Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Baka-Bot




This could easily be a Small Adventure, except that I have pictures.



There's a small shop near the apartment, on the main street running from the freeway up to Streetcar Street, in the direction of the main train station, called Daiichi. I forget how long the shop has been there, and since it's right next door to a car dealership, I thought it was a bank outlet or something for funding car loans. They had some interesting banners a couple years ago, but nothing since then, and I've just ignored the place. But recently, as I went by one day, I saw the banner inside the front office for Tensai Bakabon. I debated with myself for a few seconds before taking out the small camera and going in the door. The receptionist sitting at the front desk looked at me, so I pointed to the camera and then the banner. Her face went white and she started to panic. She got up and ran around a barrier partition and came back with the manager. I asked him if I could take a photo of the banner, and he shrugged and said, "Sure". The receptionist was really relieved and just stood there and smiled. That's when the big projection screen behind her caught my eye. It was showing some kind of animation, and I then saw a door a little ways away with some flashing machines inside, and "Showroom" on the door. Thinking this was a game developer company, I asked what they sold here. The manager answered "pachinko machines". I should have figured that out on my own based on all the tobacco smoke in the air.



I talked with the manager a little bit more, mentioning that I don't play pachinko because I'm not good at it, but I do like the Bakabon manga. The guy said "wait a second," went around the projection screen, and came back with some promotional materials for the machine. So now, I have a confidential Baka-bot notebook, and some cool glossy art. Sweet!



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Also, I'd mentioned yesterday that JAXA was launching a rocket from Tanegashima at 3:23 that afternoon. Short answer is that I missed it. The weather was good - partly cloudy, cool, not too windy. I hiked up Shiroyama, and got to the hotel parking lot a little before 3 PM. Some tourists came and went, but most of them just wanted to look at the volcano. I got the big camera set up on the tripod and took a couple photos of the old submarine sitting in the middle of the bay. At close to 3:15, some other people, and a couple taxi drivers, gathered near me to watch. I put the camera on record and aimed it at where I thought the launch site was. 3:23 comes and goes, and one of the people starts looking at his smartphone, and mutters "chuudan" (interrupted). He says that the launch will probably be rescheduled to 5 PM, and suddenly everyone leaves.

I don't have a smartphone, and no way of checking the net, so I stay until 3:40, then pack everything up to get ready to return to the apartment. Walking up the hill is hard work and I was covered in sweat. I was debating taking a second shower before going in to teach English classes at 5:30 PM (I'd have to leave the apartment to go to the school at 5 PM, and I might not be getting TO the apartment until 4:30 if I waited too long). So, I go to the stairs down the hill, which is completely surrounded by trees and buildings. In the apartment, I check the JAXA website, and it claims that the launch happened at 3:23. It's not until I get to the school that I learn that the rocket launched at 3:50 PM, when I was in the middle of the trees, and that the owner of the school and the other teacher had both watched it from the roof of the office building the school is located in. Sigh. Maybe next time.

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