Sunday 19 September – what a beautiful day! The sky is a clear blue, the sea is, well you know, blue too. It is 30 degrees.

The only glitch is too little wind to sail meaningfully. I generally clean up the boat and chew the fat with Kiyuna san, who gives me another silk kimono belt, which I have learned are called Obi. Again this new Obi features Tsuru. It also has motifs of pine trees, bamboo flowers and cherry blossom. Pine trees and bamboo represent longevity, he explains, and sakura is, as you know, drenched in symbolism.

I wonder where he gets them from? Impolite to ask.
My table. Strong Tsuru theme.

It is very hot, non sequitur coming up, so I decide to drive North to the paddy fields of Kin to practice with my new lens. There are tons of birds for the first time in ages.

Great White Egret and Cattle Egret, already in winter plumage
Cattle Egrets loosing their reddish Summer plumage.

There are lots of waders, which I fail miserably to photograph. I have to learn how to use the new lens to its full potential.

Not bad of a Black winged Stilt

There are also loads of Whiskered Terns but they are feeding above the taro crop and very hard to photograph. I stick to Egrets whom sit more or less still.

Ferocious Cattle Egret.

It gets dark as I drive home. Looking to the West, there is the most remarkable sunset. Looking to the East, the Harvest Moon is rising in the darkening sky. So good.

Not the best but not bad for a handheld snap.

A little more wind please.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments


I love tempura but have never been able to cook it successfully. My attempts have always been soggy as opposed to crisp. So disappointing. I have suspected that the oil is never hot enough.

On a recent boat picnic, a friend produces absolutely perfect deep fried batter chicken drumsticks. She explains that you can get specialized tempura pans that have a thermometer so you never drop stuff in until the oil is perfectly hot.

Amazon and then a couple of days later my tempura pot arrives.

It works so well! I tempura all my meals. Tempura mushrooms, cauliflower, fish, chicken, prawns, spam. Such fun.

Nearly there.

Last night I did deep fried chicken, not really tempura, and salad.

Bamboo shoots and burdock salad.
On the job
Crisp, crunchy

Everyone should have one.

A Grey Heron, just for fun.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Tsuru no Hitokoe

Tsuru is Japanese for crane, er the bird. It is number 2 in the hierarchy of birds, number 1 is the Phoenix. The cry of the crane is believed to have great authority.

Anyway, as I am coming back from birdwatching I get a call from Kiyuna san, “Can you come to the marina? I have a bird for you.”

We meet on his boat and sit down for coffee. He presents me with a beautiful strip of fabric.

The motif is of course Tsuru

It looks like a very expensive item, the fabric is beautifully woven. He says it is silk. We have been having a lot of conversations about birds recently. Kiyuna san does most of the talking. He constantly returns to the concept of Tsuru no Hitokoe. Maybe he thinks that by giving me the material more people will listen to me.

Kano san shows up with a new friend, Maki san. She is a scream! She has just arrived at the marina having single handedly sailed a 30ft boat down from Kyushu.

Maki san is a character.

She had never sailed before she set off on this trip! The boat was knocked down twice and Maki dislocated her shoulder. She had to sail with one hand for 2 days in extreme pain. I ask her where she is headed to.

“I don’t know, I am just sailing South.”

“What is your boat’s name?”


“The Tsuru flies South!”

The sudden arrival of Tsuru in my life is a bit disconcerting. They are everywhere.

Before she started her boating adventure, Maki drove around the world on 250 cc Yamaha trail bike.

“What is the best place you have visited?”


Maki san, Kano san, Kiyuna san.

We have a hilarious afternoon. Maki san is a great addition to the community.

Kiyuna san has lost another tooth, making him toothless in Ginowan.

Kiyuna san has many more strips of material and I think I understand that they are used in traditional kimono outfits. They are wrapped around the waist.

Very beautiful.

I use mine as a stringer on the dining table.

Thank you Kiyuna san
Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments


So I have had my beloved Tokina AT-X 300 since February 2015. She is a fabulous lens.

She only has manual focus, which usually I like very much especially if the bird is sitting nice and still. However on my recent birdwatching trips to Yanbaru and Iriomote there were many occasions when I only had very little time to take the photo and could not focus fast enough.

I decide to buy an autofocus lens. After much research I decide on the Nikon 200-500mm VR.

I hunt one down on Ebay. It is second hand but in excellent condition. It arrived yesterday. Great excitement!

It is big.

At 200mm length
At 500mm length

I rush down to Triangle Pond to take photos of the usually numerous birds. However for the second consecutive visit there were very few to be seen. The trees that used to screen the pond from the road were cut down a few months ago and maybe the birds feel dangerously exposed. They have maybe gone somewhere else.

There are thousands of fish
Coot, no it’s a Moorhen.
Redshanks flapping it wings
Redhanks just hanging around The birds a a long way away.

The new lens is fantastic. You just point it at the bird and pull the trigger. It feels a bit like cheating after years of manual focus.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Oh No!

You will remember that I am in the middle of transplants, no I mean implants, fun.

A couple of days before my appointment for the next major step in the process, I notice that the temporary crown over the implants is wobbling a bit. I am eating sashimi at the time. A bit of fish get stuck under the crown and I try to hoick it out with the end of my tongue. Oh no! The crown comes right off. Initially I am not too worried. It is only the plastic crown and I should be able to jam it on again.

