Sunday, August 5, 2018

Yukata Night, 2018

The Tenmonkan shopping complex had been advertising Yukata Night for over a month. Held over the weekend of Aug. 4th and 5th, the idea was to get customers to dress up in evening kimono (yukata) and go shopping during the hottest part of the Summer. I guess some of the shops offered discounts to anyone in yukata, and someone somewhere was handing out bingo cards. At the same time, the area in front of the Lotteria burger shop, and the Yamakataya department store, was used to host a beer garden (this runs from the 4th to the 12th). Yukata Night also had their own beer garden, so there was severe competition for customers, the differences being that the Lotteria Beer Garden was more kid-friendly (snack foods and shaved ice desserts), and was open from 11 AM to 8 PM, while Yukata Night ran more between 5 PM and 9 PM. Both locations had some music and live stage events, but the Lotteria Beer Garden seemed a lot more haphazard about it (only 3 acts on Saturday, and 4 on Sunday, and the schedule board was hand-written).

I had to work on Saturday, and when I did get out during a break between lessons, there was nothing on the stage. I came back on Sunday, and someone I don't know was playing copyrighted pop music on ocarina (above).

At 4 PM, they had the Southern Cross idol dancers. Again, the girls aren't hired for their ability to sing or dance.

This was followed by Janken-man (Rock-Paper-Scissors man) and one of Kagoshima's more obnoxious MCs. They just messed around on stage for 15 minutes while the audience ignored them. It was pretty dumb. I was hoping to see the lead singer of Kafka do a solo acoustic set at 6 PM, but I also had dinner plans at 6:30, and the singer was going to go on stage at that time. I did see her sitting at a table, eating a light dinner, but she didn't seem to be in an approachable mood, so eventually I gave up and went home to prepare for dinner at a sushi restaurant near the Chuo station.

Yukata Night

Yukata Night, over at the main shopping complex in front of 7-11, started Saturday afternoon with chainsaw ice carving. I had a break between 4 and 6:30 PM, and the fish was pretty well along at 5 PM, when the beer and food tables were still being set up.

The Liberal Brass band started playing at the live stage at the other end of the arcade at 5 PM. Generic jazz, but not that bad.

The finished fish set piece.

Which was indeed finished at 8 PM when I got out of my last class, and the 97 degree heat had taken its toll on it.

I like the optical effects through the ice, though.

There were only 2 other acts on stage for Saturday - the juggler/performance artist K@ito (I've recorded him before) and Yoshi's Bossa Nova band. I was more interested in sitting in a coffee shop and reading manga than watching K@ito again, and I had to work through Yoshi's set. I'm not a bossa nova fan, so I don't think I missed much. At 8 PM, the comedy duo Party was hosting the bingo game. I have no idea where the bingo cards were handed out from, but the game was halfway over when I reached the stage, so I wouldn't have been able to win anything anyway. (Prizes on Sunday included watermelons, Nintendo Switch consoles, big screen TVs and bottles of shochu.)

Party at work.

One of the more popular gimmicks at festivals now is to sell juice and soda in containers that look like big lightbulbs. To me, this has always seemed like a waste of money. Which was confirmed when I found a still-working drink bulb in the trash. I wasn't desperate enough to fish it out of the bin while people were watching, just to try taking it home for cleaning up.

I returned to Tenmonkan on Sunday at 3 PM. The Lotteria Beer Garden had Southern Cross then, and "Tsun" was wandering the arcade closer to the big ice sculpture.

At 5 PM, the yukata night stage was just starting up, with a promotion for the upcoming Kagoshima Jazz Fest, scheduled for September. I forget the keyboard player's name, but he fronts a couple different jazz bands. This time, he backed the flute player.

And some singer. As mentioned above, I had dinner plans at 6:30 PM, and missed whoever came out for the 6 PM set. At 7 PM, someone named Matsuoka did a flamenco guitar set. I didn't get back to Tenmonkan after dinner until 8 PM, and at that point Party and Janken-man were warming up the audience for another bingo game.

There was a second ice carving on Sunday, and the crew refused to keep out of the way to allow for a clear shot of the sculpture. At the end, they insisted on posing for the event coordinator for a group shot. By that point, the heat was taking such a toll on the ice that water was running down it in rivers.

Finally. A woman in yukata standing in front of gas lanterns. The text on the lanterns reads "Yukata Matsuri."

I grabbed myself a beer from the beer garden for 300 yen (discounted from the regular 500 yen ($5 USD) price), watched the crowds a bit for photo ops, then gave up and went back home at 8:30 PM. The weekend wasn't as much fun as I was hoping for, but it wasn't a complete loss, either.

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