Tuesday, November 24, 2015


This could easily be a Small Adventure, except that I have pictures.

There's a small shop near the apartment, on the main street running from the freeway up to Streetcar Street, in the direction of the main train station, called Daiichi. I forget how long the shop has been there, and since it's right next door to a car dealership, I thought it was a bank outlet or something for funding car loans. They had some interesting banners a couple years ago, but nothing since then, and I've just ignored the place. But recently, as I went by one day, I saw the banner inside the front office for Tensai Bakabon. I debated with myself for a few seconds before taking out the small camera and going in the door. The receptionist sitting at the front desk looked at me, so I pointed to the camera and then the banner. Her face went white and she started to panic. She got up and ran around a barrier partition and came back with the manager. I asked him if I could take a photo of the banner, and he shrugged and said, "Sure". The receptionist was really relieved and just stood there and smiled. That's when the big projection screen behind her caught my eye. It was showing some kind of animation, and I then saw a door a little ways away with some flashing machines inside, and "Showroom" on the door. Thinking this was a game developer company, I asked what they sold here. The manager answered "pachinko machines". I should have figured that out on my own based on all the tobacco smoke in the air.

I talked with the manager a little bit more, mentioning that I don't play pachinko because I'm not good at it, but I do like the Bakabon manga. The guy said "wait a second," went around the projection screen, and came back with some promotional materials for the machine. So now, I have a confidential Baka-bot notebook, and some cool glossy art. Sweet!


Also, I'd mentioned yesterday that JAXA was launching a rocket from Tanegashima at 3:23 that afternoon. Short answer is that I missed it. The weather was good - partly cloudy, cool, not too windy. I hiked up Shiroyama, and got to the hotel parking lot a little before 3 PM. Some tourists came and went, but most of them just wanted to look at the volcano. I got the big camera set up on the tripod and took a couple photos of the old submarine sitting in the middle of the bay. At close to 3:15, some other people, and a couple taxi drivers, gathered near me to watch. I put the camera on record and aimed it at where I thought the launch site was. 3:23 comes and goes, and one of the people starts looking at his smartphone, and mutters "chuudan" (interrupted). He says that the launch will probably be rescheduled to 5 PM, and suddenly everyone leaves.

I don't have a smartphone, and no way of checking the net, so I stay until 3:40, then pack everything up to get ready to return to the apartment. Walking up the hill is hard work and I was covered in sweat. I was debating taking a second shower before going in to teach English classes at 5:30 PM (I'd have to leave the apartment to go to the school at 5 PM, and I might not be getting TO the apartment until 4:30 if I waited too long). So, I go to the stairs down the hill, which is completely surrounded by trees and buildings. In the apartment, I check the JAXA website, and it claims that the launch happened at 3:23. It's not until I get to the school that I learn that the rocket launched at 3:50 PM, when I was in the middle of the trees, and that the owner of the school and the other teacher had both watched it from the roof of the office building the school is located in. Sigh. Maybe next time.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Cleaning Service Logo

Japan is fascinated with commercial mascots.
Not all of the ideas work as well as others...


Just as a follow-up to yesterday's blog... I'd mentioned that the Tenmonkan Illuminations 2015 event on Saturday was only intended to run 2 hours, and that the stage had been dismantled that evening. And that there was nothing going on in front of Lotteria, while Amu Plaza had the university a cappella group singing on Sunday for 70 minutes for the Magio-net driving school promotion. And I'd written that Monday was a holiday - Labour Thanksgiving Day. Well, Monday has come and gone. The day started out cloudy and cool, and I had to go to a home supplies center to get materials for a new kerosene room heater we'd bought online (a spare kerosene tank, a garbage can, a broom, big brick to put on the heater to keep the room warm a little longer after the heater is turned off). The center is near the Frespo Park strip mall, in the Tempozan area, 20 minutes from the main train station by bus. We did a lot of shopping, and had a late lunch at a restaurant nearby. We didn't get back to Amu Plaza until 4:30 PM. Turned out, though, that all they had were some tables selling fresh green tea leaves. No event stage this time. I made my way to Tenmonkan, and the tables for the tarot and crafts people were being torn down when I got there, but there still wasn't a stage in front of 7-11, so no live events there either. And also nothing at Lotteria. Overall, a dead 3-day weekend. Which was compounded by heavy clouds that swept in at 4:30 PM, bringing rain and leading into a huge thunderstorm at 6 PM. The rain let up in the evening, and by midnight the moon was shining brightly overhead, and the sky was mostly clear. The weather looks promising for the rocket launch today at Tanegashima at about 3:20 PM. I'm going to try climbing to the top of Shiroyama hill to take photos from the hotel parking lot. I have no idea if the rocket is going to be visible at all from so far away (150 miles, maybe?) Hopefully, the launch won't be delayed much, because I have to be at the conversation school near City Hall to teach English lessons from 5:30 to 8:30 PM this evening...

