Thursday, January 14, 2021

Millionation 2021

Ten Park, the other side of Tenmonkan, has their 1 million led illumination running from Dec. to January 17 again. Not a lot of difference from year to year, but I did want to drop by after my lessons on Friday before the thing ended.

The temps are pretty much right around freezing. I had thin gloves on, which made handling the camera a bit more awkward, and my fingers were stiffening up.

Even so, the main stage area had several tables set up for children to make their own stamp art cards. Lots of parents were making their own, too. I was expected home at about that time, so I didn't really have the option of seeing if the activity was free or not.

It was nice seeing these lights up, anyway. The city decided to skip putting the lights up down along the boulevard in front of City Hall this year.

The dome just had a projector inside, with speakers playing atmospheric music. We weren't allowed to go inside.

And, that's that.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Kagin Mask

Kagin is Kagoshima Ginko (ginko = bank). Even the mascots practice social distancing. (Yes, it was raining that day).

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Cie-na Works New Year Chalk

Cie-na cafe has new chalk up. Side one, a nice portrayal of Sakurajima.

A nice portrayal of the Year of the Ox. It was just beginning to rain, so I needed to get the shot quickly before the chalk got too damaged.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Terakuni Jinja's Year of the Ox

The local shrines are getting close to ending their activities for Hatsumode (first shrine visit of the year). Terakuni shrine used to have a booth selling small amounts of sweet sake, and they'd also set up a stage around Jan. 4th for throwing small packages of coins, beans and candy to the crowds. Not this year. I swung by on Sunday to catch the tail end of things, and the shrine grounds were almost deserted. Just a smattering of people coming in to pray for luck and good health for the year, a few women dressed up in expensive kimono, with equally expensive hairdos. But, nothing like past years.

I always like looking at the sign artwork. The animals are usually taken from old woodcut prints.

"Three lines, no lines, no waiting."

One of the real surprises was that the inside of the main shrine building didn't have any of the typical stacks of sake and shochu bottles this time.

There's just the one symbolic sake barrel to the right, but that's often empty and only used for appearances.

The artwork in the middle of the drum has been worn away through use. It must have really looked nice when it was new.

Some of the little wooden ox plaques. Generally, people buy these and write their wishes for the new year on the back. And that's no bull.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Snow Birds

After writing that the English school was closed two days for snow that never showed up, I went outside Sunday morning at 2 AM and discovered the street was wet, but the sky was absolutely clear. A few feet away, the cars were covered in about half an inch of snow. I walked around the neighborhood, and it was the same thing - the streets were wet, but any vehicles parked outside were covered in snow. Then, I got to this one stretch of road in front of a nearby coin laundry, and almost slipped and fell on my back. About 20 feet of the street had glazed ice. That was a surprise.

By 11 AM, all of it was gone, except for a small handful of snow in some grass lining a parking lot across the street from the coin laundry.

It was fun while it lasted.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

So No Snow

Little bit of a Small Adventure. Japan shuts down for 2 weeks from Dec. 24th to Jan. 6th for the New Year holidays. Almost nothing happening during this period, this year. But, I was supposed to have my first English classes at the school on Thursday, the 7th. Late that morning, I got a call telling me that there was snow forecasted for the next 3 days, and that the school was going to be closed on the 7th. Ok, I guess that's fine. Except that the only snow we got for the entire afternoon consisted of a few small flakes that never made it to the sidewalk. Friday, same story; big storm in the forecast (which did hit kind of hard farther north), school closed, and just a few small flakes. Saturday, the skies were crystal clear, and the school actually opened for the day.

Sigh. I miss snow.

Friday, January 8, 2021

Shin Ichibangai

Ichibangai is one of Kagoshima's oldest shopping districts. The name translates roughly to Number One Town. Originally, it stretched from this point in the city south about 3-4 blocks. It's one of the reasons why the main Chuo-ou station (Central Station) was built here and made as the city's only bullet train stop (the bullet line had to be extended from Kumamoto, and for some reason, no one thought that it should be continued all the way down to the southern-most tip of Kyushu, at Ibuski). Unfortunately for the shopkeepers here, Tenmonkan became more popular and took away all the foot traffic. About one year ago, the entire first block got ripped out, and this mansion skyrise went up in its place.

It looks like the central through route to the rest of Ichibangai is being maintained, but there aren't any new stores opening up in the central space yet, so I don't know if part of the shops for Ichibangai will be hosted in the skyscraper or not. Either way, workers had spent the last 4 months or so putting in the structure for a new elevator and crossover walk, while also punching a hole in the Tokyu Hands building at the second floor to allow the free flow of pedestrians from the train station inside.

It's a fairly long walk up, so I'm surprised that they didn't make this an escalator, or extend the crossover another 20 feet to the parking lot on the other side of the street.

Originally, there was a pedestrian crosswalk here at street level from the station to the entrance of the blocks of shops. But, there's only one entrance and exit to/from the main parking garage in back, and all the cars had to flow through this street to get in and out. At peak hours, there were 3-4 traffic cops protecting the walkers from the cars. The new crossover must have been the City's primary requirement for the developers in order to gain permission for the entire project.

The doors into the building are still locked, but the crossover is already open to the public. It seems to be popular with the homeless, and school girls trying to find a place to sit down and text each other.