Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Cie'na Chalk Art Easter

The back side of the sign. The front was for Hina Matsuri on March 3rd. Taken March 27.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Zepp Fukushima Performance

I was at Amu Plaza on Friday, and there were two kids singing on the sidewalk in front of the new information center building (I think it's not open yet). They were just finishing up their song as I got there (standard badly-done J-pop), and I had no idea who they were. I think from the sign it's Sunlite 47. Zepp is a nation-wide chain of arenas. The one in Fukuoka (north end of Kyushu) opened around 2018. According to the Sunlite website, their tour includes Kumamoto (maybe 110 miles NW of Kagoshima), on May 2nd, and Fukuoka on May 26. 4,800 yen for tickets, ($45 USD) plus 600 yen for one drink. I think I'll give this one a pass.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Ciera Coffee Shop Chair Chalk

Not really sure how to interpret this one. Either it's a tribute to Hina Matsuri (March 3rd, doll's day), with the emperor and empress shown mostly off-camera, drinking coffee. Or, it's two shut-ins hiding under sheets, drinking coffee.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Chindonya March 16

The last time I'd seen Chindonya (drum and bell performers usually hired as traveling advertisements), was in Tokyo over 10 years ago, promoting a pachinko parlor.

This time, they're announcing the opening of a sushi restaurant up at Streetcar Street.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Small Adventure, unnumbered

Two nights ago, I'd just gotten into bed at about 2 AM, and was struggling to fall asleep. Suddenly there was a shake and a "boom," like the building had been hit by an enormous air cannon. Then, silence. I've come to equate this kind of effect with the initial shockwave of big earthquakes, and I waited for the real shaking to start. But, nothing happened afterward. It took me over half an hour to drift off.  I didn't hear anything about a quake the following day, and nothing significant was mentioned on any of the tracking websites. I assume it was a small, very localized shock, but I may be wrong.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Doraemon New Normal

Doraemon and Nobita demonstrate the correct mask-wearing etiquette in Japanese movie theaters today.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Pikachu Vending Machine Art

There's one vending machine near Tenmonkan that has Pikachu art, but this is a completely different character style. I think it's for promoting a new game or TV series or something.

The text on the sign to the left says that the machine is equipped with an emergency alert function to summon rescue services.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Old House

Sometimes, you just have to ask yourself, "Why bother?"

"Warning: Keep away from open flame."

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Old Satsuma Poster

Advertising poster for a Satsuma (old name for Kagoshima) event. 2015.
Found this in a window when I was walking home from my Inari River Fastwalk video.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Clothes Pins

I was walking out around the Old Kagoshima area for the Inari River Fastwalk video, and as I was making my way down the last hill on my way home, I happened on this intersection with these wire weights. I've never noticed them anywhere else, and I can't figure out what they would be used for. They can't be for scaring off small birds, because they'd be used everywhere if that was the purpose. And they're not for stabilizing the wires against strong winds, again for the same reason.

Maybe they're just the Japanese version of throwing tied tennis shoes up over the wires.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Going a little viral

I have three youtube channels. The first, which I called ThreeStepsOverJapan, was created close to 14 years ago, and focused primarily on activities in Tokyo, anime and manga-related events in and around Akihabara, and Gakken Adult Science kit reviews. A couple years later, I set up the second channel, Curtis Hoffmann, to be more about the Gakken kits, and math and science stuff, but I kept forgetting to switch accounts when I uploaded new videos, so it ended up being a catch-all for everything; from live music events, to my Java synthesizer demos and my Kagoshima fastwalks. The third channel, The Black Chamber, just went live 3-4 months ago, and is only for my cryptography tutorials.

Every so often, I would check my channel stats to see what kind of activity I was getting. I have a LOT of videos between the first two channels, but on average I'd have no more than 10-15 views each. The real exception was with my Java software arpeggiator demo. That was at maybe 600 views the last time I looked, about a year ago. I didn't really like checking that one, because most of the comments were negative, either about my mispronouncing "arpeggiator," or the fact that it was essentially a "tutorial for demonstrating a programming technique in Java," and not a music video. Anyway, I stopped reading the comments for "What is an Arpeggiator?", and there weren't any real comments on any of the other videos. If I could get the occasional 50 views on one, I'd be happy.

Then, when I set up The Black Chamber channel, I discovered that it was a lot easier to switch accounts than I'd remembered, so I went back to the ThreeSteps channel and found that it had picked up about 79 subscribers. I felt a little guilty in not having uploaded anything there in years, and I wanted to let everyone there know that the second channel was the active one. I wanted to make a channel-wide announcement, but Youtube doesn't provide that feature if you have fewer than 1,000 subscribers. My only choice was to record a "what's new" video, which I did for ThreeStepsOverJapan and Curtis Hoffmann, mainly to try to get people to subscribe to The Black Chamber, too. Three people responded in the comments in the ThreeSteps channel, which was nice (better than no comments at all).

