Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Meiji Furusato, Oct. 28, 2018

The city of Kagoshima has been holding it's Meiji restoration anniversary event every few months for the last couple years, I think. This time, it's running from Oct. 27 to Nov. 4, but it's really been scaled back. Previous incarnations have had a Family Mart Konbini truck, twice the number of food tables, and almost four times the number of shochu and beer vendors. I got up here at 7:30 PM Saturday night and everything was already shut down, which would have been unheard of last year. On Sunday, I wasn't able to get out of the apartment until 2:30 PM, and I first wanted to go down to the Volunteer Center at the other end of the city to see what I could catch at the festival for the disabled. That was scheduled to end at 4, and by 3:30 I figured I'd better go look at Amu Plaza before coming over here at the river.

Most of the activities are on the Tenmonkan-side of the river, with a couple classes in the Tourist Information Center building on the main train station side.

One booth displayed Meiji-era toys, including the ball and hammer, jump ropes, tops, and a notched stick with a propellor on the end (you run a second stick over the notches, and the vibrations cause the propellor to spin).

A history association showed off biwa and samisen instruments.

Of course, we also have the restoration actors waiting to pose for photos. The "soldier" in the center had been portrayed by a very tall young guy in the past, but this time it's a very tall young woman.

She's very tall.

They had live music scheduled on the hour, and stage shows throughout the day. But, most of that had ended by 4:30, so I went to Maruya Gardens department store to check out the "Wine Picnic" there. That turned out to be a waste of time, so I returned home and started processing photos and video before eating dinner. There was some music at 6, 7 and 8 PM, but I couldn't get out of the apartment until after dinner at 7:15. I swung by Amu Plaza, and their Halloween stuff was long over. Then I walked over to the river in time to see the Little Cherries elementary school jazz band go on the stage in the river. They're very talented, but I've seen them several times before, and their repertoire consists of mainly 1940-50's American big band jazz pieces. Very "standard."

My schedule this coming week is looking packed, but I may return once or twice during the week to see what the historical plays and local dialect classes are like. After that, we've got the Ohara traditional dance festival in Tenmonkan Saturday night and Sunday morning. I have to work Saturday, but I want to sample some of Ohara if I can. After that, I'll try to get back up to the river for the last of the Furusato event Sunday. If I'm lucky.

Shadow dancing.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Tenmonkan Halloween, Oct. 27

Tenmonkan just doesn't seem to do Halloween for adults. They have a couple opportunities for small children to play dress up for their parents, and then walk around the shops to get candy in the middle of the afternoon on Saturday, and that's it. There was kind of a tie-in with Maruya Gardens department store, which sold some costumes and tickets for the "Halloween streetcar" ride on Sunday, but otherwise that was pretty much all. The streetcar ride was at 3 PM or so on Sunday, when I was still at the Volunteer Center watching a traditional Okinawan folksong performance, so I missed that (not that I missed much. To get on the streetcar, you had to be dressed up as a streetcar.)

One of several photo op points around the shopping complex.

Zombie cop.

Even the Red Cross blood donation mascot likes Halloween.


Other Halloween-related photos

(Wicky House Happy Sugar anime and video game song night.)

(Massage cats)

(Crayon matte lipstick for kids.)

(Ad for a place called Revo. I like the QR code stuck in Spiderman's web.)

Starbucks had a Princess or Witch frappacino campaign. I got Witch.

It was ok. Too much ice, though.

Recife cafe had a Hallowine party on the 26th. 1500 yen cover ($15) to get in (included one glass of wine), so I didn't feel like spending the money. The sign looks good, though.

Spooky, kiddies.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Jiman no Ippin Fair, Oct. 27-28

I was in the area around the Volunteer Center on Friday, and I saw construction crews putting up tables and the stage for the Jiman no Ippin Fair. It translates to "A Fair for Treasures we take Pride in." Generally, "jiman" has a negative nuance because Japanese society looks down on people that have pride in what they do (such as a housewife that boasts about her cooking, or a salesman that promotes his company's products or services), but in this case the fair is dedicated to people with disabilities.

Friday afternoon, before things got started.

