Shuri Castle severely damaged by fire

by Greg Mayer Regular readers of WEIT may recall that I have posted a few times about Okinawa, including pictures from a visit I made there in 2017.  One of the places I visited was Shuri Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage site which was the seat of the Ryukyu Kingdom for 450 years, from 1429-1879. […]

Cats in Japan: Shisa

by Greg Mayer “Guardian lions” are widespread in East Asia, where each country has its own particular folklore and practice associated with the common tradition. They are especially common on Okinawa, which has its own version, called shisa.  While on mainland Japan guardian lions are associated usually with shrines, on Okinawa they are everywhere, with […]

Are you big in Japan?

Note by JAC: Greg has just returned from two weeks in Japan and will be writing us several posts about his experiences there. This one features soccer, a sport Greg plays. by Greg Mayer Are you big in Japan? Cristiano Ronaldo is, at least as judged by the prominence of his much-larger-than-life visage on the […]

The Iriomote Cat

by Greg Mayer The Iriomote cat (Prionailurus benegalensis iriomotensis) is a critically endangered subspecies (sometimes ranked as a full species) of the Leopard cat, a species of small cat distributed widely across Asia from Afghanistan to eastern Siberia and south to the Philippines and Greater Sundas. The Iriomote cat is a dark form, made known to […]

Reader wildlife photo

by Greg Mayer My Okinawa correspondent sends a happier picture than last time, this one of a living longhorn beetle, a member of the family Cerambycidae. Note the very long antennae, and the impressive tarsi. Cerambycids are often brightly or contrastingly colored. Normally I’d have no idea what particular genus or species an Okinawan insect […]

An Okinawan thrush and the principles of zoogeography

by Greg Mayer My Okinawan correspondent sends the following photograph of an apparently window-killed bird. I thought immediately, “a thrush”, noting the similarity in bill, body and leg shape to that of the familiar North American Robin (Turdus migratorius). I was also immediately reminded of the justly famous opening passage in Alfred Russel Wallace’s Island […]

A day at the Aquarium, part 2

by Greg Mayer Having emphazised the cartilaginous inhabitants of the  Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium yesterday, let’s go to a distant part of the phylogenetic tree today: manatees. There are three species of manatees (Trichechus), all in the tropical Atlantic or Atlantic drainages; this is either the West Indian (T. manatus) or West African (T. senegalensis) species. […]

A day at the Aquarium

by Greg Mayer My Okinawa correspondents spent Boxing Day at the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium, and sent me a bunch of pictures. The aquarium is a sprawling complex on the coast in northwestern Okinawa, and includes large areas of gardens and park land, and a recreation of traditional Okinawan homes and buildings, as well as the […]