Friday, August 31, 2018

Moon Aug. 28, 2018

It was a clear sky that night.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Komeda on Titan

This is pretty pathetic. Komeda Coffee shop has teamed with Attack on Titan. Every order gets you a stamp. A bunch of stamps (over $20 of purchases) will get you Attack on Titan goods, or a cup of coffee. This campaign has been running since July, but I just noticed it last weekend.

"When you have a big hunger..."

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Barcode Art 2

Another package of Calbee brand pseudo potato sticks. This one's Tarako (tiny fish eggs) Butter flavor.

Another trick barcode art piece.
The text reads "Kaimono kai sugitara komatta. Tsubenai..."
"If you buy too much, it's a problem. It doesn't all fit..."
The dots above the letters stress "imo" (potato) and "tarako".

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Baby cars

They're so CUTE when they're small!

Monday, August 27, 2018

Runny Loop Chalk Art

It's kind of hard to tell if this runny effect over the eye is intentional or not. It's possible there was supposed to be a rose over the left eye, and then either the board got wet or someone spit on it. It's also possible the artist originally drew it this way. There had been rain the day before, so who knows.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Gym Minion

Golden Gym is advertising a free sign-up summer campaign. Minions are big now.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Hot Beer Lousy Food

Sign in the window for a men's salon.
Have a nice day.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Attack on Titan, vol. 26 review

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

Attack on Titan, vol. 26, Hajime Isayama. Grade: B
The latest volume just came out, and the first half is pretty much just combat between the titans, with the humans on both sides getting slaughtered (Paradisians and Marle alike). As the battle progresses, we get more support fighters from Paradis coming into the city, in part to eliminate soldiers from the surrounding buildings, but also to put down landing lights for a dirigible to come in to pick up everyone and take them back out of the city at the end. Jeek (the gigantic simian titan), Piik (the cargo carrying titan), Tybur (Warhammer) and Porco (Jaw titan) keep trying to reach and destroy Elen (Toothy). Armin has the power of the Colossus titan now, but he mostly stays back and assists the airship in getting from the port into the city. Rainer has been suffering severe depression for months, and when Elen tricks him and turns into Toothy at the beginning of the fight, Rainer just barely manages to turn into Armored titan to protect Falco from the carnage. Eventually, Elen realizes that he can't break through the crystal shell protecting the Tybur woman, but that Jaws' teeth and claws are a better choice. When Jaws comes in for another attack, he gets hobbled by Mikasa, and Elen then jams the Tyber crystal into his mouth and smashes Jaws' head down on her. Tybur dies and Toothy drinks her blood (it's not clear that Elen has received the Warhammer titan powers, though). Elen attempts to kill Porco, but Falco and Gabi (the two Eldian kids being groomed to take over the Armored titan powers) start shouting out Rainer's name. Rainer gets pulled out from his self-induced coma long enough to fend off Elen. Finally, Elen, Mikasa, and the surviving Paradisian fighters retreat to the airship, along with Jeek's amputated body (Levi had managed to cut the simian down to size).

Gabi has been watching the destruction of her town and the deaths of her friends and leaders, and she snaps. She grabs a rifle and kills one of the Paradisian fighters before using his cable harness to zip up to the airship, with Falco tagging along. On the ship, Gabi gets off one clean shot, killing Sasha (her last words are, "meat"). The rest of the fighters quickly subdue the two kids. Levi kicks Elen in the teeth for not following the plan properly, and has Elen tied up to a bench in one of the rooms. Gabi and Falco start screaming to be let out, and the group allows them to be brought into the main cabin. Gabi is partly stunned to see her hated enemy tied up like a prisoner, but also that Jeek is there, propped up against the wall, his arms and legs gone, slowly regenerating. Back at the city, Piik is also slowly recovering, but we're not shown what states Porco or Rainer are in. Piik regains consciousness, and tells one of the soldiers that she's remembered where she'd seen one of the enemy before. The Marle soldier that had tricked her into falling in the pit at the beginning of the battle was a (very tall) woman that had shipped out to Paradis on a mission to explore the island three years earlier.