I had to work from 2 PM to 4, then 5 to 7 PM on Saturday. There were 6 separate events at opposite ends of the city center all on the same day, and I wanted to sample each one for at least a few minutes. Maruya Gardens had a "wine picnic" in their roof top garden, the Jiman fair was here, Amu Plaza and Tenmonkan both had Halloween stuff for kids, Kotsuki river has their Meiji Restoration anniverary event until Nov. 4th, and Honjanji temple had their Bouzu Meets Fest. I got out of the apartment at 1 PM to stop by Honganji on my way to Maruya Gardens to buy English newspapers for the school. And while I did plan to visit the roof while I was there, I ended up forgetting. I went through Tenmonkan to get some photos of the event stage there, and then to Honganji on my way to the school.

At 4 PM, I went back to Maruya to look over the wine fest, then I returned to Honganji for a few more photos before remembering Jiman. I ran back here, arriving about 4:30 PM. At that point, things were almost as dead as they were on Friday when the crews were still doing set up. The stage events were over, and there were very few people hanging around talking or getting food. With nothing else to do, I continued on to the school before the 5 PM class started. At 7 PM, I got out of the school and headed up to Amu Plaza. I stopped by the river, and the Meiji Restoration event site was shut down. I got to Amu Plaza, and there was nothing going on there, either. So, I went home for dinner, and processed the photos that I had taken.

On Sunday, things were just as chaotic. I couldn't get out of the apartment until 2:30 PM (I'd really wanted to leave at noon, but things were out of my control). We still had Jiman, Meiji and the wine picnic, plus whatever Amu Plaza was doing for Halloween for young children.

Jiman was much busier this time, with maybe 100 people sitting around, eating and talking to each other. I arrived just as the taiko drum group was carrying their gear to their cars. After looking at the food tables, I decided to get a 3-cup beer sampler.

Cinnamon ale, mango IPA and an American-style Red. The IPA was VERY hoppy, with just a hint of mango fragrance. The Red was a little too soft, and could have stood a sharper edge. And the ale was just plain, down-right weird. Very, very strong cinnamon flavor. If it were treated as a seasonal beer, it might fit in with egg nogs and plum puddings during Christmas.

Funny enough, these beers were from the one brewery at the Beer Spray a week earlier that I specifically decided to not buy because I'd had enough of fruit beers at the time. But, the guy running the table today was one of the brewers, and he wanted to practice his English on me. So, we talked for a while, and he asked me for my opinions on the Beer Spray, and on beers in general. That was fun.

The 3 PM stage show featured three sisters that do traditional Okinawan folk songs on drum and jamisen. I've seen them once before, and this time I decided to record a few of the songs. The only thing left on the stage schedule was a kind of "finale" show, and I wanted to make sure I didn't miss any of the other stuff going on elsewhere, so I left for Amu Plaza at 3:30.

Direct youtube link

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Bouzu Meets, Oct. 27

Bozu Meets is the occasional open house at Honganji Temple (in Tenmonkan) where outsiders have a chance to talk to temple priests, and interact with the temple itself. It's a one-day event that, in the past, has featured a lot of good music and activities.

I had to work Saturday from 2-4 and then from 5-7 PM. That gave me a bit of time on my way in the school for my first lesson, and then the break between lessons.

They had a ball jump room...

Food and drink tables...

Arts, crafts and jewelry for sale...

I came in just at the end of a traditional rakugo comic storytelling performance. Rakugo tends to follow traditional routes, where students of a particular master learn the same stories and mannerisms to pass specific stories down from generation to generation. As such, the rakugo stories tend to be highly culturally-dependent, and outsiders aren't going to find them as funny. This guy's biggest laugh, though, was when he tried to stand up at the end, and his legs had fallen asleep.

The altar area of the temple.

The temple mascot - Tera-bou.

There were only one or two outside performers this time, which was incredibly disappointing. I came back during my one-hour break, but there wasn't much of a reason for it. I've seen the singer, Sakura, before. She's ok, but sticks mainly to slow folk pop. Nothing I wanted to record. The other performers were actually priests that had formed their own bands. Because they played while I had to work, I didn't get to see how good (or bad) they were.

There was one artist that had an interesting manga/children's illustrated book style. All of his smaller pieces featured the same 2 or 3 characters in different situations, interacting naturally with oddball people.

Fun artwork.

There were actually 6 different things going on all at the same time this weekend, and I could only spend a few minutes each at three of them on Saturday. So, I went to the Volunteer center at 4:30, then back to work. When I got out at 7 PM, Bouzu Meets was already over. At least I got some photos out of the deal.