I pull out the crown and look at it. Oh No! One of the implants has also come out.

Oh No!

Anyway, first thing the next day I phone Kinjo sensei. Luckily he can see me that afternoon. I am somewhat put down as I anticipate having to go through surgery again.

I show him the guilty object and he beams crying,”No problem Neil san,I can fix this easily.”

Oh Yes!

I now understand that the implant is a complex piece of engineering. The bit that is screwed into the jawbone is a hollow, threaded sleeve into which is screwed a secondary part, which you see in the photo above. I turns out to be relatively straightforward to reinstall. What a relief.

As I am at the clinic Kinjo sensei and his wonderful nurses go ahead with the next stage of the procedure. I do not understand what they are doing but it is very high tech. It takes 90 minutes.

X ray, half way through the treatment yesterday.

So pleased that my implant was not untimely ripped from my jaw by sashimi.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


We sail off in the early evening to dine on the boat. We are Arisa san , Alisa san, Harry san and me. It is a glorious evening and the heat of the day has faded.

We go on a run out to deep water and then bear away to sail up the coast. The wind is gentle, the sea is deep blue and also gentle.

Alisa san!
Arisa san
Harry san tries to gull wing the jib.

Arisa has cooked an amazing meal; deep fried chicken drumsticks in spicy batter, egg with a minced beef centre smeared with harissa. We drink cold riesling from Alsace. Such a good life.

Déjeuner sur l’herbe
Sun filled riesling.
That will do

Bad movie but you get the idea.

Full screen, highest resolution. Highest resolution and full screen strongly recommended.

Yesterday, I had a great lunch, tacos Okinawa style.

Restaurant by the sea
Shrimp, beef, fish, tacos by the sea.
Fish market this morning
Sailing a couple of hours ago.

Cannot complain.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment


I spend the day on the boat. There is a determined breeze, which, once you get used to it, makes sailing the best fun. Initially it is scary. The Norfolk Gypsy is a strong boat and likes a bit of a rumpus.

Roaring past bouy 4

This is an archive post. It is really meant for me so I can remember later in life.

Lots of wind, lots of speed, the iPhone says we hit 6 knots, glorious to be outside and vaguely scared.

A day on the water.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

See How the Mainsail Sets

Harry and I set off at about 6:00 pm. I raise sail in the Marina basin. It is not good. I cannot get the the mainsail taught and there is an ugly crease across it. No amount of tugging on the halyards makes any difference. We motor out of the Marina into the setting sun.

I stop the motor and we glide away. I re-attack the halyards and now mysteriously I can pull both the throat and peak up a vital 6 inches. The mainsail is perfectly set.

A thing of beauty is a joy forever.

We reach away from Okinawa.

Bye bye
Life is hard
Wild nights are calling
Who knows where the time goes.
Safe hands
You understand
A bit later

Good way to spend the evening.

We can barely see as we come onto the the pontoon. Kiyuna san has seen us come in and is there to help with the mooring lines.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


Down at the Marina I bump into Kiyuna san. He is excited and invites to his boat for coffee. With much ceremony, he presents me with a prayer scarf that he has made for me. As I understand, he has chosen the fabric, cut it and sewn it.

It is powerful. When I wear it and pray then things will go well. Kiyuna becomes very philosophical. We spend a very pleasant couple of hours drinking coffee. He is in full swing and the conversation swirls, except that I do not say much and most of what Kiyuna san says is incomprehensible to me because it is in Japanese. It does not really matter. We enjoy each other’s company.

What does it all mean?

He explains the spiritual hierarchy of birds. He investigates the concept of a tool. He reflects on leadership and the failure of democracy from a very Eastern philosophical angle. And a whole lot more.

It is good afternoon.

My prayer scarf. Notice the cranes.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Hit the Beach

I mention to Kikura san and Daiki san that I would like to go snorkeling before the night tour the next day. They immediately draw up a detailed schedule with bus times, ferry times and hints. They send me to Ida Beach.イダの浜/@24.3376012,123.7194841,2135m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x346087bf6508a1ad:0x3313af9676ef25fe!8m2!3d24.3397807!4d123.7237492

Amazing what you can do with an iPhone standing outside a combini late at night.

Next morning, I catch the bus and have a wonderful drive across the island. We have brief stop and I spy a buffalo carriage.


I arrive at a place, whose name I have forgotten, and take a ferry over to the beach.

It is a truly wonderful beach. So clean, the water is so clear. Very few people. I find a shaded place to lie down. I doze.

After a while I feel I should really go snorkeling. I take my fins from my bag and find they are broken.

Such a shame. They were good fins

I swim, I snorkel, it is wonderful.

I take the ferry back to the place whose name I cannot remember. The bus is waiting.

About 5 minutes into the trip I take off my sunhat and unwittingly dislodge my mask. The bus screeches to a stop. The driver who had been all smiles, gets up and tells me fiercely to come to him. He is very serious. I realize what is going on and put my mask back on apologizing ferociously. No messing with Covid regulations.

I get back to my guest house and prepare myself mentally for the night bird hunting. What a good day!

Poor film.

My aunty Ida. Full screen, high resolution.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment