Wakayama Castle and sakura

Wakayama Castle

This year, Japan had a terrific string of sunny days right during the peak cherry blossom season in early April. Usually, it rains or storms half the time while the cherries are in full bloom. But this year was sunny skies and little wind. I had a great time going out to shoot the flowers under blue skies every day for a week.

One place I visited was Wakayama Castle. Great place to shoot a castle with cherry blossoms.

More sakura photos coming later.

Vintage sumo videos

I’ve been digitizing some old videotapes I shot years ago. Here are a few sumo gems.
This is Akebono making hand prints at his stable in Tokyo in 1991. This was before he became Ozeki/Yokozuna.

This is Konishiki at a party in 1987 at a party held in his honor by the America-Japan Society in Tokyo. He and the late US Ambassador Mike Mansfield compare the size of their hands, and Konishiki also sings on stage.

Yokozuna Akebono performs the dohyo-iri ring-entering ceremony during an exhibition sumo tournament at Yasukuni Shrine. He was the only yokozuna and looking totally awesome.

Latest images as of Feb. 2009

Hardly any snow this year in Japan. I currently have about 25,000 images from all 47 prefectures online. Here are the latest:

Obama for Obama
Obama, Fukui Pref.
Battle of Sekigahara Festival
Grand Sumo Tournament
Maibara Sumo Tournament
Hikone Mascot Character Festival
Atsuta Jingu Shrine
Taga Taisha Shrine Setsubun
Kyoto Ebisu Shrine Toka Ebisu
Otsu Matsuri, Shiga
Kiyosu Castle
Ogaki Castle
Lowrider Car Show
Tokyo Apache vs. Toyama Grouses basketball
Shiga LakeStars vs. Fukuoka Rizing basketball
Tokyo Apache vs. Ryukyu Golden Kings
Nagoya Osu Kannon
Ogaki Bicycle Races
Onjuku, Chiba
Shigaraki Pottery Festival
Spo-rec Maibara Aerobics
Azai Folk History Museum
Kohoku Waterfowl Park
Miidera temple
Central Otsu lakefront

Also here are my latest videos:

Obama for Obama
Battle of Sekigahara Festival, Part 1
Battle of Sekigahara Festival, Part 2
Taga Taisha Setsubun
Otsu Matsuri Yoimiya
Otsu Matsuri Procession
Hikone Mascot Character Festival
Maibara Sumo Tourney
Asakusa Odori geisha dance
Lowrider Car Show
Na Palapalai in Japan

Obama for Obama

Obama Girls
How awesome to see the first Hawaii-born US President being sworn in on Jan. 20, 2009. I couldn’t be in Washington, DC for the occasion, so I did the next best thing. To visit Obama in Japan.

The city of Obama in Fukui Prefecture facing the Sea of Japan has an Obama booster club called called “Obama wo Katte ni Oen Suru Kai” (Obama Informal Booster Association). It has been active in promoting the city just because it has the same phonetic name as the US President. They even formed the Obama Girls and Obama Boys hula troupes since Barack was born and raised in Hawaii (not far from my own high school which Barack would have attended if he didn’t attend the private school of Punahou).
The city of Obama is decorated with banners and signs showing its support for Barack. In Feb. 2008, Barack even sent a thank you letter to the city for its support. There is one shop which sell various Barack Obama goods, even manju (bean-paste cakes).

In the evening of Jan. 20, 2009, it held an event at Hagaji temple. The highlight was the ringing of the temple bell at 7 pm to pray for world peace, and the Obama Girls dancing the hula.

See photos here:


Also my YouTube video:

Photos of Yokosuka and aircraft carriers

USS George Washington arriving in Yokosuka.

To mark the arrival of the USS George Washington in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Pref. on Sept. 25, 2008, I have added photos of the aircraft carrier arriving in Yokosuka as well as photos of the USS Kitty Hawk, USS Independence, and USS Midway. Some photos were taken by the US Navy. The GW is the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to be deployed in Japan. It has over 5,000 crew and over 70 planes.

I also once toured the USS Independence and USS Midway in Yokosuka and included those pictures as well.

Web site house cleaning

I’ve been putting this off for years–a major cleanup and trimming of the PhotoGuide Japan Web site.

The site is over 10 years old, and like any house that you live in for over 10 years, you will accumulate a lot of things, both jewels and junk. Not to mention the cobwebs and thick dust on places you don’t normally use or see. The crevice behind bookshelves, closet corners, etc. Some places in the site even smells musty.

There’s a lot of content still remaining from years ago. Lot of it is still good, but there are some stuff needs to be thrown out since they are outdated and will never be updated.

Well, I’ve been trying to tidy up this site by trashing some deadwood and moving things around. Please excuse the inconvenience. Some links might be broken in the process.

The last time I overhauled this site was 5-6 years ago when I converted much of it to a database-driven, dynamic site using php and MySQL. However, these former state-of-art systems are aging now and must be updated or replaced. A lot has changed since 5 years ago with regard to digital cameras/photography and Internet technologies and features. I shoot a lot more photos with a digital SLR (and videos). We also have a lot more ways to show our images and vids with the advent and prominence of YouTube and Flickr, and easy-to-use blog software.

This 800-pound gorilla site is hard to modify quickly to match the changing times. But slowly, I’m getting there. Molding this behemoth into a more modern entity.

The casualties: PhotoWeblinks, PhotoMaps, PhotoRentals, and PhotoSchools will be deleted. Also, PhotoHistory will no longer be updated. It has stopped at year 2006. I know it was one of the more popular pages of the site, but other projects have occupied my free time.

Other pages like PhotoFAQ and PhotoCloseups have been moved to a blog. Even the PhotoBBS section will be moved to this News blog. All these announcement pages should go under one roof. The most important posts here at PhotoBBS will be transferred to the blog.

When that happens, this PhotoBBS in its current form will be closed. The software (phpbb) running PhotoBBS was actually the very first php program I installed. I had intended it to be a forum, since it is forum software. It went pretty well in the beginning. However, I began to notice that most of the posts or comments by users lacked substance and hardly deserved a response. Most of the questions asked were either stupid or something we don’t care to answer (“How can I work as a photographer in Japan?”). Of course, spam soon became a problem and I decided I had no time to filter out the spam. So the interactive forum function was disabled, and PhotoBBS became a read-only notice board. Something that a blog would do better.

I really envy the people who are just starting to set up a Web site now. There are so many Internet and imaging technologies, tools, software, digital images, resources, and free services available now that were beyond my wildest imagination in 1996 when I first started this Web site. 1996 really sounds like the Stone Age compared to now. But I had fun, and happy to have witnessed the very exciting Internet revolution first-hand.

I’m also fortunate to be in Japan with the fastest Internet connection speeds in the world. My optical fiber connection makes my Internet life fast and pleasant.

Coffee break is over. Back to my broom and dustpan…

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