Saturday, August 31, 2013

Q.E.D. volume 23 review

(All rights belong to their owners. Images used here for review purposes only.)

Q.E.D., vol. 23, by Katou Motohiro. Grade: B

(The top panel shows all of the passengers on the boat, all of whom have alibis.)

Raia- (Liar, Great Magazine, 2005). Touma's parents are currently on vacation in Taiwan, so his younger sister, Yuu, tricks both Kana and Sou into flying there to have a kind of family reunion. Unfortunately, earlier in the day, Mr. Touma was inspired by a giant Buddha statue, so he and his wife decided to fly to Okinawa to look at other big Buddha statues. All the other flights out are booked and Yuu had impetuously cancelled her hotel room and now the hotels are all full. By chance, they encounter Leon Garret, a former MIT student and president of his own IT company. Leon invites them on his yacht, but Touma would rather avoid him because of his reputation as "Leon the Liar". The yacht is going to Okinawa, and the other passengers include a former teacher and his wife, an alcoholic former girlfriend and her new boyfriend, Leon's business partner, and the two guys piloting the ship. That night, a storm whips up and in the morning Leon is found dead with a knife in his stomach. The teacher's daughter committed suicide over Leon, the alcoholic ex-girlfriend still hates him, and the partner was cheated by Leon in a business deal, so they all have motives.

(Leon prepares for the next day's "big surprise".)

The police impound the boat and interrogate the passengers. Yuu and Kana are desperate to meet up with Mr. and Mrs. Touma, so Sou is forced to solve the crime for everyone. Questions: Since everyone has alibis, who is lying? What was the big surprise that Leon promised Touma for the next day? Why did the corpse have 5 separate cuts on the upper torso? Where did the murder weapon go? Why did the teacher take the girlfriend's brooch from the floor where it fell, and why did the new boyfriend return it to her the next day?

No science. We do get to see Sou's parents a little bit, but they're demonstrated to be very flighty and capricious, and we never fully see their faces. When Sou, Yuu and Kana make it to Okinawa, the two adults have already left for some other location. They give Kana a message saying that the Earth is big, so they'll meet up sometime in the future. Sou and Yuu both say that their cousin is even worse, but that he's not living in Japan right now.

(Kana dares Touma to explain Riemann's Hypothesis to her so she can understand it; he fails.)

Anaza- Wa-rudo (Another World, Great Magazine, 2005). 2 years ago: Loki and Touma are both lounging outside the math building when Prof. Kenneth Refla comes up and tells them to look forward to a presentation he plans on giving in 2 years. Back in the present, Loki is driving Kana and Touma from the airport to MIT. Touma's trying to explain what Refla's research is about - proving the Riemann Hypothesis - and Kana remains unimpressed until Loki adds that whoever proves or disproves it mathematically will win a $1 million prize purse. (The Riemann Hypothesis states that the pattern behind prime numbers is predictable. It has remained unsolved since Bernhard Riemann first presented it in 1859. It's one of 7 modern math challenges that the Clay Mathematics Institute has prizes for.) When they get to the lecture hall, though, the other attendees scoff at them. Seems that Refla disappeared a couple months ago, and he's reported to be dead.

(Refla's painting of "The King in Despair".)

Touma and Loki interview Refla's landlord, wife, daughter and friends, and discover that he left behind a short poem and 4 paintings. Each painting represents a different line of the poem, but no one knows who has the 4th painting or what had led up to his death. They visit a graveyard, and Refla's tombstone has a strange tile mosaic around the outer edge, and just the date 1943. Questions: Who has the 4th painting? What does the poem mean? Is the order of the paintings important compared to the order of the lines in the poem? The poem implies that Refla failed to crack the Riemann Hypothesis and that's why he committed suicide - but is that actually the case?

The entire chapter is dedicated to describing RH, prime numbers, and the impact cracking the hypothesis would have (the world's software security routines are based on the apparent randomness of prime numbers). There's a brief mention of why showing that all known zeta solutions are zero using a computer is not the same thing as having a real proof, and we're told that the 1974 transmission of data by Aricibo to outer space is a hint to solving the mystery.

Comments: I prefer the science stories over the plain mysteries, so the entire "Another World" chapter is a lot of fun for me. It's unlikely that anyone is going to crack RH any time soon, but it's still interesting to speculate over it. And, I learned about the Skewes' Number, which I hadn't heard about before, so that just adds to the appeal. Recommended.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Q.E.D. volume 22 review

(All rights belong to their owners. Images used here for review purposes only.)

Q.E.D., vol. 22, by Katou Motohiro. Grade: B

(Akabane discovers the pilot's uniform in an abandoned apartment.)

Natsu no Ogawa (Summer Stream, Great Magazine, 2005). Kana and Touma are walking along a stream not too far from Mount Fuji, when they see a despondent-looking guy wearing a kimono walking into the cold mountain water. Thinking that he's going to drown himself, Kana pushes Touma into the stream to stop him. Turns out that the guy, Keisetsu Akabane, is an artist and was just trying to pick a flower to draw. He's approached by several people that claim that he's someone else - a pilot or doctor. He's been the victim of mistaken identity ever since getting hit by a car and losing part of his memory. When everyone else leaves, he talks to his wife about remembering where his "great treasure" is hidden. He's visited by an art dealer who wants his next painting to exhibit in his gallery, but Keisetsu is in the middle of a slump and hasn't been able to draw in months.

(Touma explains to Akabane why no one noticed the corpse lying at the bottom of a clear pool in a cave in Mount Fuji.)

Questions: Why do so many people keep mistaking Akabane for someone else? What is the treasure he's looking for? What do the sketches he's made of a cave in Mount Fuji mean? Why are all of his sketches so amateurish? Why does the art gallery dealer keep stalking him? And why doesn't anyone else talk to his wife when she's in the room?

The only real science is another repeat of the reflective effect you get with something being hidden in water, the rest is just an exploration into mental illness.

(Alan Brad gets kidnapped in Italy.)

Benechian Meikyuu (Venetian Maze, Great Magazine, 2005). Alan Brad, CEO of Alan Soft, Corp., is back. He's trying to set up romantic dinners with his secretary, Elly, but not getting very far with her. So he flies Kana and Touma out to Italy to pick out an engagement ring for him. As the three are walking out of the jewelry story, 3 inept guys wearing hoods rush out of the bank next door and grab Alan as a hostage. They drive off. Later, Elly and Touma work with the police to try to find her boss. The would-be robbers are brothers, leather workers that had lost their shop to the bank when it decided to foreclose on their building for a subprime loan when the economy went bad. Alan has to tell the brothers to call Touma to turn this into a kidnapping for ransom scheme. The brothers are basically nice guys, along the lines of the Three Stooges. Eventually, they relocate to their mother's house. She's the smarter and more ruthless member of the family, and when she discovers the ring Alan bought, she takes it knowing exactly how much it's worth (millions), while pretending it's just a glass trinket.

(Elly shows that she doesn't like it when Alan makes her worry.)

The mother arranges the money for hostage exchange, using a gondola that belonged to her deceased husband. The police try to follow the gondola with a motor boat, but lose it in the canal ways. Touma gets the police to let him review the bank's security cameras, and he notices that there may be an inside man (a fourth brother) in the bank. The brothers get the money, and Alan is returned safely, but now Elly is furious because he made her worry about him. Questions: How did the gondola disappear? What does having a fourth brother mean in this case? What will Alan do now that he doesn't have the engagement ring? Will Elly turn him down? How can Touma track down the whereabouts of the family once they get outside of Venice?

No science. Just lots of nice Italian scenery, and the mention of the Trio Sonata.

Comments: Nothing really worth commenting about this time. "Summer Stream" is more of a psychological mystery, and "Venetian Maze" almost borders on slapstick. (The only informative part of VM is that Elly explains why she decided to work for Alan - although he tries to hide it, he really cares about other people.) Recommended if you like the rest of the series.

Thursday, August 29, 2013


(The building in the background is the International Volunteer Center, where the Friday Lunchtime English lessons are held.)

Semi are the Japanese cicada that are featured so heavily in manga and anime. They're very loud, but almost impossible to find. You know they're there, because of the "miin miiin" sound, but that doesn't mean you'll be able to see them where ever it is they are.

They're big.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Lanterns 3

The Tenmonkan shopping complex covers maybe a square mile. There are shops all over the place, and lanterns in front of most of them. So, I haven't seen all of them, yet (not that I'm trying to). These are a few more of the ones where the artwork caught my eye, from the Tara Design School.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Swallows, 2

A few days after finding the one nest above the taxi stand in Tenmonkan, I noticed a family of swallows flitting over the street near Kotsuki river. They kept flying into this apartment building parking space, so I had to check it out.

