Sunday, June 30, 2013

Osaka mayor, governor call for transfer of Osprey flight drills to Kansai | The Japan Times

Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto and Osaka Gov. Ichiro Matsui proposed Saturday that local leaders in Kansai urge the central government to consider transferring to their municipalities some MV-22 Osprey training drills from Okinawa.

Hashimoto and Matsui believe the central government should examine whether airports or Self-Defense Forces facilities elsewhere in the nation could host training flights by the tilt-rotor Ospreys deployed at U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa.

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Comment: Okay-okay, I know, that's not a picture of an Osprey. It's the "Objects in Mirror are Closer than they Appear" printed in the mirror that I wanted to highlight. That is how the folks up in Osaka are going to feel if this were to ever take place.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Ryukyu Shimpo – Okinawa Governor and Mayors ask Prime Minister for more information on return of U.S. bases

On June 12, Governor Hirokazu Nakaima and 27 mayors met Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo. They asked him to provide more detail about the plan to return U.S. bases and land south of Kadena Air Base, and for information on the alternatives to the closed bases. The Governor and mayors went to Tokyo as members of the Okinawa Municipal Council for Military Land Conversion and Base Problems, which is made up representatives of the 27 municipalities in Okinawa that host U.S. military bases. The Prime Minister said, “I would like to discuss this with you all to move things forward smoothly.”

 Mayors from seven municipalities attended the meeting. Asking for detail regarding the process of returning the land, the Governor said, “We do not know where you intend to move what facilities.” They asked the government to listen to the opinions of the Okinawa Prefectural Government and municipalities when it carries out the consolidation plan, and the master plan for the remaining bases. In response, the Prime Minister asked them to be more understanding towards the government’s plan, saying, “There is another party (the United States) involved. It is difficult in this situation for the Japanese Government to just say ‘Yes, okay.’”

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Translation: You'll get the details when the Obama-Nation of Desolation as spoken of by the Profit Daniel, a.k.a. "Big Bro" says so and not one second before. Until then, STFU!!!

Expectations high on tools made of iron-steel slag to revive coral reefs - The Japan News

Prof. Mineo Okamoto of Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology holds a block for coral settlement devices. 
Story & photo originally from the Yomiuri Shimbun

A Tokyo university professor has been achieving great success in the process of reviving coral reefs in Indonesia using small instruments.

Meanwhile, the International Conference on Climate Change and Coral Reef Conservation, organized by the Environment Ministry, is scheduled to be held at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University in Onna, Okinawa Prefecture, on Saturday and Sunday.

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Barrels found on Okinawa did not contain Agent Orange, Dow Chemical says - Pacific - Stripes

Dow Chemical Co. said Friday that, despite local fears, barrels unearthed from former U.S. Air Force land on Okinawa did not contain Agent Orange herbicide.

The Okinawa City government demanded this week that Tokyo investigate whether 16 rusty, empty Dow drums found under a soccer field near Kadena Air Base could have held dioxin-laden defoliants used by the United States during the Vietnam War.

The U.S. has long denied the herbicides were ever used or stored on Okinawa, but military pollution has remained an issue for an island weary of supporting a large number of bases.

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Comment: Yeah right! Like we're supposed to believe anything that Dow Chemical tells us. I'd almost rather believe what the government tells us, well, not really because I already know that both of them are lying through their teeth to me! OK, so they didn't contain Agent Orange. That little confession still doesn't tell us what they did contain and who knows, maybe it's something even more toxic and/or carcinogenic. You know that there are three types of lies. The first two are lies by commission and lies by omission. These are commonly referred to as lies and damn lies. This lie by Dow Chemical falls under the second category. The third type of lie, of course are "statistics!"

Mike's Ryukyu Gallery: Travel Photo: Just a Guy on the Seawall with His Sanshin

Out researching an event that takes place on an uninhabited island we spotted this guy. Many of the cultural events we go to document, take months (in advance) of preparation. There aren't any English language travel guides, written about them. So, getting out there and beating the bushes, is what Map It Okinawa dude and I do.

This photo was taken March 21, 2013.

We were looking for an off shore island, rumored, to have some ceremonies in June. When you read something that says an event takes place in "June" you have to wonder. With June being the sixth month of the year, sometimes things are lost in translation. In Okinawa, Japan, most cultural events take place according to the Lunar calendar. The sixth month might be in July or, August, depending on what year it is.

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Friday, June 28, 2013

A Japan Photo per Day - Unusual Japanese vending machines, Fortune telling dispenser

Omikuji vending machine, Aizu-Wakamatsu
Visiting Japan, you will notice that every Shinto shrine has a tree or a special rack randomly adorned with small folded strips of paper… The paper strips are not decorations, they are omikuji, a kind of fortune telling lottery.

Each omikuji presents a fortune, varying from “great blessing” to “great curse” and the believers are supposed to keep the good fortunes with them and to hang in the tree/rack the bad ones, thus preventing the predicted misfortune.

Traditionally, the omikuji are bought in either of two ways: in the most traditional method, a stick is randomly extracted from a cylindrical box and the corresponding paper is received according to the stick’s number. Another, simpler method, is to just chose a wrapped omikuji from a container.

But during the last years I witnessed the spreading of a much modern system: coin-operated vending machines. And it makes perfect sense to me, since Japan is the country of the vending machines… You can see such a fortune telling dispenser in this photo taken at a small shrine near the Tsuruga Castle, in Aizu-Wakamatsu.

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Mike's Ryukyu Gallery: RyukyuMike's Packing List for an Overnight Island Hop (Image)

Traveling Lite

This is a quick checklist for a weekend visit to an outer island in Okinawa, Japan. Not anticipating being able to go online, the laptop and external drive can stay home.

