Sunday, August 20, 2017

Aug. 20 weekend

The whole past week was kind of an up and down thing. Obon Matsuri (Summer vacation) ran from the 11th to the 17th, but I had to work on the 11th to make up for missed English classes due to the non-typhoon the week earlier. I had planned to do a variety of things during the remaining break, including some long walks and one or two photo sessions outside, but instead ended up stuck in the apartment most of the time. I still made use of the opportunity to read many of the books I received for my birthday, and writing up almost a month's worth of blog entries and reviews. Obon officially ended on last Thursday, but a lot of people took one-two extra days of vacation to travel longer. In my case, I had 3 classes in the afternoon on Friday, with nothing much else going on, and another three on Saturday. Saturday was a different case, in that a JAXA rocket launch that had been postponed a few days earlier was rescheduled for 2:29 PM. The downside was that I had a class from 2 to 2:50 PM. The upside was that the owner of the school was willing to let me continue the lesson outside at the top of the building's stairwell. The problem was that I'd thought that the owner and the other teacher were going to go up to the roof as well, and when the clock hit 2:30 and they hadn't said anything, me and my student went upstairs by ourselves, only to discover that we'd missed the launch by a couple minutes. There was just a smoke trail in the sky. But, this is the closest I've gotten to seeing a launch in the last 6 years and now I at least know what direction to face next time. Sigh.

The main event, though, was the big Kagoshima summer fireworks display down at Dolphin Port, Saturday evening from 7:30 to 8:45. This year I didn't have evening classes, and I could have an early dinner so I got out of the apartment to go down to the bay at 7:10. From past years, I knew that Dolphin Port would be packed, and that the top of the Shiroyama hill would be too far away to see the fireworks properly, so I was thinking that I'd try visiting what I considered to be a "secret" viewing area a few blocks north of the aquarium. I'd discovered this area two years ago when I shot my time lapse video of the volcano. You have to walk along the main street north from the aquarium until you reach a hill with a street running 4 blocks down to the bay again. At the end of the street is a senior community center, and baseball and soccer fields. It's also where Saint Francis Xavier is reported to have landed at Kagoshima in 1545. That was the plan. However, as I was walking through Tenmonkan, I encountered one of the people I know here, and he decided that he had to guide me to the park in front of City Hall to show me the fireworks himself. The City Hall park is a long wide boulevard, lined with tall buildings. My guide sat down about a third of the way along the boulevard, and we waited. There weren't that many people, and the fireworks was fun to watch, coupled with a sound system playing Also Sprach Zarathustra during part of the display, and a laser show during another part, but there were three fireworks launch sites at Sakurajima, and two of them were mostly blocked by the lines of buildings. Next year, I'll know better.

On Sunday, I went to the aquarium for the afternoon and had dinner at the Royal Host family restaurant near the apartment. So, I didn't get a chance to visit Amu Plaza to catch the last of the live music for Age paku. Oh well. At least I could watch the dolphins, seals and squid swimming in their tanks.

The next event is going to be the Yukata Matsuri, which was also rescheduled due to the typhoon on Aug. 5th. That's going to be this Saturday and Sunday (26th and 27th), in Tenmonkan. There's going to be a stage in front of the 7-11, but I can't find a schedule for live music (just a bingo game for giving away prizes on Sunday). I'll have to wait and see if I have any classes Saturday night again.

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