News - What’s in a name? Okinawa bases named for fallen heroes

During World War II, one of the fiercest battles took place in the Pacific. The Battle of Okinawa, fought in 1945, claimed more than 62,000 U.S. casualties, making it the bloodiest warfare U.S. forces experienced during the war.
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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Dragon boats, fireworks highlight Chatan festival -

Dragon boat races are taking place in several locations across Okinawa this weekend, but none matches the challenges visitors to the 25th Seaport Chatan Carnival can face.

And don’t forget the fireworks! Fireworks will cap festivities in Chatan on both Saturday and Sunday at 8:45 p.m. The popular event at Sunset Beach is expected to attract thousands of participants, as entry is free. The fun begins Saturday at 2 p.m. with a tug-of-war on the beach, followed by live music on Nirai stage.
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Mike's Ryukyu Gallery: Papa's Got a Brand New Bag (Photo)

Ever since I got this yesterday, that tune Papa's Got a Brand New Bag keeps popping into whatever's left of my brain.  Hah !  It's like having flashbacks to 1965, or something.  Woo !
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No guarantees for Japan after 2012 | The Japan Times Online

In recent years both the United States and Japan have seen leadership changes at the highest levels of government. In 2008, Democrat Barack Obama was elected U.S. president, followed in 2009 by the ascendance of the Democrat Party of Japan, ending the nearly unbroken postwar dominance of the Liberal Democratic Party.
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15 sights that make Tokyo so fascinating |

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Friday, July 8, 2011

22 bands performing for Peaceful Love Rock Festival -

The sounds of rock ‘n roll music will fill the air Saturday and Sunday as nearly two dozen performers at the Peaceful Rock Festival take to an Okinawa City stage to entertains thousands.

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Japan grounds F-15J fleet after crash-07/07/2011-Washington

The Japan Air Self-Defence Force has temporarily grounded its Boeing/Mitsubishi F-15J fleet after one of the aircraft crashed off the coast of Okinawa on 5 July, triggering a safety investigation.

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Williamson promoted to 8th degree black belt - WWW.WPCVA.COM

On May 7, 2011 Coy "C.D." Williamson traveled to Okinawa Japan with ten of his students for karate training. At this time he was promoted to rank of 8th Degree Black Belt by Grandmaster Shugoro Nakazato who is the oldest living 10th Degree Black Belt in Okinawa at age 92.

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Calorie Restricted Diets Could Prevent Infertility

The severe restriction of calories practiced in diets such as the Okinawa and CRON-diet is believed by researchers to have an anti-aging affect on DNA, thus preventing damage to the reproductive eggs that lead many women unable to have children.

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Matters of concern with China | The Japan Times Online

Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto met with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi in Beijing on Monday. The meeting took place at a time when China is causing friction with neighboring countries, including Vietnam and the Philippines because of its activities in the South China Sea.

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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Chinese annoyed by Japanese fishing near Senkaku Islands -

China has lodged a protest with Japan over reports that Japanese fishing boats are operating near a series of disputed islands in the East China Sea.

The Senkaku Islands are administered by Japan, but claimed as Chinese territory by China, which calls the string of islands Diaoyu. Taiwan also claims sovereignty over the islands. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei has demanded that the Japanese boats leave the waters.

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Portraits of an Island People: (Photo Essay) Oh Tanabata

We had spent half of the morning wandering (driving) around southern Okinawa looking for a cave that I had seen featured on local TV but, unfortunately due to my poor Japanese language skills didn't have a good fix on it's exact location. We, meaning Ryukyu Mike and I had given up and were heading back up north to the home front just happy for the few hours we had been able to get away from the daily routine.