Bags are packed but, here's what it looked like a few minutes ago.On the bottom of the pile is the Coleman 3 - in - 1 Blanket.

In no particular order, here's a list of things that get stuffed in my flea-market backpack that helps me look like a homeless dude. Two Pentax DSLRs.  From Sigma a 10-20mm, and a 50-500mm. One Pentax 18-250mm lens.

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Ryukyu Shimpo – Eisa Dance Monument set up at Koza Athletic Park

On June 13, the Okinawa Zento Eisa Festival Executive Committee held a ceremony to commemorate the completion of the “Eisa Dance Monument” in Koza Athletic Park, Okinawa City. This day marks six years since the Okinawa City declared itself as the “Town of Eisa dance.” The monument is third of its type following those that have been erected at the Raikamu Intersection and the Goya Crossroads. It costs about 4.5 million yen, which are donations from the residents’ associations and companies.

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Comment: They're soooooooo cute too!

Former prime minister riles current ministers over Senkakus | Japan Update

Former Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has expressed some understanding of China’s sovereignty claim to the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, it was learned Tuesday.

In an interview with Hong Kong broadcaster Phoenix Television, Hatoyama said China’s claims that Japan stole the islands from China are understandable. The remark about the islands in Okinawa Prefecture drew an angry response from Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga. “His remark is totally unforgivable,” he said at a news conference.

“I’m too surprised to say anything” Suga said. “He has caused confusion with irresponsible remarks in the past. I want him to act appropriately as a former prime minister.”

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Comment: Hey Japan, aren't you glad this nimrod isn't your Prime Minister any more??? I feel pretty confident that Osaka Mayor, Mr. Toru Hashimoto, is probably doing one handed black flips knowing that there's someone out there in Japanese politics more adept at putting their foot in their mouths while simultaneously sticking their heads up their asses than he is!

Jazz Pianist Fumio Karashima joins Ashibina 15th anniversary | Japan Update

Renowned jazz composer and pianist Fumio Karashima is coming to Okinawa this Saturday to help Okinawa City Civic Theater Ashibina celebrate its 15th anniversary.

The Fumio Karashima Jazz Trio will provide a concert of various genre, including jazz handed down from Elvin Jones, often known as a jazz drummer’s maestro. Karashima has wrapped his music around the Steinway piano, known around the world as the highest ranking piano. 

Saturday’s concert will see doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the music get under way at 7 p.m.

Advance tickets are ¥2,500, with tickets at the door ¥3,000. Those who bring a copy of Japan Update with them get 10% off at the door. Tickets are available at Okinawa Theater Ashibina by calling (098) 934-8487 between 9 a.m. ~ 5:30 p.m., and at Teruya Music Store, Fukuhara Music Store, Takara Records and Tsutaya Naha Shintoshin, Oroku, Shuri, Yamauchi and Nago.

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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Japan endures like a U.S. vassal | The Japan Times

Regarding the June 22 Kyodo article, “Tainted soil detected at ex-U.S. land in Okinawa“: Under the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), the United States does not have the obligation to clean up environmental contamination. Can you believe this?

In the real world, this is absolutely not permissible and pardonable, but this is the hard reality about Japan-U.S. relations — the fact that poor Japan is forced under. If Japan were a sovereign nation, it would never have agreed to such unjust terms.

This attests to the fact that Japan is none other than a U.S. vassal, deprived of real sovereignty. Thus the Abe administration’s celebration April 28 marking the restoration of Japan’s sovereignty under the 1952 San Francisco Peace Treaty was a farce.

There’s something seriously wrong with SOFA and the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. It’s about the time to revisit these agreements if Japan really wants to claim that full sovereignty has been restored.

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Yen caught between Fed taper and risk evasion | The Japan Times

The yen is in a “tug of war” as a result of speculation the Federal Reserve will begin tapering stimulus this year, according to Takatoshi Kato, a former top currency official at the Finance Ministry.

“One of the main objectives of the Fed’s quantitative easing was to boost asset prices and encourage spending by providing ample liquidity, but we’re beginning to see some of the side effects,” Kato, 72, now president of the Japan Center for International Finance, said in a Tuesday interview in Tokyo.

Investors are pulling money from emerging markets as they seek to avoid risk, and they’re turning to the yen as a safe haven, he said. At the same time, the possibility of a reduction in the pace of the Fed’s bond buying is pushing up Treasury yields, and raising the appeal of the dollar.

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Comment: The dollar's appeal is rising??? Dudes, what the hell are you smoking? The dollar is done and believe it or not, so is the Yen. Before Mister's Bernanke and the Obama-Nation of desolation as spoken of by the "profit" Daniel make them and most of the world's other fiat based currencies totally worthless, buy all the hard assets you can like gold, guns, ammo and canned goods and head for the hills before these dill weeds pull the plug on it all and plunge the whole world into a new dark age! 

Can you say F#&%@d? Sure, I knew you could...

DVIDS - News - Ginowan City, Futenma officials sign disaster preparedness agreement

Mayor Atsushi Sakima of Ginowan City and Col. James G. Flynn, commanding officer of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, signed a bilateral agreement June 26 at MCAS Futenma specifying evacuation methods for Okinawa residents through the air station in the event of a natural disaster and for evacuation drills to maintain preparedness.

Under the agreement, in the event of a natural disaster, especially a tsunami, MCAS Futenma would open one or more of the station’s gates and post evacuation route signs, allowing evacuees immediate and direct passage to higher ground or shelter by transiting through the air station.

The agreement is an important step in protecting the Okinawa and military communities during times of need, according to Sakima.

