Thursday, November 30, 2017

Doing A Token Job

It's just a token

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Full Metal Alchemist Movie Flier

The second movie flier I picked up is for the live-action Full Metal Alchemist.

I'm sorry, but no. I'm not going to watch this. Alphonse, the suit of armor, looks perfect. No one else does. Edward's supposed to be 12 years old...

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Kamakura Monogatari Movie Flier

I was back at one of the movie theaters last week, just looking at the advertising for the upcoming films to see if there were any brochures worth scanning for the blog. (There's nothing I actually want to pay $20 to watch in the theater). And there were two that caught my eye that are manga-related. First up - Kamakura Monogatari - Destiny.

I reviewed volume 34 of the manga back in August. It's a supernatural/horror series that revolves around a fiction writer and his wife. Now, we get a live-action version.

Generally, the chapters are stand-alone short stories that may or may not feature the main character. The movie looks to be one long story that rewrites how the writer and his wife first met. I may be wrong, because I haven't read vol. 1 of the manga, or the ad copy in the brochure. I've just seen the trailer on the TV at the theater.

The casting for the two leads looks pretty decent, while the make-up for several of the monsters and the death god is a bit too campy.

The poster board in the lobby looks interesting, though (it's about 6' long).

Monday, November 27, 2017

Nov. 25th-26th Weekend

Marugoto Friday

I had a lot of work last week, and that kept me penned up in the apartment whenever I wasn't out at the English school. Fortunately, I was able to finish by the Friday deadline, although I still did have classes that day. In the evening, I decided that I needed some exercise, so I hiked up to Amu Plaza to see if anything was going to be going on for the weekend. They had a new Marugoto fair, but everything was already shut down for the night. I checked the schedule, and there was a lot less planned than the week before, so I figured that I probably wouldn't be coming back the next day. I took a couple photos to give a sense of the place, then I returned home.

Specialist School Fair

Saturday, my plan was to do food shopping for the week (mostly milk, because the price is discounted 10% on Saturdays), then get into Tenmonkan at 1:30 PM. That would give me a lot of time to check if anything else was happening before my 3 PM class. But, things got out of my control and I didn't reach Central Park until just before 2:45. That only gave me time to take some pictures and then keep walking. The event this time was a one-day fair for recruiting students to specialist schools and technical colleges. The one last year was a lot more crowded and had more live music. But, it was raining this time, and fewer people wanted to just stand around and get wet.

The Red Cross had a blood donation truck set up, and lots of seats for accommodating volunteers. But Japan has kind of a taboo involving blood, and the Red Cross has a major problem in keeping adequate supplies of blood for emergencies because of it, and the volunteers stayed away in droves.

I got a look at the schedule, and it was mainly just PR, and a couple appearances by Janken Man and the Janken Girls (college guys dressed up in drag). I arrived between events, and the area in front of the stage was pretty much abandoned.

Janken Man. Janken is the Japanese version of rock-paper-scissors. He's always popular in crowds.
I only had the one class in the afternoon, and when I got out at 4 PM, pretty much everything was over and people were just hanging around in the park to talk to friends. I did have 2 more classes that evening, starting at 6 PM, so I hung out at a coffee shop a bit, did the classes, then went home for dinner.

Marugoto Sunday

It was raining kind of hard on Sunday, so I stayed inside until 2 PM. I did need to do a little more shopping, and I needed the exercise, so I headed up to Amu Plaza again, anyway. Things were a bit more active than they'd been Friday night, with the Saigo Takamori foamhead mascot.

Tea Man.

And Rice Man.

But again, there was no music scheduled for Sunday. There had been 2 performances for Saturday, but it was nothing I had interest in, and it was set for when I had the 3 PM lesson, so no big loss. Instead, it was mostly just janken. The Emcee was Hikarin, a former Southern Cross idol group dancer and now promoter. She's leading the crowd in janken against Tea Man for a few packages of green tea. There were 3-4 old men in the audience that really seemed intent on winning that tea. I made a sweep of the department store, but there wasn't anything else interesting going on. I returned home and spent the day writing up manga reviews for the blog. Not much of a weekend this time.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Noborito 2003

Noborito was the next train station over from my old apartment, and was about 2 miles away. Generally, I'd take my bike along the walking path next to the Tama river, go to Noborito, cross the river at the bridge, then go back up the other side of the river to put in 25- or 60-mile rides. I miss that area.

One afternoon, a bunch of retired people had a yakiniku party (grilled meat and veggies) at a tarmac park next to the river. Not exactly scenic, but at least the sky was clear.

There was a company-owned tennis court nearby that was almost never in use. Never could figure out why they didn't simply give the thing to school kids to play on.

Looking back up the bike path to Noborito. Say what you will about the Tokyo-Kanagawa border near Kawasaki, it was a great place for getting in long-distance rides on a bicycle, and there were two wonderful bike shops at both ends of the route.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Monster Hunter X

(All rights belong to their owners. Images used for review purposes only.)

Monster Hunter X, Capcom, 2015, Grade: D
X, or Cross, (known in the U.S. as "Generations") was the fifth game in the MH franchise. I've never played any of the other Hunter games, and from what little I'd seen from the ads, it just looked like a monster bashing game with no real story, which is why I didn't bother with it. But, the used book and games chain, Book Off, had Cross on its shelves for between 100 and 400 yen (90 cents to $3.60 USD), and at that price I figured I didn't have much to lose. Unfortunately, Cross expects players to already be familiar with how to capture certain monsters, or get past specific puzzles in the game, and I got stuck at one point pretty early on in stage 1, and no amount of digging in the walkthroughs, FAQs and forums in either English or Japanese gave me any indication on how to continue, so I gave up.

(In the first village, where you can get equipment, quests, and buffs.)

If you have played the Monster Hunter games before, then you know what they are and how they work. If not, this is what I've been able to figure out. In a nutshell, the game is set on a planet that's divided into "zones," where each zone has a specific set of monsters. Each stage consists of a map of connected zones, and you're given quests to find a monster or a plant, and bring parts of it to a drop box at the start of the stage. Unless you fulfill the requirements of the quest, you can't get out of that stage, and if the clock runs out first then you lose the game. You play a novice hunter that you design and name yourself, and you start out in a village that gives you access to weapons and armor shops, people that can answer some questions and give you the quests, and acts as the entrance to the first stage. After that, it's just a matter of exploring the village, all connected areas, and the stage map, and then taking on quests. One quest might be to bring back one of each kind of plant in the stage, another could be to defeat a certain kind of beast and collect 5 leg bones. Otherwise, there's no story.

(In zone 1 of the first stage, with some of the monsters in the background. The zone map is on the lower screen.)

I have to admit that the game is huge (what I've seen of it), the monsters are highly detailed and varied, and the artwork is great. There are many kinds of weapons and armor, and the designs for what you're carrying change as you equip different things. Visually, it's a great game. Gameplay-wise, it's all hack and slash. Your attacks change based on the equipped weapon, and battles can drag on for several minutes. When you enter the stage to start a quest, there's a supply box that can give you the stage map, some stat buffing items, and tools like a butterfly net or a pick axe. You're limited on how much you can carry at one time, so you can't just grab everything in the box, but often it does act like a hint as to how to fulfill the quest (e.g. - if you need to get some minerals, the box will offer the pick axe). Everything else in the game is just support for going after bigger, more dangerous targets. And this is an important point - you don't get experience by killing stuff. Increases in attack and defense stats are strictly from the weapons and armor you equip. The game rewards you for finishing the quests quickly, not for how much fighting you do. This means that if you don't understand the point of a specific quest after the timer has reached half way, you're better off resetting the game and starting over (you can only save when you're in the village).

(The problem zone, zone 8, with a giant dragon fly, and no way to get down the cliff in the back.)

My problem is that there's one quest that requires that I reach zones 9, 10 or 11, which are at the far back of the map. Generally, the zones are connected by walking paths; you just walk to an exit point from that zone and you're taken to the next neighboring zone. However, some of the zones have cliff faces, and act as one-way streets (you can go down the cliff from zone 5 to zone 8, but not the other way around). But, for this particular zone group, there's no apparent way to progress further along the map. I guess there's some kind of trick, like getting to zone 8, luring a big winged insect and riding it down the cliff or something, but I just can't figure out what it is, and there's nothing I can find online that will help me. This is a key quest, too, and I can't get to the next stage without finishing this one. Yes, the artwork and monsters and everything are very impressive, but I like RPGs that have stories and tricks I can figure out. To me, Monster Hunter is just a way of killing time, and I've got better games I can play for that (like Bravely Default).

In summary, I don't care for the "kill a monster, then kill another one" genre, and I'm still not a Monster Hunter fan. I'm giving this one a pass, and I'm just thankful that it was so cheap to begin with (which, of course, is a clue as to how popular the game is in Japan now...)

Friday, November 24, 2017

Bravely Default 3DS review

(All rights belong to their owners. Images used here for review purposes only.)

Bravely Default, from Square Enix, 2012, Grade: B+
According to the wiki entry, Bravely Default was originally intended as a sequel to Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light, obviously indicating that it was produced by the  team that worked on at least one of the FF games. It was released in Japan in 2012 under the title Bravely Default: Flying Fairy. An expanded version of the game followed in 2013 for Japan, Europe and Australia, and 2014 for North America. I bought my copy of Flying Fairy used from Book Off for 500 yen ($4.50 USD). At that price, it's a good deal.

The story follows 4 heroes, Tiz, Agnes, Ringabel and Edea (the U.S. version's English names) as they try to save their world. Tiz starts out as a farm boy living in the village of Norende. One day, the village is destroyed by a pillar of light, leaving a massive crater in the ground, and killing Tiz's younger brother. He is soon joined by Agnes, the priestess of the Wind Crystal, whose temple had been destroyed. She wants to activate all 4 crystals (Wind, Water, Fire and Earth) and Tiz accompanies her as a bodyguard. Ringabel wants in on the adventure, and Edea switches sides from the group trying to stop the activation of the crystals, and ends up fighting against her own father and friends. Agnes found a pendant associated with a fairy named Airy, and Airy then leads the group to each of the crystals, and guides Agnes in powering them up. Along the way, the group faces various villains working on behalf of Edea's father, and when each one is defeated, the you gain access to a new job skill. Eventually, the 4 crystals are indeed activated, and Airy takes the heroes to the Pillar of Light, which presumably will let them go to a new world where the crater never opened up. However...

Bravely Default is a big game. There's a lot to do in it, and it's easy to put in at least 100 hours on it. The world map is gorgeous, and each continent has a crystal tower, several dungeons, and a town where you can interact with the inhabitants and go through a variety of storylines. The artwork is great, the story has a major plot twist in the middle, and the music is good. Unfortunately, as with almost all RPGs, 90% of the items, magic and job skills are unnecessary to finishing the game. They're just filler. The maps have houses you can't enter, and the dungeons have 3-4 monsters that get recycled over and over again. The map has a huge ocean in the middle, but only two locations you can visit.

(The opening screen encourages you to make lots of friends.)

One of the more interesting aspects of Bravely Default is the fighting system, which is where the game's name comes from. It's a turn-based system, where you set the actions for your four characters, and when you're done with the fourth one, the battle runs automatically for that turn, with the characters and enemy taking their actions in semi-random order based on a hidden "initiative" score assigned to each one That is, even if your party all have the same Speed scores, sometimes Tiz will act first followed by Agnes, and sometimes Edea goes first followed by a monster, and then by Agnes and then Tiz. The actions include Attack, Ability, Brave, Default, Item and Escape. Attack is a physical attack with the equipped weapon. Ability allows you to select a skill associated with the two Jobs that the character has chosen for it. Brave lets you take up to 3 extra moves in that round, but the penalty is that you'll have to wait an equal number of rounds afterward before being able act again (called BP). Default makes the character guard for that round, adding 1 to their BP score. Item lets them use an item in inventory, or activate a power associated with the equipped weapon, and Escape is just that - a percentage-based chance of getting out of the battle.

Generally, your characters start the battle with 0 BP (battle points). Selecting Brave subtracts 1 from BP, up to 4 moves total for that round. Default adds 1 to BP. If you just attack or use an item in that turn, BP remains at 0. After your characters all take their moves for the round, 1 is added to BP (unless you simply attacked or used an item, in which BP stays at 0). If BP is negative at the start of the next round, that character can't act. This is important, in that some enemies can steal BP from your characters, making them go negative and losing a turn. On the other hand, one job skill lets your characters give each other extra BP, and another skill adds 1 BP at the start of every turn. The point is that you can finish a battle faster if all your characters take 4 moves per round each, but that can leave you extremely vulnerable for the next 3 rounds if you fail to kill the monster and then have to just stand there helplessly as the monster gets 3 free rounds against you.

At the end of each battle, you get Exp., PG and JP for the party, which is naturally based on the difficulty of the battle. Exp. is experience for going up in base level, with a cap at level 99. Your character's base stats (attack, physical defense, magical attack, magical defense, speed and evasion) all go up with each level bump. PG is the game's version of money, and is one of the easiest things to come by in the game. I finished the game with 7.6 million pg, and there's really nothing to spend it on, even when using the Merchant job class (the Merchant can use PG for attacking the enemy, and defending themselves). JP is Job Points, which allows your character to go up in Job levels, with a cap at job level 14.

Leveling up is unbalanced, both for regular levels, and for jobs. The first few levels  take 100-300 exp. to go to the next one, but when you reach level 80 or so, it's something like a fixed 70,000 exp. per level, and you can easily get 12,000 exp. per battle if you know where to look. I hit the level cap of 99 by chapter 5 of the game, and there's 8 chapters, plus two endings and one optional dungeon.

(World map, with one of the towns visible on the top screen.)

So, with no need to gain more exp. after chapter 5, why keep playing so long, and amass so much money? Well, that's where the job asterisks come it. Your characters start the game as Freelancers. The Freelancer is an all-round generic job class that is equally good with all weapons, and armor. It's not outstanding with any one thing, but has the benefit of being able to avoid triggering traps in the dungeon. As you defeat each boss, you get access to their Job Class. That is, beating the White Mage gives you the White Mage asterisk (i.e. - it unlocks that job class for you), and defeating the Vampire gives you the Vampire asterisk. There are a total of 24 jobs, and each one has 14 skills, special moves, or status improvements that alter your base level stats. Mages (White, Black, Red, Time) subtract from physical attack and add to magical attack, while also changing your weapons affinities. Knight and Templar boost physical stats at the cost of magical ones, etc. To go from job level 1 to 9 requires a total of about 2,800 JP, then to go from 9 to 10 costs 3,500 JP, and from 13 to 14 costs another 5,000 JP. Since most battles only net you 50-100 JP each, that's a LOT of churning if you want all 4 characters to reach level 14 on ALL 24 jobs (although, there is one area where the average is 200 JP per battle, and a couple special monsters can give you 600 JP at one time if you do it right). So, yeah, I did a lot of churning, which is why my exp. levels capped at 99, and I amassed so much money. Even so, I didn't finish the job leveling up until the end of Chapter 8.

All of the English walkthroughs are for the expanded game, so it's easy for me to tell what got changed in the remake from the original. 80% of the two games are the same, but the remake has a tutorial subquest system, which rewards you for completing the game tutorials (e.g. - you get a potion or something for the first time you open the Items menu during a battle, and some other item for learning how to switch weapons, etc.) And Chapter 7 has a completely different combination of bosses that fight you, which leads me to the next point.

--- Spoilers ---

In the story, Airy tries to send the party to another world where the chasm hasn't opened up, and she fails. 4 times. The first time, all the job asterisk-based subquests reset, so you can fight those bosses again, and you have to reactivate the crystals again, but things are a bit different from the first time through the world map. After that, you get in a loop. For the original game, chapters 6-8 are in the loop, and I was convinced that I'd done something wrong that was preventing the game from advancing. In the remake, chapter 7 moves the job quest bosses around to give you a lot of more challenging boss fights. There is a clue though, to show that you're playing the game right - each time you go through the pillar of light, the markings on Airy's wings changes (you can see Airy up close when you open the inventory window, or when you save the game). In chapter 8, the markings on her wings form the number "0". After that, going through the pillar again takes you to the end game.

Otherwise, the only other differences between the two versions of the game are that certain bosses are a little tougher or have slightly higher HP levels in the remake. But, with all the tutorial subquest rewards, you can afford better weapons and more healing items earlier in the game.

(Main menu screen. From top left, Job, Ability, Abilink, Item, Use Magic, Equip Gear, Set Up Special Attacks, and Config. Abilink lets you use your friends' characters as an attack summons.)

One of the ideas I really like in Bravely Default is that one of the job classes (Conjurer) has a skill that you can assign to one of your characters, called "Exterminate." When assigned, if your party gets initiative, at the start of the battle any enemies that are at least 20 levels below you will die without your having to fight them. THIS is what makes churning to level up all the jobs so much more acceptable (and faster).

You can assign two jobs to a party member at a time - the primary and the secondary jobs. The primary job is the one that goes up in level as you get JP from the battles. It modifies your base stats according to that class (the Knight has good physical attack and defense stats, but poor magical attack and defense) and gives you certain inherent boosts, such as increased success rates when trying to steal items as a Thief. The secondary job lets you use the actions for that job that use MP (magic points) or BP (battle rounds). In this way, you can have a Knight that casts attack magic (Knight/Black Mage), or a Thief that can use Drain (Thief/Vampire). But, you have to be careful with how you do the pairings, because the Knight does have weak magic stats, so any attack magic you cast won't do as much damage to the enemy. It's better to just have a dedicated mage (White Mage/Time Mage combo), and then beef up a different character (as with the Templar/Pirate) and use the Pirate's skill of Taunt to get the enemy to focus on just the one character that has two shields and thus the highest defense stats in the party. Additionally, you can have up to 5 Support Skill Slots, which lets you use skills from other jobs that may be handy (White Mage has a skill that takes up 3 slots that is good for making attack magic stronger, while the Conjurer has that Exterminate skill for eliminating low-level enemies without having to actually fight them). So, the more job classes you've unlocked and bumped up to level 14 each, the more and better support skills you can assign to your party as you see fit (such as with the Templar/Pirate having Exterminate, and +20% to physical defense).

(Battle screen, fighting against ents and mandrakes.)

But, as I wrote above, Flying Fairy is unbalanced. It's too easy to cap out at level 99, and if you get more than 2 million pg there's really nothing to spend it on. If you beat the game, you can return to the point in Chapter 8 where you have to activate the crystals again, but keeping the money and items you find, or you can start a New Game+ (which I haven't tried yet, but after having unlocked all the optional bosses, I don't see a reason to do it all over again, even if I do get to keep my weapons and items. And assuming te original game has New Game+.)

One last thing, although it is actually one of the most important elements to the game. Bravely Default makes a big point about friendships. In part, this is to get you to talk your friends into buying their own copies of the game and sharing their game data with you. If you have access to the Square Enix web server, you can upload your character's stats and your friends, or complete strangers, can access them and "summon you" in a battle as a kind of "god summons." Which means, if you get really powerful, your character can be the deciding factor in whether your friends survive a tough boss battle. The problem is that the Bravely Default server apparently was taken down some time ago, and I can't access it now. This is a problem, if you look at Norende.

Norende is the village the Tiz lived in. After being destroyed, there's a mini-quest to rebuild it. You get a small village map, and several buildings, bridges and roads are marked as damaged. You have one villager that you can assign to rebuilding any one location. Each location, and up to 9 level ups for the buildings, require the worker to spend a fixed number of hours real-time to complete the repairs. You can't turn the 3DS game machine off, change the internal clock, and turn it back on to trick the game into thinking that much time has passed. The game has to be running for x hours, although it is ok to close the cover to let the machine "sleep." You just can't turn it off and expect the repairs to continue on their own. The first few repairs are manageable, in that they're only 1-5 hours long each. Towards the end though, the final repairs, to go from shop level 10 to 11 in the remake are 99 hours for each shop. (There are 10 shops, and the path to the best weapons power-ups requires an additional 99 hours to repair that.) However, if you trade game data with your friends, or if you uploaded your game data to the Square Enix server, you'd get extra villagers, maybe 1-3 every day, once a day after midnight. But, as I say, the Japanese webserver is no longer online, so I'm stuck with just the one village worker and at least a full month of repair work for him...

There's one more difference between the original game, and the remake, apparently. In the original, the first of the shops I finished repairing had a level cap at 10, but the walkthrough for the remake shows that that game goes to 11 on each shop. In some cases, the final level lets you buy some weapon that you can't buy from any other shop in the regular game, but in others you unlock secret costumes for your party members. As I say, I've finished the game and went into a continuation, and I'm currently letting the machine run on its own to try to unlock the higher shop levels. I want to see if the original version has the secret costumes available somewhere, or not. I'm thinking the answer is "not", but I'm not playing any other games right now, so the 3DS would just be sitting on the shelf, turned off at this point. I'm willing to pay for the electricity to keep recharging the battery for a few days. After that, I'll give up.

(Dungeon map. The figure barely visible in front of the window in the top screen is The Adventurer. He serves as the save point and mini-store in all of the dungeons, just before you reach the boss for that stage.)

Summary: Bravely Default: Flying Fairy, is a fun game, but it does have its flaws. The artwork and music are good, but the character designs are a bit childish and the gameplay is uneven. There is one remaining optional super-boss that I haven't been able to defeat, and fighting him is not fun at all. I've got all the best weapons, armor and job classes in the game, and I was still killed off in the first round of the battle. I'm not going to bother fighting him again. Likewise, the final story boss took much longer to beat than any of the other bosses, so fighting it again isn't that appealing. Otherwise, if you like the Final Fantasy universe, you may like this game as well. Recommended to those that like Japanese RPGs.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Vending Machines in Japan

Japan has mastered the art of the vending machine...

Put your money in the slot, and punch the number for the item you want.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

American Coffee - Pocket Juicer Stand

Ok. I'm in the process of cleaning up my apartment, and I came across a handful of old memory cards I'd forgotten about from past digital cameras. Most of the cards can't hold 1 gig of files (my main card is 16 gig, and my backup is 8 gig.), and one was only 256 Mb. Before throwing them into recycling, I checked if there were any old files on them, then bit-stripped the memories to clean them off in case anyone else tried looking at them. I did discover a few files dating back to 2003. I may have run these here before, but I would have put them on Photobucket, which I'm not using anymore. Above are two drinks I haven't seen in Kagoshima - American Coffee-brand can coffee, and White Natade Koko Pocket Juicer Stand. American Coffee tasted like milk. White was, if I remember right, kind of like coconut juice with gelatin squares inside. It just has an unfortunate name...

