Monday, March 20, 2017

Saigo-don 2017

Last week, Amuplaza had their first-ever Saigo-don event. The name is a pun on Saigo Takamori, the local hero known as the "last samurai", and "saikou", meaning "the best," and "don", meaning "food served in a bowl". The food booths were serving bento (box meals), ramen and donburi (bowls of rice with some kind of topping.)

I didn't go up to Amu Plaza during the week, and I had to work most of Saturday. So, my only option was to visit on Sunday, which kind of turned into a "small non-adventure."

There are two long walk events in Kagoshima. The first is the one from Terukuni shrine to Ijuin city, 20 km away (12 miles), in October. The other is a recreation of the Ryoma Sakamoto honeymoon walk in Kirishima, which was held last weekend. Ryoma and Saigo were two of the rebels that fought against the Shoganate in the 1860's, which led to the eradication of the Shogun-system and the return of power over the country to the Emperor. Prior to the main outbreak of hostilities, Ryoma was ambushed and injured. He retreated to Satsuma (the present-day Kagoshima) to consult with Saigo Takamori. Saigo recommended that he return north via back roads on the pretense that he and his new wife were on their honeymoon. Part of that route is commemorated in the current Honeymoon Walk.

Unfortunately, the Kirishima start point is at the north end of Kinko Bay, and it costs something like $10 to take the train one way, and the walk itself costs $20. It's about an hour by train to the closest station, and I'm not sure how far the start point is from the station. Plus, you have to register at the door 1 hour before the 8:30 start time. On top of that, the good route, which goes through the mountains, was on Saturday this year; the Sunday route just went through flower fields. And, the sky was heavily overcast. I really didn't feel like having to get up at 5:30-6 AM and then spend $40 just to walk through flowers that I couldn't take pictures of for 4 hours, on Sunday. So, I kept making excuses to myself for why I wasn't going to go, even though I had been wanting to for the past year. The bottom line was simply that I didn't want to spend the money.

Which brings me back to Saigo-don. It's basically just an advertising event promoting local restaurant and grocery store food, at elevated prices. I wanted to try a dish of some kind, but I didn't want to spend the money. And, especially not after blowing off an opportunity for a lot of exercise. On the other hand, I'm in the process of preparing my U.S. tax papers, and I needed a place to sit down and spread the papers out on a table to check the numbers, and I couldn't do that at Amu Plaza. Instead, I went to a regular family restaurant, bought a cup of coffee, and blew the afternoon that way.


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