“The March 2011 earthquake in northern Japan triggered a powerful tsunami that devastated the area and resulted in the loss of a large number of people’s lives and property in a matter of minutes and seconds,” said Sakima. “This traumatic event emphasized the importance of having an effective evacuation plan for the citizens of Okinawa, who are completely surrounded by a body of water. This implementation not only helps save lives of Okinawans, but of tourists and visitors from all over the world who happen to be in the area at the time of disaster.”

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Mike's Ryukyu Gallery: Get Ready, Get Set, Tip Your Boat Over During the Race !

A Highlight of the Dragonboat Races
This isn't something you see happen at many boat races.

Half way through the course, the teams deliberately capsize their boats.

It's a ritual performed at the Dragonboat Races of Itoman, Okinawa, Japan.

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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

VOX POPULI: Yonagunijima boy's poem brings home meaning of peace - AJW by The Asahi Shimbun

Yonagunijima island in Okinawa Prefecture is Japan’s westernmost inhabited slice of territory. When Yuki Asato, a first-grader at Kubura elementary school on the island, recited his poem in a ceremony to mark the 68th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Okinawa on June 23, some people must have been moved to tears. His innocent yet firm words seemed to purify the minds of adults.

The poem’s title “Heiwa-tte Suteki dane” (Peace is really nice) hit home. “What is peace? I thought. Having good friends… The family is in good spirits. A cat is smiling.” ......

...... Sixty-eight years after the war, Asato realizes that things he sees by the roadside on the island are “peace.” “Goats are walking at leisure… Yonaguni horses are neighing.” I felt as if the young poet washed off the dirt from the word peace.

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Comment: You have to click on the link, go to the original story and read what is said between that second and last paragraph above to get the significance of this post...

The Star Online : Gallery - Today: June 24

Young chidren offer prayers for the war dead killed in the 1945 Battle of Okinawa at the Cornerstone of Peace at Peace Memorial Park in Itoman City, Okinawa island, southern Japan, 23 June 2013. Okinawa marked the 68th anniversary of the end of World War II's Battle of Okinawa, a ground battle where more than 200,000 soldiers and civilians died. Some 5,800 people attended to a memorial service held at the Peace Memorial Park in the city of Itoman. - EPA - 24 June, 2013

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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

From our contributors: week of June 17, 2013 | PocketCultures

PocketCultures brings you some reading material written by our own contributors on their personal blogs. Happy reading!

Mike, our contributor from Japan, published a photo taken at the house of a priestess in Itoman Okinawa

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Japan To Engage Experts To Identify Contents Of Drums Found In Former US Base

Japanese government will engage experts to identify the contents of 16 drums found at the site of a former U.S. base in Okinawa prefecture to remove the anxiety of residents, Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said on Monday.

Okinawa city Mayor Mitsuko Tomon met Onodera in Tokyo and urged him to conduct a full investigation into the drums and their contents as the people were worried about possible contamination.

The unidentified drums were excavated from a football field in Okinawa city on June 13 during construction work. The football field had once been part of an American base.

Some of the drums are labeled with the name of a U.S. company that produced chemical defoliants during the Vietnam War, Japan's NHK broadcaster reported.

Onodera told Tomon that the government would contract an expert company this week to identify the drums' contents, and then take necessary action to deal with the results of the investigation.

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Comment: In response, official U.S. spokesman Bart Simpson gave a brief prepared statement!

Tweak the Constitution now, think later? | The Japan Times

Whether it happens or not depends heavily on the results of the upcoming House of Councilors elections, but Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has clearly announced his intention to make amending the Constitution a campaign issue.

Although his Liberal Democratic Party issued a comprehensive amendment proposal on April 28, 2012 (the 60th anniversary of the end of the U.S. Occupation, unless you are in Okinawa or the Ogasawara Islands), Abe is trying to appear reasonable by focusing just on amending the amendment process. Currently, Article 96 of the Constitution requires that a proposed amendment first be approved by two-thirds of both houses of the Diet, followed by a majority of voters in a national referendum.

The line taken by Abe and his co-reformers is that the two-thirds threshold is too high, making it impossible to even get to the point of discussing possible amendments. As if on cue, the mainstream press has obligingly printed mendacious stories about how abnormally difficult the Constitution is to amend compared to in other countries. (It’s not; anyways, constitutions are meant to be difficult to amend — it’s one of the things that makes them constitutional.)

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Comment: In case you missed it, I had some commentary appropriate to this problem on another post below this one (linked here). The in a nut shell reply is leave it the hell alone. They make stuff difficult to mess with for a reason. So jack-offs like you can't screw things up! You know even if you do it right, there's no guarantee that the next nimrod in-charge won't mess it up because thanks to you, now he can...

To their credit, this story attests to the fact that at least the Japanese still acknowledge that they have a constitution. The law, as it is, does seem to at least imply that not only is a constitution something that is very-very important, shouldn't be messed around with and it's also something that should be followed. Put another way, that headline is so appropriate! In America, these days as it pertains to their constitution, they just ignore it or worse, wipe their asses with it!

Lastly, thanks Mr. Abe, I've been waiting a long time for a story to come along where it was appropriate for me to use this image. I only wish I had the updated version with the Obama-Nation of desolation and the current crop of criminals on it instead of "W" and his ilk. Not because he didn't screw shit up, he did! It's just a bit dated and blaming everything on him makes me sound a bit like the current fool.

But you gotta admit, that image of Dick Cheney as Davy Jones (top center) is soooo cool!

Mike's Ryukyu Gallery: Okinawa Peace Memorial Park Under The Supermoon (Photos)

June 23rd is Memorial Day in Okinawa, Japan
Mabuni Hill, in Itoman is the site, dedicated to the memory of all those lost during the war. Last night, we went there late, to see the illumination. Fortunately, the full moon was available to photograph, too.

