Thursday, August 17, 2017

TV Crew




Tenmokan is the biggest shopping district in the city, it's centrally located, with the tram line running through the middle, and there's usually a lot of people out shopping. So, it makes for a natural location for TV crews to shoot filler footage of crowds and occasionally interview people. I haven't seen that many interviews in-progress in the 6 years I've been here, but it does happen sometimes.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Near-Full Moon, June 11




(I'm catching up on my backlog.)
Another rare clear night a couple months ago. Tried taking photos with the pocket camera. This is the only one that turned out.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Back Clock




I found this interesting. Why would anyone want a clock designed to be backwards?

Monday, August 14, 2017

Good Cut




Maybe not great, but at least good.
Goodbye July.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Agepaku, Aug. 13




For the next couple weeks, Amu Plaza is hosting Age-paku, which effectively translates to "Fried Food Eating." It consists of 8 or so booths selling fried chicken, fried rice, churros, etc. There is a live stage, but only 2-3 music performances each on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. All of the music is soft and/or J-pop. Nothing I have much interest in. I had to work all Friday to make up for the classes that got cancelled the week before because of the typhoon, and the fact that this Saturday is part of Obon Yasumi (the 1-week summer holiday). Technically, Friday should have been a day off as well, but at least I got paid for it. I pretty much stayed home on Saturday, focusing on one of the math books I got for my birthday. I did visit Amu Plaza for an hour on Sunday, but I wanted to just sit in a coffee shop and finish reading the math book, so I listened to enough of the above duo to know that I didn't want to record them, and then went to the coffee shop. The next singer, a female soloist, wasn't going to be on stage until 6 PM, which would have been 2 hours later, so I didn't stick around that long. When I finished my book, I did some shopping for the week, then went home to work on the computer again.



Another slow week. At least, for right now, it isn't raining. It is hot and humid, though.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Seven Shakespeares, vol. 1 review


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

Nana-nin no Sheikusupia, by Harold Sakuishi, Grade B+
The title translates literally to "Seven People of Shakespeare," and alludes to Sakuishi's concept that the plays we attribute to the guy we call William Shakespeare were actually the results of a collaboration between 7 people. There's still no wiki article on this title, and very little information on it in English. Nana-Nin ran in Big Comic Spirits, from 2009 to somewhere between 2010 and 2011, and has been collected in 6 normal takobon volumes. However, in a simultaneous release with volume 1 of the sequel, Non Sanz Droict, the original series is being published in a large 500+ page format (1000 yen, so it's a bit pricey). I found myself in possession of the first book of this new edition, so here we are.


(Queen Elizabeth likes the theater, to the crowd's amazement.)

The story starts with "William Shakespeare" performing in his latest play, "Hamlet," while the facially disfigured Thomas the bookseller is trying to convince a thug-like client to buy the story from him. To show that he has the real wares, Thomas quotes one of Hamlet's key lines. Unfortunately, the client's partner had seen Hamlet in person a few years before, and he says that Thomas is lying - these aren't the lines in the play he'd seen. Thomas is called a fraud and tossed into the street. Thomas yells that the real fraud was "Shakespeare," and then the real story starts with "the truth." Lance Carter is a playwright working in Liverpool, trying to put on his own play, but he runs afoul of the Puritans, who control the local government and are trying to shut down all immoral activities, including the theater. Lance is living in a mansion (not the Japanese version of the word, which is just a large apartment), with his friend and co-worker, Hughs Worth, and the housekeeper, the diminutive devote Christian, Milo. The scene changes to Li (I used "Lee" in the Non Sanz Droict write-up).


(Li picks the verdict that to save the townspeople, they need a sacrifice.)