We now get another flashback, this one to the island 3 years earlier. Hange, one of the current military leaders, had captured one of the invading Marle, and was trying to use him as a bargaining chip against the crew of one of the Marle ships. The captain was about to order a full attack on the enemy when one of his own soldiers shot him in the head. The traitor is a very tall woman named Ielena. Along with her darker-skinned partner, Onyanpokon, she manages to get the rest of the Marle soldiers to surrender to Hange. The group proceeds to trick the crews of the two remaining ships into jumping into the water, and thus being captured. Ielena actually sees the titans as kind of "living gods," and she's offended that some of these "gods" are being used as weapons by the Marle military government. She and Onyanpokon (to me, his name looks like Onion Pokky) train the Paradisi in Marle weaponry and industrial technology for the next 3 years. The purpose is to capture Jeek and bring him to the island. Armin is convinced that fighting is a bad option and that they should try diplomacy first to show that they're not scary people. Unfortunately, that would take time, and that's not a commodity they have much of. Especially since Jeek is getting to the end of his expected lifespan. Ielena also spends a lot of her free time sitting and talking to Ani, the womanoid titan holder, who is still trapped in her crystal shell.

The flashback ends, and a few of the heroes wonder if things would have turned out differently if they'd tried more peaceful means. Maybe Sasha would still be alive. Doesn't really matter anymore, though. Both Mikasa and Elen repeat the same manta - If you don't win, you die. If you win, you live. If you don't fight, you can't win. If you fight, you fight.

Summary: Well, another volume down. It's a fast read, but there's still way too much dialog in places. The artwork is improving, although it's still hard to tell some of the characters apart - they're very "cookie cutter." Not one of my favorite manga, but it's not that bad. Recommended if you like the series.

A couple side notes: Elen asks Armin if he's seen any of Bertolt's memories yet, as the new wielder of the Colossus titan. Armin says "no," but he's looking a bit hesitant while doing it (he may be lying.)

Also, Elen reveals to the rest of the military that the one time he was able to command the other titans was when he was touching his father's first wife (the big smiling titan long ago). The command power worked only because she had royal blood from King Fritz's bloodline. Right now, the only other titan that could do that is Jeek.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Bright Revolution

More chalk art from Bright used clothes.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Where's Dodekai?

Dodekai (really big) Ramen is a dried ramen chip-like snack. Nothing really special taste-wise, but it's popular with people that like instant noodles. They've tied up with Where's Wally (the Japanese name for Where's Waldo).

The idea is to get customers to go to the main website to get the answers for where the Deka Boy is for each package design (there are three Deka Boys per design).

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Mister Donut DBZ Tie-in

Mister Donut is running an anime tie-in campaign with Dragon Ball Heroes, and some girl's show.

Buu is doing Fusion badly.

You can get a Fusion Donut set (a half and half donut in a DBZ cup for $4.50-$5.50), or you can get a kid's set (donut or soba plus a toy) for $3.75. Either way, you're paying a fair amount of money for a donut that doesn't taste that good, and a prize that you really wouldn't want otherwise.


"Collaboration Campaign in progress."
So, collaborate now!

Monday, August 20, 2018

3-on-3 Game

The weekend was ok this time. Kagoshima had its big annual fireworks show on Sakurajima on Saturday, which could have gone better or worse. Coming up on Saturday, I knew that I'd have to miss the fireworks because I teach English lessons at the school in the evening. But, a few weeks ago, I discovered that the display was going to be on the 18th, which is at the end of Obon, so the school was going to be closed. Yay - fireworks. However, I'm busy on the 25th with other work, so the school rescheduled my lessons from the 25th to the 18, with classes specifically from 7-9 PM. Sigh. Then, at 7 PM, the student was late because the streetcars were all so packed with people going to Dolphin Port to watch the display, and when he did arrive, he said that he could only take one lesson in order to avoid the return traffic crush. So, I taught until 8:10 PM, and then ran the 6 blocks to Dolphin Port, where I was able to watch the last 30 minutes, including the big finale. So that was good. Partial-yay!

I didn't have much reason to get out on Sunday, and was pretty much planning on just staying home. But, there were a couple things I needed at Amu Plaza, so I got out the door at about 4 PM. At that time, the Kagoshima Explorers basketball team was putting on a 3-on-3 exhibit game in the open plaza. There must have been about 200 people watching, making it difficult to get close enough to take photos. I just held the camera up over my head and took a few shots and hoped they'd turn out. For amusement, the English slogan on the fliers being handed out reads "Explorers Kagoshima - Slow But Sure." Not the best motto for a pro basketball team...