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(Photo Essay) Oh Tanabata

We had spent half of the morning wandering (driving) around southern Okinawa looking for a cave that I had seen featured on local TV but, unfortunately due to my poor Japanese language skills didn't have a good fix on it's exact location. We, meaning Ryukyu Mike and I had given up and were heading back up north to the home front just happy for the few hours we had been able to get away from the daily routine.
(Decorated paper chains, cranes, stars and more are typical "Tanabata" ornaments)
For him, that means sitting for hours at his bar in front of a laptop computer going blind developing photos and pounding out a daily blog post with his one very badly bruised and blistered typing finger. for me, it was an escape from having the wife goad me into catching up on three years worth of neglected household repairs out in the sweltering Okinawa sun.
(Ryukyu Mike in his element)

I turned off coastal highway 331 just south of Chinen town and shot over and across the ridge using highway 137.This route runs through rural Nanjo City to meet up again with coastal highway 331 on the other side. This is a shortcut across the Chinen peninsula that would save us at least 20 minutes in driving time.

We were coming down the winding road on the other side telling wife jokes and just having a good old time like old timers sometimes do. The road was pretty curvy on the downhill side and I was busy paying attention to traffic and keeping it between the lines when all of a sudden Mike yelled out "Did you see that! what the hell is that?" or words to that effect. This is a family blog so I really cant use the kind of words he really used here but, you get the general idea.
I made an illegal U turn at the first opportunity and started back up the hill. That's when I first saw all the "stuff" hanging from the trees at this little house on the opposite side of the road. There were already a couple of cars parked along the side of the road and people gazing up at the display. In all my years of living here, I can't quite remember seeing anything like it. Of course that's probably because the first few years I spent here were a bit of a blur due to the ingestion of mass quantities of intoxicating substances, all perfectly legal of course!

Anyway, I headed back up the hill to put some distance between myself and the giant dump truck piloted by a former kamikaze who was about to climb up my tailpipe. This was so I could safely do another perfectly illegal U turn and be back on the correct side of the road. Notice that I said "correct" and not "right" as the Japanese drive on the left like the Brit's, Australian's and New Zealander's do.
(Ms. Nakamoto "seated center" and friends enjoying coffee on the front porch)

We found a place to park and when we asked if it was OK for us to take some pictures. The folks right there said of course. We weren't quite sure what all the hoopla was for and of course you don't want to start taking photos of something interesting like this only to find out that it's a private affair or worse yet, something deeply personal like a funeral or some other kind of family affair.

The trees up along the side of the first house were all decked out with hand made paper decorations and a few old CD's that spun in the wind and sparkled brightly on the unlabeled side. Mike asked what the celebration was and one of the gentlemen at the entrance said that it was "Tanabata." I had heard that word before as did Mike but neither of us could remember what it meant. Fortunately Mike has a Japanese dictionary in his "Keitai" or "cell phone" and discovered that it was the Star Festival that happens on the 7th day of the 7th month. You can check out Muza-chan's post on Tanabata for more information.

Of course once Mike gets a camera in front of his face, everything else in the world stops so even though it was just a minute or two after we got set up, we were both like kids in a candy store looking for what fancied our tastes the best. A few folks stopped and chatted with me and between my very bad Japanese and their equally bad English we were able connect and get more information on what this was all about. Thank goodness that communication is 70% visual! But, that is one of the adventures of living in a foreign land.
(Finally, something old Yiddish CD's are good for and Ryukyu Mike's best side)
Through this I was introduced to the owner of the property, Ms. Fumiko Nakamoto. It turns out that Ms. Nakamoto has been decorating her house for Tanabata every year for the last twenty years! I met with her briefly and found her to be one of the most gracious eloquent ladies, 69 years young, that I've ever had the pleasure to meet in all my travels here. She does this because she wants to and every year on the 7th day of the 7th month of the year, she opens her house to the public for it.

During our visit, several of the nearby nursing homes brought some of their patients out to see and enjoy it too. I can't say for sure but, that may be one of the driving forces behind why she does what she does. In Japan they still revere the aged. Seeing what I saw today makes me wish we all did.

By the way, after Mike charmed them with his "Hogen," Okinawa's native dialect we were given a couple of iced coffees and a personal invite to come back next year! Hopefully by then my Japanese will have improved. Guess I better mark my calendar now!

Mike's Ryukyu Gallery: Photo Essay: Brilliant Colors at Tanabata Festival in Okinawa

Riding around on the southern end of Okinawa, Japan today I looked out my window as Doc was negotiating the curves and spotted these bright colored things hanging from trees.  I don't think he saw them.  So, I yelled out, "What the Frapachino was that"?  
Er, it was something along those lines to get his attention off the highway.

