Monday, June 6, 2016

Daihanya, Day 1




I'd really been looking forward to the annual Dai Hanya, one of the bigger dance contest festivals in southern Kyushu. As mentioned before, it's usually held during Golden Week (first week of May), but it had been postponed following the catastrophic earthquake in Kumamoto a few weeks earlier. In part, the postponement was because some of the dance groups would be coming from Kumamoto, and as far north as Fukuoka (and the only way to get to Kagoshima is to take the bullet train down through Kumamoto, and the tracks had been closed until one of the trains had been removed after having jumped the rails during the quake).



Anyway, Dai Hanya last year was really good, and I was happy to find that my work schedule on Saturday left me completely free up until 5 PM. I couldn't get out of the apartment until 1 PM, and it had been raining off and on all morning. That was the worst part - the weather had been perfect on Friday. The rain had tapered off, but it kept drizzling occasionally during the rest of the day, and that caused people to stay home. The sky remained heavily overcast, making taking photos problematic, too.



I got to Tenmonkan, where two of the satellite stages were supposed to be set up - one at Piaru Mall, in front of the 7-11, and the other at Berg Mall, across from the Lotteria. Berg had some kind of Yamakataya department store recruitment drive going on. Piaru did have a table set up for handing out paper fans or something, but it was unmanned.



Instead, Piaru was the site for yet another milk council promotion. They keep having these things every few months, combining the same stage shows with bone density screenings and free milk give-aways. The planners were still in the process of setting up some toys for a children's bingo game, which started just as I was leaving. There were very few people in the audience, but that may have changed when they announced the toy prizes.



There was a TV running an anime promo for drinking milk and eating other dairy products.



The schedule says that the event started at 12 PM with a bingo game. The Milk-Man show was at 12:30, then a butter event at 1 PM. This repeated at 1:30 PM, 2 PM and 2:30 PM.



And the free milk table. Lots of empty cups in the trash bag.



Last year, the dancing was held at Piaru mall, Berg Mall and Dolphin Port on Saturday, and the main train station and Central Park on Sunday. There was a very short stretch at Tenmonkan Park, the other side of Tram Street for maybe 2 hours on Saturday, but I'd missed that. This year, things seem to have moved around, with the three main locations being the train station, Tenmonkan Park and Dolphin Port. So, I continued to Tenmonkan Park, arriving at a little before 1:30 PM. Some guy was making announcements and it seemed like the dancing hadn't started yet. A few groups were just standing around, waiting, while some women were putting the finishing touches on the make-up for two kids' groups.

The kids started first, presenting me with a problem. First, they weren't that good. Second, Japan has some very problematic privacy laws regarding uploading videos of people to youtube. Third, the music the kids were dancing to was from the Anpanpan TV anime series, and that would be flagged as a violation of copyrighted material on youtube. Basically, there was no point in sticking around and videoing anything for the kids' dances, so I kept going down to Dolphin Port.



This is the main site, with food booths, advertising stalls, and the prize table for the stamp rally. Staff members roamed the area, handing out paper fans with the locations map printed on it. There are 3 boxes on the fan for collecting stamps from the other locations. If you get three of the 6 stamps, you can try your hand at the big ball dispenser wheel. I only got 2 stamps on Saturday. You can see the stage on the other side of the tents. Again, the weather's not good, so the crowds were very small.



And, when I got here, the first set of dancing was finished. Turns out that this stage was used for jazz dancing groups, and the winners of the contest were being announced by age group. Again, this kind of dancing uses copyrighted music, so there's no point to recording it.



I estimated maybe 100 people total here, including the dancers and booth staff. Maybe another 75-100 at Tenmonkan Park.



I was getting hungry, and I figured that if I couldn't watch the dancing, that I'd at least get something to eat. One of the booths was selling ramen with black pork for 500 yen. The bowl is a bit small for the price, and the broth didn't have that much flavor, but the pork was good. I'm not sure what the red stringy things are.



I'm now getting into kind of a bind. I want to get three stamps for the rally to have something to talk about in my English classes. I only have one stamp, for Dolphin Port. My main choices would be to go back to Tenmonkan Park to get the stamp there, then run up to the train station, and finally come back to Dolphin Port to try to get a prize. The problems being that I don't have that much time, I don't know when the next dances at Dolphin Port would start, and I still need to go to Shiroyama grocery store to buy milk for the week (they have discounted prices on Saturdays and the milk sells out by 4-5 PM). I give up on watching anything more at Dolphin Port, and head for Tenmonkan. Some of the yosakoi groups are starting to show up from either Tenmonkan Park or the train station a mile away, which is a bad sign - the dancing there is wrapping up.



At Tenmonkan Park, there were only two yosakoi groups left in the line-up. This one seems to be made up of mostly foreigners. They were very energetic, but not that good. And they were too spread out for making a good video.



Rather than waste time walking the remaining half-mile, I jumped on the street car to the main train station. 170 yen ($1.50 USD) for that, which cut my commute by at least 10 minutes. But, when I got to the station, I discovered that the dancing had already ended and the tents were all sealed up. So, no chance of getting the third stamp here. On the other hand, the NHK TV station was advertising some of their shows and trying to attract children to play with their big pirate barrel game.



I went into Amu Plaza to get free sample coffee at Kaldi, then I came back out and jumped on the street car again to ride to the stop closest to Shiroyama (again, saving myself at least 10-15 minutes walking). I finished my shopping and got to the apartment at 3:30 PM. That gave me time to put the groceries away, wash the dishes, and get ready for work.


(Push the buttons and hope the NHK mascot doesn't pop out.)

I left the apartment at 4:15, to give myself time to hit a bookstore on the way to the school, before my first lesson started at 5 PM. As I got to Tenmonkan, I cut through Piaru Mall, just on the off-chance the fan table had an unattended rally stamp. Unfortunately, the tent was gone, as was the milk event stage. Instead, a group of yosakoi dancers were posing for photos next to some bronze statues that are popular with tourists. My guess is that when the milk event ended at 3 PM, there was dancing for an hour, or something, and I'd missed that, too. Finally, I had to work until 8 PM, and everything at Dolphin Port was over by that time. So, not exactly what I'd been hoping for. (The announcer at Tenmonkan Park had said that there were supposed to be 80 dance groups with over 1000 dancers, total. I'm hoping that Sunday will be a little better...)

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