I'm not a fan of pro sports, and I don't know any of the players. So, I didn't stick long. But the game here did end a little later, and the cheerleaders came out. I would have tried to watch them, but the crowds had gotten bigger, and the women just did AKB48-style posturing, but with pompoms. I never realized that cheerleaders could be boring like that. Eventually I returned home for an early dinner, and then did work for the rest of the evening.

I liked the fireworks, anyway. I don't know of any more events coming up, until the big outdoor Jazz fest Sept. 8-9. Last year, there was a good black drummer, but it doesn't look like he's coming back this time. This year, the headlining foreign group is the Kurt Rosenwinkel Trio. Everyone else is Japanese. On the plus side, it's a free 2-day show.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Mickey Crawls

Mickey's seen better days. But you know what they say - "Can't keep a good guy down." (Don't need to if they do it to themselves.)

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Mugen Shinshi, Mystery Stories Compilation comments

(Image from, used for review purposes only.)

Mugen Shinshi Kaikihen (Fantasy Gentleman, Mystery Stories Compilation) by Yousuke Takahashi, Grade A (1,000 yen plus tax, about 480 pages)
I've mentioned that the Maruzen Bookstore in Tenmonkan had all of the Mugen Shinshi wide edition books in one place on the horror shelves, and that I've been intrigued by Takahashi's artwork since I first encountered it over 8 years ago in Akihabara. Back then, I found the first regular volume of Mugen Shinshi, and that was my introduction to the series. Well, every time I went to Maruzen and looked over the wide books, right next to them would be the wide edition of Kaikihen, and it had a completely different cover design than the other books. So, when I finished Mugen Shinshi vol. 5, it was only natural that I'd eventually buy Kaikihen.

The earliest story in this compilation, "Ningyou Jigoku" (Doll Hell), ran in 1982 in Ryuu magazine. The remaining 19 chapters came out between 1984 and 1991, with the majority published before Dec. 1988, from Medium, Comic Again, Shonen Captain and Shonen Captain Select magazines. They all fall very clearly into the "Japanese horror" genre, and are very similar to Takahashi's other series, Gakou Kaidan (Scary School Stories, or "School Mysteries"). They're all stand-alone chapters, and Mamiya Mugen is the only common thread running through them. Here, though, with the exception of "Ningyou Jigoku," Mamiya is older, maybe in his 20's or early 30's, much more cynical, and a heavy chainsmoker. In a way, the stories have a Gegege no Kitaro vibe, where Mamiya just happens to be in the right place at the right time to encounter a monster, ghost or evil human. Other times, he acts as a detective, and then his clients visit him at his office in the family mansion to make requests for dealing with specific yokai. Overall, though, there's something of a Twilight Zone, or Night Gallery element to the tales, where no one gets out unscathed (this is Japanese horror, after all).

The character designs are a little more stylized than in the comic version of Mugen, but the background art can be incredibly detailed. The stories generally follow the same pattern - Mamiya shows up at a particular scene, the yokai is revealed, and there's some kind of conflict (either physical or intellectual) and the yokai either gets what it's after, or what's coming to it. Mamiya's primary weapon is his sense of poise, but he's also able to enter people's minds and make them experience whatever he tells them to. Again, there's little point to describing every chapter, so I'll just summarize a couple good examples.

"Numa" (Swamp). Mamiya arrives at a swamp in the middle of a forest and proceeds to fill a large glass jug with swamp water. A naked woman rises up from the middle of the pond and asks what he wants. Mamiya replies that he's just getting some water for a client, the woman answers "is that so" and sinks back into the pond. Later, Mamiya is back at his mansion, where he's visited by a young man dressed like a university student from the Showa period (1930's-40's). He takes the jar and drinks all the water. Mamiya then makes him explain himself. The guy answers that half a year earlier he'd been suffering from severe depression, and he'd gone out to the forest to commit suicide. He'd waded into the swamp, slipped over a drop off and came close to drowning. Eventually, he realized that he didn't want to die after all, and made his way back to the surface, but he'd swallowed a lot of the muddy water. He threw up most of that and went back home, where he was apparently cured of his mental misery. Some time later, he started getting painfully thirsty, but neither water nor alcohol made it stop. That's when he decided to ask Mamiya to get the swamp water for him, because he didn't want to make the trip to the forest himself. Mamiya asks if that's the entire story or if he's holding something back about killing someone. The guy laughs off the question, then drops to the ground in great pain. His chest explodes open to reveal the woman from the swamp. She smiles in victory, holding the guy's entrails in her hands, then turns to mud and just leaves a big puddle around the corpse.