As a very young girl in China, Li had the ability to foresee the near-future. She'd blurt out that one person was going to get into an accident, or another was going to have a miscarriage, and within a day or so that's what would happen. Soon, her father, a brick maker, was losing work and her mother was refused service by the other merchants. Both parents blamed their daughter for their situation, and her father seared her throat with an x-shaped branding iron to "seal" her powers. A few years go by, and Li is taller and more beautiful, but she keeps her throat wrapped up to hide the "x" mark, and she can only talk with great difficulty. The family receives word that relatives that had made the trip to England have set up a new life there in a small "Chinatown," so Li's parents decide to join them. But, once in Liverpool it turns out that things aren't going so well. Li's aunt, a big, jovial woman, is barely eking by with a small restaurant, and the woman's husband is a nasty little rat who spends their money gambling and cheating with other women. Through Li's help, her aunt's restaurant becomes more famous with the nearby Brits, but the uncle-in-law's cheating gets uncovered, and Li's own parents resent the fact that they have to grub by as extra workers in the restaurant.


(Hughs and Lance survey the flooded town, looking for something.)

Eventually, things come to a head, with about half of the Chinatowners holding a grudge against Li, and the other half grateful for her assistance. Then, the weather turns bad and there's rain for several weeks. The farms get flooded, no one can work out of doors, and the next cargo ships expected in port have been delayed and are feared to have been sunk. The village elder is called on to make a decision, and he asks Li to pick one of three envelopes with different decrees in them. She does so, knowing that "The most beautiful girl, an undamaged virgin, must be sacrificed," is going to ultimately lead to her being executed. The Chinatowners are desperate to save their own daughters and come up with excuses for why Li's brand mark is not "skin damage." They attempt to half-bury her in the soil near the beach (Li hears a voice in her head telling her that all will be well and to be patient) when the rains trigger a mudslide and resultant flood that kills everyone in Chinatown but her. The scene changes again to Lance, who is outside at night. He catches a glimpse from the corner of his eye of what looks like the moon crying. The next day, he and Hughs go out riding in a carriage, where they roll past the remains of Chinatown. (Hughs is familiar with the fact that Chinese people have been living near Liverpool, but Lance isn't.) They find Li unconscious along the shore, and Lance decides to take her home with them, to Hughs' horror. The narrator then says that there's a 7-year period where no one knows what William Shakespeare had been up to, and that what follows is a recounting of the "Lost Years."


(Lance finds Li and takes her home, while Milo readies a bath.)

At this point, the household consists of Hughs, a salesman for a salt importer that's paying for everything, Lance, and the housekeeper, Milo. The last thing Hughs wants is for another mouth to feed, especially one that doesn't speak English. He gives Lance an ultimatum - if Li can't find work for herself by the end of one month, he'll find a buyer for her. Lance asks Milo to help out, and the cook goes into overdrive to teach the girl English, going from simple vocabulary to reading whole passages from the bible. Two months go by, and Li turns out to be a fast learner (she also wonders if the voice that spoke to her that one night might have been God, so she's extra motivated.) Lance believes in miracles and that he's destined to be a great playwright, and that therefore Li is supposed to be a member of their troupe. Milo goes along with anything Lance says, and Hughs is just dragged along as an unwilling slug. A little later, Hughs fills in a bit of Lance's background - both of them work for the head of the salt importer's guild at the docks, and one day someone came in to ask the guild master to write another script to be performed as a morality play for the Church. The boss' plays are boring and turgid, so he gets Lance to come up with something better. Lance's first work went over poorly, but instead of getting depressed, he just tried harder. His second play went over better, and he got more interested in being a playwright.


(When Li meets Moon.)

Unfortunately, Rosef, another dealer at the docks, has been taking the salt that Hughs sells to the merchants in town, and mixing in wheat to undermine his competition. No one wants to buy salt from Hughs anymore, and he takes it out on Lance while blaming Li for all their problems. Lance is convinced that their partnership is over, except that Li drags him out to the backyard where Hughs is throwing rocks into the carp pond. She defends the fish, urges Lance and Hughs to remain friends, and reveals Rosef as the true villain. Hughs, Lance and the dock boss confront Rosef as he is in the middle of doctoring more of Hughs' salt. The boss bans him from working in Liverpool anymore, but Hughs steps in and offers forgiveness if Rosef repays him 3 times the salt he'd lost. They sign a contract to this effect, and Lance likes the way things worked out, yet wants to know how Li learned of Rosef's name.



A little later, Lance wants to try something, as well as thank Li for helping them sort things out. When Li enters the dining room for dinner, she sees the two carp from the pond grilled and being served as the main dish. She goes into shock and bolts from the room. Milo is afraid that there's something wrong with his cooking. Lance goes to Li's room and hears her muttering Chinese through the door. He goes inside and apologizes, adding that he'd thought she'd known that everything growing on the land was only there for food for them. Li replies that she does know that; it's just that she hadn't had a chance to say goodbye to her friends. A little after that, Li is in her room with a bunch of candles set up on the floor (the group is thinking that she's afraid of sleeping in the dark), talking to two pieces of paper cut out to look like fish. Milo comes in, scaring her. The paper fish land on one of the candles, ignite, and then catch the hem of her nightgown on fire. Milo springs forward to pour water from a flower vase on her gown, then slaps the fire out with his hands, burning them pretty badly. Li apologizes, and Milo says its nothing. Hughs says this is why she should stop wasting his money by burning so many dangerous candles all the time.

The next day, Milo melts down the remaining candles and turns them into one BIG candle that won't get knocked over. Then, Hughs and Lance return home with a puppy that immediately takes to Li. She decides to name him "Moon", and is surprised that it was Hughs that had decided to pick up a stray in town. Lance has noticed that Li has a dark past, but also a brilliant way with words. He tells her to keep a diary, and what she writes down becomes the basis of "Shakespeare's Sonnets." Meanwhile, the sales of salt have been improving now that Hughs isn't being sabotaged. Unfortunately, the Wine and Sugar import guilds are sponsoring their own Church stage plays, and those are turning out better than what Lance is writing, so the Salt guild boss tells Lance that he's being let go, while the boss also gives his own trade route to Hughs to take over. The book ends with Hughs writing a letter to Lance from Bristol. He says that the religious situation is starting to escalate - the government captured some Catholic pirates, probably from Spain, and they've been strung up on a gallows in the public square as a warning.

Summary: The character designs pretty much match those in the sequel manga, but Lance looks much older on the covers.  The characters are a mix of realistic-looking and absolute caricatures. The story is mostly low-key, with lots of dialog, but also some pretty shocking scenes of violence. I still don't buy the premise that Shakespeare's works were written by a very tight group of friends, but some of the other historical elements are fairly convincing (building architecture, and the numbers of merchant ships lost at sea). Recommended if you like historical fiction.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Pokemon Festa




The space in front of Lotteria in Tenmonkan is being used for another 1-week-long Pokemon children's event. Shown here, the Emcee is leading the kids in cheering for different Pokemon.



Photo board for the latest movie.



Pikkachu jump room.



Some of the other Pokemon for kids to pose with.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Bon Odori, Aug. 8, 2017




Bon Odori is a summer event, usually tied to the bigger temples, that involves dancing at night around a drum tower. I've recording video of the one at Honganji some years ago, and ran photos from last year's. August 8 is kind of a special date, numerologically, which is why Honganji had their event Tuesday evening. I was hoping to watch more of it, but things only ran from 7 to 8:45 PM, and that's when I had to have dinner. I walked by after school at 6:30, as people were gathering, and couldn't get back until 8:30 PM, when the dancing and music had ended and the MCs were getting ready to announce the winners of the door prizes.



A school band provided some of the music at the beginning.



Bon Odori is the name of the summer lantern festival and is related to the Day of the Dead. Obon Yasumi is the 1 week in August when most people return to their family villages to pay respect to their ancestors. This year it's going to run from the 11th to the 17th for me, although I'll still have to work the 11th (today).



People registering for the door prize giveaway.



The main entrance, showing the food and drink tables.



The dancing is over, and the MCs are announcing the names of the people selected to compete against each other to win one of the door prizes.

Summer is going by very fast.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Sailor Moon Ad




I was at one of the department stores, and when I was passing through the hair care section, I discovered some tear-off fliers for Aroma Rich Sailor Moon hair spray. The ad campaign has a drawing for 1000 Sailor Moon themed Aroma Rich bottles, and 1000 coin pouches. Not going to see something like this in the U.S...

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Anime Chalk




There's a muscle and bone clinic in Kagoshima that decided that Toriyama characters make for good referrals.





Oh yeah, and Mario, too.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Yokai Watch Movie Brochure




New Yokai Watch anime movie coming out in December. They're already advertising it in the first week of August. But I admit, if the entire movie looked like the above artwork, I'd be waiting out front for the theater to open in the morning.






Sunday, August 6, 2017

Small Non-Adventure #1


Well, this weekend could have gone better. To start with, I lost a crown on one of my teeth a week and a half ago, and last Saturday morning, I was scheduled to return to the dental clinic to have the temporary removed and the new crown put in. Unfortunately, the appointment was for 9:30 AM. Normally, this would be a good thing because I'd be in and out of the clinic with enough time to recover from the dental work by the time I had to start teaching English classes at the school at 1 PM. The problem was that I got very little sleep that night, and I was absolutely dragging when I had to walk the 6 blocks to make the appointment. So, I get to the clinic almost exactly at 9:30, and I'm called to the chair a few minutes later, and the dentist does all the work in putting in the new crown. That part went well, and the two visits only cost $50 total.

I get out of the clinic at a little after 10:30 AM, and as I'm about to go to the supermarket on the way back home to buy milk and some other groceries for the week, I get an incoming text message. It's from the school, saying at all of my classes have been cancelled for the day.

I'm bummed, so I do the shopping, get home, check my emails, and someone I know in Tokyo is asking if I'm surviving the typhoon. Huh? What typhoon? Turns out that typhoon #5 had hit Okinawa during the night and caused a lot of damage. The weather reports were predicting that it would reach Kagoshima at about noon, so the school cancelled all of its lessons so the students and teachers could stay home. But, actually, the system stalled at Yakushima, so by the middle of the afternoon, all we were getting in Kagoshima were strong winds and a bit of rain. At least now I knew why the grocery store had "stock up for the typhoon" signs on the shelves for cup noodles.

So, for the rest of the day, I stay in the apartment, getting work done for my science blog, and being completely unable to take a nap to catch up on lost sleep. At the end of the day, I finally go to bed, but only get maybe 7 hours of sleep anyway. Sunday noon, I get up and check the status of the typhoon, and yahoo weather shows that the system had gotten past Yakushima, and veered east to the other side of Osumi peninsula, missing Kagoshima city entirely. The winds have died down, but we continue to get moderate rain all the way up to about 9 PM. There's no point to trying to go outside to walk around, because any events that might have been planned for the weekend would have been cancelled between Friday and Saturday.

So, I pretty much stay home Sunday as well, reading an autobiography on Les Paul. Along the way, as I'm thinking of things being cancelled, I suddenly remember that Saturday was supposed to have been Yukata Night in Tenmonkan.

For the past few years, the shops in Tenmonkan have participated in a promotional event held during the evening of the first Saturday of August. Yukata are casual forms of kimono usually worn at night, and anyone buying anything in Tenmonkan while wearing yukata would receive a price discount. In the past, they've also had a live stage in front of 7-11, where Bon DX, and Seven Colors have performed. Initially, I had classes scheduled Saturday between 6 PM and 9 PM, and I would have missed the stage events, but my schedule got moved around so I would have finished the evening by maybe 7 PM. By having all the classes cancelled, I completely forgot that Yukata Night was on the 5th. I did go up to Amu Plaza on Saturday as part of my shopping trip, and the plaza in front of the train station was completely rolled up to prevent the astro turf and crafts shops from getting drenched, so I console myself with the thought that Yukata Night was most likely cancelled and I didn't miss anything by failing to go check. The most I can hope for is that it gets rescheduled for later in the month.

The Les Paul book was a good read, anyway.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Bone Board




Sign board outside a chiropractor's shop in Tenmonkan, using the coach from Slam Dunk, to say that if anything hurts, they can fix it.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Yamakataya ad - Steve J and Yoni P




Yamakataya's cosmetics department is back with another bad ad.



Is Yoni's a face you want on Your purse?
Put a bag over it.


