I come from the U.K. where Hamburgers are maligned

Today we go for lunch in a new hotel overlooking the ocean


So wonderful

My companion orders Hamburger. I order fish because I am on a stupid diet. I really wanted to order Hamburger.

Not Japan

So much history, so much traditions much finesse in Japanese cuisine but occasionally the cry goes up,”Won’t somebody get me a Cheeseburger.”

I go for the fish.

Very few hours after capture. Totally delicious

My companion prepare her Hamburger.


She compresses it and wraps it in a paper napkin. She then attacks it like a shark.

No care as to, calories, gluten, allergies, just enjoyment of food.

It is so good to eat with someone who really enjoys food.

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The Frozen North

We head North to search for the Rail; we being Tim, Mary and me.

The Okinawa Rail is a very rare bird that is only found in the dense forests of Yanbaru. Yanbaru was incidentally added to the Unesco World Heritage List just last week.

We drive up the coast and, against all the odds,we see three juvenile rail by the the road well South of their normal habitat. This is a good omen. In a state of great excitement we arrive at the Ada Garden Hotel in time for dinner.

A wonderful place in the middle of nowhere. Notice the pussy cat in the clouds top right.

Ichiro san our much revered friend, is to be our guide. Ichiro san is an amazing person, a world class nature artist and also a truly knowledgable birdwatcher. Buy his art.

Off we go into the night, in Ichiro san’s car, looking for mischief.

Get outta here

We are looking for Rails that have clambered up into trees to roost, they are flightless. Ichiro san finds three! These birds are so rare but he manages to find three in the pitch dark, late at night.

Rear view.
Counting sheep

We go to a waterfall; the ground is teeming with crabs and frogs.

I don’t like sponge cake.
Pig nosed frog.
Gimme eat
Crab sneaking up on Pig faced frog
I do not remember the exact name but it is a gecko that is only found in Yanbaru.

We also find 3 Ryukyu Scops Owlets perching on a branch chirping away gleefully.

Such fun!

We start again at 5:30 the next morning. We see lots more rails. It is incredible!

Another one.
See the rail in the viewfinder!
Great companions.

Big success! I have found that for astonishing wildlife experiences that a guide helps.

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For a few days now the Japanese media has been saying that as from July 26, those wishing to travel abroad can apply for a vaccination passport. The only proof that I have had two shots is a very Japanese document that I doubt would cut the mustard in most immigration controls.

See what I mean.

Today is July 26 so I rush up to the Ginowan Town Hall to see what happens next. After some mime, they understand what I want and hand me a map of where this process is being dealt with.


With the help of Google translate, I finally Sherlock Holmes my way to the location.

It is a medical information service lost in the back streets of Ginowan. I am so proud that I found it.

No one speaks English but they produce an iPad with an interpreter inside. I explain my needs to this person and he subsequently lets the happy Okinawa folk know what the fat, sweaty, foreigner wants.

I fill in some forms and there is a air of excitement in the room. I am clearly the first client.

I wonder what this is.

We have a lot of fun and jokes. 30 minutes later, I leave with the first Vaccine Passport issued in Ginowan. A real achievement.


By the way, the typhoon has finally moved on. This was not the worst typhoon by a long shot but it was probably the longest. Heavy rain and high winds from Tuesday to Monday. The boat is OK.

I visit Kinjo sensei and his wonderful colleagues to have my stitches taken out and a temporary crown placed over my implants. We have lots of fun, such good people.

He gives me a pack of Irish sausages. I give him a bottle of Glen Scotia

I love sausages! How did he know this? I wonder what else I revealed during the operation under the influence of half a pint of novocaine.

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Great Excitement

Rain dominates our lives. It has been unrelenting. This is supposed to be Summer with long sails into the sunset. In fact I cower in my apartment worrying about my boat cover

On and on

There is a typhoon hangin around South of Okinawa. Normally they blow angrily by in a couple of days but this one seems to have parked just South of us. Covid travel regulations?

Great images
Very calm when this was filmed

Despite the rain, 3 of us had a great lunch. One of us was a great Japanese guy who had stumbled across this blog and is what you might call a fan,127.7427978,844m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m14!1m8!2m7!1sRestaurants!3m5!1sRestaurants!2s26.285165,+127.743618!4m2!1d127.7436177!2d26.2851647!3m4!1s0x34e56cb5705b2067:0xf6f55d62bc2076a6!8m2!3d26.2863588!4d127.7441896

This link does not show the restaurant other than geographically. It is a warehouse right on the fishing port with about four different fish restaurants. I have never seen a foreigner.

Ridiculously cheap.

