Thursday, September 19, 2019

Shibuya 109 Posters




Shibuya is a district in Tokyo, located on the Yamanote train line. It's a major fashion shopping area, and is very popular with girls and young women. One of the biggest landmarks is the Shibuya 109 tower, a couple blocks from Shibuya station. There's a 109 outlet store in Amu Plaza. While riding the escalator in Amu, I noticed these posters advertising the 40th anniversary of the main store.



I hate taking photos of stuff behind glass. Too much reflection to make out the posters properly.



Wednesday, September 18, 2019

August Busker




There haven't been as many people playing music in Tenmonkan this summer as there have been in the past.



It's important to bring your own audience to these things.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Conan White Soda Can 2




I wasn't planning on getting any more of these cans in the Conan Case Closed series, but one night I needed a mixer for a small bottle of whiskey I wanted to finish, so here we are.



"Higosenshu e no sashiire ni iin ja nai kashira?"
"This (soda) is fine to give to Higo as a present, isn't it?" (Higo is a soccer player in the Case Closed manga.)

Monday, September 16, 2019

Bright Chalk - Dancer




One of the more ambitious chalk art pieces for Bright men's clothing shop. I think the artist started at the top of the woman's head and got to about waist level before realizing that there wasn't going to be enough room for her legs...

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Yamakataya Ad - National Lipstick Day




Ok, so "National Lipstick Day" ran for over one month, but I doubt many people really noticed. All I got out of this one is that the 50' foot woman would probably benefit from a good service and maintenance contract.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Friday, September 13, 2019

Open School Viewing




There are posters in the advertising cases along Streetcar Street using manga characters to advertise an open house for a private elementary school. Not sure what the target market is for this, since no one walking on the sidewalks looks at the signs, and the posters aren't facing the street where passing drivers could see them.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Baby Pee




Too many of my stories start out with "this is going to take some set-up." Anyway, after the Kagoshima Jazz Festival, I sent one of the organizers an email with links to the photos I'd uploaded to Facebook. I got a nice reply back, so on Thursday I decided I'd send a second link to the photos I'd uploaded to Facebook for the past Jazz fests. Unfortunately, I couldn't find the photos I wanted in the Facebook Photos or Albums areas, so I went to my "home" page, and just scrolled back through my past posts. Turns out, I hadn't posted photos for 2018, but I did for 2017 (the inaugural year). As I was doing this, though, I found the photos for the absurdist "gekijo" (realistic) roving theater group Dokungo. I'd been wanting to watch another of their shows, but I can never remember their name right, meaning I can't find their website again. With the Facebook page photos, I could get their name, and that let me check their website for upcoming shows. Turns out they'll be in Kagoshima from Nov. 23 to 25. Great.



A little later Thursday night, I decided to run out to a nearby department store, Aeon, across from the main train station, to get more discounted paper towels for the apartment. The store is open until 11 PM, and it was 9:30 PM at that point. I take my normal route to Kotsuki river, and I find the above tents in the middle of Lion's Park. This is almost the exact same location as where I'd seen Dokungo in 2017, and the timing strikes me as incredibly odd. As I approach, I can see a small stage in the lead tent, and one of the women is pouring drinks into paper cups on a table in the stage area. A few people are lingering in and around the tent, and I figure that whatever had been going on has ended and that I'd missed it. However, I took the plunge and asked one of the people standing around closest to me what was going on. He answered that it was a gekijo play by a group called Baby Pee, and that the show had just ended. He then took me to one of the performers and introduced me to him. Turns out that the group is from Kyoto, and they were only performing the one night in Kagoshima before going to Shikoku. That bummed me out, because I would have been willing to pay for the ticket on Friday night if my schedule worked out right.



The thing is, because they'd finished performing in Kagoshima, the troupe was preparing for toasting the audience for coming to their show, and suddenly I'm invited to join them. I get a cup of beer, do the "kampai" thing with everyone, and spend the next half hour talking to another of the performers, who'd taken an interest in my Arale-chan T-shirt. Every so often, someone would come by and refill my beer cup. It was fairly embarrassing - I just wanted to get some paper towels, and now I'm drinking someone else's beer.