Thursday, August 3, 2017

Hawaiian Fest July 29, 2017




I'm a little late getting to this, but I've been working on a number of things, and I just hadn't gotten to pulling photos off the camera until now. Then again, this wasn't a big event so there wasn't as much pressure for running the entry before now. The open space in front of Lotteria and the Yamakataya department store hosted their semi-annual Hawai'ian Festa. In the past, this has included performers from Hawai'i, but this time we just get some vendors with themed products, and performances by many of the local dance schools over three days, last weekend. You can see how many dance schools participated on the schedule board above.





I've seen this kind of thing many times before. The dancers are at the amateur level still, but they are dedicated. I didn't bother taking video, and only stopped by on Saturday long enough for a few photos.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Amu UMA




Remember the Oo-Parts figures? The "Out of Place" artifacts capsule ball toys that include Unidentified Mysterious Animals?



"Change yourself with AMU?"
Into... what?

Who knew that AMU IS UMA?


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Chuzan-Tei




Chuzan-Tei is a Japanese set meal restaurant.



Snoopy: "May I take your order?"

Monday, July 31, 2017

May-July articles in the media

Here's the batch of articles to show up in the media from May-July, regarding anime, manga and related stuff.

Japan Times

Anime gives Japanese bands a new route to potential fans

Wandering through scenes from 'Manga Michi'

Joey Bizinger sees his YouTube following grow amid an 'anime renaissance'

Meet the kawaii witches of the East

Popular manga 'One Piece' to be remade into live-action TV drama

Daily Yomiuri

WOMBS review

Manga highlights relationship of authors, their children

Dokonjo Gaeru no Musume review

KADO: The Right Answer review

'Galaxy Express 999' conductor salutes Kokura

Record-breaking attendance for AnimeJapan 2017 convention

Hayao Miyazaki back to work on his final project, a full-length film

Designs review

Kenko de Bunkateki na Saiteigendo no Seikatsu review

As the moon, so beautiful review

Tsuge inspired by dreams, real life

Museum worker reveals inside stories through manga

Revisiting Fuichin-san and the mother of shojo manga

Crazy Manga review

Kaicho Shima Kosaku (Chairman Shima Kosaku) review

LOCKE THE SUPERMAN review

Live-action ‘Gintama’ brings out best in manga

Asahi

Gagster Tekken plugs Nagano with his longest flip book film yet

Manga favorites teach morality in latest grade school textbooks

'March Comces In Like a Lion' season 2 coming in October

'Captain Tsubasa' offers hope for young Syrian refugees

'Fullmetal Alchemist' art exhibitions set for Tokyo, Osaka

Archery manga 'Hana ni Somu' wins top prize in 2017 awards

First TV anime of baseball manga 'Gurazeni' in the lineup for 2018

'Conan' featured in Yamaguchi's crime-solving, history tour

37th Doreamon Movie is highest-grossing in series

J-World Tokyo courts foreign tourists with cosplay service

A manga guide on how to make-do after a natural disaster

Road bike inspired by Gundam's Char to hit the streets

15 leading artists to present works for Doraemon exhibition

'Attack on Titan' planetarium show takes over 2 Tokyo venues

'JoJo'-themed escape game coming to Tokyo, Osaka in July

'Saint Seiya,' 'Dragon Ball' star in Shonen Jump exhibit

Art exhibition on "Mary and the Witch's Flower" coming to Tokyo, Osaka

Kyoto manga contest to help aspiring artists from abroad

Main visual for 'Inuyashiki' TV anime released ahead of climax

'Dragon Quest' creator's hometown to run special exhibit

Masaaki Yuasa, Sunao Katabuchi win big at Annecy festival

'PPAP' viral hit singer Pikotaro to go anime on TV this summer

'Treasure Island' the inspiration for latest 'Doraemon' film

Classic anime 'Cowboy Bebop’ gets live-action U.S. TV series

‘Evangelion’ to ‘Shin Godzilla’, Sagisu is Anno’s go-to music man

Kyoto Animation latest anime to air nationwide in early 2018

First-ever 'Dragon Ball' run planned for September

Anime guru Keiichi Hara joins the ranks for TIFF 2017

'Bungo Stray Dogs' movie set to hit cinemas in spring 2018

Conference for ‘yokai’ monsters opens in Mizuki's hometown

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Minions Posterboard




"What have these guys done now?"


