Sunday, April 5, 2015

Hanami, Part 2

This weekend, April 3-5th, the city had its own annual cherry blossom viewing event. I went up to the river on Thursday, and they were just setting up the entrance gateway, and the various food booths. Nothing was open or running yet.

Friday, I went back up around noon. The booths were open, but the weather had turned bad. There was a slight drizzle, and the wind had shifted to blow a heavy cloud of volcano ash our way. This made for both bad photography conditions, and an unpleasant eating atmosphere. Most of the food is overpriced ($5 for a small glass of beer, or $4-$5 for a piece of chicken). I decided to just walk around and take a couple shots along the way. Note that in the above photo, MBC TV is promoting its  Hello Kitty "Big Amazon Exhibit".

The event ran from 11 AM to maybe 6 PM on Friday and Saturday, with shorter hours (until 4 PM) on Sunday. I had to work all Saturday, which was a shame because the sky did clear up a little in the afternoon. Plus, the cherry blossoms had peaked at this point.

So, Sunday comes around, it's raining again and 40% of the cherry blossoms have blown off the trees. But, I want to know where the jazz music is playing, and who the bands are supposed to be. I went back up to the park at the river and wandered around for a while. Initially, I stopped at the recreation of the samurai residence at the other end of the park, arriving just as one group was leaving the make-shift stage and the next group (the Yoshida Pop's Orchestra) was starting to move gear around. To kill time, I went back to the front of the park and tried a couple kinds of shochu before buying a 720 ml bottle of Arazawa for 1200 yen ($10 USD).

Along the way, I passed the Japan Chainsaw Art Association's workspace. Because of the rain, they didn't do any live demonstrations until closer to 1:30 PM, and even then it was pretty limited.

Many of the pieces looked fairly rough, but a few were pretty good.

Then there was the woodburning section, concentrating on dried bamboo sections.

I'm pretty sure this is a representation of Mount Fuji.

Close-ups to show some of the detail work.

I returned to the stage a few times, but I couldn't tell if the band was playing some kind of very slow, weird atonal jazz, or if they were just warming up. After 30 minutes, I gave up and visited Amu Plaza at the main train station to get some free coffee samples at the Kaldi shop in the basement. When I came back to the park, the conductor was finally on the stage, and he announced that their last song for the day was going to be a piece by Duke Ellington. I recorded that (see below) and then returned home. It was getting close to 2 PM, and I never did find a copy of the music schedule to see if there was anyone else I wanted to listen to. The event ended at 4, and that's about the time the rain stopped and the sky started to clear.

This year's event would have been a lot more enjoyable, and I would have stuck around more, if the weather had been better. The big Daihanya dance contest is coming up on the 25th and 26th, and I'm really hoping things work out better for that.

Direct youtube link

One comment about the video. The guy dancing in front of the stage is someone I've encountered at several events at Amu Plaza over the past few months. He's very energetic, and loves dancing where everyone can watch him. At the beginning of the video, he's trying to get me to join him, and I kept pointing to the camera to show I was recording the song. He then finds a few other people in the audience to play with. Near the end of the song, the conductor notices him, and starts dancing around on stage himself as part of the fun. When the song ended, the conductor jumped off the stage and ran to hug the guy to thank him for participating in the performance. The conductor seems to be a pretty fun-loving guy, and I would have liked to see him conducting more of the music, if there hadn't been so much noise/warm-up at the beginning of the set.

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