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Embassy: Kan had no Okinawa solutions | Pacific Daily News |

Before he became prime minister of Japan, Naoto Kan privately told U.S. diplomats that he had no good ideas on how to resolve the Futenma Air Station controversy in Okinawa, which has become a significant buildup hurdle.

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ASDF F-15 and pilot missing in the East China Sea | The Japan Times Online

An Air Self-Defense Force F-15 fighter from the Naha Air Base in Okinawa Prefecture apparently went down Tuesday morning in the East China Sea during a training flight and the pilot is listed as missing, Defense Ministry officials in Tokyo said.

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A Japan Photo per Day - Japanese traditions, Tanabata Decorations

Probably the most romantic festival in Japan is the Tanabata ("Evening of the seventh"), which celebrates the meeting of two lovers, Orihime (the star Vega) and Hikoboshi (the star Altair), which, the legend says, takes place one day a year, on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month.

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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

WikiLeaks: Okinawa’s Pro-China, Anti-U.S. Bent - Japan Real Time - WSJ

There have been plenty of reasons given explaining why Okinawan residents hold reservations about the continued U.S. military presence on the tropical island: noise pollution and the unruly behavior of some U.S. servicemen, to name a couple. But here’s another: Okinawans don’t view China’s growing military might as a security threat, a diverging perspective from attitudes held in Tokyo and Washington, according to a U.S. embassy cable released by Wikileaks.
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Monday, July 4, 2011

Ishigaki trawlers head out toward Senkakus | The Japan Times Online

About 10 fishing boats from a fishery cooperative in Ishigaki, Okinawa Prefecture, left a local port Sunday to operate near the Senkaku Islands, which are controlled by Japan but claimed by China and Taiwan.

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Mike's Ryukyu Gallery: Photo of the Week: Sunset at the Elephant's Nose in Okinawa

This photo was taken last night at a tourist attraction called Manzamo in Okinawa, Japan.  We really don't have any elephants native to the Ryukyu Islands.  People with imaginations a whole lot sharper than mine call the rock formation in the left third of the frame, "The Elephant's Nose". Do you see the elephant?

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[Viewpoint] The backlash of rage - INSIDE Korea JoongAng Daily

I went on a business trip last weekend to Okinawa, Japan. Driving from Naha Airport in a rented car, I was surprised to discover the expressway so empty, even on the weekend.

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Sunday, July 3, 2011

Adrift 20 days, fisherman, 70, is safe | The Japan Times Online

The Japan Coast Guard said it rescued a 70-year-old squid fisherman after his boat vanished in early June.

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Akihabara Maids, Let's Uchimizu!

In the old times, before the air conditioning, the Japanese people developed traditional ways to help cooling off during hot summer days… One very interesting technique, still largely practiced, is the use of the traditional furin.

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Saturday, July 2, 2011

Okinawaology Blog: Goya Trellis in my Garden

Yesterday I spent my day building a trellis for my garden. I already had some trellis from last years Goya crop but because I expect good results in the garden this year and the fact that we are not only growing Goya but also Lufa gourds which are a type of gourd from Okinawa that is good for soup. We are not sure that they will grow here in our northern climate but we are hoping! Anyway here is a short video of how I spent my day yesterday. Enjoy!!
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Rock and pop: The A, B, C's of J-music | The Japan Times Online

We start the ball rolling with rock and pop. The Peaceful Love Rock Festival will be held in the southernmost prefecture of Okinawa on the weekend of July 9-10. The festival leans heavily toward indie rock, with Okinawa-based HY and Zukan headlining. However, there will be some good old-fashioned rock 'n' roll in the shape of veterans Murasaki and S.K.p., eagerly awaited regulars at the event.
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Sony Corp. (TSE:6758) has begun to field-test renewable energy systems in Okinawa Prefecture with an eye on early commercialization as interest in environmental problems and energy conservation grows.

Subsidiary Sony Computer Science Laboratories Inc. is conducting the test as a joint project with the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology.

