Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Time Bokan Beer Poster

There's a beer-eatery near Tenmonkan that has been using anime characters from the 1970's "Time Bokan" children's TV series for advertising their happy hour. Recently, I found a different place up at the train station using different characters from the same show to tell patrons that they need to start reserving their end of year company parties in advance. I'm assuming the two places belong to the same chain.


Monday, January 14, 2019

Jan. 13, 2019, Part 2

Blood Drive

There was a fair amount going on, on Sunday. Along with one of the mochi pounding spots in front of the Lotteria near the Yamakataya department store was also a Red Cross blood drive. Given that there's a strong cultural taboo in Japan regarding the spilling of blood, obtaining sufficient blood supplies for the victims of natural disasters here is an uphill battle.

There do seem to be a few donors this time, at least.


Meanwhile, Amu Plaza had some kind of political speaker truck event going on in the space in front of the department store. Not a big crowd, but they were slightly vocal in their support of whatever was being said.

This appears to be Kiyohiko Toyama, a member of the House of Councillors in the National Diet, from the Komeito party, born and raised in Chiba (north of Tokyo). I didn't bother trying to listen to what he was saying, but the speakers were turned up really loud. I could hear him from 2 blocks away. Komeito was founded by members of the Nichiren Buddhist-influenced Soka Gakkai religious movement, and they're aligned with the ruling LDP party.

"This is the part where you're supposed to applaud me."

Thinking: "Which podunk backwater are we in, again?"

Marugoto Fair

Amu Plaza also had another of their "Comprehensive Products" fairs for Kagoshima, Hioki and southern Satsuma. Ceramics, green tea, mikan (small oranges), etc.

The Hioki foamhead mascot, and fan.

The stage event schedule was pretty disappointing this time. It ran from Saturday to Monday, but the majority of the events were just interviews with the shopkeepers, a "rock-paper-scissors" contest against the foamhead for regional prizes, a little performance dancing, and one accoustic guitar set by one of the female folk singers that I'm not a big fan of.

Here, the MC (Hikari) is interviewing a shopkeeper who is trying to promote a new brand of black vinegar in mini-bottles, or something.

"Please, tell me more..."

Some of the Hioki reps, plus the foamhead, preparing to start the rock-paper-scissors contest for the products on the table at the back of the stage. This was the one event that attracted the largest audience of the day.

"Next up, a bottle of orange juice. Try your best, everyone!"

Things get real (metaphysical) when the foamhead competes to give away a plushie version of himself.

Not really a fascinating day, but yeah, there was a lot going on.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Mochi Pounding, Jan. 13

I mentioned back on Jan. 3rd that I'd seen a poster announcing several mochi pounding events in Tenmonkan, but other than the one on Gonza Street, I couldn't find any of the others elsewhere in the shopping complex. Then, I couldn't find the poster again to see what the date was supposed to be. Well, last Friday, I was walking in a part of the center that I normally don't get to, and I finally found that poster. It showed 6 locations, and stated that the date was Jan. 13. After that, I located a couple more posters (which were in the immediate spaces where the poundings were going to be), giving start times of 11 AM or 12 PM, depending on the place.

Again, I was expecting long lines on Sunday, and I didn't have a lot of interest in eating the mochi myself. I just wanted photos for the blog. So, I got out the door a bit before 11 AM on Sunday, and I walked down to Tenmonkan to the big Tenpara movie theater complex. This is one of the spots that has had poundings in the last 2-3 years, and is always my go-to location for checking first. And yes, the shopkeepers in the area had the banners up, and were in the process of pounding a second cake of rice into mochi.

The thing is, there was almost no line, so I got up to the table to get the two regular mochi pieces, one with soy sauce, and the other with kinoko (roasted soy bean powder). They were good.

About two bites' worth, each. And, they're free. A good deal. They also had senzai, a hot sweet red bean soup with smaller pieces of mochi floating in it. But, we had to choose between the soup and the regular mochi pieces, and I didn't want to get greedy, so I just got the tray of two pieces, then kept walking around.

Over at Streetcar Street, in front of KFC, a different group of storekeepers were just setting up their table, and wouldn't be handing out senzai until 12 PM. But, they really liked their posters.

The Yamakataya department store people had two lines, one for the senzai and the other for the mochi trays, and both lines were way too long for me. On the other hand, they also had enough finished mochi cakes to feed a couple hundred people. It was difficult to get close enough to the tables to get photos, so I just took a shot of the crowd, then went over to Lotteria.

The Lotteria group didn't start setting up until about 11:45 AM, so I just sat on a nearby bench and did Sudoku puzzles for half an hour. The group was a bit disorganized, and there was no clear starting point for the lines. Eventually, some really old people began drifting in (maybe from the Yamakataya location a couple blocks away), and they automatically queued up in front of the two tables. I got in line for the mochi as well, and kept waiting.

I never got around to checking how many people were behind me, but it must have been well over 50. I got my tray of one kinoko mochi, and ate that. Again, it was still warm and very filling. But, there was almost no line for the senzai. That table had lots of little paper cups set up, and I figured that my taking one wasn't going to be the same as my taking one away from someone else.

So, I got in the senzai line, and quickly received my cup of sweet red bean soup and small piece of mochi. It's an acquired taste (most Americans that have had it consider it to be too sweet and weird), but I liked it.

I then went back to KFC, where the people there were still handing out bowls of senzai, and I got in line for that as well. This time, the bowls were almost twice the size of the Lotteria cups, and the mochi pieces were a little bigger. As I was eating, I noticed one of the shopkeepers plugging in a pair of ovens, and filling them up with what looked like steamed buns. I checked the schedule next to the table, and it said there would be a "Chuman" (Chinese steamed bread with a meat filling) hand out at 1 PM. It was 12:15 PM at that point, so I pulled out my Sudoku puzzle and finished that off. Again, there was no clear starting point for the line, and I just hung out in front of the KFC building. As we got closer to 1 PM, several older woman began gathering at one side of the sidewalk, and that turned into the head of the line. A little after 1 PM, the shopkeepers started handing out paper-wrapped steamed buns (one per person), and I was maybe #10 in the line. I got my steam bun pretty quickly, thanked the people for the free food, and then headed up to Amu Plaza to see if anything was going on up there, and to do a bit of shopping for the week. It was a good start to the day.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Surface Flower

There's a flower shop just inside the grocery store near the apartment. Recently, they had some larger plants covered in a protecive mesh. They kind of struck me as looking like images from a 3D CAD package, so I tried getting artsy to capture that impression with the camera.

I may not have succeeded, but at least I tried.

Friday, January 11, 2019

School Peppers

Occasionally, I'll find places where the groundskeepers use hot peppers as ornamental plants. This one was outside a school near Tenmonkan.

I'd consider eating them, except the planter is right next to a main through street, and I'm not sure how healthy they are.

But, they are pretty.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Anisong Night, Nov. 11 Poster

Anime TV series theme songs, game songs, and whatever songs at Wicky's House.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019


Seen outside the apartment, 2 blocks away. At the limits of the little pocket camera.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Ten Park Millionation, 2019

Ten Park, on the other side of Streetcar Street, is running its Millionation (1 million LED illumination) right now.

I went at 7 PM Monday evening. Almost no one there at that time. Very peaceful.

The dome is a "romance power spot," with weird music played at random as couples sit inside.

They had the mini-train for children, but it was waiting for more passengers while I was there.

They moved the tunnel from near the dome, where they had it last year, to the other side of the park.


Monday, January 7, 2019

Human Academy Advertising

Human Academy is a training school up at Streetcar Street, pretty close to me. Generally, they've advertised things like Microsoft certification, but lately they've had stuff promoting voice acting, manga, illustration and game development classes.

"Voice acting, manga, illustration, comics."


Where was this kind of thing when I was growing up?

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Fat Cat 2019

"Happy 2019. Time to come into our gym and work off those calories."

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Inakaru x Inaneo 2019

I found this flier on Thursday. It's for a pop culture convention in Kanoya today. Sigh. Even if I had found it early enough to make plans to take a bus to the other side of Kyushu, I still wouldn't have been able to work it into my schedule.

Itasha (anime decal sports cars) summit, cosplay summit, VTuber Room, games, board games, live music, virtual artist music, and more.

Could be pretty wild, but tickets are something like 4,500 yen ($45 USD). Coupled with the bus fare, food and maybe having to stay in Kanoya overnight, that's easily $100 for a one-day thing.

Looks like a masive amount of floor space for everything. I never realized Kanoya was all that big a city. I may have to visit just to check the place out. I do know that they have a large rose garden, though.

Maybe next year.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Attack on Titan, vol. 27 comments

(All rights belong to their owners.
Image used here from Amazon for review purposes only.)

Attack on Titan, vol. 27, Hajime Isayama. Grade: B
Lots of exposition and flashbacks this time. Long story short - everything is falling apart for everyone.

Turns out that Jeek had been secretly plotting against the Marle from the beginning, and had contacted the Azumabito family in Hizuru about 4 years ago regarding his desire to be forcibly extracted to Paradis. A member of the Azumabito family finally decides to come to Paradis for setting up diplomatic relations, and shows a flag that has the same symbol as is tattooed on Mikasa's wrist. There's a bit of talk about the Azumabito wanting Mikasa to return to their fold, but this just leaves her conflicted and confused.

Now that Jeek is in Paradis, it seems that part of his plan is for Historia Reiss to kill and eat him to take over as the Simian Titan. She's apparently been seeing a farm hand she likes, and is currently pregnant with his child. The agreement with Hizuru is that in return for their protection of Paradis, Historia is to give birth to several heirs to continue protecting the country after her. But, no one trusts Jeek, and he's kept isolated from everyone else out in the woods, with Levi as his jail keeper. (To kill the time, Levi keeps asking him about what had been happening outside the walls when Jeek had been terrorizing everyone. Jeek repeatedly says that the Marle military had wanted to test an aerosol version of the titan serum, and they'd sprayed Connie's home town, changing everyone there into mindless titans that Jeek could try to control.) Back in the main city, Gabi and Falco have been locked up in prison, but Gabi tricks the guard into opening the door to her cell, and she kills him with a rock. She and Falco escape out to the countryside, while Gabi remains in a blind murderous panic. She feels betrayed by her idol, Jeek (Falco, too, was in fact betrayed by Erwin) and is now deep in "Demon" country. Eventually, the two kids are discovered by a girl with a crippled leg. The girl offers them a safe place to stay (Falco pretends that he and Gabi are brother and sister, running away from abusive parents) at a farm run by orphans and survivors of the big titan war 4 years earlier. Gabi tries to kill the girl after she reveals that she knows they're from Marle. The girl states that she's the one that had been saved by Sasha, and she wants to grow up to be the same kind of selfless person that the nameless "big sister" was (ironic, since Gabi killed Sasha, but none of them know this connection). Things end in a standoff between the three.

Eren spends the book in a jail cell, while everyone starts assuming the worst about him. Connie had apparently developed a crush on Sasha, and he hates Erwin for laughing when he'd learned that Sasha had been killed. Armin wants to give his former friend the benefit of the doubt, and reminds Connie, Mikasa and Jean of a conversation a couple years before, where Eren had been trying to decide who his successor should be when his time runs up. Eren had a great amount of fondness for all of them, as well as trust. The only thing that can help them understand what's going on is for them to ask Eren their questions directly. Even Mikasa is drifting away from her friend, and a conversation with one of the Marle turncoats causes her to realize how much distance had come between them since they came back from the Marle raid. At the same time, the Paradisans are turning against the Marle turncoats, accusing them of being spies and threats, while stealing their technology and praising their cooking and wine-making skills.

One day, the reporters that Hanji had used to overthrow the old government assault him at the government's gates, asking if it was true that their savior, Eren, was in prison. Hanji refuses to answer and escapes to the building inside the fence. Soon after, he has the turncoat leaders rounded up to find out if they'd leaked Eren's condition to the press (Yelena says that they had, because they think Eren's the one that can save them in the upcoming battle against the Marle forces). Hanji then has the top leaders jailed for sedition. Finally, back in Marle, Reiner pulls out of his coma (he'd thought he'd heard Gabi and Falco calling out to him, and asks where they are). Teo Magot, one of the few surviving commanders, calls a meeting with his forces to discuss what to do next. All they have left are Peek (the Cart Titan) and Reiner (Armored). They've lost War Hammer and Jaws, and it's looking like Jeek (Simian) has defected. Plus, the alliances with the conquered nations are in disarray. Magot suggests putting off the Paradis invasion until they can recover from their wounds. Reiner argues that during the time they try to get stronger, Paradis will be getting stronger as well; they should implement the invasion plan as scheduled.

Finally, Armin and Mikasa are invited to the office of commander-in-chief Darius Zackly. They're told to keep doing their jobs and keep their heads down. He implies that Eren is going to be strapped up in a torture chair in this office, and that whatever happens to him is not their concern. The two are dismissed, and 3 new Survey Corps members enter the office. Armin suspects that one of them is going to be the military's preferred choice for Eren's successor. Armin and Mikasa return to the front gates, and there's a huge explosion from the building - Zackly's smoking, dismembered corpse lands on the ground near them. The crowds outside the fence scream that this is a sign that their only savior is Eren. The group is called together for military council debriefing - Zackly was killed, and there's nothing left of the three new recruits. Suddenly, a guard runs in to yell that Eren had used the War Hammer titan's powers to tunnel out of the jail and escape. Hanji grabs Armin and Mikasa, and the three ride away in a horse-drawn carriage. Outside the walls, Eren meets up with a bunch of Marle turncoats, and they prepare for their next stage.

Summary: I'm paraphrasing a lot of the stuff going on here, largely because you can read the manga in English to see what's going on yourself. But, also, I'm getting tired of all the histrionics. The plot twists and changings of sides are getting confusing. I'm just waiting until the next big set of battles starts. Recommended only if you're a fan of the series.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Jan. 3 - Gonza Street Mochi Pounding

The merchants on Gonza Street had their annual mochi pounding and giveaway event on Jan. 3. There were 3 rounds, starting at 12 PM. Again, I was expecting the lines to be really long, so I walked around Tenmonkan looking for the other spots where various merchants have had poundings in the past (Yamakataya, Lotteria, Tenpara, KFC), but there was nothing set up in those locations this year. I had seen one poster a week earlier stating that there were going to be other three places doing mochi poundings, but I hadn't taken a photo of it (I should have), and I didn't remember if they were going to be on the third or not.

I got back to Gonza Street, and the merchants were in the process of handing the snacks out. One piece per person, with a sweet soy sauce poured on top. The line was fairly short, and there were still maybe 30 pieces on the back table waiting to be prepared. So, I got in line, and a couple minutes later, I got one. They're grilled, and still crunchy and warm when served. Pretty good, especially since they're free.

One of the guys I know was also there, and he mentioned that one of the soba shops a couple blocks away was going to be doing a pounding starting at 4 PM. Unfortunately, I had to return to the apartment to spend the day at new year cleaning. I didn't finish that until 6 PM, and then I had to do some shopping for more cleaning supplies at Aeon department store, which finished at 7 PM. After that, I had dinner. Bottom line, I missed the soba shop mochi. Oh well.

Nothing else planned now.
Happy New Year.