The chicks grew up pretty fast.

The next week, both nests were empty.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Spiral Grape

This one's kind of weird. Spiral Grape, from Asahi Soft Drinks. The mascot character is interesting - a kind of zombie panda with the letters "S"and "G" for the eyes. The flavor is a standard artificial grape soda, plus licorice. Tastes strange. Not going to buy it again. "Life with spice". I like the mascot, though. 143 yen from konbini everywhere.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Kitaro DVD Review, vol. 7

(All rights belong to their owners. Images used here for review purposes only.)

Gegege no Kitaro Magazine DVD Series, volume 7

I haven't mentioned it earlier, but as we get farther into the series, the magazines accompanying the DVD are getting shorter. Just as I'm running out of new things to talk about with the mags, the editors are, too. What's consistent from issue to issue are the introductions of various feature monsters, the inclusion of the one-page Original Art write-ups on one-shot monsters that appear in the episodes on the DVD, 3-page summaries of those episodes, the "Where's Yamada" column, the "History of Kitaro" page, the double-sided posters, and random filler. Volume 7 is 24 pages, including the front and back covers.


The feature monster this time is Ittanmomen, a 30' x 1' enchanted bolt of cotton. According to the sidebar, Ittanmomen originated in Kagoshima prefecture (where I'm staying now), in the town of Kouyama (present-day Kimotsuki, at the south end of Kyushu). Its primary characteristics are the ability to fly and wrap itself around people (presumably to smother them). It's susceptible to fire, scissors and knives.

(Mizuki Road Map.)

It kind of looks like the editors are running out of posters, as well. Side one is the Shinya no Daiketsusen (Late Night Big Blood Battle), but the reverse is just a map showing 51 of the bronze statue locations along the Shigeru Mizuki Road in Sakaiminato, Tottori prefecture. Note that apparently Sakaiminato has people in Kitaro outfits as part of the sight-seeing tour.


The one-page monsters include: Ittanmomen, Ookubi (Big Neck or Big Head), Honeonna (Bone Woman) and Iyami (Bad Feeling).  Ookubi seems to just be a large head that floats through the sky. Honeonna is a bone monster. Iyami looks like a woman from the back, but a bearded man from the front.)

(Honeonna from the TV episode description.)

The TV episodes are: Ookubi (Big Head, 04/06/72), Iyami (Bad Feeling, 04/13/72), Akanami (Grime Licker, 04/20/72) and Daidarabocchi (Daidarabocchi, 04/27/72). The special is a highlight of the "Yonago Kitaro Airport", the themed trains running to Sakaiminato, and part of the Mizuki Road. I'll mention here that up to volume 5, there had been little special videos of things like Mizuki's toy room, or a walking tour of Mizuki-related stuff in Chofu. That disappears with volume 6 and is replaced by an Easter egg (press the right arrow on the DVD controller to highlight the TV on the main menu, then press Enter). In both volume 6 and 7, the egg is just a 10-minute piece with the sounds of someone walking in geta (wooden sandals) on concrete with wind blowing in the background. The video is of geta marks moving across the screen in different directions. Funny once or twice, but a waste of disk space, eventually.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Q.E.D. volume 21 review

(All rights belong to their owners. Images used here for review purposes only.)

Q.E.D., vol. 21, by Katou Motohiro. Grade: B-

(Checking the murder scene. Door: locked from the inside with the key on the desk. Windows: also locked from the inside. Yup, typical sealed room mystery.)

Tsugareta Himo (Joined Threads, Great Magazine, 2005). Kana oversleeps, so she's late getting to the school to go on a skiing field trip. She and Touma end up taking a regular bus out to Mount Fuji, but along the way Kana notices that a couple sitting in a nearby bench are looking really depressed. When the bus makes a stop at a remote section of the road, the couple gets out and Kana becomes convinced that they're going to commit suicide. She grabs Touma and they run from the bus with their gear. Soon, they lose sight of the couple, Kana accidentally covers up their own tracks by knocking snow from the overhead tree branches, and a storm whips up. Lost, they stumble on an old mansion in the middle of the woods, where they spy the couple coming down the stairs after having changed out of their snowsuits. Turns out that the owner of the place, Akinobu Higashiizumi, is the 5th generation president of the mammoth Higashiizumi trading group, and he's roundly hated by everyone. The despondent couple is Akinobu's son, Kouji, and his girlfriend, Satomi. Satomi has a child from a previous marriage and Akinobu refuses to let Kouji marry her because if something happens to him, the empire would go to the step-son, who'd be unrelated to the family by blood. Also in the mansion are the caretaker, who is going to be out of a job when the mansion is sold off next year, a banker that needs money from the trading group but keeps getting refused, and Yota Miyabe, an office worker at the company.