If that's all there was to write about, I wouldn't have bothered with this blog entry. So, last week, I was logged in under Curtis Hoffmann, when the "What is an Arpeggiator?" video suddenly popped up in my recommended list. That seemed strange, since I'd thought that one had been uploaded under the Curtis Hoffmann channel name. Turns out, though, that I'd uploaded it as ThreeStepsOverJapan, and that it was suddenly up to 100,000 views.

That blew my mind. I started digging into the view stats for the two channels, and the numbers for the top five videos for each one were staggering (to me, anyway).

ThreeStepsOverJapan Channel
What is an Arpeggiator? - 100,000
Jass demo 1 - 6,900
Kaossilator Pro as an effect - 6,000
Fudan Juku 122108 - 3,800
duo rama - 3,600
Number of videos with over 1,000 views - 17

Curtis Hoffmann Channel
Yukata Matsuri, 2015, Yuria, Part 2 - 12,000
Kumo Gassen, 2014 - 9.2000
Karuta Competition Sampler - 8.900
Yuria, 150315 - 5,500
Synth Tutorial, Part 5 - 5,400
Number of videos with over 1,000 views - 18

This is all well and good, I guess, except that I've never monetized either of the channels, and The Black Chamber is a lot slower at gaining subscribers than I'd like. I would like to know what it is about the Arpeggiator video that's suddenly made it so popular, but it is a nice feeling to see that something I've done has gotten more than 50 views, and I'm not going to complain now that it's happened.

Friday, March 19, 2021

Minna no Sake

The sign reads "yuushoku dainingu, minna no sake."
"Yuushoku" generally translates to "dinner," so this would read "dinner dining."
Except, the kanji for "yuu" is "asobu," or "play". It's a joke for "fun eating."

"minna no sake" literally translates to "everyone's liquor," but the general sense is "everyone is welcome here to enjoy drinking together."

I just like the character design.

Thursday, March 18, 2021


Hello Kitty vampire bunny wearing a beret and a clown collar.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Shiro Hanami Chalk

Shiro hair salon preparing for cherry blossom viewing. Don't recognize the character.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Genki Hair Chalk

Hair salon Ondiina has this sign in front advertising hair restoration treatments.
"Anshin shite kudasai, ikiete kimasu yo."
"Be relaxed, I'm back!"

Monday, March 15, 2021

Akihiro Woodworks Pop-up Shop

There's a big building next to the main train station for the Tokyu Hands department store. The bottom three floors have a limited collection of clothing and jewelry shops, plus a Starbucks. On the second floor, in the entrance to a clothing store, I discovered this "pop-up shop", a temporary display trying to sell something for a few days. This one was for Akihiro Woodworks, and ran from Feb. 1st to the 14th.

I can't imagine that he sold much this way. I have no idea how much it cost to rent the space, and I doubt he made his money back.

But, you have to admire the fact that he tried.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Trombone Hina Matsuri Chalk

New chalk art in front of Trombone coffee shop, in Tenmonkan, for Hina Matsuri (March 3).

Ahh, young love.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Buen mo Yukari

There's a new coffee shop/cafe/bar that opened up on Streetcar Street, near the main train station, called Buen. Looks fishy.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Furusato no Aji

Saw this art on the side of a delivery van in the back of Yamakataya department store. Not sure if I've shown it here before, but, here it is now.

"Furusato no Aji" (hometown flavor).
"Susume no Gakkou" (Sparrow school),

No clue as to what the product is. Maybe sparrow eggs?

[Edit: I found where the van came from as I was making my Inari River Fastwalk video. It's for a cram school. Now I have no idea why a cram school van would be at the loading docks of a department store. Maybe they were just dropping by to purchase more raw materials to make students.]

Thursday, March 11, 2021


Found this billboard advertising BTV (a Japanese cable channel).

Summary: "BTV good. Get BTV or I eat you face."

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Red Baron

There's a used car dealership in a rundown, older area of Kagoshima, called Red Baron.
For the life of me, I can not figure out what the connection is between frozen pizzas named after a WW I German flying ace, and second-hand Toyota hatchbacks.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Rattler Bike Shop

Rattler, for those times when this is what you dream of...

And this is what you can afford.

Monday, March 8, 2021

Intelligence Resort

"Lack intelligence"?

"You've come to your last resort."