Because Itoman is far south of where I live, I had no idea where the moon would rise. Pillars of Peace Lights were turned on over a monument.
They represent the searchlights used during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945.

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Monday, June 24, 2013

Another intruder spotted In Japan’s Senkaku zone | Japan Update

The Japan Coast Guard says that a Bahamas-registered marine research vessel has been spotted in Japan’s exclusive economic zone off the Senkaku Islands southwest of Okinawa.

According to the Coast Guard’s 11th Regional Headquarters, a surveillance aircraft found the Discoverer 2 ship sailing west in the EEZ some 127 kilometers northeast of Taishojima, one of the five islands in the Senkaku group, at around 8:20 a.m. Monday.  The ship was moving at some 7 kilometers per hour, pulling eight wire-like objects.

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Comment: The Bahama's??? Save the bales man and pass the ganja by the left hand side! Bet that's what they were towing with them cables. That's getting stealthy if you ask me..

Ryukyu Shimpo – Okinawa, Japanese newspaper, local news » Beautiful red turtle a “national treasure”

On his way to the school on May 31, eleven-year-old pupil of Ginoza Elementary School Kuruto Aniya picked up a Ryukyu leaf turtle (Ryukyu yama-game) without knowing that it is designated as a natural treasure.

Kuruto brought the turtle to school out of curiosity because he had never seen one like it before. He showed it to his science teacher Norihiro Yara, who told him, “Well, you can check this for yourself.” When he looked in an animal book and found it, he shouted, “It’s a natural treasure!”

After being contacted by the school, a researcher of the Ginoza Museum confirmed that the animal is in fact a national treasure. “This is a quite beautiful turtle. Most of the turtles are brown or yellow. Even so, we don’t know whether it is male or female, this is a very beautiful red,” one of the museum staff said. After the turtle was given appropriate care in the museum, Kuruto and his friend Shuya Tokashiki released it in the nearby woods on the afternoon of June 13.

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Comment:  I guess orange, blue and purple ninja turtles just aren't so rare...

Japan Australia: Matcha Japanese Green Tea

As an avid Japanese tea fan and also the founder of a matcha green tea company, Zen Green Tea, I always have people asking me what matcha is and why it holds such a special place in Japanese culture. There is a bit of a matcha craze at the moment- big multinational companies are using matcha to produce everything from KitKats, Starbucks frappes to French macaron. America features a growing matcha market with Dr Oz and Oprah all shouting its health benefits from the rooftop.

So how is matcha actually different from standard green tea? Well first off the production of the two teas is vastly different. The green tea plants chosen to be used for matcha (typically the healthiest plants in a harvest) are covered with shade cloths for weeks at the end of the harvest. This makes the plants work harder for sunlight so it turbo charges their levels of chlorophyll and nutrients. Only the finest leaves on the top of the plants are hand picked, oven baked and rapidly stone ground into an ultra fine, jade green powder. Normal green tea uses the leaves at the middle- bottom of the tea plants which are then steamed, rolled and dried. This process destroys a lot of the amino acids and ECGC catechins well known for cancer prevention and anti-aging.

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Opinion - Every interventionist step spoils best-laid plans | The Japan Times

Ten years after a disastrous invasion of Iraq, the United States is weighing intervention in the Middle East again — this time in Syria. Every U.S. step for a decade in the region, has strengthened the Iranians and fomented Shiite-Sunni conflict.

When will U.S. leaders admit the nation is now more bumbler than superpower? The Middle East is in ever more turmoil. In the U.S. debate, most of the blame is conveniently laid at the feet of a single country, Iran.

Not that the regime steered by the mullahs is any kind of nice guy. Far from it. Among their worst sins is that they systematically oppress the aspirations of a very talented young generation of Iranians.
But that doesn’t justify the American inclination to make Iran the end-all and be- all of evil on an issue such as Syria.

In the words of an unnamed State Department official, “If anything gets us moving, it will be the Iran threat.” And what is that threat? “Right now, Iran is winning the strategic game in the region.”

Mark that down as a typical Washington move of using one’s own sworn enemy as a key motivational tool.

That stimulus-response pattern is stunning in its naivete: We’re Americans, aren’t we? We’re the good guys. Our traditional role is to rein in the bad guys, like Iran, isn’t it? Therefore, let us now all resolve to push the Iranians back.

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Comment: Normally I wouldn't post a story like this here but there is a universal lesson here that I feel compelled to share. Remember that old adage you heard your mother use as a kid that goes "too many cooks spoil the broth?" The same is true here with a slight twist. Instead of too many cooks fixing one broth, this time it's one cook trying to cook too many pots of broth at the same time. But even that isn't the main point. The real point is to just leave stuff the hell alone and let things sort themselves out on their own. 

It matters not whether it's mister's Bernanke and Abe digitally printing their respective currencies which are soon to be not worth the digital paper they're not printed on, mayor Blooming-Idiot in NY or his evil clone Toru Hashimoto in Osaka telling everyone what they can or can't do. It's not even Jamie Foxx's Lord and Savior trying to save the Syrians from their evil overlord. It's time for our betters at all levels to just leave stuff the hell alone and let things sort themselves out on their own. The less they mess with stuff, the better off we'll all be!

The more people try to fix stuff the more broke it gets, figuratively and literally. We'd all be a whole lot better off if people would just leave shit alone and mind their own business. For example, as much as I hate to admit this, Sarah "I can see Russia from my house" Palin put it best about the Syrian problem when she recently said to "Let Allah sort it out!" As this pertains to Okinawa, maybe it's time the U.S. really listened to the Okinawan people instead of giving them lip service and picked up all their toys and went home. Japanese security is a Japanese problem and Okinawa is an Okinawan problem. 

