These days it seems the faster you go the behinder you get! I'm behind at work, I'm behind in my house duties (for the guys that means yard work) and I'm behind in my play. Long gone are the days of staying out all night drinking and cavorting like a horse's ass. Even though some might say that I still fit the description of the latter, very well I might add, these days for me, play means getting out with my camera and taking pictures.
(Click on the picture to enlarge)This particular day was just two weeks after the devastating earthquake and tsunami hit northeastern Japan. The previous weekend, several well known Okinawan celebrities had gone to Kokusai (International) Street in Naha, Okinawa's capitol to raise money for relief efforts. Many musicians held concerts right in the street and collected money from the passers by. Our hope was to go there and document it so we could post about it in our blogs.
Who is the "our" I'm referring to? None other than that world famous wildlife photographer Ryukyu Mike. Mike has a unique approach to wildlife photography. You could say it comes from his "Many," with a capital "M," years of personal experience living the wild life! His philosophy is who better to shoot wildlife than someone who lives it. As you can see from the photo, it's taken its toll on him. He's the one on the right. Hard to believe from looking at him that he's only 36! Let that be a lesson to you. Like they say, "Don't do the crime if you can't do the time!"
We parked on the back side of "Heiwa Dori" or Peace Street at a little parking garage I know. From there we walked up through the marketplace toward the main drag, Kokusai Street. It was unbelievably quiet for a Sunday. A testiment to how our glorious leaders have done their best to mis-manage the economy and blame it all on the business people. You know, the folks who perform services for the rest of us, pay all those confiscatory taxes and if they have a little left over, hire people for jobs who in turn spend their money on stuff they want and need who in turn pay more taxes!
As we approached the center of the market, we noticed a young fellow playing a flute that was carved into a bamboo broom handle. He was putting on quite a show and had a little fellow and his parents enthralled. So much so that he even made a sale. No not the big broom handle looking thingy but a smaller wistle that the lad could annoy his parents with.
right behind him he had several Sanshin's on display. The sanshin is sometimes described as a three stringed lute but it looks and sounds more like a banjo. Several of them were covered with the traditional snakeskin and he also had two Kan-kan sanshin on display as well. Kan-kan sanshin are made out of old cookie tins instead of the traditional hand carved wood resonating chamber and covered with snakes hide.
You see the Okinawan people love to party. You could say they're party animals of the first order. Perhaps that is why Ryukyu Mike feels right at home here. As party animals go, I guess it's true when they say that it takes one to know one. Anyway, what is a party without any music? When the Battle of Okinawa ended in 1945, this island was totally devastated. People were lucky to have just the clothes on their backs.
But the people that survived the hell that was, needed to get on with their lives. So they made due with whatever they could find! If you ever come to visit, you must check out some of the local museums. Here you'll find cook pots made from artillery shell casings, fishing boats made from airplane gasoline tanks and of course, the Kan-kan sanshin. That's what the fellow above on the left is playing.
By the way, we never did see any celebrities on this trip. It was rather cold and rainy that day. How cold was it? So cold that you can see that Ryukyu Mike isn't decked out in his traditional "Wife Beater" T-shirt and trademark frip-frops! So after a good hot meal, we got a few shots of a local Eisa group performing and collecting money for thr relief efforts. I made sure to put a little in the pot myself and we headed home for the day. If I ever get caught up, I'll try to post some pictures of the Eisa troupe. There were two folks in that group that put on a hell of a show.
To be continued...