"Koumori" (The Bat). Mamiya has been out of the country, and as he's returning by ocean liner, he spots a young woman with long braided black hair standing next to the railing, singing. No one else notices her. She approaches him and gets ready to kiss him, showing vampire fangs as she smiles. Mamiya blows cigarette smoke in her face and she turns into a bat and flies away. Later, he's at a tea house, relating the story to a friend. He says, "Weird story, huh?" The friend, a young man with curly black hair, just sits in his chair, silent. Mamiya asks what's wrong, and the guy tells him that a couple nights before Mamiya got back, he'd been approached by the same woman, who'd asked if he knew Mamiya. He said he did, and the woman told him that she wanted revenge on Mamiya, and that he was to bring his friend to a park at night. She then bit him in the neck, leaving two large puncture wounds. Mamiya has the guy take him to the park, where the woman is waiting. But, when the guy turns to look behind him, Mamiya has disappeared. The woman accuses him of trying to trick her, then she grabs him and lifts him into the air before threatening to drop him into the ocean to die. She turns into a small bat, and her captive falls into the water far below. A few seconds later, Mamiya is fishing his friend out of the small lake in the park (he'd been hypnotized). The guy asks where the woman has gone, and Mamiya holds up a tiny, squirming bat in his right hand, saying "Here she is." Mamiya turns to the bat and tells her, "I will forgive you this time. I won't next time." He lets go and the bat flutters off.

The last chapter is "Catch and Release," in which Mamiya encounters a giant female water spirit, seduces her, and then leaves. This is then followed by 4 pages of black and white illustrations used for past publication editions.

Summary: Yousuke does love his horror, and he's good at telling spooky stories with atmospheric twists. There is a lot more gore here than in School Mysteries, and nudity, but it's nothing compared to Hollywood movies of the same era. The art is good, and I like Mamiya's designs. I can't be sure that this volume contains all of the scary Mugen chapters, but it looks like it. Note that the Baka Updates page incorrectly calls this "Shin Kaikihen" (New Mysteries), and the 2012 publication date seems to be for a different edition reprint. If you're an adult in your country, and you like The Ring or Grudge, you'll like Mugen Shinshi Kaikihen. Recommended.

On a side note, there are maybe 10 wide volumes of Gakou Kaidan (School Mysteries), and I've only read #1. I'm probably not going to get any of the others, because they're kind of relentless in all the different ways the same students get killed off. It gets oppressive after a few chapters.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Mugen Shinshi, vol. 5 comments

(Image from, used for review purposes only.)

Mugen Shinshi (Fantasy Gentleman), vol. 5 (1990-91, Shonen Captain), by Yousuke Takahashi, Grade A (400 pages, 860 yen plus tax)
This is the last of the wide volume collection for the original Mugen series. As mentioned in the review for #4, the stories have devolved largely into slapstick gag one-shots, with Mamiya Mugen getting into silly situations and often just making them worse because he can. There are a couple stand-out chapters, though.

The first is "Mugen Neko Boken, Parts 1 and 2" (Neko Mugen's Adventure). Neko is Mamiya's aunt, an uncontrollable force for evil, head of the Neko Harem, and serial widow. In "Adventure," we get a flashback to see Neko at work, trying to "accidentally" off her new husband (she fails at that while blowing up the cruise ship they were on for their honeymoon). Neko, the deadman walking, and Alucard drift in a lifeboat to an island occupied by a devious smuggler. Neko outsmarts the smuggler and escapes with much of his wealth. To her chagrin, her new husband is still with her. In part 2, she re-encounters the smuggler and eventually kills him, all the while going topless for the entire story.

