Monday, November 11, 2013

A Weekend in the Life..

Pachinko windows

There's a building a couple miles south of my apartment that has a Lawson's konbini on the first floor, and occasionally some anime-related artwork in the windows on the second. This time, the art seems to be for some pachinko machines. I normally don't get down to this part of the city, but on Friday I was riding the street car, and it had to stop for the light right in front of this building. I took the pictures through the car's windows, which is why they don't look all that good.

- Saturday -

I have two main routes I take when going from the apartment to places on the other side of the Tenmonkan shopping complex: Through the complex, or a couple of streets further west to run between Temonkan and Central Park. The choice as to which one to take depends mainly on the street lights near the apartment. If the first set of lights just turned green facing north, then I'll go to Central Park. Otherwise, I prefer to go further east to go through Tenmonkan, because that takes me past a small coffee shop that I like (100 yen for a small cup of drip coffee, self serve). On Saturday, Nov. 9th, I was heading towards the school I teach English at, and the lights turned green just as I got there. So I took the first route. As I got close to Central Park, I could see tents set up for some kind of event, but they were all empty. To my left, up on the hill, is the Shiroyama hotel, and a replica of the Empire State Building.

Actually, it's a broadcasting tower, being bundled up prior to being put into storage for the winter. I was a little tight on time, so I veered east at the next light, which took me into Tenmonkan, then a little farther east so that I'd go past the open area next to the Lotteria burger shop. I check there occasionally on the weekends in case there's some kind of an event going on.

This time, it's the We Love MBC Rajio Matsuri, sponsored by MBC Radio. There were a few local produce tables set up that people were ignoring in favor of the stage acts.

The group up at the time was Chan Sa'ne & Sunkujira Brothers, who played some very energetic, but bad, jazz. Then I kept going north to the school. 2 hours later, I finished my lessons, and swung back to the MBC fest. At that point, the Doburokku duo took the stage, but the announcers told everyone that since this was airing live, they were going to ban all cameras, smartphones and video recorders. Enforcers worked the crowd to convince violators to put their devices away. Doburokku played a gag pop song, which got the audience singing along with them.

Near the Lotteria, a Buddhist monk was begging for alms.

This isn't a very common sight in Japan anymore, and not everyone seems to approve of it.

I took my preferred route back home, which brought me past another wide area in Tenmonkan that is occasionally used for events. This time, a stage had been erected, but the nearby schedule showed that the first event wouldn't start until 6 PM, 2 hours later. The sign on the right says that the sponsors are going to give away 300 bags of sweets. At home, I killed time, and got back out the door at 6:30 PM. That was a little too late to get any of the sweets, since everything was to wrap up at 6:45.

When I returned, I was approaching from the back side of the stage.

I'm not sure which act this was, but the audience liked them. Lots of jumping around and doing "vogue" poses. It was already dark outside, and the camera had trouble focusing on the singers (it preferred the back of the heads of the people in the audience closest to me). When the girls finished their song, the announcer thanked everyone for coming to this "illumination opening ceremony". So, while MBC radio was identified as a sponsor here, too, this particular stage was set up just because the Christmas lights had been turned on again for the year. (Both the girl group, and Doburokku played both stages.)

The "illuminations" at this end of Tenmonkan.

- Sunday -

The next day, I decided to swing by Central Park to see if whatever looked like was going to happen actually was happening. Given that we had a huge storm overnight and into the morning, the event could have been canceled. In fact, I was scheduled to teach an online lesson that morning, and the student called to say that the lightning had fried her satellite connection and she couldn't get to the internet anymore. But, by 2 PM the weather was simply overcast, making for lousy photos, but it wasn't raining.

The event is billed as the 2nd Annual Wakuwaku (excitement) Welfare Exchange Fair. It's made up of volunteer groups, and seemed to be geared for raising money for various activities. There were quite a few mentally and physically disabled adults around the tents. The main stage had various musical acts, plus the winners of a junior high school speech contest. You can't see her, but to the far right of the stage was a woman interpreting the speeches in sign language.

There were several food booths, including grilled odango (80 cents USD for one skewer of teriyaki-flavored rice paste balls).

Jumper balloon room for the children.

One tent was dedicated to kid's activities, including bamboo stilts.

The last stage show was a costume drama featuring a giant tea kettle in need of protection by the "cute Kagoshima dog mascot" from minions of the fox god.

Back in Tenmonkan (2 blocks east) at the Lotteria open area, we had a kind of extension of the events from Saturday. It's actually part of the Wakuwaku Welfare Exchange Fair, hosted by NHK, but it's on the stage set up for the MBC Radio event. The singer performed an Enka song, while the woman to the left signed the lyrics.

20 minutes later, I was up at the main Kagoshima train station. There had been some kind of a corporate sales event here yesterday, but it was poorly attended and I never figured out what they were selling. However, the red and white tents had been set up along the walkway and I was wondering what they were there for. Turns out that the company running the train station was holding their 5th annual event Sunday. The tables sold jewelry, crafts and local produce, plus some food.

Balloon jumper room for the kids.

This tent is selling Nengajo - New Year's Day postcards. Some people have to hand write over 200 hundred cards, so it's important to start early. 2014 is the Year of the Horse, so all the cards will have horses on them in one form or another this time.

In previous years, a giant Santa hung from the wall pillars to the left. However, the Amupla management has closed down the companies that used to operate from that space, including a radio station and a Starbucks, and is completely rebuilding it. At least we still get the tree, although the one last year was more colorful.

Behind the tree, another temporary stage was set up for the day-long performances. This one is an elementary school brass band playing Christmas songs really slowly. First time I've ever heard Jingle Bells done as a dirge.

Saleswomen trying to get people to fill out an application form for entry into a contest run by the event staff. The women would also take photos of attendees standing in front of the tree.

One of the final acts included singer/actor Tsuyoshi Nakabuchi (right).

Then, back home at 5 PM to copy photos off the camera and write up this part of the blog entry. Whew - how do I do it?

No comments: