Friday, July 19, 2019

Rokugatsu-gou 2019

Terukuni Shrine had its Rokugatsu-gou celebrations Monday and Tuesday night. While the shrine website said that it would run from late morning to 10 PM, in fact this is a night festival, and setup of the food booths didn't even start until 5 PM. I swung by Terukuni at about 3 PM, took photos of the better lanterns, then walked over to Tully's coffee shop in Tenmonkan to kill time.

Notice the little gash in the hill of Shiroyama, behind the shrine grounds.

This is one of the small landslides that panicked everyone in Kagoshima during the heavy rain a couple Wednesdays ago. Since the overgrowth isn't very thick over the hills here, there's nothing stopping the slides if the rain gets at all heavy. Nothing to worry about, though. Yet.

The big lanterns have light bulbs inside, the smaller ones use candles. One side has advertising, the other has artwork from various school kids.

I think the artwork is a bit easier to make out in the daylight, instead of at night. These are the ones I was more impressed by. Disney was really popular this year, but there were a few Snoopy's too.

Rokugatsu-gou is a month-long period that is celebrated by most of the larger shrines in Kagoshima prefecture at different times and in different ways. For Terukuni, there are 4 main elements. First are the lanterns, second is praying at the shrine up ahead in the above photo. Third is visiting all the food and toy booths set up on the street leading to the shrine entrance, and fourth are the live stage performances, below.

There's also a small ikebana (flower arrangement) display toward the back, but there's never been that much to take photos of in past years.

Monday was a national holiday, and I've never seen the crowds so thick before. There easily had to be a couple thousand people here and spread out into nearby Central Park at any given time. Tuesday was a normal working day, and I had classes from 5 to 9 PM. When I got back here a little after 9 Tuesday night, the crowd was maybe 10% of what's in the above photo.

One of the big lanterns in Tenmonkan.

The performances can be classified as hula, traditional Japanese dance, and some pop. In past years, some of the street dance studios performed hard rock dances, but I didn't see any of those mentioned in the schedule this time.

A taiko group from Izumi. Two of the members are foreign English teachers.

The last act of the first night was Wicky Toshi and his wife Kana, with a stand-in guest on guitar (I saw this guest at the Kagoshima Music Fest a couple months ago, but I don't know his name).

Lanterns at night.

Some of the food booths sell these soft drinks in the shape of an incandescent light bulb, with flashing LEDs at the bottom. Apparently they can't be used for anything else when you're done with the drink, so it results in a massive amount of plastic waste afterward.

Tuesday night, I returned to Central Park from the school after my last lesson. The big lantern tower here is for Ogionsa, which will run July 20 and 21. This is the mikoshi (portable shrine) parade that runs through Tenmonkan. On Saturday, it's just the mikoshi being taken through the shopping arcade and the porters being blessed by various Shinto priests. There should be some taiko performances and maybe some foamhead mascot stage shows here in Central Park. The main parade will be on Streetcar Street on Sunday.

Yoko was half way through her set when I got to the Rokugatsu-gou stage. She was doing straight pop karaoke, so I took a few photos and returned home for dinner.

I may try visiting one of the other shrines if I can, to see what else those locations have going on.

I only took one video this time, of the taiko group based in Izumi.

Direct youtube link

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Japan Air Guitar Championships

I've never been a fan of air guitarists, but when I saw the event lineup in front of Yamakataya and Lotteria for the 2019 Japan Air Guitar Championships, I figured it would be good for a few photos for the blog.

Sunday, the weather was pretty good - a bit overcast, but humid. The event itself was pretty well attended, but it started out extremely slowly.

The schedule stated that the opening act would be around 3 PM, and then the first stage would start at 3:40. I got in at 3 PM, and the main host, an old guy with lots of earrings and a fake stick-on mohawk still hadn't begun warming up the crowd, and when he did he just spent too much time heckling the high school students that joined him on stage.

The "opening act" turned out to be a high school boys cheerleading dance squad that wasn't very good. And, after they finished, they left Tenmonkan and went off somewhere else. They didn't even stick around to watch the competition.

The MC, preparing to give the lead cheerleader a hard time.

I liked the design on the fans they were handing out to the audience. The kanji in the middle is for Yamakataya department store, the main sponsor. I kept hoping that someone would riff on the fan for their act, but they didn't.

When the competition itself actually started, I was so bored that the air guitarists would really have to work to get me interested again. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. Everyone seemed to have a gimmick - air soccer player, air ballerina, air Cinderella, air gorilla, air masked super hero, air old man - that took the first 1-2 minutes of the act to set up, and no one knew how to pretend to play guitar. Here, we have the soccer player starting things off. After each act, the MC would interview the performer until the judges finished scoring them, and then the judges would make comments. By the time the second stage was to start at 4:50, there had been fewer than 6 people on stage.

The performers ranged from young boys to high school students, men and women. The ballerina showed some promise until she tried to do a leap and only got a couple inches off the ground. All of the music was copyrighted, so there was no point in recording anything for youtube or facebook. The little pocket camera had problems snapping shots of everyone, with all the bouncing around they were doing, so I decided to go into Lotteria and eat a burger in front of the second floor windows, and just wait things out. The finals were supposed to be around 6 PM, but I didn't see anything I cared enough to follow further, and I went back home then.

The announcers made a big deal about how the winners might be able to make it to the world's championships in Finland in 2020. I don't think any of the players I watched have a chance to make it past the elimination rounds. There was too much emphasis on the gimmick, and not enough on stage craft and being able to play convincingly.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Inoshishi Aroma

An aroma therapy shop still has this sign out for the Year of the Boar, giving a little story about inoshishi. They're cute when they're small.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Found Item

You can find the oddest things lying around on the street.

Literally. I don't know what this is supposed to be.

Monday, July 15, 2019


(Image from the Eneos Enekey site, used for review purposes only.)

Not sure what to make of Gundam's Char doing web ads for Eneos' "enekey" electronic payment system. I guess trying to take over the universe doesn't pay as well as it used to.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Movie Fliers for July


I was up at the movie theater floor of Amu Plaza, and I saw the poster for the latest Lupin III movie, featuring Fujiko. It's a beautiful illustration, and I was hoping they'd have the flier for it so I could post it here. Unfortunately, they didn't, and neither did the Tenpara theater in Tenmonkan. So I grabbed the fliers I could find to put them here instead.

First is for something called "Kono Subararashi sekai ni shukufuku wo! Legend of Crimson" AKA: Kono Suba ("God's Blessing on this World"). According to the wiki article, it's a parody of Japanese RPGs, which started out as a web novel, got turned into a light novel series, and then adapted to manga. The movie is an adaptation of the manga. For RPG parodies, I prefer Dragon House Hunting.


This one seems to be a bit odd. Looks like an ad for a traveling screen truck that's touring from city to city during the summer. I never really cared for EVA, so I'm not going to bother with this. Visit the website for more details.

You can also get an EVA smartphone app.

Ni no Kuni

I played the Ni no Kuni ("The Two Countries") 3DS game a couple years ago. Beautiful artwork, but spotty gameplay. Didn't quite live up to its potential. Looks like there's a movie version for it now.

One Piece

Finally, One Piece. You probably know more about this movie than I do, so no point in my saying anything here. Check out the website for the trailer.

"Nice hat, Luffy."

Lupin the IIIrd: Mine Fujiko's Lie

(Image from the website. Used for review purposes only.)

Check out the site.