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Snoopy Stamps from the Post Office

I picked up these commemorative Snoopy stamps back last June, but never got around to uploading the scans here.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Star Wars Stuff

One of the displays in the Amu Plaza department store right now is for Star Wars toys and gimmicks you can buy from Kiddy Land.

Plushie Yoda, Chewie, Trooper and BB. Next up, on Nick Toons - Star Babies.

I think this is a pen and notebook set.

Rock-em Sock-em Robots.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Graph Contest, Nov. 18, 2017

This Saturday, the space in front of 7-11 in Tenmonkan hosted another of the graph contests. This is open to school kids who want to show off their powerpoint skills. I was walking through Tenmonkan on my way to the English school at 1:45 PM, and the officials were just finishing handing out certificates to the prize winners, just leaving Guree-buu and Sakura (the Kagoshima foamhead mascots) to stand on stage.

Most of the graphs were hand-colored and at the 3rd--5th grade levels, but a few were more sophisticated-looking.

A sampler shot of one side of one of the display panels.

I got into the school at 1:50 PM, and sat around, waiting for the student to show up. At 2:10, we got a notice saying that they wanted to cancel the lesson. So I got back outside, and returned to the 7-11. At that point, the graphs had already been taken down, and the peg boards were stripped clean.

As was the stage. Another reminder that in Japan, if you blink, you'll miss it.

So I do a bit of shopping, and come back to the area again a few minutes later, and the Spiritual Cross Gospel group is set up in the arcade, and just finishing up one of their carols. They announce that they're going to take a break, and they'll sing some more some time later. I'm not big on gospel music, so I keep walking. The thing is, this part of the arcade is pretty popular with buskers wanting to play in public in the evenings during the week. We'll get guitarist-singers, keyboardists, and bongo drummers here, playing and trying to sell CDs or just get tips. It's usually not stuff I want to listen to, or hand out money for, but the players are all pretty dedicated to their craft.

Happy Marche

Then, on Sunday, we had the Happy Marche, along with a few people trying to sell handmade arts and crafts (there's kind of an open flea market in Tenmonkan on the weekends when nothing else special is scheduled). The sign above the advertising boards reads "Wool Felt."

With people making stuff out of felt. The temps have fallen a bit in the last week, and it was maybe 53 degrees in the shade. A bit chilly for making cloth projects using glue out of doors.

The Marche had a stamp rally of some sort. I'm guessing that if you spent money at some of the participating shops, you'd get a stamp card. The bags here are for those shoppers that completed the rally. I have no idea what's in them.

There was a live stage again, with two dance studio performances, a guitarist-folk singer, a classical singer, an advertisement for a hot spring spa, and a talk show with the Kagoshima Rebnise basketball team. Shown above is a presentation for women entering menopause. The slides were just as washed-out as they appear here. I had to do a lot of shopping for the coming week, and ended up missing pretty much all of the stage events. I would have liked to have at least gotten a photo of the Rebnise team, but I don't care for most pro sports, so that wasn't much of a loss. When I did get back to this area at 4:10 PM, the second of the two dance studios was doing their dance routines. Naturally, they used copyrighted music, so I didn't bother recording them. And, the dancers weren't all that good. Things ended shortly after.

There were a few tables and booths participating in the Happy Marche, including this one. Now, I'm kind of forced to listen to a lot of Japanese radio when I'm at home, and I don't have a TV. During the baseball season, NHK carries some live coverage of some of the games. Occasionally I'll catch the names of the teams that are playing, and one team is the Nippon Hamu Fighters (Japan Ham Fighters). I've never known what a "nippon ham" is, and why it fights so much, but I've also never bothered to ask to find out. Well, this booth is run by Nipponham.

And, it's a company that produces and sells ham. I never would have guessed.

Anyway, it was a slow weekend entertainment-wise. No live music worth going out of the way for, and nothing special up at Amu Plaza this time. Which is ok, because some of my contract work has picked up a bit right now, and that's keeping me hopping.