Monday, November 10, 2014

Nov. 9

Volunteer Fair

The following day, Sunday, went about as well as Saturday had. I'd noticed that a stage and tents had been set up in Central Park, near Tenmonkan, and the layout looked a lot like that for the Volunteer Fair that had been held at this time last year., so I figured I knew what to expect this time. The problem was that I'd promised one of the Kagoshima locals that I'd meet with her, and a few of the other foreigners living here, for the 150 Year Meiji Anniversary Furusato event at the Kotsuki river at 1:30 PM. I couldn't get out of the apartment until just before 1, so I ran to Central Park to take a few photos there first.

It was indeed the Volunteer Fair, which is aimed at supporting young children, the elderly, and the handicapped. They had food stalls, bone density screenings, arts and crafts tents, and Red Cross people asking for donations everywhere.

The north end of the park, with more stalls, and a jumper room for children. Lots of people out today, even though the weather wasn't that great. It had rained in the morning, and the sky was still overcast. Actually, the rain was a good thing, because the wind was still blowing ash into the city from the volcano.

One of the activity sites was for making stilts using bamboo poles. I saw a few kids carrying the stilts home with them.

If stilts aren't your thing, you can use the bamboo sections to act like you're walking on soup cans.

Kagoshima volcano man was popular with some of the visitors.

I'm not sure, but I'm betting that some of the tents were acting as kind of a flea market, selling used clothing to raise money for future volunteer activities.

Frisbee golf for very young kids.

The main stage had events scheduled from about 10 AM to 3 PM. Most were either educational, or consisted of school kids giving speeches. Here, we have a science demonstration of air pressure. The boxes are sealed with duct tape, except for the hole at one end. Tapping on the side of the box causes a puff of air to hit people in the face a few feet away.

I think Tomato is a support group to help the elderly. Tomato-chan was on her way from Tenmonkan to Central Park. I was on my way to Kotsuki river, but I wanted to pass by the 7-11 first. At this point, I had about 10 minutes to hike the half mile towards the main train station. I was hoping to meet with people at the river for an hour, then get back to Central Park in time to record the stage show that was supposed to be the last event here for the day.

Sure enough, the space in front of 7-11 was acting as a satellite stage for the Volunteer Fair. A foamhead mascot in the shape of local hero Saigo Takamori was very popular with people wanting to take photos.

The stage was left up from the illumination event the night before, but one of the clowns working the crowd had put balloon animals of Mickey and Minnie Mouse up on the overhead bars.

At that time, the stage event consisted of handlers walking companion dogs through the audience for people to pet. This guy was extremely tolerant, and was popular with senior citizens and young kids alike.

Nearby was a set of display boards with various paintings. I didn't see ages on the name cards, so I don't know if these were painted by school kids, or the elderly.

This was the one painting out of the entire collection that I liked best.

150 Year Furusato, revisited

I ran up to the river and arrived just as one of the women of the group was trying to call me. This is the same event I'd written about 2 weeks ago, so I'd already seen most of what it had to offer. We were near the Meiji Restoration museum, at the replica of a Meiji-era house, and that was being used as a stage for a comic play. The three actors came out dressed as Atsuhime, Saigo Takamori, and Toshimichi Okubo, as if they'd just been pulled from the animatronic display in the museum across the street. For the most part, they just riffed on the reputations of the original people their characters are based on.

(Atsuhime, Saigo and Toshimichi.)

After a few minutes, I headed out by myself to the tents at the entrance of the park to try the free shochu samples, and see if there was a bottle that I wanted to buy (there was; a nice little sweet potato shochu for $10 USD for 900 ml.) When I returned to the group, the play had just ended, and the other foreigners were standing around talking. Several of the wandering actors in costume came up and volunteered for group photos, so everyone posed for that for a few minutes. (My camera is tricky to use, so I didn't hand it over during the shoot.)

(Rickshaw rides, 500 yen for one person, 1,000 yen for 2.)

It was now a little after 2:30, and I wanted to get back to Central Park to catch the character stage show. So, I bowed out from the group and returned to the Park. Unfortunately, I misremembered the time and the show had started at 2:30 (didn't matter, I wouldn't have been able to get out of the foreigners' group any earlier, anyway) and it was just finishing as I arrived. This was annoying, though, because there'd been a traditional singing event at the Kotsuki at a second stage, and one of the singers had tried talking me into sitting in the audience to watch it. I should have stayed at the river and watched the singers. Regardless, the Volunteer event was winding down, and I wanted to go back into Tenmonkan to visit a bookstore.

Gennin Art Collection

Along the way to the bookstore, I passed Takapla, where they were advertising an art exhibit on the 6th floor. I'd seen ads for this one on the street car. I didn't really care one way or the other about it, but I was in front of the building, and the exhibit is free, so I went inside.

I don't know any of the artists. Some of the space was just shelves for selling shirts and tapestries of the art. A TV in one corner had interviews with the artists.

Most of the art are gag pieces. Almost all of the pictures here are single panel manga featuring a young boy that has to confront various embarrassments in different situations.

This is the one piece in the exhibit that I consider at all interesting. It's a hanging banner, about 4'x6'. Pretty large, and very detailed.

After leaving the exhibit, I went to the bookstore in Maruya Gardens, arriving at about 4 PM. The store, Junkudo, has a good selection of imported western books in English. About a week ago, just by chance, I'd picked up a copy of The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict, a children's book that turned out to be pretty entertaining. I spent a couple hours browsing the next book in the series, The Mysterious Benedict Society. Then I went home for dinner. Thus was spent my weekend.

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