(What triggers the killer - Akibono delights in seeing his poverty-stricken widowed sister-in-law humbling herself before him.)

During the storm, both Akinobu and the caretaker are found hanged. When the police finally arrive a couple days later, it's assumed that the caretaker hanged his boss out of rage, then committed suicide from remorse. So, why was the president of the trading company hung from the rafters using two sets of ropes? Why would the caretaker have been worried about getting caught for the crime? Why is there only one set of footprints left in the frozen slush leading to the caretaker's hut? And why, when all of the other president's portraits are hanging on the wall, is the one for the 4th generation man missing? Hint - the 4th generation president died early, leaving behind a widow and young son. There were school books in the storage room, but no toys. Why?

No science this time. Interestingly, though, this is one of the few stories where Touma slips up, and doesn't realize the answer until after the case is closed.

(A flower pot barely misses Yukiyo.)

Nerawareta Bijin Joyuu, Suto-ka no Kyoufu Dangai no Zetsubeki ni kodamasuru Juusei Touma to Kana wa zutto miteita (The Beautiful Actress being Watched, the Fear of the Stalker, the Gunshot Reverberating from the Cliff Face, What Touma and Kana Saw, Great Magazine, 2005). Ok, based on the title alone, you can tell this is going to be a stupid story. Yukiyo Nagisa is a washed up TV actress. So, she and her manager, Hideo Ogata, concoct a story to get her back into the spotlight - someone is stalking her. Hideo has a friend on the police force, Sugimichi Kasayama, that is a huge fan of Nasiga's old cop shows. Sugimichi is assigned to find her "stalker", and starts out immediately by holding a big press conference. Things rapidly go downhill as Sugimichi bungles the case and eventually gets himself placed under house arrest. Then it starts to look like someone really is after Yukiyo, but the rest of the police no longer take her seriously.

(The big climatic cliff finale. The bumbling detective needs to refer to Touma's notes in the middle of reciting the evidence against the real stalker. And, if a knife isn't enough to scare someone, switch weapons.)

By accident, Touma and Kana get roped into helping Sugimichi by doing all his footwork for him, and they feel sorry enough for him that they arrange for a big confrontation ala every bad Japanese TV drama ever made, on a cliff overlooking the sea. Unfortunately for Kasayama, the real stalker really does want Yukiyo dead, and he shoots the cop in the leg to prod them into jumping off the cliff by themselves. Through sheer dumb luck, Sugimichi manages to defeat the stalker, and the story ends with him and Nagisa getting married in the hospital, and Nagisa's career taking off again.

No science. Just a brief comparison of "real cops" with "TV cops".

Comments: The cases in the Q.E.D. series generally fall into a few fixed categories: Touma and Kana happen upon a crime where they're stuck with the killer and suspects until the police can arrive; the story involves classmates in school; the story involves cops in the Tokyo PD. Most of the stories are contrived, but usually they're still pretty interesting. This time, both chapters are kind of weak. Recommended only if you like bad Japanese drama.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Q.E.D. volume 19 review

(All rights belong to their owners. Images used here for review purposes only.)

Q.E.D., vol. 19, by Katou Motohiro. Grade: B

(Yamazaki practicing as Macbeth.)

Macubesu no Bourei (The Ghost of Macbeth, Great Magazine, 2004). Kana is at the swimming pool in Touma's apartment building, complaining that he's reading while he could be swimming. A guy comes up and takes the book from Touma and tells him that this is just words - he should stop by the next day to see the real thing. Sou had been reading Macbeth, and the guy is Junzaburo Yamazaki, a famous actor that Kana had seen in can coffee commercials on TV. He's in the middle of rehearsals for Macbeth at a nearby hall. His counterpart, playing Macduff, is Kyoshi Kawaoka, an arrogant up-and-coming actor. Yamazaki and Kawaoka are constantly at each other's throats, in part because the older veteran actor is feeling threatened at being pushed out of the play, and the younger one can't pull off serious dramatic theater yet. Things come to a head: Kawaoka kills Yamazaki, and stages the body so it looks like he got drunk and drowned in the apartment building's pool. We get another Colombo-style story, and it's up to Touma to unravel the killer's alibi.

