Friday, February 21, 2020

Sukiyaki Sword Art Tie-in

The Sukiyaki beef bowl place on Streetcar Street in Tenmonkan has a new tie-in, this one with Sword Art Online.

"None shall pass."

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Ghana Choco Display

This manga display promoting Ghana chocolate for Valentine's Day went up at Shiroyama supermarket at the last minute.

"Pink Valentine."

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Kimetsu no Yaiba Bookmarks

Last week, I ran out of stuff to read, and I had an hour to kill between English lessons, so I picked up a copy of Shonen Jump magazine. Didn't see anything in there that I have interest in reading in the future.

But, there was a punch-out sheet of clear bookmarks, if that's the kind of thing you like. Lately, I've only been reading e-books, so physical bookmarks aren't quite as useful anymore.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Exercise Festa, Feb. 15-16

Amu Plaza hosted an exercise and sports event over the weekend. I needed to buy some birthday presents on Saturday, and I made a quick swing-by between lessons in the middle of the afternoon. The place was still just getting set up, and some kid's dance group was practicing on the stage at the back.

The schedule showed a few interviews with athletes, and a manzai comedy duo, but nothing starting until closer to 5 PM Saturday evening. None of the goods shops or food booths were open to customers when I was there. Overall, kind of a non-starter.

I did end up coming back on Sunday as everything was winding down at 4:30 PM. The main activities were posing with a few marathon runners for photos, and a kind of strongman demo, where one of the runners would hold his arms up in a victory pose and let small children hang from his biceps.

If I liked Japanese sports, or if I needed running gear, this event would probably have been more interesting.

Monday, February 17, 2020


The weekend was kind of an oddball bust. I picked up a translation clean-up job on Thursday, and had to focus heavily on that for the entire time. But, I also had classes at the English school near city hall Friday and Saturday, and I also needed to do a lot of running around for shopping between my classes on Saturday. Only to have the 5 PM class get canceled on me.

Anyway, I had one class from 1:30 to 2:30, which ended up starting 20 minutes late, meaning it ended 20 minutes late. I was going to return home after that to get a little work done on the translation clean-up, but as I got out the door, I spotted some masts sticking up over the skyline down at Dolphin Port. I'd planned to take the streetcar up to Amu to get a bit of fast shopping done then go home, but I just barely missed the next streetcar. Instead, I figured I might as well go down to the bay and see what was going on.

Thursday and Friday had been beautiful, warm and clear skies, but Saturday and Sunday were rainy and miserable. I shuffled through the rain to get to the loading docks next to the city aquarium, and nearly slipped and fell into the mud several times. There were a couple men on the docks taking pictures of the ship, but I stopped at the entrance gates when I saw the sign "closed to outside people, danger, speeding forklifts." I stood just inside the gates to get a few pictures, and someone came up to me to make sure I didn't get any closer to the ship.

According to the text on the lifeboat, this is the Kaiwo Maru, and is operated by the National Institute for Sea Training.

If I'd had the time, and someone let me, I would have liked to go onboard and look around.

At the same time, I noticed that someone was setting up tents in the waterfront park in front of Dolphin Port. I didn't see any signs, but I'm inclined to think this might be for the Ramen-Oh contest. Can't say anything about that for sure, though.

Does look like a dining area under the big tent to me, anyway. It's just that the timing is wrong. I took the photos on Saturday, and Ramen-Oh is a two-day event. I didn't come back on Sunday so I don't know if they were done setting things up. Or, maybe they were just trying to get ready one week in advance.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Choko Paku 2020

Amu Plaza had their Chocku Paku event for one week, from the 8th to the 14th, to sell overpriced almost-chocolate to women. Generally, I can't get to Amu much during the week, so I only had one shot on Friday for a few minutes when I needed to do some shopping at Aeon department store on the other side of Streetcar Street.

Yeah, small portions in large boxes, and prices where you're mostly paying for air. In other words, products specifically geared towards Japanese women.

In Japan, Feb. 14th is when women are pretty much required to buy chocolate for the men they interact with. At companies or in schools, this takes the form of "giri choco" (obligation chocolate), which is usually the Japanese equivalent of Hershey's bars (Lotto, Ghana or Meiji) for 100 yen each. March 14th, White Day, is when the men are supposed to buy stuff back for the women, but this almost never happens. Apr. 14th is Black Day (introduced from South Korea), for men that don't have romantic partners to buy their own chocolate. However, a growing number of guys have been buying chocolate for themselves for Feb. 14th because, why not?

Or, just get flavored caramel corn.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Small Adventure 72

Last week, I was at the intersection in front of the neighborhood supermarket. Same intersection where the kimono woman had tripped while crossing the main street. This time, I'd already crossed the main street and was waiting for the light to change so I could get past the cross street to get to the store. Next to me was a middle-aged woman, maybe mid- to late-40's, wearing a heavy fur coat and sunglasses, very self-absorbed and focused solely on a point on the ground a few inches in front of her. She'd also just crossed the main street next to me, and without stopping, walked into the smaller cross street without even looking up or around her to see if the light had changed or if there was approaching cross traffic.

The light for us was red, and some guy on a scooter was racing through the intersection to beat the light before it turned green for us. Three other people were standing at the same corner, and no one said anything about the impending accident. I ended up calling out "abunai, abunai" (it's dangerous, look out). The woman looked up, saw the light was still red, then looked at me. The scooter screeched to a halt a foot from the woman, and she turned to see the guy for the first time, just as the light turned green for us (yes, he was running the red light for him). Everyone apologized to everyone else, and went on their own ways as if nothing unusual had happened.

It's amazing that more people don't die in traffic accidents here.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Wicky House Science Party Poster

"Our Experiment Classroom." "Chemical Reaction Party."
Wicky's House, food and bar. From 12 PM, 1,500 yen, includes one drink.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Trombone Valentine's Chalk Art

The Trombone cafe sign board has new art.

Is giving hot coffee to a snowman a good idea?

Won't you come in together? We're waiting for you.
(I think the "hotto" part is a play on "hot". You'll get a warm reception from them.)

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Tokyo Stadium Papercraft

There's a manga in Big Original Comic titled Sanchome no Yuuhi (Sunset on Third Street). Technically, "chome" is used to refer to specific neighborhoods or groups of city blocks, rather than streets. Anyway, the stories are set in Tokyo between 1955 and 1964, and the artist, Ryouhei Saigan, decided to provide a papercraft sheet for the old Tokyo Stadium (circa 1964) in the Feb. 20 issue.

In general, it's just a bunch of punch-out pieces on thick card stock, with a "tab A in slot A" structure. The only place there was any need for glue was on the fold-over parts of the lighting poles, where the upper halves of the parts had artwork on both the front and back faces. I did try gluing down a few of the tabs underneath the bottom of the ground sheet to make it sit more flat, but that turned out to take too long and wasn't worth the effort.

Overall, it took maybe 30-40 minutes. I wasn't timing myself.

Turned out pretty well, actually. Maybe about 5" x 8" x 2" high.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Genki City

My original plan on Sunday was to finish a contract project early in the afternoon, go back to Terukuni Shrine around 2 PM to buy some raw honey, then swing by Amu Plaza to check in on the Choko-Paku (Valentine's Day chocolate sale) event there. After that, maybe read a bit at a coffee shop and and work on the blog for a while in the evening. The main thing was in wanting to get the raw honey.

However, as I was about to walk out the door, I got roped into a shopping trip that started down at Dolphin Port. There, I discovered the Genki City event, which is basically people selling local fish products and flowers. One table had a poster advertising the big sand sculpture contest down in Ibusuki, and you could mold volcano ash-heavy sand into the heads of Anpan-man and Doreamon if you wanted to.

The main stuff was in a kind of tent city in the Dolphin Port parking lot. They did have a few food trucks though, selling ramen, tapioca drinks and similar circus foods.

One schedule showed various foamhead characters making appearances at different hours. Turtle Guy here was just heading off to the changing room to get out of his costume.

Some of the vendors and their produce.

They had speakers hooked up all around Dolphin Port blaring out the Emcees as they interviewed the vendors and tried to get customers to actually buy stuff. I'm not sure if I've seen the woman before.

I have seen this guy at other events. I think he's a radio or TV personality for MBC Broadcasting.

I was given just enough time to take a few photos before I got dragged off for grocery shopping at one souvenir/food store, and then hanging around at Tully's Coffee for a couple hours. We then headed off to Maruya Gardens to read science magazines in Junkudou Books, followed by dinner at an oyster restaurant in Tenmonkan. I kept hoping that I'd get the chance to get away long enough to make the half-mile walk over to Terukuni Shrine before their parking lot market closed, but that never happened. We finally got back home at 8 PM. I processed the photos I'd taken over the last week, and uploaded them to Mediafire. However, when I tried to copy-paste the links to notepad and write up these blog entries, I found out that one of the Mediafire servers was down again and 20% of the photo files (which was like one out of each batch of event photos) had dead links. I gave up and went to bed early.