In "Konya wa Saiko" (this can be both "Tonight is Wonderful" and "Tonight is Psycho"), we get another flashback. This time with Mamiya's mother, Yukie. As a young mother, Yukie decides that she should get a job to support the family (since her husband, Kyoushiro, is so bad at stealing money on his own). However, she's a hopeless klutz and gets fired as a waitress. However, she's approached by a guy with a strange 2-tone face (the left side is white, the right side is darker), named Menda (Mask-Field). He hires Yukie on as a housekeeper to tend to his mansion while his new wife is preparing to move in. Menda goes out of his way to instruct her to not open the door in the basement with the key locked in a safe that has the combination 3261. Yukie proceeds to apply herself to her tasks, while the guy keeps coming back and telling her to stay out of the basement, and correcting her when she gets the combination wrong. That night, as she's getting ready for bed, she's surprised by Neko, who turns out to be the weird guy's new bride. They sneak into the basement, where they find a bunch of young women frozen into statue-like poses. Seems that the guy is in the same serial-widower line Neko is. The two women are then attacked by "Mother," - the weird guy in a dress and gray-haired wig. Yes, this is a Norman Bates-homage. Mother almost knifes Yukie and she calls out Kyoushiro's name for help. He's been hiding in a suit of armor, standing outside the basement room, and he bashes Menda in the head with a mace. Kyoushiro and his priest friend had been planning on stealing money from Menda, and instead Kyoushiro and Yukie take over the mansion for themselves. And to this day, Menda, in his "Mother" outfit, is still living in the basement, rocking away in his chair.

"Otone no Kuni no Mugen Shinshi" (Mugen Shinshi's Maiden Country) starts out bizarrely enough with Detective Edogawa asking Mamiya for help in rescuing his tomboy daughter, Pinko. She's fallen under the spell of Tsukiko Hanajimakaze (Moon-Girl Flower-Island-Wind), a stage actress that specializes in male impersonation and has formed her own harem of young women worshipers. Mamiya cross-dresses to infiltrate the harem to try to get Pinko to come back home. The harem quickly realizes that Mamiya is male and rips his dress to shreds before chasing him away. He and Atsuko try returning to Tsukiko's mansion, and are about to be defeated again when Neko blows a hole through the building. She tells Mamiya that Tsukiko's harem used to be her own servants. The former servants prefer someone that treats them with "love" and refuse to return to her. Tsukiko laughs in victory, and Neko empties her flamethrower at her opponent. We quickly discover that "Tsukiko" is actually a guy that likes to cross-dress. The harem turns on him at learning they've been tricked, and then happily become Neko's faithful minions again. This include Pinko, to her police detective father's dismay. Meanwhile, Kyoushiro and Yukie have taken a vacation trip to 1940's Germany, where they pick on Hitler to the point where he puts them in front of a firing squad.

Finally, we get "Souyuu wake de" (For that reason). Mamiya and Atsuko prepare to travel to Germany to rescue his parents, while all the previous supporting characters try to get in one last cameo appearance each. Mamiya and his girlfriend get on an oceanliner, which quickly sinks after a crewmember removes the "lucky" seal Kyoushiro's priest friend had put over a hole in the hull. This leaves Atsuko and Mamiya alone in the middle of the ocean in a lifeboat. Atsuko decides to take this opportunity to seduce her boyfriend, and Mamiya is willing to let her. They ignore the attempted interruption of a squadron of fighters flying overhead. Later, Atsuko wakes up to see Mamiya staring out ahead of them. It is 1942, and they've arrived at the destruction of Pearl Harbor. Armed with his pistol, Mamiya leaps into WW II. Time goes by. At some point after 1956, Detective Edogawa and his men, all old and gray-haired now, are starting to wonder if their friend Mamiya is ever going to come back home. Suddenly, a group of hooded gangsters, The Dry Z group (Dorai-Zeto), runs in and kidnaps the mad scientist the police are supposed to be protecting. The scientist invented a kid's science kit for turning people into sludge, and the leader wants to know how to control the sludge monster they've created with the kit. The scientist refuses, and is rescued by a girl in a beret and sunglasses, calling herself "Tokyo Kid, the girl without a name." Kid uses a whip to flog most of Dry Z into the sludge, but the boss tries to escape in a hot air balloon. A stranger hands Kid a Colt Pocket .25 automatic, and she shoots and blows up the balloon. She then notices the stranger, a tall man in a white suit and hat, with a thin mustache, is her father, Mamiya. The girl is named Mako (Magic-child), and her mother, Atsuko, drives up in a Bugatti, smashing it into a utility pole (making this the fifth car they've gone through so far). Atsuko says that the radio has announced a bank robbery nearby, so the family goes running off to deal with the villains.

