A Year with a Camera in Okinawa, Japan

Mike Lynch is a writer and photographer who spent a year in Okinawa, Japan. He captured one classic image for each month of the year, and he shares those with us below.

January

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A Japanese White Eye visits the Cherry Blossoms. Okinawa is the first place in all of Japan to see these blossoms and they bloom through the month into early February.

February

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A bullfight at the Ishikawa-Dome in Uruma City took place as part of the Lunar New Year festivities. While all of Japan utilizes the Gregorian calendar, many traditions in Okinawa revolve around its historical ties with China.

March

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The weather starts to warm up, schools have their Spring break and tourists begin to flock to the many attractions available throughout the island. This is Katsuren Castle, which overlooks a peninsula on the East coast of Okinawa.

April

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A black Pacific Reef Egret gathers building materials for a nest at Red Beach.

May

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Eisa, a dance originally associated with ancestor worship during the Obon holidays, is now practiced at any festival or cultural event. Here, at Henza Island, a small festival celebrating Golden Week, the spirit of Okinawa was demonstrated in music and dance to the enjoyment of all in attendance.

June

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Hiji Waterfall in Kunigami is the largest in Okinawa and attracts many visitors from mainland Japan. It provides a refreshing, cool break after the 45 minute hike, along a nature trail, to reach this beautiful scene.

July

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A Shisa (Lion-Dog) seems to dwarf the Royal Hotel in Yomitan, which is on the West coast of the island. Another influence from trade with China, the Shisa may be seen everywhere in the Prefecture, warding off evil spirits. This one stands around 30 feet tall, most tile-roofed homes have Shisa closer to a foot tall guarding them, either mounted on the roof or walls surrounding the house.

August

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The lively lead-singer of a popular band named Zukan jumps and shouts while performing at the Kin Festival. During the summer months there are festivals every weekend, somewhere on the island.

September

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This young lady is trying on Kimonos at a shop in Naha in preparation for “Coming of Age Day” which is celebrated in January. During the 3d week of January, all who turned twenty years of age during the past year are initiated as adults. Her mother is preparing her early.

October

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A parade of traditional Okinawan Kimonos and headwear takes place every year on Kokusai Street in Naha, where a reenactment of the coronation of the King and Queen of the Ryukyu Kingdom is performed.

November

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This dragon statue guards the corner in front of the Uruma City office. Dragons are part of many Asian sea-faring cultures folklore and Okinawa also holds year-round Dragon boat races.

December

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A white Pacific Reef Egret catches breakfast on the east coast of Okinawa.

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All photos by Michael Lynch

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Older comments on A Year with a Camera in Okinawa, Japan

Keith Graff
22 June 2009

Awsome pictures that would make a great calendar.

Audrey Kanekoa-Madrid
22 June 2009

Amazing images and what an idea! Very innovative and well done!!

Sabina Lohr
22 June 2009

This is great, Mike! The photos of the birds are terrific. I’m looking forward to seeing more of your work.

Ian Rose
22 June 2009

Gorgeous pictures, and a great idea.

Anne-Sophie Redisch
04 November 2009

Only discovered this now. Fantastic photos as always, Mike. Especially like the egrets and the little White Eye. A calendar is a fabulous idea.