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US Senate cuts funding for relocating Okinawa Marines to Guam, IBN Live News

The US Senate Appropriations Committee has passed a bill without funding for relocating Marines from Japan's Okinawa Prefecture to Guam for fiscal 2012 starting in October. It is believed that the entire budget of about USD 150 million worth of outlays requested by the government for transferring some 8,000 Marine troops from Okinawa to Guam was cut from the annual spending bill.

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Local community, Americans honor Okinawa Memorial Day

More than 5,000 Okinawan community members and American military service members gathered at Okinawa Peace Memorial Park here for the 2011 Okinawa Memorial Service for All War Dead June 23.

The somber event recognized the 66th anniversary of the conclusion of the Battle of Okinawa, one of the bloodiest battles of World War II.

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Travelettes » Weird Stuff From Around The World

Square Watermelons – Japan

 Ever had the problem that a watermelon felt out of the fridge down the ground and messed up everything on the floor? Well, with a square watermelon this wouldn’t have happen. AND it also saves space in the fridge. That’s why the Japanese farmers have come up with the idea to let their watermelons grow in a plastic case to get the perfect square one.

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Friday, July 1, 2011

Farm ministry plans to recommend Japanese cuisine as UNESCO heritage - The Mainichi Daily News

Japan's farm ministry plans to recommend the nation's food culture as a UNESCO-designated intangible cultural heritage, ministry officials said Wednesday.

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Abercrombie Would Militarize the Economy, Bring Tens of Thousands of Marines from Okinawa to Pohakuloa | Hawai`i News Daily

According to a RAND report released on June 1, 2011, military spending in Hawaii totals more than $6.5 billion annually, supporting 101,533 jobs, with a cumulative economic effect of $12.2 billion. Not a word about the COSTS of military occupation of Hawaii and its poisoning of the land and waters of the state.

Now for the big news, remarkably blacked-out by our local media:  Governor Abercrombie wants to to move tens of thousands of Marines from Okinawa to be based on Hawaii Island at Pohakuloa.

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Andersen expansion plans remain on schedule - Air Force News | News from Afghanistan & Iraq - Air Force Times

While a plan to shift Marines from Okinawa to Guam faces hurdles in the Senate, a parallel expansion at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, quietly moves ahead, untouched by controversy.

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Australia Network News:Stories:Guam budget blowout hits Japan, US

The estimated cost of moving a United States military base from Japan to Guam has risen to more than twice the original estimate.

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Okinawa goes recruiting : Nature News

If you're a young American or European scientist and want freedom to pursue your own research, where do you go? Some promising young researchers have made a surprising choice: a research institute on Okinawa, one of the most southerly and remote islands in Japan. After a decade of slow growth, the institute has a new president-elect, former Stanford University physicist Jonathan Dorfan, a bumper crop of new faculty, and plans to open its doors as a graduate university later this year.

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Okinawans protest U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement - Okinawa - Stripes

A group of Okinawans, led by the governor, is protesting the U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement, saying the current law gives Americans living here too much protection and deprives Okinawans of the right to pursue justice in some cases.

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Miyazato set to play in British Open | The Japan Times Online

Ai Miyazato features among several Japanese players entered in the Women's British Open at the famous Carnoustie course in Scotland from July 28 to 31.

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Mike's Ryukyu Gallery: Tick in a Bellybutton (Photo) Just What I Needed !

Oh, baby, you have no idea how long I've been waiting for this. Not just a tick in a bellybutton,  but, two of them.  Not just any bellybutton, either, that's my bellybutton and I can do anything I want with it.  Hah !

The timing could have been better, though.  I just got back in town after spending a day in the hot sun, along with Doc.  We went to a place most Americans call The Cave of the Virgins, to take photos. 

You don't get to go in the caves.  It's a sacred site, Okinawa War memorial and a shockingly, sad story.

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Mike's Ryukyu Gallery: Wildlife Photo: Longhorn Beetle (Anoplophra glabripennis)

Today's wildlife photo was taken by Guest Photographer Rusty Robertson, the dude from Texas.

He shot this Asian Longhorn Beetle (Anoplophra glabripennis) at night on the roof of a house in Kin Village Okinawa, Japan.

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