A couple of the Baby Pee members were familiar with Dokungo, and we talked about them as well. Someone gave me fliers for both Dokungo and Baby Pee, but it seems that there's no plans for Baby Pee to come back to Kagoshima in the foreseeable future. Now, I really do want to watch them when I can.


(Show flier.)

While Dokungo is absurdist comedy, Baby Pee was doing a more serious story. The idea is that back maybe 100 years ago, a number of Japanese families moved to Brazil for work. After several generations grew up there, their offspring moved back to Japan. The story revolves around those descendants trying to acclimate themselves in their forefather's homeland.

I thanked my hosts for the beer, and went up to Aeon to get my paper towels. We had heavy rains on Thursday, which had tapered off by evening. I brought my umbrella with me, which I promptly forgot at Aeon. After going over to the train station to see what was happening there (they're setting up for Aipaku - the ice cream event), I realized I'd left my umbrella at the cash register in Aeon. I returned there at about 10:30 PM, and it was where I'd left it. The guy running the register was relieved that I'd gotten it back without incident.


(Dokungo flier.)

And now, I feel more compelled to get a ticket for the Dokungo show in November than ever before. Saturday may be out because of English classes, but we'll see what happens Friday or Sunday.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Reimeikan Gate Screen




To hide the construction of the new gate down at Reimeikan, the workers put up a screen image of what the gate is supposed to look like. I guess this is what computer people mean when they say to take a screen shot.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Pure Romance




Poster advertising the 45th anniversary of Hello Kitty.
"Pure Romance - Hello Kitty, the musical."

Monday, September 9, 2019

Baikin and Me




I was walking through Tenmonkan on my way to the English school when I saw this character from Anpanman standing in front of Lotteria. His handler insisted on taking my picture with Baikin. I really should have asked what the reason was for their being there...

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Kagoshima Jazz Festival, 2019

Friday


The KJF ran from Friday to Sunday this weekend. I knew it was coming up, but I wasn't expecting it to start on Friday. I had a class at the English school from 2:20 to 3:10 PM, and as I was returning home, one of the guys I know spotted me and told me the music was going to be starting at 6:30 PM nearby, and there was supposed to be free shochu.



I went home, had an early dinner, and then got caught up in online work, so I couldn't get back out until closer to 7 PM. At that point, the first set, with Kano Nami, the sax player above to the right, was just finishing. And all the shochu was already gone.



There were 5 satellite stages this time, one in the normal location in front of 7-11, the above one here in a tiny walkway nearby with the stage set up in front of the McDonald's shop that closed a couple years ago. Two other stages were up at Amu Plaza, and the final one was near the Ten Park band shell. The real stage location was at the band shell, but that was only on Saturday and Sunday. The satellite stages ran Friday and Saturday night from 6:30 PM to 9 PM. Here, Youichi Tashima is on keyboards, with Yasuno Katsuki on vocals. For some reason, I just can't get excited by female jazz vocalists. Most of them try to do old standards covers, and get the English word pronunciations wrong. I just stuck around long enough to take a few photos, then hung out at Starbucks until the next set started.



I've heard Youichi many times before - he has his own jazz trio, and he's the current conductor of the Little Cherries school jazz orchestra.



Chiho Nishida did old, slow American standards, which was ok, I guess. It's just not my kind of music.





Chie Nishimura was a bit more animated, but again, old standards. As with last year, a lot of the backing musicians played multiple sets with different leads. The pianist above is Keishi Matsumoto, the organizer of the Festival, and one of Japan's foremost jazz pianists. I ended up standing behind him at the Shiroyama Hotel beer table on Sunday and we talked for a few minutes in English while he was waiting for his beer (he was making a beer run for some of the older staff members working at the main Ten Park stage). His English isn't too bad, and I found out that he does live in Tenmonkan. So, maybe I'll try introducing myself to him the next time I see him here.







Mabumi Yamaguchi. The one thing that drove me up the wall with the sax players during the entire fest is that they'd never play very long before stepping back and letting the other musicians carry the songs. That made it more challenging to get photos of them actually playing the instrument.



Mabumi led the final set Friday night. It was slow jazz, so I just took a couple more photos then went back home.