Saturday, July 29, 2017

Kodomo Tsukai



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

Not based on anime or manga, from what I can tell, but as a horror movie it looks pretty creepy anyway. Kodomo Tsukai translates to "Child User," but the English release title is Innocent Curse. Some abused children that went missing return, and three days later their abusers die mysteriously. A newspaper reporter investigates the deaths while his girlfriend gets too close to one of the children (from the IMDb listing).



Spooky, babies, spooky.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Shrine Event




There's a small shrine in front of some kind of association building. Apparently, there was a ceremony dedicated to the shrine one week. The name on the lanterns is the name of the shrine.



A couple days later, the lanterns and ropes were gone again.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Scary Pachinko Advertising




Even pachinko machines turn dark during the summer. On the other hand, this poster was replaced with one more light and airy looking a couple days after I took the photo.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Tokyo Ghoul Movie Board




There's a live action movie version out of the Tokyo Ghoul manga.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Gusto and Conan




The family restaurant chain Gusto has teamed up with the Boy Detective Conan TV anime to get you to complete their "puzzle prize challenge campaign." I've eaten at Gusto before, and the food is like a low-end Denny's in the U.S. I'm not interested in spending the money to find out what the challenge is here. But, according to the website, you have to get a card and enter the secret code from it into the webpage entry form.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Ogionsa 2017, July 23




The main parade runs on Sunday, with the first group of shrine carriers being introduced at 11:30 AM and starting out on the route along Streetcar Street in Tenmonkan. I didn't get to sleep Saturday night until 2:30 AM, and didn't get up until 11:30 AM. Meaning that I didn't get to Ogionsa until about 1 PM. However, the event consists of people carrying shrines from the west end of Tenmonkan down to Izuro street, pausing in front of a review stand with some politicians that nod solemnly at each group one at a time, and then turning north to go a few blocks in the direction of City Hall, and then back. In with the shrines there are groups carrying tall poles with umbrellas at the top, wagons with musicians or dignitaries, a horse and rider, a tengu, and a couple taiko groups. Every year it's the same, so it's not really necessary to hang around and watch the entire thing from beginning to end (the streets clear to allow cars to drive through again at 3 PM) unless you know someone in the parade.



The tengu.



The horse and rider. The parade had stopped for a break as the above taiko group played, and the horse's handlers gave him water to drink, and splashed him down with to keep him cool.



One of the pole carriers.



The children's musicians wagon as featured in Central Park yesterday.





The local dignitaries.





And the centerpiece of Ogionsa, "Hime-sama" (the Princess).



The temps are were in the low 90's, and those heavy kimonos are not pleasant to sit in. One of the retainers stood beside the cart and fanned the two women all the time, and I had to take 10 photos before I got one in which the fan wasn't in the way.



And, one of the bigger shrines.





I've recorded past Ogionsas before, and there wasn't anything really new enough to justify shooting more video this time. Except for Drum Team Iki, pictured here. They were the closing act before the streets opened to through traffic. I've seen them before, too, but this was one of the better opportunities to record them, so I did.

I didn't go back to Central Park, although in retrospect I should have, just to see if the stage was still set up from the day before. Instead, I went back home to get out of the heat. There were fireworks at 6 PM to indicate the festivities were over, so maybe there was still something going on at the park. As it was, I was happy to be indoors again.

It was fun seeing Ogionsa again this year, and there did seem to be a few more performers than last year, although there were almost no street vendors, and the crowds were at least half the size they were when I first came to Kagoshima. Next up is Obon Yasumi, the 1 week holiday period when people go back to their family home towns to pay respects to their dead ancestors, the second week of August. And there should be a big fireworks display at the end of August down at Dolphin Port. But, no other festivals until Ohara in November.

Otherwise, a quiet weekend.

Direct youtube link