Monday, February 29, 2016
(Soba, grilled mochi and amazake.)
I didn't have to work on Saturday until 5 PM, but I was fairly busy on the computer most of the afternoon. And, on my way in to the school I had to drop by Maruya Gardens to get a newspaper from the bookstore on the 6th floor. So, to get to Maruya Gardens I walked along the the main street car street, and as I got close to Sun Drug store, I looked down the wide arcade to see if there was anything happening at the far end of the arcade, which is the open area in front of 7-11. I spotted a blue tent near 7-11, but I didn't have time to swing over and see what it was for. When I finished teaching my lessons at 9 PM, I made a point of returning through Tenmonkan to see if there was a stage set up. Instead, there was just a stack of wood slats covered with a blue tarp set up off to one side of the plaza. However, the nearby soba restaurant had their sidewalk tent in front of the shop, so I assumed something was going to continue happening on Sunday.
Sunday, I got out of the apartment at 1:30 PM and headed first to Tenmonkan. Turned out that the arcade only had the soba table, some farm produce and someone trying to do tarot readings. I had a small cup of amazake (sweet, unfiltered rice mash sake) for 150 yen and kept walking in the direction of Yamakataya.
Shimonoseki Products Promotion Fair
As I was going into the school on Saturday, I did make a point of going by Lotteria. At that time, there was a live stage event that was just starting. I couldn't make much out of what little I saw, but it kind of looked like a samurai fashion show. I didn't have time to take photos, so I just kept walking, but behind me a group of people began singing; maybe it was samurai fashion show musical. Since I knew the event was going to run two days, I headed back here after leaving the soba shop stand in the arcade.
It's a promotional event for the food, tourism and cultural history of Shimonoseki, the western-most city on the main island of Honshu.
Examples of some of the product tables, plus a few of the women belonging to an idol group representing the city.
Shimonoseki is famous for its fugu (poisonous blowfish) production. Here we have some hanging fugu lanterns.
The booth to the right was giving out 150 bowls of free fugu soup on both days. Unfortunately it was a VERY popular offering and a long line formed the second the MC announced that the give away would start in a few minutes. I had a second event that I suspected was running up at Amu Plaza and I wanted to go to that, rather than spending half an hour standing in line here. I've had fugu before, and didn't have all that much interest in getting the soup that day, even though I normally don't turn down free food.
The cooks are busy preparing the soup, which isn't ready to be served yet. As far as I know, there were no poisonings this time.
I caught 3 of the Sunday stage events. The first was a stylized recreation of the famed duel between the sword masters Miyamoto Musashi and Kojirou Sasaki. According to one legend, Musashi had carved a wooden sword out of a boat oar and killed Sasaki with that, then ran away because Sasaki's followers were angry that their master had been treated with such disrespect. The video below has the actor playing Musashi fighting using a boat oar.
The second act was the idol group doing songs and dances about Shimonoseki. I recorded the first piece then hiked up to Amu Plaza.
Tegetege High School Broadcast
They were holding the event that I'd thought was supposed to be the weekend before. This is the "Tegetege High School Festival" (tegetege is a local Kagoshima slang that means the opposite of "meticulous"). There were a couple food booths, and everything else was along the lines of massage for the elderly, and educational school exhibits, including a petting tank containing sea slugs and coral on loan from the aquarium at Dolphin Port.
"Tegetege High School" is the name of a program on MBC radio. It's mainly humorous dialog and some music. The schedule for the day (it was a one-day event) listed a couple sketches by the high school students on the radio show, some dancing and music by other students, and the comic performance of the manzai duo Totsugeki Pineapple. I'd made a video of Pineapple during the Spring MBC Festival last March, and I wanted to let the guys know I'd put it on youtube. I caught up to them in the sound booth, but I'm not sure if they really understood what I was talking about. I gave them my business card, and if they do eventually send me an email, I'll give them the link to the video.
This is kind of a meta photo - the cameraman on the platform to the left, and the big screen to the right showing the footage of the stage show he's recording.
The area in front of the stage was pretty crowded and there seemed to be kind of a "no cameras" rule, in that I didn't see anyone else recording video or taking photos. So I just grabbed a few quick shots from where I stood. The high school girl to the right is reading a monologue off a script, and the guy to the right holds up cue cards for the audience to say "Ehhh"...
...and "nani" ("what???") At this point I was conflicted. Pineapple had finished their set 10 minutes earlier, and the remaining performances were going to be amateur street dance and J-pop singing, neither of which I'd be able to record. Meanwhile the next thing on stage at the Shimonoseki event was going to be a costume drama at 3 PM. It was now 2:40 PM and there was a chance I'd arrive just before it started if I left right away. A few minutes later I was kicking myself for not first asking if Pineapple would pose with me for a photo. Oh well, maybe next time.
Shimonoseki, Part 2
It took almost exactly 20 minutes to reach Lotteria. I could hear the MC announcing the next performance about a block away. I hurried to the far right side of the stage, as close up as I could get and started taking photos. My positioning was both good and bad. Good in that all the shots were in focus. Bad in that I was trapped right beside one of the speaker stands, and that ended up blocking some of the video shots. I considered trying to move around while looking through the camera finder and decided against it. Which turned out to be a good idea; when I finished recording, I turned around and found myself surrounded by another 10 people. I couldn't have gotten anywhere without tripping over someone.
I couldn't really understand the narration, but my suspicion is that this is kind of a theatrical drama representing a scene from the Tale of the Heike. Back between 1180 and 1185 AD, two clans, the Heike (also known as the Taira) and the Genji (AKA: Minamoto) fought for control of Japan. Historically, the Taira clan had defeated Minamoto (which had been backed by the Emperor) in 1161. For about 19 years the leader of the Taira ruled so badly that when the Genji regrouped and attacked back, the Taira were pretty much wiped out. The Tale of the Heike was collected in the 1300's from stories told by traveling monks, and has been referred to as the Japanese Iliad. The narrator mentions both Heike and Genji, and that whatever is happening here took place at least 800 years earlier, in Shimonoseki. I'm told that the two women in full dress are courtesans, and the two in plain red kimono are courtesans-in-training. They're supported by "the guy holding the umbrella" (literal translation) and two teachers.
Notice that the space is packed, compared to 1 hour earlier.
I had prior engagements for the rest of the afternoon, or I would have stayed until things ended at 5 PM. As it was, I had to do some food shopping and then return to the apartment at 4 PM. I never did get to see the samurai musical, but I'm satisfied with the 15 minutes of video I did manage to get that day.
Direct youtube video