Wednesday, September 26, 2012

KTS Festival, Day 1

The KTS TV station partnered with the Yamakataya department store to present a two-day festival on the 22nd and 23rd, on the grounds of the Volunteer Center (same building where the International Exchange Center hosts the Japanese classroom on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and the English Lunchtime Lessons on Fridays). Concurrently, Kagoshima City is hosting month-long events to mark the 40th anniversary of normalized relations with China. In spite of the tensions raised because of the wrangling over the Senkaku Islands, China agreed to participate in various events across Japan. Kagoshima, specifically, was to invite participants from its sister city, Changsha, China. However, the only Chinese people I encountered over the weekend have been living in Kagoshima and working for the Exchange Center for 2-3 years.

At the entrance. Saturday started ok, but the sky quickly clouded over and there was rain all afternoon.

KTS had a full camera crew following reporters and TV talent around the food stalls, interviewing visitors and sampling the various dishes on sale. Most of the interviews were taped-delayed and replayed on the big screen on stage.

The stage announcers were taped as well, on Saturday.  I didn't notice anyone running the cameras on Sunday.

(Anpanman and JA welcome you to play games.)

The booths were about 1/2 food stalls (ramen, roasted fish, beer, soft drinks, sausages, etc.), 1/4 children's play areas and general seating) and the rest made of advertising (car tires, cars, travel agencies), public service booths (breast screening) and import stores. One of the food stalls was run by Praha and Gen, the shochu maker and Czech embassy combo that's located a few blocks from the monthly apartment building I stayed at near the airport last year. I decided to get a sausage and cup of beer from them; it was good but the total came to 900 yen ($11 USD), which was twice what it was worth. All of the other stalls were equally expensive, but none of the visitors were complaining about it.

Inside the Volunteer Center, KTS had events and activities set up in the main exhibition and secondary presentation halls on the second floor. Coca Cola hosted a dance competition in the main hall on the first floor, but it was packed and no one else was being allowed in to watch). One of the activities was a virtual reality game where children competed to hit the coins flying on the screen. The camera under the screen both captures the players to display on the screen with the coins, and maps their actions to determine if the players' hands are "hitting" the coins.

A big balloon head of one of KTS's TV talents.

A mechanical version of a popular Japanese comedian. The crank in his back just makes him shimmy around a little. Small children are encouraged to hit the blue button to the right to make him move for a few seconds.

In the secondary presentation hall, a news desk was set up at one end to let children take turns pretending to anchor a broadcast show. One of the main purposes of the festival was to promote the new season's TV shows, including the anime version of Robotics;Notes.

A large cylinder in the middle of the room holds photos of the families attending the event. Staff members were busy putting up new photos all day.

In another corner of the room, children could stand in front of a green screen to pretend to present a weather forecast.

The International Exchange Center's event was a music concert presented by a Japanese music professor and at least one Chinese accompanist. The professor played the hammer and strings instrument shown here, while another 5 women played kokyuu (a single-stringed instrument played with a bow, kind of similar in sound to a violin). The main kokyuu player was incredibly good, getting a wide range of notes from just the one string. Unfortunately, the Exchange Center manager specifically asked me to attend in the audience and I felt compelled to sit in the front row to make the seating look less empty, so it was too awkward to take photos during the performance and the performers disappeared immediately after the 20 minute concert so I couldn't ask them to pose with the kokyuu for me.  There were a total of 3 performances, at 11 AM, 2 PM and 4 PM. During the concert, about 40 people gathered to watch, filling all of the chairs that had been set out in the lobby.

Shortly after the concert ended, a huge crowd flooded the main lobby, swarming around some of the actors that had just finished giving a rubber-suit/action-figure show on stage outside. The characters included a Fox God (kitsune)...

A kappa...

And two supporting female characters.

All of the actors mingled with their fans and posed for shots. The kappa (a villain in the show) was a big ham, and mugged in front me as he passed by. The primary hero is the mascot for Kagoshima prefecture, not shown here.

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