Wednesday, March 18, 2015

MBC Spring Fes

Saturday, March 15, was White Day. In Japan, on Valentine's Day women give chocolates to men, including co-workers, teachers and family members (sometimes this is hand-made chocolate, other times it's store bought "obligation chocolate" = giri choco). The idea is that on White Day, men return the favor. This doesn't always happen and things can get ugly if it doesn't (the Japan Times ran a story about a woman who tried to kill her husband for not giving her a White Day gift). A few students had given me giri choco so I wanted to get something in return before the classes started on Saturday. I ran up to Amu Plaza on my way to work and bought some small bags of Jelly Belly jelly beans at the Kaldi shop in the basement. While there I noticed the event set up in the open plaza at ground level.

MBC broadcasting (a local TV and radio station) was setting up their Spring Festa, which consisted of a stage and booths promoting their TV programs and some local food products (curry and snack foods). I'd arrived just before 12:30 PM, and the event wasn't supposed to start until 1 PM. Kasarinchu was practicing in front of a small audience. They're a local duo, with a singer/guitarist and a "human beat box". They weren't bad, but they were just doing folk ballads, which I don't have a lot of interest in. Since my lessons started at 1 PM, I couldn't stick around for the opening ceremonies, and because I had classes all afternoon I couldn't come back before the rest of the show ended for the day. On the other hand, Day One was primarily a display of hair stylists showing off their creations, so I didn't expect to be missing much.

I'm not sure who the woman is. She didn't participate in any of the songs.

Sayonara Genpatsu (Goodbye Nuclear Reactors)

I had more free time on Sunday, but it was raining in the morning. I didn't feel like leaving the apartment until close to 1:30 PM. As I got to the main station there were a lot of cars backed up for the street lights. When I reached the bus stops I discovered the reason was that one of the local anti-nuclear power protest groups had scheduled an event in front of the main plaza. The protest songs part had just ended, and the crowd was filing out to march along Street Car Street down to Tenmonkan. The police were directing traffic and letting the protesters through the intersections, which was what was causing the traffic to back up.

The crowd was very subdued and mostly orderly. For the most part it was older people just shuffling along. The national government is planning on restarting the reactor a couple hundred miles away from Kagoshima in a few months, and most of the residents here are against it. Unfortunately, because most large organizations in Japan are headed by retired government bureaucrats, and money trades hands between those agencies and active politicians, there's little chance that any of the protests will have any effect in preventing the restarts. The protest group did have at least 1000 marchers, anyway.

MBC Spring Fes Day 2

(Government Worker)

Meanwhile, over at the MBC stage, a couple hundred people were watching the "Idol Show". This consisted of short sets from female groups over a 2-hour period. A couple of the groups only had 2 singer-dancers, while others had 5- and 10-girl troupes. Groups included MINGO!xMINGO!, Seven Colors, Southern Cross, Government Worker, Kuwagata Girls (Stag Beetle Girls) and PreMoze Legend. All of them sang light pop and danced around a lot. I arrived just as Government Worker ended their set, and PreMoze Legend took the stage.

PreMoze did a routine where the two women were "flower princesses", and in one of the songs they planted themselves and grew up out of the ground. They then had a fight with the fox spirit that was trying to keep them from growing up. You can watch the video below. At the end, three of the groups joined the stage and sang the closing credits song from Urusei Yatsura.

Direct Youtube link

(Totsugeki Pineapple)

The next group up was a Japanese Manzai team, called Totsugeki Pineapple (Attack Pineapple). Manzai is generally a 2-man comedy team that does slapstick, and some dumb jokes. Typically, there's the "cool guy" and the "goof ball". They started their set by introducing themselves, then having a short quiz. The questions were: What was the original name for the main train station (East Kagoshima Station, West Kagoshima Station and Shortcake); How long does it take for the fastest bullet train to get to Osaka from Kagoshima (3 hours, 5 hours, 4 years) and what's the name of that train (Mizuho, Sakura, or Justin Beiber). This was followed by an interesting performance piece where they had sound effects pre-taped on a boombox for a Mission Impossible-style adventure skit.

Direct Youtube link

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