Monday, November 13, 2017

Bouz Meets Fes, Nov. 11,

The Buddhist Honganji temple periodically holds what they term "Bouz Meets." "Bouzu" means "Buddhist priest," and the idea is to invite people into the temple and let them mingle with the priests, ask questions, or get involved in various family-friendly activities. I saw the sign in front of the temple several days earlier, so I knew that the next Meets was going to be on Saturday. Friday afternoon, as I was going in to the English school, I passed by Honganji, and they had the schedule board up already. I quickly glanced over the musician performers, and there wasn't anyone I had any immediate interest in. Then, one name caught my eye and I had to double-check a few times to make sure I wasn't mistaken. And yes, Bon Deluxe, my favorite Japanese SKA band in Kagoshima, was going to play at 2:50 PM the next day. Unfortunately, I had a class booked from 2 to 3 PM, but I was hoping I could start a few minutes early, and get finished early so I could start my break right away.

I get home Friday afternoon, and I'm pretty excited. I check my class schedule for Saturday, I compare it to the Meets schedule, and I think I can pull this off. Then, at about 9 PM, I notice some "ticking" sounds coming from one of the windows. It takes me a few minutes, but eventually I go to the window and open the curtains, and yes, it's starting to rain. At 10 PM, the rain is coming down hard. So, of course there's now a chance that Bouz Meets will be cancelled. On the other hand, the music stage is usually set up in the temple's parking lot, but there's nothing that says they couldn't move things indoors (the temple has a big interior).

Saturday morning, the rain has ended and the clouds are gone again. I try to get out of the apartment early for food shopping for the week and to have time to get to Honganji and look around before the class is to start. But, things work against me and I get out the door a lot later than I'd wanted. I arrive at Honganji at 1:50 PM, and I pretty much have to keep going to get to the school on time (it's only 4 blocks past the temple, so I get there with a few minutes to spare). The first thing I notice is that there's no stage outside. They have food booths, an outdoor bar, a nursing station, and a flea market, but no stage. Not a lot of people there, either, maybe 30 or 40, mostly families with kids, but not the kind of crowd from past years. The second thing I notice is Nonki, a surf music guitarist I've met a few times before. He tells me he's going to be playing bass for Bon, and that they'll be starting at 2:40 PM, 10 minutes ahead of schedule. I groan, then keep running to get to work.

The sign for the outdoor bar.

Buddha likes his drinks, he does.

(The back of the Always Burger truck. Big Abe likes his burgers, too.)

I get to the school, teach the lesson, and things run long. Instead of finishing at 2:45 like I'd been hoping, I don't get out the door until 5 to 3. I hit the ground running, and race the 4 blocks back to the temple. I reach the parking lot and I can hear music being piped out to the PA system. I run up the stairs, and find the band inside, just finishing up one song and breaking into another. I whip out my camera and start recording, and put up a heroic battle to keep from wheezing into the microphone and shaking the camera all over the place. It takes a couple minutes to actually get my breathing back to normal. That partly explains why the video is so shaky.

(The main temple room. The tables to the left are for families that want to make their own prayer beads. To the right is the information table, book sales, and a rack of kimono for anyone that wants to play dress-up and have their photos taken.)

(The prayer beads table.)

(Bon on lead, Nonki is to his right.)

Bon always plays the same songs, so there's no reason to keep putting videos up on youtube after every single performance. However, it took me just a couple seconds to talk myself into recording the remaining part of the set for my own enjoyment. I caught the next two songs, then the battery went out on the camera. I'm debating whether it's worth buying a backup battery specifically for these kinds of situations, which only happens maybe once or twice a year. Sigh. Anyway, Bon played 2 more songs after that, and I was perfectly happy to just bop along with the music. And, I ended up uploading the video and a few of the photos to Facebook, anyway.

They finished at 3:20 PM, and then quickly moved their gear off stage to make room for the next group.

Which was a traditional Buddhist troupe. The music was very slow and dirge-like. I took a few pictures for the blog, then went outside to get a kebab sandwich for $6 for lunch. After that, I hung out at a coffee shop until my next lesson was to start an hour later.

Overall, it was a good day. The weather turned out to be nice after all, and I was able to listen to some SKA. And the kebab and coffee were good, too. I would have liked to have talked to the Bon DX band for a couple minutes, but that didn't happen this time. Then again, we're closing in on the Christmas holiday events stretch, and I expect they will play at least once up at Amu Plaza between now and the end of the year. I'll be patient.

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