I go down to the Marina every day to make sure that the boat is OK. Today, as soon as I arrive, an emergency message howls out of iPhone.

Tsunami or space invaders?

The message is in Japanese but I translate as super heavy rain coming down the line.I got it right. The rain was so heavy that the idea of getting out of the car was preposterous. The wind is so strong. I look at the boat through binoculars. The risk is that the wind is so strong from one direction that it induces concavity on that side of the cover. Super strong rain then collects in this concavity, forming deep pools putting the whole set up under a lot of stress. Through the binoculars, everything seems OK but I wonder about big boy typhoons. I must practice the best way to rig the cover.

Great excitement! The best thing I ever did was to rent a water cooler/heater thing. Ice cold water, of which I drink gallons and boiling hot water for tea, of which I drink gallons.Thank you Arisa san for the urge.

Today a guy comes round to replace my original set up

The best thing I have done in years.
Very funny guy

The frustration of lock down through Covid, pales in comparison to lock down through rain. Why should I be so excited by a water device replacement?

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An Inspector Calls

A genial Englishman called Julian has shown up at the marina. He has lived in Japan for a long time and has much boating rules knowledge. I have very little. When I started on this adventure 3 years ago I was shielded from the complexities of boat registration, safety checks and such by the admirable Tabata san. This was great but left me ignorant. Julian points out that the date for my 3 year government safety inspection has long gone. What safety inspection?

Lots of code. 30 represents the year of registration. Learned people can tell when the next inspection is due.

Luckily, Shingo san, who is the paint specialist at the marina, knows all the rules and tells me exactly what equipment I need to pass the inspection. He does not speak English. We mime.

Smoke flare, recent.

Red bucket

Fire extinguisher,

Mooring lines


Same engine as before

5 lifejackets

Black ball thing

Black pyramid thing

A whistle

Some more stuff that I cannot remember.

Clearly the boat has to have a generally healthy aspect.

I go to the office in Tomari Harbor that deals with this and fill in many forms.

A form. I need lots of help, which of course I get.

The fee can only be paid at a Post Office. I walk to the nearest, which is about a kilometer away. By the time I get there I am close to death. It is 32C and the heat is blasting off the pavement.

I fill in more forms with lots of help. I am standing in a pool of sweat surrounded by immaculately cool Okinawans. It is embarrassing. I hand over the cash – no cards allowed- and the multiply stamped proof of payment is handed back. Can I make it back to the PCI office? Have you watched “Ice Cold in Alex?” Well, the walk back was a bit like that.

There are more difficulties. My address has changed since the first registration and I need documentation to officialize my change of address. This means driving unto Onna son to get another much stamped document. Frankly this procedure has been a drag. A drag much compensated by the smiles and almost desperate help from everyone I dealt with. Aregato gozaimasu.

The Inspector calls. He is a lot of fun. Julian helps. What to wear in Okinawa this Summer.
Julian san and Kiyuna san, wearing his motor bike helmet. It is so hot. High fashion.
Great guy from the JCI putting on his Inspector face.

I pass, yee-ha!

This is what it is for.

Great photo by

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As you know, my teeth are dropping out at a truly alarming rate. What to do to retain any self esteem? Dentures are old-making, bridge apparently not mechanically appropriate in my case. This leaves implants.

An implant is a titanium bolt that is screwed into your jaw bone onto which a crown can be anchored. My friend and long time dentist, Mori Sensei, seems reluctant to do implants. I am do not want to get more dentures. What do dentures do for your sex appeal?

Arisa san points me towards Kinjo sensei’s clinic. It is a very swish place and English speaking. After initial consultation we determine on two implants. Today we do it.

Sun blasted face prior to the action.
Okinawan dental nurses are the best in the world.

This a proper operation with surgical masks and robes. Kinjo sensei first slices through my gum, which he retracts to either side of the jaw bone. He then does all sorts of stuff until finally drilling deep holes into the jaw. I did not know what was going on at the time but he explained it to me later.

The operation took 3 hours on a scalding hot Okinawa afternoon. Not that I could see much as a surgical drape, only exposing my mouth, had been placed over my face throughout.

There is no pain but strange noise, pressure and imagination. I can understand that this intervention could be distressing to some. I keep calm by selecting the Lions team in South Africa.


Van de Merve












Cowan Dickie


Apologies to non Rugby people.

3 hours later it is done.

Yay so be it!
Kinjo sensei, he knows what he is doing.
That’s me!

Many, many, thanks to Kinjo sensei and his staff. This story will continue. I’ll be back.

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Where the Scatter’d Waters Rave

In fact the weather has been perfect for sailing. Mild south westerly breezes, blue sea, blue sky, bright sun.