(Kawaoka finds himself haunted by Yamakazi's ghost.)

Touma actually did like his neighbor and he's not happy that he was killed. Along the way, Kawaoka starts living Macbeth's life, seeing the old king's ghost everywhere he goes, especially in the King's throne on stage. The only real question left for the reader to answer at the Q.E.D. point is "how did Kawaoka smuggle Yamazaki's body out of the theater in an apparently empty box?"

No science, just a recap of the storyline from the Shakespeare play.


Kenja no Isan (The Sage's Bequest, Great Magazine, 2004). June 24th, 2004. There's an old house that has just been purchased, and the school's architecture class instructor has offered Touma and Kana part-time jobs photographing the place before the new owner has it torn down. The instructor warns them against going into the basement - there'd been a big explosion in the place a long time ago and it's been abandoned ever since. Looks like the blast occurred downstairs and it's unstable now. So of course, while Touma is taking pictures of the various insects he finds, Kana goes into the basement and happens across an old lab. When she gets close to some large electrodes, there's a flash. She recovers, and finds herself in June 17, 1924. There's a boy in Showa-era clothing that looks like Sou Touma, but he says his name is Souichiro Toba. He's a university student, but his sponsor has just died and his funding is about to be cut off. Kana explains what she thinks has happened (a time jump) and Toba says it's something out of H.G. Wells. Einstein's general theory of relativity had been published in 1916, and Toba thinks that time travel is possible - if the girl returns to where she arrived, there should be a return hole back to her own time. They go to his apartment, where his younger sister, Yuuko, makes dinner. They discuss the loss of the student funding, and Toba seems as lazy and carefree as Touma. She drags the boy to his sponsor's lawyer. The lawyer explains that while the main inheritance is tied up, there's a rumored "pocket fortune" that is up for grabs to whoever can find it.


The sponsor was Torao Ryuumonji. He'd made his fortune in oil and had three children from different wives. His house is next to the one that had the explosion. The children are Unosuke, Saruhiko and Kumi. Unosuke is footloose and unfocused. During a drinking party, his father had shown him a pocket watch stuck at 8 o'clock and told him about the importance of using your time wisely. Saruhiko shared his father's passion for western movies and film technique. Torao pointed to a map and said the fortune was above the earth at the northwest. Kumi loved her father's dog, and was told to look with the eyes of the self-portrait hanging high up on the foyer wall. The house itself is large and has strange artwork painted on the walls in a "modern western style". As Souichiro and Kana interrogate everyone regarding the pocket fortune, the self-portrait disappears. Kumi is kidnapped and the kidnappers demand the return of the painting. Kana finds out that the mad inventor next door is working on a time machine and she's very interested in learning more about it.

Unfortunately, the scheduled time for meeting with the kidnappers at a meat packing plant is the same time as when Kana is supposed to act as a guinea pig for the experiment to return to the future. Toba goes to the meeting place and is attacked by masked men that seem to be friends of Unosuke's. They're about to throw him into a meat grinder when Kana shows up and trashes their butts. Seems that the inventor is behind on his bills and the electricity was cut off to his building before the experiment could start. The two go back to the house and Toba finds his focus for solving mysteries. He explains that Saruhiko had made a film negative of the portrait and used his father's projector to illuminate the picture with chromatically opposing colors, making the whole thing turn gray. He was the one to climb the ladder to check the picture, and stole it at that time. Kumi, naturally, staged her own kidnapping to get the picture back. Toba then tells Saruhiko to climb back up the ladder and look in the direction that the portrait had been facing. The man does so, and discovers that the "modern lines" on the walls of the main room spell out the word "inu" (dog). The specific kanji used has different interpretations within different contexts. In the Edo era, the hours of the day were given animal names, so Unosuke takes this to mean that he gets the gold watch. Kumi gets her beloved dog, and Saruhiko gets his father's den filled with film stuff (inu can refer to compass directions, specifically northwest. The den was the northwest room.) Toba, in turn, becomes executor of Torao's main estate and empire.