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Magio-net Christmas

Last week, Amu Plaza erected their big Christmas tree in the open plaza in front of the main train station. They also put up some lights and festive plants in the planter at the front of the plaza, but they don't have the climbing Santa figure this year.

I had to work on Saturday so I couldn't get up there then, and on Sunday we were doing some shopping so I only had a couple minutes to swing by the plaza to see what was going on. The main thing was that Magio-net, a driving school based in Kagoshima, was advertising their driving school services by displaying some motorcycles and small cars. The area was also being used by a couple crafts tables and local food producers.

(They know where you live.)

There was also a small performance area, not really a stage, where the Kagoshima University a cappella group was scheduled to perform for 70 minutes.

I only had time to listen for a couple minutes before we continued shopping. When we finished, the music was over and nothing else was happening in this space. What little I could catch of the singers was pretty good, although I think that the human beat box (the guy at the far right of the photo) wasn't really necessary. But, he seemed to either be a core member, or the group leader, so I guess no one here is going to try to get rid of him.

Otherwise, a pretty quiet weekend compared to the last 3-4 weeks. The Tenmonkan Illumination thing Saturday was just a short 2-hour one-shot, and the stage in front of 7-11 was gone by Sunday. The tables in the walkways were still there, selling rice, fish, nail art, tarot readings, and prepared food from one of the soba restaurants. I ended up getting a fish paste thing on a skewer and a small cup of amazake (sweet, unfiltered sake) for 330 yen total. That was good, anyway. Monday is a national holiday (Labour Thanksgiving Day), but we have to go do more shopping again (this time at a home supplies store near Frespo park (a soul-less strip mall) 30 minutes away by bus). I doubt there will be any events anywhere, and if there are, I'll probably miss them again.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Tenmonkan Illumination 2015

I went in to work at 3:30 PM on Saturday, and I passed by the open space in front of the 7-11 in Tenmonkan, and there wasn't anything special going on. But, the walkways in front of the other shops had tables set up for tarot readings, children's games, and pre-packaged foods from some of the restaurants, indicating that something might be happening at some point. I continued on to the school, and got back out at 6:30. On the way back home I went through Tenmonkan again, and this time they had a stage set up to celebrate the turning on of the Christmas lights.

There was a sign saying that things had started at 5:30, but no schedule. There was a sound crew off to the side, but no dressing room tent, no other band instruments, and no other acts standing around waiting to go on stage. I assumed that the girls are from Southern Cross - the pop idol group that kind of represents Tenmonkan sometimes, that they were the only act this evening, that they were probably going to wrap up soon, and that all of their songs were copyrighted by someone else and I'd get blocked if I uploaded videos to youtube.

So, I just took a couple photos and continued home. I'll swing back through Tenmonkan Sunday to see if the stage was torn down overnight, or if it's being used by something else. But, I don't have many expectations for anything interesting happening here during the rest of the weekend.

(There's nothing at Lotteria, either. I haven't been able to get up to Amuplaza; I'll try to do that on Sunday. I do know that the plaza in front of the main train station was roped off for workers to put up the big Christmas tree on Thursday, but I didn't see any preparations for an event stage.)

Friday, November 20, 2015

Panda Hoodie

There's a clothing shop in Tenmonkan that has a thing for pandas. And now, you too can have a panda thing.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Saigo Heron

The heron that sits on top of the statue of Saigo has gotten a certain level of popularity here. But, he's usually not at his post when I'm outside. One day, I got lucky. Unfortunately, I was on the other side of the street, and the distance was pushing the limits of the little pocket camera. These shots are at full 30x zoom.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Jump Shop

The Shonen Magazine Jump Shop is back on the 6th floor of the Taka Plaza building in Tenmonkan.

Lots of toys, t-shirts, banners, and posters if you want them. Plus photo ops.

One wall had all of the covers from the One Piece manga.

I don't read Jump anymore, so I don't know most of the manga running right now.

(Majin Buu says "I hate you!")

(Hanging banners.)

The Jump Shop is only running for a couple of weeks and then it will go to another city. I didn't buy anything because I think it's all overpriced and I don't have space to keep it.