Okinawa remembers 1945 battle; defense, foreign ministers attend ceremony - AJW by The Asahi Shimbun

ITOMAN, Okinawa Prefecture—Okinawans renewed their determination to attain peace on the 68th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Okinawa in an annual ceremony attended by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and, for the first time, the defense and foreign ministers.

A total of 5,800 people attended a ceremony held at the Peace Memorial Park in Itoman’s Mabuni district, the site of the last major fighting during the 1945 battle.

In addition to Abe, Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera and Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida were in attendance. Also present were Toru Hashimoto, co-leader of the Japan Restoration Party, and U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos.

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Okinawa marks 68th anniversary of end of WWII battle | GlobalPost

Okinawa marked the 68th anniversary Sunday of the end of the Battle of Okinawa, a World War II ground battle that claimed more than 200,000 lives, with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledging to ease the concentration of U.S. bases there.

A memorial service for the war dead was held at the Peace Memorial Park in the city of Itoman, the site of the final stage of the battle, with about 5,800 people including residents and government officials attending.

"I will do all I can to reduce the burden on Okinawa," Abe said in his speech at the ceremony, while Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima again urged the Japanese and the U.S. government to move the Futenma base out of the prefecture and "drastically revise as soon as possible" the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement, which gives special treatment to U.S. troops in Japan.

Antipathy toward U.S. bases has risen in Okinawa since the deployment in October last year of the crash-prone MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft at Futenma Air Station.

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Sunday, June 23, 2013

Map It! Okinawa: "A Dawn of a New Day..."

Between April 1st and June 22nd of 1945, up to 200,000 lives would perish in what would be dubbed the 'Bloodiest Battle of the Pacific'. Of that number, the Okinawans would pay the heaviest price – men, women, children, estimated to be over a hundred thousand...gone.

And up north on the main island, you will find Hedo Misaki. It is as far as one can get from the once war-torn regions of the south, where much of the carnage had taken place. And there, you will find two Peace Poles firmly wedged into the rugged coral cliffs of Cape Hedo. They are beacons of hope, with each side having message inscribed in a different language. The message reads, “May Peace Prevail on Earth”. Both objects serve as a simple reminder of peace and of the tragedies of war. On June 23rd, the anniversary of the day after the war ended, many Okinawans will pay tribute to the fallen who passed away during those very dark times. It is their way of spreading this message of peace. It is their way of healing. It is 'Irei no hi', Okinawa's Memorial Day.

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Comment: They say we should make love not war. If that's the way to world peace, I say give it a chance!

Ryukyu Shimpo – [Editorial] US and Japan need to investigate Agent Orange in Okinawa

Construction workers have unearthed dozens of barrels bearing the words: “The Dow Chemical Company” at a soccer ground on land returned by the U.S. military in Okinawa City. The United States based company is the second-largest chemical manufacturer in the world. During the Vietnam War they produced Agent Orange, a chemical defoliant containing dioxin.

The discovery has increased the possibility that the U.S. military stored the defoliant in Okinawa.

The U.S. government has consistently claimed that no evidence exists of storage of Agent Orange, but will they continue to do so despite this latest find?

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More soil contamination found at former U.S. forces site in Okinawa | GlobalPost

More soil contamination from fossil fuel has been found on land formerly occupied by a U.S. military facility in Okinawa and there are fears that the contaminants have spread via groundwater, according to an inspection report of the local defense bureau.

Contamination by what appeared to be jet fuel and gasoline was found in the northern part of Camp Kuwae, according to the Okinawa Defense Bureau's report for this year. Some of the land used by the base was handed back to Japan in 2003.

Under the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement, the United States has no obligation to clean up environmental contamination or make compensation when returning land occupied by U.S. forces facilities.

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Lights of peace 22nd, 23rd | Japan Update

Searchlights which criss-crossed Okinawa skies during the Battle of Okinawa in the Spring 1945 are to be illuminated again on June 22nd and 23rd, but for the purpose of promoting the importance of peace.

The lights, now dubbed “pillars of the peace lights,” are now a memorial service and a symbol of peace, all part of the Peace Light Triangle sponsored jointly by Yomitan Village, Zmami Village and Itoman City on the anniversary of the end of the Battle of Okinawa June 23rd.  Ceremonies and searchlights plying the sky will be 8 ~ 10 p.m. both Saturday the 22nd and Sunday the 23rd.

Admission is free to the ceremonies and sky lightings at Okinawa Peace Prayer Park, 614-1 Mabuni, Itoman City.  The whole event is divided into three parts, with this being the last. The first two events have already been commemorated; The first one was carried out on March 26th at Zamami Village where the first landing place of U.S. Forces took place, and March 26th was the day when U.S. Forces first set foot on Okinawa. The next one was carried out on April 1st at Yomitan Village, the first landing place of U.S. Forces on Okinawa’s main island,.

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A Japan Photo per Day - Japanese spiritual architecture, Double-helix staircase

Sazae-do, Aizu-Wakamatsu
The double-helix staircase is an architectural element found often in the Western architecture, but quite rare in Japan. In Aizu-Wakamatsu you can visit a unique wooden temple-tower, Sazae-do, built in 1796 with a splendid double-helix sloped staircase.

The two spirals are never in contact, so by going up and down the stairs the visitor will experience a single, non-repeating route: in my photo you can see the topmost part, equivalent to the 3rd floor, where a bridge joins the two slopes.

