Saturday, February 3, 2018

Jan. 14, 2018 (recap)

Mochi Pounding

I had to work last Friday and Saturday. There wasn't a lot going on that I knew of, and all the places I normally go to on my way into the English school had nothing (not exactly true, the space in front of Lotteria was used for selling 2018 cars, but there weren't any customers or potential buyers when I was in the area).

On the other hand, there were a lot of the above fliers announcing a mochi pounding event on Sunday, at 11 AM, with close to 8 participating locations.

I was looking forward to getting some free mochi (steamed rice pounded into a 5-pound cake, that's then cut up into small pieces, and either sprinkled with kinako (roasted soybean powder) or doused with soy sauce). Then, I got an email from a student wanting a lesson Sunday morning at 10:30 AM. That promised to make things difficult. The lesson would end at 11:30 AM, and when I got into Tenmonkan, most of the mochi would be gone at every single location. On the other hand, I've had this kind of mochi before, and in fact I had grilled mochi with seaweed at home for New Year's. I didn't mind not getting the free mochi this time, I just wanted a few photos for the blog. Additionally, there would be a second pounding at 1 PM, so if I had the time, I could wait for that, get my photos and then go up to Amu Plaza for food shopping.

I get up at 9:30, prepare for the lesson, then wait. At the last second, the student cancelled. So, I'm immediately out the door and on my way into Tenmonkan. I swing by the closest locations I'd expect the pounding to be at, but don't find anything. I had seen a poster some days earlier, indicating what I'd remembered as Taka Plaza as one spot, but I don't find anything there either. Then, I looked down streetcar street a little farther and saw a line in front of Shidax (a big karaoke box), next door to KFC. In order to promote themselves, they'd set up a shiruko table with a big pot of sweet red bean soup, with pieces of soft mochi. As people waited in line, Shidax employees tried to sell them discount coupons for groups of karaoke sessions. There weren't many takers that I saw. I got in line, and pretty quickly got to the table, where I was given a pair of chopsticks, a small bowl of shiruko and mochi, and a piece of pickled daikon (Japanese radish). Everything was good (except the chopsticks, I didn't eat those), and warming.

Next, I went to the Tenpara movie complex. The shop owners there had their own pounding station set up, and volunteers could try their hands at using the mallet to pound mochi too, if they wanted. This time, there were two choices: you could either get a bowl of shiruko with one piece of mochi inside, or two pieces of mochi with either kinako or soy sauce. Having just eaten shirako, I asked for the mochi, with both the kinako and soy sauce toppings.

The mochi was a bit chewier than normal, but I wasn't going to complain over free food. Unfortunately, after finishing my mochi, I tried taking a photo of the table to get examples for the blog, and they'd just run out. Instead, I continued on my way further into Tenmonkan. The station at Lotteria didn't have any mochi out, and no one was preparing to pound the next cake. So, I went to the Yamakataya department store, where the staff was handing out pre-wrapped mochi (one red piece, one white per package), and just as I got there, one of the staff put up a sign at the end of the line saying, "no more left." If I'd arrived 5 seconds sooner, I would have been able to get in line ahead of someone else. But, as I said, I wasn't really there to get the mochi, and I still wasn't feeling overly greedy.

There was one more spot, about a block away, that was still handing out mochi and shiruko. The line was much longer, and I decided against getting in at the end. However, the workers here were still in the process of chopping up one of the rice cakes, so I got my photos after all.

It was just short of 11:30 at this point, and the next scheduled poundings would be at 1 PM. Again, still not greedy. So I figured I might as well go up to Amu Plaza and see what they had going. Also, we'd ordered some window curtains from the generic products shop in the basement of Amu Plaza a week ago, and I'd gotten the notice on Friday that they'd come in, so I needed to go there just to pick the curtains up, plus the other shopping.

Osumi Peninsula Marugoto Fair

I got to Amu Plaza at about noon, where they were on day 3 of their Osumi Marugoto Fair. If you look at a map of Kyushu, the bottom end kind of looks like a crab claw pointing south. The left side of the claw is where Kagoshima is located. The right side is Osumi Peninsula, which has the city of Kanoya, famed for its flower gardens. And, "Marugoto" is that "all about" thing. So, the event this time was a food and products market for the cities and farms in Osumi.

Banners promoting Osumi beef and pork.

There were a few booths, not as many as I'd expected, selling vegetables, shochu, juices and tea. The pink block in the middle of the plaza is just a photo display of the Kanoya flowers.

One end of the plaza had the "Kanoya dining area" set up, and was selling kampachi ramen. Kampachi is a fish, either an amberjack or a yellowtail.

I didn't see anything I wanted to buy, so I went into the department store and got some free sample coffee from Kaldi. Then I went to the 6th floor to see if there were any movie fliers, movieboards, or capsule ball dispenser toys that looked interesting (there weren't). After that, I made a swing through Kinokuniya bookstore to look at the new manga releases. Again, nothing I had any interest in.

I got to the second floor and was crossing the walkway to get to the main train station section (to get coffee and a snack at Seattle's Best Coffee, and read the Penrose math book I got for Christmas, when I heard noise coming from the plaza below. Turned out that one of the sushi shops had a table set up, and two of the women were putting on a demonstration for how to fillet a kampachi.

The kampachi wasn't overly enthusiastic about all the attention, but the crowd was eating it up.

I noticed the two foamhead mascots near the table, so I ran down to the plaza to take photos of them

Since I was there, I figured I might as well get better shots of the filleting demo. That's when I saw the other table in the background with the little plastic trays.

I kept telling myself there was no point in being greedy. I could pass up on the free food, and someone else could have it that might enjoy it more. On the other hand, the line was short, there was a lot of fish, and the demo was close to finishing. So, when the rest of the staff switched the tables around, I was actually pretty close to the front of the "line". In fact, it was first come, first served, no lines, and I was near to the middle of the table. When the people in front of me moved out of the way, I grabbed a tray. It was a small, bite-size piece. A bit rubbery, but tasted good.

After this, I continued on my way to Seattle's Best, where I got my coffee and snack, and read my book (the chapter covered Turing machines). After an hour, I went to Central Park to check on a hunch (more about that tomorrow), then returned home to process the photos, wash dishes, and write up the week's blog entries. It was a good day over all.

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