Thursday, November 2, 2017

Restoration Furusato, Oct., 2017

I'd written last week that there was something going on at the park near the Kotsuki river that had been cancelled because of the typhoon that weekend. Turns out that it was the first half of a 2-weekend run of the ongoing Meiji Restoration anniversary celebrations. Just as a short recap, up until the mid-1860s, Japan had been under the rule of the shogun (chief warlord), with the Emperor acting purely as a religious figurehead. The shogunate (the shogun's government) had banned trade with the outside world, from the 1600's, but this changed with the arrival of Commodore Perry's black ships and the opening up of the ports to western trade in the mid-1850s. A group of revolutionaries from Kyushu (including Saigo Takamori from Kagoshima), fought a war to overthrow the Shogunate and reinstall the Emperor as the true leader of Japan (known as the Meiji revolution and restoration). The 150th anniversary of this event is coming up in a couple years, and the Restoration Furusato festival is one of the periodic activities that the city of Kagoshima has been putting on since 2 years ago. It's a reenactment of the Meiji period, with actors in Meiji-era costumes, family activities, and a few stage plays.

(Cloth purses for sale.)

We had a second typhoon come in this last weekend also, and the winds were so strong on Saturday that the food tables had been dismantled again. There were almost no visitors to the park when I was there, but the actors were still strolling about a bit to maintain the Meiji atmosphere.

I tried to surreptitiously take a photo of the guy in the metal hat, but he saw me and insisted that I pose with everyone for a group shot in the light drizzle.

The outdoor stage was open, but only one person wanted to watch it. The actors portraying Saigo (right), and Tochimichi (Saigo's closest friend that eventually became a pivotal member of the new government and had to order Saigo's death (far left)) did want to continue putting on their plays, if anyone else was willing to hang around and watch them. I've seen the plays before, so I just kept walking.

One of the new parts of the event was this jail cell exhibit.

There's no lock, so the prisoner is expected to stay inside on their own recognizance.

Saigo foamhead posing with a passing couple.

I came back on Sunday, when the weather had gotten a lot better. As with every typhoon for the last 2 years, the storm had broken direction before getting to Kagoshima, and the majority of the downpour affected Tokyo instead. The winds blew out all the clouds behind it and Kagoshima had perfectly blue skies. But, the food tables weren't put back up, and there were very few visitors this day, too. I got to the outdoor stage at 2 PM, when they were in the middle of a parody of the events following the rebellion but still prior to Saigo's death. Here, Ryoma Sakamoto is made out to be a flake modeled on the brash American stereotype. There were about 40 people in the audience watching.

Toshimichi and Saigo show their reactions to Ryoma's meddling.

There wasn't anything else on the schedule I had any interest in (no live music, and mostly just the stage plays repeated on the hour), so I went up to Amu Plaza to check out the children's Halloween event. I hung out in the Seattle's Best Coffee shop in the train station, then went home. At 4 PM, the Amu Plaza Halloween event was over and workers were already tearing down the food tables. I went back home and spent the rest of the day working on the computer.

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