This up-and-down route has a remarkable spiritual significance: originally, along the double-helix path there were 33 statues of Kannon (the Buddhist tradition says that, to save people, Kannon appears in 33 different forms), each statue symbolizing a temple. So, visiting the building was the equivalent of a pilgrimage to 33 Kannon temples - a very popular pilgrimage in Japan.

Unfortunately, this spiritual significance is lost now: after the Meiji Restoration, because of some anti-Buddhist policies, the statues were removed from the tower. But for the visitor interested in Japanese culture, the experience is still great…

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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Mike's Ryukyu Gallery: This Bug is a Real Killer ! Meet the Assassin Fly

They Don't Eat People, Just Other Bugs
When I spotted this insect, it was sunning on a country road in northern Okinawa, Japan. That's a pretty mean-looking bug.  So, I had to sneak up on it and take some photos.

Look at those big eyes and nasty barbed legs! It took awhile to research this critter and get a positive identification. It is a Robber Fly (Asilidae) also known as an Assassin Fly.
Not to worry.  They won't bite humans.
These guys only go after other bugs.  And, they are ferocious.  They nab their prey out of the air.

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Comment: Kinda looks like one of them spy vs. spy characters don't ya think???

Pressure to prove loyalty paved way for mass suicides in Battle of Okinawa - AJW by The Asahi Shimbun

Like so many other islanders in Okinawa Prefecture, Masao Komine was eager to die for the emperor.

Educated to become more “Japanese” and told the ultimate shame was to surrender to advancing U.S. troops, the 15-year-old and residents of his village prepared to kill themselves in the mountains on Tokashikijima island on March 28, 1945.

The village leader screamed, “Long live the emperor!” The pins were then pulled from grenades that had been given to each family.

Shrapnel from the explosions ripped through the human circles made by various families. Severed limbs flew through the air. Internal organs spilled out of wounded bodies. Women who were dressed in their finest kimono were reduced to pieces of flesh and rags.

People groaned and screamed in pain. Elderly residents howled hysterically.

Komine saw survivors being hacked by their own family members wielding machetes and saws.

“Suddenly, a feeling welled up in me of not wanting to die,” he recalled. “I just wanted to run away.”

June 23 marks the 68th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Okinawa. Komine, now 83, still suffers from horrible nightmares of that experience.

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Comment: And now the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate known to readers of this blog as the Obama-Nation of Desolation as spoken of by the profit Daniel want's to potentially start WWIII over a worthless hack eye doctor turned dictator so his puppet masters who own the Fed and the military industrial complex can get a little richer. 

War only destroys and makes a few "selected" crony's rich. The next one will likely end up the way this last one did only about ten or more times worse. Countries don't build weapons they don't intend to one day use. These days there are more than just two bombs, there are now thousands and they can destroy even more than the crude ones dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima could. The way we are heading, they are quite likely about to be used. We should be listening to the survivors of the last great war and learn from this. 

It's time to stop the insanity!

U.S. envoy Roos to attend memorial ceremony in Okinawa | GlobalPost

U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos will attend a memorial ceremony in Okinawa Prefecture on Sunday commemorating those who died in the Battle of Okinawa in 1945, the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo said Friday.

"I am honored to be able to attend this important ceremony," Roos said, adding that he aims to "further strengthen and expand the bonds of friendship between the people of Okinawa and the people of the United States."

The Battle of Okinawa was one of the bloodiest conflicts in the Pacific during World War II, claiming the lives of more than 200,000 people. More than 12,000 U.S. servicemen and one out of four Okinawa residents were killed.

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Comment: I wonder how many drones the U.S. will have circling overhead to supposedly protect this doofas and how that will supposedly expand the bonds of friendship???

Mike's Ryukyu Gallery: Grab a Camera and Get Ready for the June 2013 Supermoon !

The Full Moon this Month is Called a Super-moon

It is because the moon will be closer to earth than, at any other time, this year. That also means, the high tide will be higher than normal. And, low tides will go lower for a few days.

It's always a good idea to get some practice with the camera before the night of the full moon. This photo was taken last night at Hedo Point in Okinawa. We camped out overnight to catch the summer solstice sunrise and, sort of got ripped-off.

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Friday, June 21, 2013

How to Contain Japan-China Tensions | The Diplomat

A recent Economist magazine cover portrays Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe clad in superhero costume, flying through the air flanked by fighter jets under the banner, “Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No… It’s Japan!” This caricature represents a growing sense that Japan has turned a corner toward a more assertive foreign and defense policy.

Despite Abe’s intentions, Tokyo is unlikely to adopt a radically expanded defense posture aimed at containing Beijing in coming years. Rather, a wide range of domestic and external factors will likely place constraints on Japanese defense spending and capabilities and lead Tokyo to continue an overall policy of cooperative engagement with Beijing.

However, there is growing support in Japan for dealing firmly with China’s expanding military capabilities and ambitions, especially in light of the most recent crisis over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands.

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Comment: The heck with Abe, abenomics and his supposed hawkishness, Anpan Man (pictured above) could kick his butt any day!

Okinawans have a low risk of arteriosclerosis, cancer; diet may be why -

The odds of living to 100 are highest in Japan, and their high-vegetable low-meat diet may be why, some of the elderly say.

The Japanese Okinawa islands are said to include the largest proportion of centenarians in Japan, who eat a diet such as rice and tofu, bamboo shoots, seaweed, pickles and small cubes of braised pork belly, The Guardian reported. Many in Japan drink six or more cups of green tea every day.

Dr. Craig Willcox, who researches Okinawan longevity and co-wrote the book, "The Okinawa Program," said to duplicate the diet of those in Okinawa "eat as low down the food chain as possible."