The last illustrated story is told by the dead maid from book 4. She relates various visitors Mamiya had received at night, including Death, a girl with a dinosaur for a brother, a murderous elf, and a few others. The story ends with an older version of Mamiya arriving and asking his younger self if he wants to go out for a drink. The two walk off into the sunset, accompanied by the bloodied dead maid.

Summary: Oh man, what a ride. Lots of weirdness, dark humor and straight-out slapstick, with parodies or cameos of Gegege no Kitaro, Boris and Natasha, and the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey (treated as one in a long line of dominoes). I love the character designs, and the background art is highly-detailed and well-rendered. Book 5 probably was the best place to end the series, while it was still riding on a high note. There's no real graphic violence or sex, but this book especially has a lot of naked breasts. If that bothers you, or if you're underage, I don't recommend Mugen Shinshi. For everyone else, check this out.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Snoopy + Pretz

Pretz is a pseudo pretzel stick snack from Glico. They occasionally have anime tie-ins, and this time they picked Snoopy and Woodstock. There's nothing special in the box, just the illustrations on the front and back of the package.

The text on the back is just ad copy telling customers to download some app from the Glico website.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

One Piece Decal

Saw this decal for Ace on a car back window.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

True Gakken Kit for Adults

New DIY kit going up next door.

Partial construction of the ramp section. Notice that the wall beams aren't anchored on one end yet. This is subassembly A.

All of the other parts have been taken out of the box and sorted prior to assembly.
Estimated time to complete the kit - 90 minutes.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Lotteria Beer Garden

I wrote a few days ago that at the same time we had the two-day Yukata Night, with its beer garden and limited live stage performances, that there was also a smaller beer garden set up in front of the Lotteria burger shop a couple blocks away. This smaller garden was scheduled to run 10 days, with alcohol sales, some snack food, and occasional live stage performances, too. During the week, there were generally 3 sets per day, most of which were lame comedy pieces. I didn't bother dropping by every day. Instead, I'd swing by the Lotteria on my way to the school if I had classes any given night. Often, there was nothing happening then.

Here were have Tomoyo Noda, doing an acoustic set of copyrighted covers.

Saturday, on my way to the school at 12:40 I caught Bijin to Yajuu (Beauty and the Beast). The "beauty" is a female comic who mainly relies on her fright wig to get laughs. The "beast" is the occasional MC that I find annoyingly loud and self-absorbed. The thing about him is that he'll also partner with a female drummer for an Okinawa-style folk song and shamisen duet, and sometimes he's not that bad.

As I wrote for the SDF event, I had a break between lessons at 4 PM, and when I got out, "beauty" had teamed up with someone else to do a folk music piece, under the name "Kyuu-chan and "A-chan" (I'm not sure how to read the kanji, Kyuu might be "Miyu" instead). I think the point was to be funny by showing what happens when you take untrained slackers and have them pretend to be professional musicians. It was pretty painful to listen to, so I didn't hang around after taking my photos.

Then on Sunday, I got out of the apartment at 3 PM to see if there was anything interesting going on up at Amu Plaza as well as at Tenmonkan. Amu didn't have much, but the Southern Cross idols were performing at the Beer Garden.  In the past I've kind of been dismissive of the girls because they dance and do karaoke over CDs of copyrighted AKB-48 songs. However, they went into AKB-48's Aitakatta, with two of the members staying on the stage and the other two running out to work the audience. The one on the right above was much better at interacting with the kids sitting at the tables than the second girl was. The active one went around high-fiving people while singing "Aitakatta, Aitakatta, Aitakatta - yay - kimi ni" (I wanted to meet you). The next thing I know she's worked her way over to me, singing directly at me and getting ready for another high-five. I didn't have much of a choice so I returned the five, and found myself singing a full chorus with her. Then she moved on to someone else. I have to admit that that had been fun, and she was good at what she does.

Afterward, I headed back home to get out of the heat for a while, and write up this blog entry. I was tempted to get some beer, but I really wasn't feeling up for it that early in the afternoon, and at 500 yen ($5 USD) a cup, it's more pricey than I like. Plus, I'd bought my share of beer at Yukata Night the week before.


I wrote there wasn't much happening at Amu Plaza. There wasn't, but what was happening was the celebrations for school kids that had completed the 16th Kagoshima 100 km Walk. Basically, the event just consisted of some city officials congratulating kids from different schools for their participation in the walk. No idea what the route was.