We go out to watch the sun go down, an extraordinary experience.

Good boat
A life on the ocean wave.
iPhones have amazing cameras.

This morning I am up early to go to clean up the boat, which we had left in a mess last night. No sail cover, sails badly furled, rope all over the place because we were too elated to do mundane stuff and anyway it was dark.

Such a beautiful morning so, I take the boat out. Off we go for a couple of miles then turn around and come back. Only sailing for 90 mins or so but I have forgotten the intensity of the Okinawa sun and my forearms are now beetrootish.

Here is a completely unedited film of this mornings sail. I have forgotten how to use iMovie. Sorry.

I wish I could remember how to use iMovie. You get the idea any way. Hi res fullscreen

Happy days are here again.

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Generally bumbling along.

The leather protection on the gaff jaws is now very dry and worn.

I think this needs to be replaced.

I drench the leather with lanolin. I love lanolin. It comes from sheep fleece and is very greasy – very good on boils.

Lots of Amazon stuff to track this down. Japan not big on lanolin.

It looks like the rainy season is finally over and we celebrate with a dinner. Just 4 of us so as to be Covid rules compliant. Best fun. We eat charcuterie, sautéed foie gras with delicious pickled cucumber salad, steak with coleslaw and finally fruit. We wash this down with lots of ice cold Nagano cider and a bottle of Californian Zinfandel with the steak.

I get peony Ikebana. Here on the wooden chest
Here on the canteen.

The weather is beautiful. I sail.

Summer Yanmar

I bump into one tooth Kiyuna san. ” I have bought a new boat! Let’s have coffee.”

The Maria!

I actually think he was given the boat. The engines do not work. To Kiyuna san this is a no worries situation. He makes coffee and we tell jokes.

One spoon or two?

I will have two implants er implanted into my jaw on Friday. I tell Kiyuna san and also the exorbitant price. ” Neil san, you could buy a boat for that money! You could name her “Implants”!

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You will remember my beautiful byobu. Well, when I asked, at the celebration party, what variety of flower was depicted on the screen, this was the reaction.

Calder says he has never seen Barringtonia racemosa

Well, the reaction was not quite as strong but the company was surprised that, after more than a decade in Okinawa, I had not heard of these amazing blossoms nor seen them.

Spot the blossom

Barringtonia racemosa is an amazing tree. It only blooms at night and each flowerlet drops off come the morning. The very learned Izumi sensei offers to guide me to trees she knows of on campus.

It is night.

Difficult to photograph, as it is windy and the trails of flowers are swaying around. It is dark.

Ichiro san uses tiny flakes of gold on the painting to represent the yellow bits.
lick on the photo and you will find gold!
So exotic
They do not grow in Scotland

Thanks so much Izumi sensei, it was so much fun! The flowers were extraordinary and I have filled in a gaping hole in the tapestry of my Okinawa experience.

When in Nagano last month we drank cider. Ice cold, very dry cider is so delicious and refreshing. I searched and searched on my return but could only find sweet, slightly sickening cider. I turn to the oracle – Hanada san.

Can she find me dry Nagano cider? Of course she can and the next time I visit there is a row of the best ciders from Nagano waiting for me!

She is a star!

Hooray! Once this state of emergency is over, July 11 apparently, I will have a big dinner to celebrate. We will eat soba washed down with excellent sake and cider from Nagano!

Can’t wait.

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Only One!

Boating fun has been eliminated over the the last 3 weeks because my starter motor busted again. However great glee as Kiyuna san has fixed it. In fact he has installed a new one.

Thunka thunk. Notice how smooth she becomes when I throttle up.

The weather has been dreadful anyway so there was no great mischief in not being able to go out because of the starter motor. Mold and mildew form all over the boat during the rainy season. Next job is a thorough clean.

The gracious Karen Wallace sends me some extra copies of Marine Quarterly. I give one to Kiyuna san. He is pleased but asks, “Did you mention my teeth?” I read him the part where I say that he is very distinguished despite only having 2 teeth. He groans and I am afraid I have offended him.

“This is a bad magazine.”


“It says I have two teeth but I only have one!”

He has lost half his teeth since I wrote the article.

I hope the rainy season will finally blow away and I can get on with boating adventures.

Lunch in Itoman fish market is always the best. Eel rice bowl with scallop, shrimp, snapper, parrot fish sashimi, with a couple of oysters. This is not a fancy restaurant; look at the asphalt and crummy table. That is what I like. Best seafood in the world without pretension. It is also ludicrously cheap, which always appeals.

Nice Orchids
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