Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Time Bokan Beer Poster

There's a beer-eatery near Tenmonkan that has been using anime characters from the 1970's "Time Bokan" children's TV series for advertising their happy hour. Recently, I found a different place up at the train station using different characters from the same show to tell patrons that they need to start reserving their end of year company parties in advance. I'm assuming the two places belong to the same chain.


Monday, January 14, 2019

Jan. 13, 2019, Part 2

Blood Drive

There was a fair amount going on, on Sunday. Along with one of the mochi pounding spots in front of the Lotteria near the Yamakataya department store was also a Red Cross blood drive. Given that there's a strong cultural taboo in Japan regarding the spilling of blood, obtaining sufficient blood supplies for the victims of natural disasters here is an uphill battle.

There do seem to be a few donors this time, at least.


Meanwhile, Amu Plaza had some kind of political speaker truck event going on in the space in front of the department store. Not a big crowd, but they were slightly vocal in their support of whatever was being said.

This appears to be Kiyohiko Toyama, a member of the House of Councillors in the National Diet, from the Komeito party, born and raised in Chiba (north of Tokyo). I didn't bother trying to listen to what he was saying, but the speakers were turned up really loud. I could hear him from 2 blocks away. Komeito was founded by members of the Nichiren Buddhist-influenced Soka Gakkai religious movement, and they're aligned with the ruling LDP party.

"This is the part where you're supposed to applaud me."

Thinking: "Which podunk backwater are we in, again?"

Marugoto Fair

Amu Plaza also had another of their "Comprehensive Products" fairs for Kagoshima, Hioki and southern Satsuma. Ceramics, green tea, mikan (small oranges), etc.

The Hioki foamhead mascot, and fan.

The stage event schedule was pretty disappointing this time. It ran from Saturday to Monday, but the majority of the events were just interviews with the shopkeepers, a "rock-paper-scissors" contest against the foamhead for regional prizes, a little performance dancing, and one accoustic guitar set by one of the female folk singers that I'm not a big fan of.

Here, the MC (Hikari) is interviewing a shopkeeper who is trying to promote a new brand of black vinegar in mini-bottles, or something.

"Please, tell me more..."

Some of the Hioki reps, plus the foamhead, preparing to start the rock-paper-scissors contest for the products on the table at the back of the stage. This was the one event that attracted the largest audience of the day.

"Next up, a bottle of orange juice. Try your best, everyone!"

Things get real (metaphysical) when the foamhead competes to give away a plushie version of himself.

Not really a fascinating day, but yeah, there was a lot going on.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Mochi Pounding, Jan. 13

I mentioned back on Jan. 3rd that I'd seen a poster announcing several mochi pounding events in Tenmonkan, but other than the one on Gonza Street, I couldn't find any of the others elsewhere in the shopping complex. Then, I couldn't find the poster again to see what the date was supposed to be. Well, last Friday, I was walking in a part of the center that I normally don't get to, and I finally found that poster. It showed 6 locations, and stated that the date was Jan. 13. After that, I located a couple more posters (which were in the immediate spaces where the poundings were going to be), giving start times of 11 AM or 12 PM, depending on the place.

Again, I was expecting long lines on Sunday, and I didn't have a lot of interest in eating the mochi myself. I just wanted photos for the blog. So, I got out the door a bit before 11 AM on Sunday, and I walked down to Tenmonkan to the big Tenpara movie theater complex. This is one of the spots that has had poundings in the last 2-3 years, and is always my go-to location for checking first. And yes, the shopkeepers in the area had the banners up, and were in the process of pounding a second cake of rice into mochi.

The thing is, there was almost no line, so I got up to the table to get the two regular mochi pieces, one with soy sauce, and the other with kinoko (roasted soy bean powder). They were good.

About two bites' worth, each. And, they're free. A good deal. They also had senzai, a hot sweet red bean soup with smaller pieces of mochi floating in it. But, we had to choose between the soup and the regular mochi pieces, and I didn't want to get greedy, so I just got the tray of two pieces, then kept walking around.

Over at Streetcar Street, in front of KFC, a different group of storekeepers were just setting up their table, and wouldn't be handing out senzai until 12 PM. But, they really liked their posters.

The Yamakataya department store people had two lines, one for the senzai and the other for the mochi trays, and both lines were way too long for me. On the other hand, they also had enough finished mochi cakes to feed a couple hundred people. It was difficult to get close enough to the tables to get photos, so I just took a shot of the crowd, then went over to Lotteria.

The Lotteria group didn't start setting up until about 11:45 AM, so I just sat on a nearby bench and did Sudoku puzzles for half an hour. The group was a bit disorganized, and there was no clear starting point for the lines. Eventually, some really old people began drifting in (maybe from the Yamakataya location a couple blocks away), and they automatically queued up in front of the two tables. I got in line for the mochi as well, and kept waiting.

I never got around to checking how many people were behind me, but it must have been well over 50. I got my tray of one kinoko mochi, and ate that. Again, it was still warm and very filling. But, there was almost no line for the senzai. That table had lots of little paper cups set up, and I figured that my taking one wasn't going to be the same as my taking one away from someone else.

So, I got in the senzai line, and quickly received my cup of sweet red bean soup and small piece of mochi. It's an acquired taste (most Americans that have had it consider it to be too sweet and weird), but I liked it.

I then went back to KFC, where the people there were still handing out bowls of senzai, and I got in line for that as well. This time, the bowls were almost twice the size of the Lotteria cups, and the mochi pieces were a little bigger. As I was eating, I noticed one of the shopkeepers plugging in a pair of ovens, and filling them up with what looked like steamed buns. I checked the schedule next to the table, and it said there would be a "Chuman" (Chinese steamed bread with a meat filling) hand out at 1 PM. It was 12:15 PM at that point, so I pulled out my Sudoku puzzle and finished that off. Again, there was no clear starting point for the line, and I just hung out in front of the KFC building. As we got closer to 1 PM, several older woman began gathering at one side of the sidewalk, and that turned into the head of the line. A little after 1 PM, the shopkeepers started handing out paper-wrapped steamed buns (one per person), and I was maybe #10 in the line. I got my steam bun pretty quickly, thanked the people for the free food, and then headed up to Amu Plaza to see if anything was going on up there, and to do a bit of shopping for the week. It was a good start to the day.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Surface Flower

There's a flower shop just inside the grocery store near the apartment. Recently, they had some larger plants covered in a protecive mesh. They kind of struck me as looking like images from a 3D CAD package, so I tried getting artsy to capture that impression with the camera.

I may not have succeeded, but at least I tried.

Friday, January 11, 2019

School Peppers

Occasionally, I'll find places where the groundskeepers use hot peppers as ornamental plants. This one was outside a school near Tenmonkan.

I'd consider eating them, except the planter is right next to a main through street, and I'm not sure how healthy they are.

But, they are pretty.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Anisong Night, Nov. 11 Poster

Anime TV series theme songs, game songs, and whatever songs at Wicky's House.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019


Seen outside the apartment, 2 blocks away. At the limits of the little pocket camera.