"The Okinawans have a low risk of arteriosclerosis and stomach cancer, a very low risk of hormone-dependent cancers, such as breast and prostate cancer," Willcox told The Guardian. "They eat three servings of fish a week, on average, plenty of whole grains, vegetables and soy products too, more tofu and more konbu seaweed than anyone else in the world, as well as squid and octopus, which are rich in taurine -- that could lower cholesterol and blood pressure."

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Comment: Only six cups of green tea? That's so they have plenty of room for a case of Orion beer or a typhoon bottle of Awamori sake later! Soki Soba, Orion Beer, Awamori Sake and Taco Rice, the cornerstones of a healthy diet Okinawa style!

New batch of Filipina health workers leaves for Japan

A new batch of Filipino health workers, pre-qualified to train for practicing their profession in Japan under a bilateral agreement, left the Philippines for Japan on Wednesday.

The 144 health workers are required to participate in a six-month language program before starting training at Japanese health institutions, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration said.

The group already underwent a six-month Japanese language course in the Philippines, a measure aimed at increasing the chances for Filipino candidates to pass the Japanese license exam for "care" givers.

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Comment: Guess the "deli-health" business is doing good despite these hard times...

International community joins Battle of Okinawa commemoration | Japan Update

The Battle of Okinawa ended 68 years ago this month, and the American Chamber of Commerce in Okinawa, United Services Organization, United Seamen’s Service and veteran’s organizations are teaming with Okinawa Prefecture to commemorate the event at Peace Prayer Park in Itoman.

The annual event Sunday morning begins with an Americans-led ceremony at the wall where the names of those killed during the three-month battle are inscribed.  The half-hour ceremony  memorializing U.S. service members who lost their lives during the battle  begins in late morning.

The Okinawa Prefecture ceremonies take place an hour later at another location at Peace Prayer Park.  The ACCO and USO will lay wreaths at the memorial site, and guests are invited to place American flags at the wall.  The VFW will also lay a wreath at the ceremony site.

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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Ryukyu Shimpo – Okinawan karate men win at East Asian Senior Championship

In the 3rd East Asian Senior Karate Championship, which began on June 8 in Wuhan, China, Japan won all the Kata divisions for individual men, women, and teams. Okinawan Ryo Kyuna (Ryueiryu) has now won two consecutive years in the men’s Kata Individual Division. He is also a member of the Japan team (including Takuya Uemura and Arata Kinjo of Okinawa International University), which came first in the Kata Team Division. Japan won convincingly 5-0 against both the Taiwanese senior team in the first round and the Taiwanese junior team in the final. They performed the Suparinpei kata in the first round of the tournament and the Annan kata in the final. Kyuna lost just one point in the first round in the Kata Individual Division, going on to defeat his Korean opponent in the semifinal and the representative from Macau in the final.

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Mike's Ryukyu Gallery: Summer Officially Starts Tomorrow !

Summer Solstice June 21, 2013

It all depends on where in the world you live and a lot of other scientific stuff. Some people call it the longest day of the year. It's really the day we get the most daylight.  That's if you live north of the equator.

Here is a photo I took in June of 2011 as the sun was setting on the west coast of Okinawa. Tomorrow the sun will rise at 4:25AM and set at 6:59PM Japan Standard Time.

If the silly tropical storm we're having, gets done blowing, we may have sunshine. Like, about 14 hours worth of sunshine on the first day of summer! Now, I'm not sure what normal folks will be doing. Grabbing the cameras and heading for the hills, sounds like a good plan to me.

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Strontium in groundwater at No. 1 soars | The Japan Times

Groundwater contaminated with highly radioactive substances has been detected from a monitoring well just 27 meters from the seashore within the compound of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Wednesday.

Wednesday’s announcement is the latest in a series of difficulties Tepco has faced as it struggles to manage contaminated water at the wrecked plant, posing a great risk to the environment.

Testing revealed strontium-90 readings of 1,000 becquerels per liter, 33 times more than the legal limit, as well as tritium readings of 500,000 becquerels per liter, 8.3 times the limit.

Tepco said it believes the radioactive groundwater has yet to reach the ocean, as radiation readings in seawater samples from near the shore have not shown significant shifts.

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Comment: Though it doesn't bear the distinction of being the "biggest" little word in the whole English language, that word highlighted, in bold red letters, underlined and italicized in the last sentence above is certainly one of the most significant!

The Okinawa diet – could it help you live to 100? | Life and style | The Guardian

Last week, the oldest man ever on record, Jiroemon Kimura, from Kyotango near Kyoto, passed away at the age of 116. His death, and the fact that the new record holder, 115-year-old Misao Okawa, is from Osaka, reminded us that the Japanese know a trick or two when it comes to living beyond 100. According to the UN they have the greatest proportion of centenarians in the world – and a great deal of that knowhow concerns diet.

I have long taken an interest in how I might eat myself to old age. I visited the southern Japanese Okinawa islands whose population is said to include the largest proportion of centenarians in the country and met with some of them in what is supposedly the village with the oldest demographic in the world, Ogimi, little more than a dirt street lined with small houses, home to more than a dozen centenarians. Old folk tended vegetable patches or sat on porches watching a funeral procession go by. My family and I dined on rice and tofu, bamboo shoots, seaweed, pickles, small cubes of braised pork belly and a little cake at the local "longevity cafe" beneath flowering dragon fruit plants. Butterflies the size of dinner plates fluttered by and my youngest son asked if there was a KFC.

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Comment: In my mind, that last line is proof positive that we need to shoot anyone opposed to corporal punishment!

Okinawa Exit Plan - Hawaii News - Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Three studies are underway on Oahu to find sites to house 2,700 Marines from Okinawa, Japan, but it may take until 2026 to implement what is estimated to be a $2.5 billion move.