I never did get that raw honey. Sigh.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Terukuni Shrine Market, Feb. 8-9

Last Thursday, I was walking by Terukuni, near Central Park, and I noticed there was still a podium in the parking lot at about where there had been one on Monday for the Setsubun bean throwing madness. On Friday, construction workers were putting up some more tents, and I assumed they were preparing for one of their periodic outdoor markets. So, I decided to swing by on Saturday on my way back home from the English school in the middle of the afternoon.

Turned out I was right. Processed foods, some prepared foods (like takoyaki and soba), toys, crafts, jewelry, and weird stuff.

This doll looked much more creepy in person. I think I still hear it scratching around in the hallway outside at night...

The painted kitsune masks were there again this year, but I didn't see the artist, her husband or the rest of their entourage this time.

One table was handing out free samples of raw honey. Some of it was really good, but a bit on the expensive side. I decided on holding off on buying a bottle until I could check in the apartment to see if we needed any more. Turned out that we did. So, I planned on coming back on Sunday to get one. Unfortunately, that didn't work out, and by Monday all the tables were gone. Sigh. Maybe next time.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Sakurajima Big Food Fair

Saturday and Sunday, the space across from Lotteria had a food event for growers and shops on Sakurajima - the volcano island across from Kagoshima on the bay.

Mostly, it was just cafe-style stalls selling ramen and other dishes. There were a couple stalls that had shochu, daikon and kinkan (miniature tangerine-like things). Daikon, the big radishes shown above, are grown throughout the Kagoshima region, but are one of the few plants that thrive in the volcano ash-heavy soil on Sakurajima.

The stall here advertised soba and "hot-dish with Sakurajima radish."

I dropped by long enough to take pictures on my way in to the school on Saturday. I'd wanted to get coffee at the event if someone was selling it, but I couldn't find any there. After I got out at the end of my lessons, I swung by the Terukuni shrine on my way home to check in on a different event. So, I didn't return here on Saturday. I'd kind of been planning to come back on Sunday, but things got completely out of my control then and I missed my chance. Oh well. There'll always be a next time.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

What You're Not Seeing

I went up to Amu Plaza recently, and suddenly discovered that the Tourist Information Center had been torn down. The footprint next to the escalator walls is barely recognizable as a darker patch on the tiles. I don't have a good photo of the building itself when it was there, so I can't show a "before" and "after." It was very useful for people trying to get bus schedules, and Chinese tourists trying to get directions back to their cruise ships at Dolphin Port (pre-coronavirus outbreak).

The information desk in the main train station underwent renovations for over a month, and I haven't noticed whether that is back open for business or not. Either way, it's kind of a shock to not see the TIC outside anymore, with no explanation for why it was taken down.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Small Adventure 71

Some months ago, I was just outside the Maruya Gardens department store, at the intersection waiting for the traffic light to change. There was a break in the cross traffic, so the next little bit of movement caught my attention really fast. There was a small brown blur of movement at the edge of my vision, to the right and down by my feet. At first, I thought it was a big mouse or a fat rat. This would have been a remarkable thing, since I've only seen one rat here before, about half a mile away, creeping around the edge of an office building, in the shadows late at night. But, this was in the middle of a bright sunny day.

I was about to jump back and let out a yelp when I looked down.

It was a dead leaf. The human brain is a weird thing.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Bistro de Reve Menu Board

Bistro de Reve is a cafe located near the Volunteer Building, near the Reimeikan Museum. Even Tottoro likes them.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Small Adventure 70

A while back, I was up at Amu Plaza, walking in front of the big display windows for the department store, near the main train station. Ahead of me was a young woman in an expensive dress and high heels, with her hair in an expensive 'do. Most Japanese woman can't walk in heels to save their lives, but they love to wear them anyway. At the time, this woman turned to admire her reflection in one of the windows, twisted her ankle, and went head-first to the sidewalk. She immediately got back up, apologized ("gomen nasai"), (even though I was the only other person there, and I was behind her, where she couldn't see me because she didn't look around), and immediately ran off towards the station entrance (presumably to get to a restroom so she could wash her hands and check her hairdo).

Japan may be the only country where someone would apologize to their own reflection for tripping in heels.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Neko Cafe Nyakoro

Next to snack bar 10Q is the new Neko Cafe "Nyakoro."

It's kitty-licious.