Kana goes back to the mad scientist's house, where the electricity is restored, and she says goodbye to Toba. There's an explosion. She's back in the present and Touma is standing over her, asking if she's ok. It had taken Touma 5 minutes to notice she was gone and find her. They go outside where there's light so he can check her head for injuries. As Kana wonders if it had all been a dream, an old man and his driver sit in a limo across the street. The driver asks her "grandfather Souichiro" why he bought the building if he was just going to tear it down in a week, and the man, whose face is not shown, replies that there was "an old memory I wanted to relive."

We get some science, with a description of complementary colors, and a lot of Showa-era artwork. The time jump lab is pure Telsa in construction, and the image projector is a Japanese design that used light reflecting off paper rather than projected through film.

Comments: The Macbeth story is Colombo-like, and I kept expecting Yamazaki to be faking his death, since he was supposed to be a great actor. But, the ending is good. "Sage's Bequest" is an interesting mix, because 1920's Japan was a lot more intellectually active, with influences coming from old Edo, modern Europe and America. Having someone that believes time travel is possible based on ideas from Wells and Einstein isn't that far-fetched. The wrap-up strongly suggests Kana's adventure wasn't a dream, which means that this story is more SF than mystery. Still, recommended.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Gusto American Faire Hamburg Steak

Back in May, I wrote about the confusing TV ad for the Gusto family restaurant chain promoting their "American Faire" campaign. In the ad, a group of so-called Texans are asked their opinions of Gusto's Texas hamburger steak, and the reactions are uniformly negative. The ad then says that the meals are aimed at Japanese tastes, and it wraps up with TV talent Dave Specter yelling out "Umai. Chou Umai" (Delicious. Extremely delicious). Well, there's a Gusto restaurant 2 blocks from my apartment, and I wanted to know just how bad these dishes are. I don't know if it was relevant that the waitress handed me the bento box menu instead, or that no one in the place was eating the hamburger steaks (hamburg steak) for lunch. I picked the cheapest one - hamburg steak with egg on top, a basil sausage, corn, bacon and small baked potato for 699 yen ($7 USD). The waitress brought me a plate of rice by mistake, and took it back a few seconds later. I got the all-you-can drink drink bar for an extra $2

The "bacon" was at least 70% fat. The "sausage" might have been made with fish paste. The egg was unseasoned, and the hamburg steak was the same kind of thing you can find anywhere in Japan, with a semi-sweet teriyaki sauce glaze. Overall, this is a typical family restaurant chain meal, and the only "American" thing about it is the word in the name (not sure if they were using American beef or not). It wasn't especially "Japanese" either. A week later, Gusto changed to a new campaign. I'm betting they were just looking for the small sales bump that occurs when the Japanese are exposed to something new, rather than predictable profit growth from a successful product launch. Not sure if the "bump" was big enough to pay for their ad campaign with Dave Specter, though.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Conan in Yamakataya

In July, the Yamakataya department store had it's 30th anniversary exhibit for the Dayan children's books, and they were already advertising the upcoming Conan show. Aimed mainly at young children, there's an in-store stamp rally, a character play, and an extremely-overpriced gift shop. Naturally, cameras aren't allowed in the exhibit space. It's over now, so I won't be able to find out what the children's stage show looks like.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Hawaiian Fest

Over the weekend of the 18th, the Yamakataya department store hosted a Hawai'ian Festa in three locations across Tenmonkan. There were at least 2 live music groups playing in one of the performance rooms in the store itself, and other events in the plaza next to the Lotteria burger shop, and the plaza near the JAXA museum. One set of events was the hula dancing.

While I was watching one of the dances, there was a tap on my shoulder. One of the women from the Friday Lunchtime English lessons at the International Volunteer Center had recognized me. She mentioned that each group of dancers came from a different dance school in the city. The one performing at that moment practiced in Yamakataya. Her own group was the Maruya Gardens Dance School, and that she'd be dancing on Sunday, same place, same time. Since there were at least 10 different groups, that implies that there's at least 10 schools across Kagoshima, all teaching hula.

The woman in the white blouse standing to the left is the main announcer.

Also in attendance was Guree Buu (Green Pig), mascot for the flower gardens supported by the city.

This group performed on Sunday. It was the only one with a live musician. All the others used recorded music.

On Sunday, over at the second plaza.

The tables selling crafts and handiwork are set up only on the weekends. Note in the background to the left the sign for the JAXA museum (JAXA is the Japanese version of NASA).

This was the only group to wear what looks like real Hawai'ian hula outfits.