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Shampoo Demon Sword

There's a women's hair stylist near my apartment, named Shampoo. I walk by the place often enough that the owner recognizes me, even if we've never really talked before. One evening, I was coming home from the English school at about the time he was cleaning up the shop and preparing to close for the night. As I got close to the place, I noticed the Kimetsu no Yaiba (Demon Sword) paper dolls in the window (usually, the security gate is down when I go by, so I rarely get to see the window). I was about to take out my camera for a photo when the owner stepped out the front door, making it kind of awkward for me to take the shots without at least starting up a conversation.

So, we talked about the paper dolls, and he said that his "mago" likes making so many of them that there's no space for keeping them at home, and he's been using the salon as overflow storage. Now, "mago" translates as "grandchild," but there's no indicator as to whether the speaker is talking about a "granddaughter" or "grandson." Either way, the dolls look much better in real life than in the photos, because of the reflections from the glass. Kid's got talent.

Saturday, March 6, 2021

KYT Tram

I really don't know how many trams (streetcars) there are in Kagoshima. Maybe 20 active. There's only one main line, but it splits in the middle, with an eastern and a western track. Essentially, all of the streetcars have to stop at the end of the line at Kagoshima station (which, actually, is under reconstruction now, so they stop at a makeshift end platform near the aquarium). The two sets of streetcars, called Tamiyama and Korimoto, then run along the one set of tracks through Tenmonkan to the Takamibaba intersection. The Korimoto streetcars continue along Streetcar Street to the main Kagoshima station at Amu Plaza, then along kind of a rectangle shaped line to the Korimoto street intersection (hence the name, Korimoto, for these cars). The Tamiyama streetcars make a left at Takamibaba, then run straight through the Korimoto intersection down another 10 miles or so to the Taniyama main station (hence the name, Taniyama, for these cars). The station house, where all of the cars go to sleep for the night (usually around 10 PM) is on the Korimoto line, past Amu Plaza, next to the big prefectural hospital (which is where I had my eye surgery in October last year). Anyway, the cars all have wrap around art that works as advertising for whatever company pays for it, from shochu distilleries to ramen manufacturers. One morning, I ended up getting on the car sponsored by KYT TV.

After a little while, I noticed their "stupid bird" mascot toys hanging from the bars at the ceiling. Most of the other passengers just ignored them.

Turns out there's a whole "stupid" family on this train.

Friday, March 5, 2021

Fleet Girl Sour

The Fleet Girls have teamed up with Setouchi (a district in Japan known for its green lemons) to produce Setouchi Lemon Sour. The can advertises 5% real fruit juice and 5% alcohol. 189 yen before tax ($1.75 USD). A bit expensive for what I normally pay for canned drinks (usually 99 to 118 yen for a 9% chuu-hai).

But, I've never seen manga art on canned cocktails before, and I figured I might as well try one for the blog. It's a kind of sour lemon hard cider. You'd never see something like this in the U.S., because "cartoon art appeals to children."

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Capsule Ball Grenade Launcher Toy

I was at Amu Plaza, looking at the Capsule Ball dispenser machines (gacha-pon in Japanese), and I saw this one machine that had little spring-loaded derringers. Actually, 4 derringer models, 2 assault rifles and 2 grenade launcher models. I was hoping for one of the derringers, because they looked cool. Instead I got this launcher.

The loader cylinders hold 5 pins (the grenades), and fit inside the barrel housing. The bolt action really works and cocks the spring. There's a little plunger that hits into the cylinder, popping out all 5 pins at one time. The launcher is about 3" long, and the pins can fly about 2' before they bounce off the floor and you never find them again. Very nicely detailed, and amazingly well-made for 200 yen ($1.80 USD).

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Ibusuki Mirai Ouen Fair

Last weekend, the space in front of Lotteria, in Tenmonkan, hosted some kind of promo event for the city of Ibusuki, down at the south end of Kyushu island. The trains between Ibusuki and Kagoshima don't run very often, and the last one back to Kagoshima leaves at about 2 PM (if I remember right). I only went down there once, a few years ago, to climb Kaimon mountain for New Year's day. I had to take the 5 AM train, and I got to the mountain at 7 AM, just as the sun was coming up. Anyway, the event this time translates to "Rooting for Ibusuki's Future, Fair". However, the banners were for an onsen (hot spa) there.

I got to the event space at 3:30 PM on Saturday, and it was dead. No idea what they had on the tables, but it doesn't look like much. I didn't go back on Sunday.

Not looking like much of a future, at this point...

Monday, March 1, 2021

Hina Matsuri Fish Paste

There's a shop near Tenmonkan that sells processed fish paste snacks and products (pictured above). They have a display window at the front of the store that they use some times for seasonal advertising. This one is for Hina Matsuri (Girl's Day), March 3rd.