Ok, while I was at the beer garden, I checked out the schedule to see who else was supposed to play in the afternoon. The only people on the list I had any interest in were Wicky Toshi (owner of Wicky's House live bar) and his wife, Kana, at 7 PM.

So, I went back for that. Wicky often does Southern All-Stars covers, but this time he did his own music, including the theme song he wrote for the Kagoshima United soccer team - Kick to the Future. At the end, the audience (about 50-60 people) called out for an encore, so the entire set ran a little under an hour. Despite my whining about the prices, I ended up getting a cup of stout for 500 yen, a curly fry for 200 yen, and a cup of shochu and soda for 300 yen. Along the way, I ended up talking to the Southern Cross dancer I mentioned earlier, the sax player for Bon DX (he was there with his daughter because she likes Southern Cross), and one half of the manzai group Party. Plus a couple others. I didn't try talking to Wicky or Kana because they were busy at the end selling CDs of their music. I've recorded a lot of Wicky's performances before, so I just shot Kick to the Future (below) and took some photos, but mainly just grooved to the music. Towards the end, one woman standing nearby started talking to me, and eventually she mentioned that her husband was running one of the food tables, and that he has a restaurant in Tenmonkan. When the music ended, we kept talking, and she gave me a free glass of cider.

Things started wrapping up at 8 PM, and the announcer yelled out "last call."

I taught the woman some English phrases she wanted to learn, and thanked her for the cider, and she went back to help her husband pack up. Then, I finished my drink and returned home for dinner. Overall, I had a lot more fun than I'd been expecting. Not a bad way to start the Obon holiday week.

Direct youtube link

Sunday, August 12, 2018

SDF Day, Aug. 11

The Japan Self Defense Force had its presence at Tenmonkan on Saturday, in part as a recruitment tool, and in part as a way of introducing itself to the neighbors. They do this about once a year, when students are preparing to return to school after a short summer vacation.

The event mainly consisted of showing off 3 vehicles, some gear, a bunch of photos, and providing a dress-up op.

Also present was the Tori-kun (tiger) mascot.

Here, we have some of their heavy metal. Kagoshima's streets are well-known to have serious potholes. You need one of these if you expect to get around the city quickly.

Take a peep at the jeep.

The costume rack. You can mix and match caps, if you like.

I had to work most of the day, but I did have a bit of a break between classes from 4 to 6, so I was able to get out and take a few photos. After that, though, I hung out in a coffee shop, drank ice coffee, and read manga. It was too hot to stay outside for long.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Snoopy no Hi

In Japan, Snoopy's birthday is Aug. 10th, which is officially known as "Snoopy no Hi" (Snoopy Day). This sign is in front of a hair salon, and reads, "August 10, Snoopy Day. Snoopy's birthday. Did you know he has 6 brothers and sisters?"

Happy birthday, Snoopy. You're only as young as you feel. Need a perm and new nail color? Ask inside for details.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Bon Odori, Aug. 8

The Honganji temple in Tenmonkan had their annual Bon Odori (summer dance festival) Wednesday evening. Gates opened at 6:30 PM, and everything ended at 9. I guess it was so short because the temple didn't want to disturb the neighbors with the music and chanting.

While they did have tables selling meat on a stick, shaved ice desserts and beer, the primary point of the event was for everyone to participate in traditional folk dancing in a circle. I've recorded Bon Odori in previous years and uploaded that to youtube, so I didn't bother doing that again this time. On the other hand, I had to work Wednesday night, and that overlapped Bon Odori, so if there was anything that I would have wanted to record, I missed it. Actually, I was scheduled for 6:30 to 9:30 PM, but the last class got cancelled and I had a bit of time to watch the dancing and get two hot dogs (100 yen each) before going home and working on a translation project with a short deadline.

The music for the first dance I caught was from a CD with the drums played live.

The dancing was split up by age groups, with young children dancing at 7:10 PM, and school kids at around 7:40, and adults between 8 and 8:30. As can be seen from the photos, the participants didn't really care about the rules.

The live performers came out for the last dance.
And then it was over. I was disappointed that the event was so short, in part because I had to work during so much of it. Then again, I don't dance, and wouldn't have stuck around all that long, anyway.

I don't know of any other big events this weekend. The next thing is the big fireworks on Sakurajima on the 18th, when I have to work again. Then the Jazz Fest the weekend of Sept. 8th.