Sunday, January 10, 2016
Jan. 10, 2016
I was kind of bummed going into the weekend because there didn't seem to be anything in the way of events scheduled this time. With all of the music in December, I really didn't want that to end now. I had to work all Saturday, and the feeling didn't go away. However, I had a short break in the middle of the afternoon, during which I walked to Maruya Gardens to get some shopping done. I cut through Tenmonkan, and noticed a sign in the middle of a wider intersection that very rarely is used to host events. The sign advertised mochi tsuki (a rice cake making activity) on Sunday. I missed the one on Jan. 3rd at Gonza Street (the other side of Tenmonkan) so I really wanted to see this one just to get pictures for the blog.
Sunday morning, I headed over to the same location (Naha Street), and discovered that the event itself was a little ways away at the edge of Tenmonkan, on the sidewalk along Izuro Street. It was pretty crowded, and the workers were just starting on the next rice cake. According to the sign, the mochi would be ready at 11:30, but the first cake was already gone at that point. Later, I found another sign showing that mochi tsuki was occurring at 6 different locations in Tenmonkan, at different times (either starting at 11, 11:30 or 12). I didn't want to stand in line for a long time just to get one little rice cake, so I headed over to Berg Plaza, next to Lotteria, to check something I'd seen on my way here.
(Mochi workers waiting for the next rice cake.)
The local Red Cross was holding a blood drive. Getting the Japanese to donate blood is particularly challenging because there's kind of a superstition regarding the importance of one's blood, and a general dislike of just giving anything away for free. But, there were a few brave donors this early in the day. I would have considered donating, but I can't figure out the Japanese paperwork.
One reason for being willing to forgo mochi at the first location was that I'd walked by one of the other mochi spots in front of the Tenpara theater complex on my way in, and I knew that the line there was shorter.
The process is that 3 or 4 guys take turns pounding hot, cooked rice until it becomes a big, sticky cake.
The cake is then transferred to the tables where it's cut up into smaller pieces and rolled into flattened balls. Your choices are to either have the mochi in a thick sweet red bean soup, or served on a small plate with either kinako powder sprinkled over it, or with a soy sauce coating. I had the kinako mochi (kinako is toasted soybean powder). It's a small piece, but very high calorie. And, it's free. The event was sponsored by the local merchants.
Foster Parents for Dogs and Cats
After having my piece of mochi, I was kind of feeling at a loss. There wasn't anything else going on in the area, and I was debating which route to take to get up to the main train station (there are four major streets spaced 8 blocks apart running between Tenmonkan and the station). Kind of at random I headed towards Terukuni Shrine to see if there were still any food booths set out in the parking lot for Hatsumode (there weren't), but then I noticed a lone tent in the middle of the closer end of Central Park.
It's for a group that tries to match shelter animals with new owners. The outside of the tent makes it look more like a homeless shelter.
This little guy was acting as a greeter. He tolerated being petted, but wasn't overly frantic in trying to get attention.
I think they only had 10 animals this time. I miss having cats, but the current apartment is just too small for pets. So, I stayed outside the tent to take a few photos and left.
I then went up to the train station, with nothing interesting happening along the way. Amu Plaza, though, had another of their Marugoto Fairs, where booths are set up to sell local produce and products, such as shochu and green tea. And they had a live stage. I didn't have any interest in any of the acts listed on the schedule, so I just hung around long enough to take a few photos for the blog and then went into the department store to get free sample coffee. Pictured here is Tomoko Sono, an enka singer from Aira City.
When I came back out, Tomoko was still singing. At this point, though, I was on the second floor crossover, and I figured this was a good opportunity to show what the other booths looked like.
One thing I've discovered is that if you go to enough events like this, you tend to run into a small number of the same people all the time. I haven't caught this guy's name, but he's one of the two that have developed their own versions of what they consider to be dancing. He's a nice guy, but he destroyed some video I was recording during the Bon DX performance on Dec. 24 by insisting on dancing right in front of the camera for 2 songs.
Fried foods and beer.
More fried foods.
Tomoko was followed by Tetsuro Hanasaka, the lead singer of this duet. Again, it was soft Japanese folk music, and I didn't hang around long for it. Actually, I had to do some shopping and returned home for a late lunch. But, there was a reason for wanting to come back here at 4:30 PM.
Jinta Terabaru was scheduled to start at 4:30, but when I got there he was already finishing up. I haven't seen him before, but he had a really interesting, energetic singing style, and he'd bang the pan with a wrapped hammer in certain parts of the song to make a lot of noise. I did want to record him, but I missed the chance.
He was then interviewed by the MC, Kodai.
Kodai was actually the reason for coming back up. I'd met him a few months ago, and we'd talked for a bit at that time. Afterward, I'd uploaded the video of a couple of his songs to youtube. I saw his name on the schedule this afternoon, and took the chance to talk to him a bit more during one of his breaks. He thanked me for uploading the video, and mentioned that there was a possibility he'd try doing a few songs himself later in the afternoon if he could talk his bosses into it. Because Jinta's set was moved forward, Kodai was able to do 4 songs at 5 PM.
I recorded the first two and the last one (I had to answer a cell phone call in the middle of the third one), then went home to edit the new videos and upload them to youtube. Check out the video below.
Direct youtube link