Saturday


I had to start work at 1:30 PM on Saturday, which didn't give me time to get over to Ten Park (other side of Tenmonkan) on my way in. As mentioned above, the satellite stages didn't start until 6:30 PM. I was initially scheduled to work until 9:30 PM, but the owner of the school moved a couple of the lessons around and one student that was supposed to have two back-to-back lessons canceled the second one. That let me get out at 8:30 PM, when Nobumasa Tanaka (above) was just about to start his set. I took a few photos, and got really disgusted with the city planners. The stage was in the middle of the arcade walkway intersection, and two dump trucks choose that moment to come through to do trash pickups. Rather than simply drive around the intersection, the drivers insisted on pushing through the crowd, which made recording the music impossible. Sigh. Also, the security guards kept telling people to move out of the way to allow for a walking path for anyone not wanting to listen to the music. I managed to find a place to squeeze in in front of the barrier ropes, but that made it harder to get good photos. So, I put the camera away, and cupped my hands behind my ears to make it easier to catch the music more clearly (the sound system they were using wasn't very good, either). With my hands cupped, I was able to better make out the rhythms and patterns of the piano and bass, and I found that I liked these guys more than anyone else so far.









At the end, I asked the group to pose for a photo, which they did. On Sunday, Nobumasa had another set at the main stage with a trumpet player duet, and he recognized me prior to going up on stage. We ended up talking on and off several other times after that, and I promised to send him these photos to his Facebook account. Funny enough, one of his friends was wearing an Arale-chan shirt and she noticed I had my Arale-chan shirt on also. She insisted on getting a photo with me, and I expect that's been uploaded to Nobumasa's page, too.



Akira Wada did lead vocals for the final set of the night. I took a couple photos then went home for dinner, and to process the 120+ pictures I'd taken (weeded down to just 18 for the two days. There were another 90 pictures just on Sunday.)

Sunday


The music started at 11:30 AM at Amu Plaza, but it was the same group of people as at the previous stages. That ran to about 2 PM, and they had a separate satellite stage featuring people talking about jazz recordings and various artists. I stayed in the apartment until 2:30 PM, then went directly to the main Ten Park stage. Tsuyoshi Yamamoto and his trio were playing then. They were ok, but still too slow for me.









We had heavy rain for parts of Friday. That ended by Saturday, but the skies were still overcast and the air was really humid. Sunday, the weather was near-perfect. Clear skies, extremely hot and still humid. I was sweating just standing and not using the camera. The day started out with maybe 100 people spread out across the park lawn, and had gotten up closer to 1,000 as the time came for the headline act at 5:45 PM. The space in front of the stage was consistently crowded, making it hard for me to get close enough to get the kinds of photos I wanted. Generally, I just hung back, listened to whatever music was going on at the time, talked to the people who recognized me, and wondered just how badly my arms were going to be sunburned when this was all over.





Akira Wada sang again at 3:15, which I skipped. This was followed by Nobumasa Tanaka teaming up with Shinpei Ruike on trumpet (above). I'm kicking myself now for not trying to get more photos of Nobumasa, but I couldn't get a clear line on him behind the big piano on stage.



The Seiji Tada Quartet went up next, and they were good. Kaoru Ohmoto, on flute, was the best female musician I heard during the entire weekend. Unfortunately, the fest website doesn't have a profile page for her.



Osamu Koichi.





They were followed by Mabumi Yamaguchi, again. The music's ok, but Mabumi has no stage presence. The bass and drummer were the best part of the set.



The featured guest artist for the weekend was Taylor Eigsti, with Marty Holoubek on bass. The organizer, Keishi Matsumoto, had said that the real highlight for him for the weekend up to that point was in hearing Taylor play on Saturday. I'd asked what Taylor's style was and Keishi answered "contemporary."









Unfortunately for me, "contemporary" turned out to be something like elevator music. It was ok, but way too slow and low energy for me. I listened for a few minutes, then got a phone call telling me it was time to come home for dinner. That was ok by me - the sun was going down, and it would be too dark to get good photos of the finale at 6:30 PM anyway. As I left the park, I ran into one of my English students who was going home from her part-time job at a nearby cafe. We talked a bit then went our separate ways. Overall, a pleasant enough of a weekend, which did have its upsides. I'm not complaining. Not sure when the next big upcoming event is going to be, though. Maybe the Craft Beer Shower in Maruya Gardens department store in October.