The Defense Department said it is conducting a Marine Corps Base Hawaii Optimization Study examining existing Kaneohe Bay land; an "Oahu Land Use Study" looking at defense property on the island; and a third study analyzing former defense property in the Kalaeloa area

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Comment: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot! This one has my B.S. flags at full staff. We're always hearing about how overseas bases are so expensive to maintain and now they're telling us how it's more expensive to have our boys come home. Trust the government? Yeah right, Kilo Mike Sierra!

'Special exhibition on the 120th anniversary of Ryukyu Shimpo; 42 tumultuous years in Okinawa, as seen through the eyes of photojournalists' | The Japan Times

Hiroaki Yamashiro, three-time winner of the Kyushu-Okinawa photojournalist association award, has been documenting Okinawa’s history, its vanishing culture and rare aspects of its nature for more than 40 years.

To commemorate Okinawa’s Ryukyu Shimpo newspaper’s 120th anniversary, this exhibition presents 200 photographs that Yamashiro took for the paper. His images offer an insight into Okinawan life, illustrating endangered species unique to the island such as the Iriomote Cat, lesser-known traditions such as the Hajichi hand tattoos of women, and the island’s role in housing a U.S. military base station; June 22-Aug 18.

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Tropical Storm (Leepi) a.k.a. "Leper" - Pacific Storm Tracker - Stripes

With every passing warning from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, Tropical Storm Leepi, which we will from now on refer to as Tropical Storm "Leper," tracks further and further west of Okinawa. Latest update says 161 miles west of Kadena Air Base at 11 a.m. Thursday; peak winds now forecast to be 35-mph sustained and 46-mph gusts at high noon. Okinawa remains in Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness 3.

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Comment: Just like they do in America, where every tropical wave heading west from the Azores is the next Hurricane Katrina, the weather guru's have over sold the potential of this first (forgive the expression) "real" storm of the 2013 Western Pacific Typhoon season! Believe it or not, that makes me rather happy. Last year was a really bad year for storms and I would appreciate it if the "boffoon kamisama," typhoon god with a lower case "g", gave us a little break this time around!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

New handbooks tackle dwindling birthrate by adding dads to equation | The Japan Times

Alarmed by the nation’s dwindling birthrate, a government task force recently came up with a plan to distribute so-called women’s handbooks as a means of encouraging young women to have children.

The plan, however, faced harsh criticism for treating pregnancy, childbirth and child-rearing as matters that concern women only. Eventually, the task force was forced to shelve the plan for the time being.

But the government need not look far in its quest to create a more well-rounded booklet.

A number of municipalities and private companies have already introduced handbooks with more comprehensive approaches to pregnancy and raising children that involve not just mothers but also the other half of the equation — the fathers.

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Comment: Instead of Mommy books, maybe they should hand these dads a Playboy magazine and hide the condoms. Somehow I think that this might help with the dwindling birthrate thingy a bit more than what they're proposing....

Economists split on Abe plan | The Japan Times

Top economists remained divided Monday over whether Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s “Abenomics” policies will bear fruit but all saw eye-to-eye on the need for deregulation and new growth strategies.

“You can only buy so much time with monetary policies,” Yuichi Kodama, chief economist at Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Co., told reporters during a speech at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo.

“Abe needs to take bold steps on structural reform,” Kodama said, including introducing corporate tax cuts and major deregulation in the agricultural, medical, educational and other industries.

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Comment: It probably doesn't matter a whole lot one way or another what Abe does to screw up the Japanese economy right now. The way I see it, it's already game over. We're all just living on borrowed time. Put another way, "It's NOT the economy stoopid! At least not anymore...

When you've got the Obama-Nation of Desolation as spoken of by the profit Daniel in Ireland going toe to toe with Vlad the Impaler, the former head of the KGB and current Russian Dictator; threatening to start WWIII over a two bit former eye doctor turned despot in a no-win situation everything else seems sort of moot don't you think? There are no good guys in this situation.

The way these numb-nuts are handling things, eventually we're going to see a blinding flash of light and maybe, just maybe we'll live just long enough to bend over, grab our ankles and kiss our @$$'es good bye! Looks like it's high time for a whole lot of people to get right with Jesus if you ask me!

Ryukyu Shimpo – Moving song about Himeyuri students

A song that 86-year-old Naha resident Teruko Omine wrote as a memorial to her friends who died during the Battle of Okinawa as Himeyuri nurse-aides is arousing people’s sympathy. Omine attended the former Okinawa Daiichi Women’s High School, which was located at Asato district in Mawashi Village (now Naha), but avoided the fighting in Okinawa because she went to Tokyo in April 1944 to study.

After returning to Okinawa, Omine has lived her life cherishing the memories of her deceased friends. The stories that she heard from people who survived the battle had a strong impression on her. “I hate war. If the war hadn’t happened, they would have had led happy lives with families, eventually being surrounded by grandchildren and great-grandchildren,” Omine said, fighting back tears of emotion.

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Mike's Ryukyu Gallery: Butterfly Before the Typhoon

One job you never want to have, living on a subtropical island, is Weatherman. This thing, they're calling Tropical Depression #4 or, Leepi, is heading our way.

The weather folks have predicted sunshine, all day today. Under brilliant blue skies, I walked the dogs this morning. Then, took an ice-cold shower.

Wearing brand new beach duds, I was going to take the cameras and spend all day outside. But, before the emails were done, things changed.  A storm is coming and the sky turned gray. So, I stayed at the office and shot butterflies out in the back yard.

Somehow, butterflies know when a typhoon is coming. If  you studied their habits, I bet they'd be more accurate than any weather dude.

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