Thursday, March 31, 2016

Oreo Macha

Happy April Fool's. You can buy these cookies and use them to prank your friends.

I was at a drug store in Tenmonkan, and I noticed the package of green tea Oreos on sale for 169 yen ($1.50 USD). Usually, these bags are 200 yen. I didn't bother taking a picture of the cookies themselves, because they look just like on the package. The green tea flavor is pretty strong. They're not bad, but it's not something you'd want to eat every day in place of regular Oreos. Strictly recommended for their novelty value.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Neko Tamashii keychain

I lost the info sheet on this cell phone strap so I'll have to make do with a photo of the dispenser. This is the Neko Tamashii (cat spirits, or cat ghosts)  series. 200 yen, 6 figures in the set. About 1.5" tall.

Mine is the Russian Blue.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Assassination Classroom Plushie

Ansatsu Kyoshitsu (Assassination Classroom) ran in Weekly Shonen Jump magazine from 2012 to 2016. It features a yellow octopus-like space alien that destroys 70% of the moon and threatens to do the same thing to Earth in 1 year if humans don't find a way to stop him. The Japanese government offers a $100 million bounty on the alien, and one high school develops an assassination course specifically for training students to kill him. Taught by the alien himself. The students nickname him Koro Sensei (a play on korose "kill"). The second live action movie is playing in theaters now.

I was in Amu Plaza a few days ago, and this Koro Sensei plushie was in the UFO Catchers. It was propped in the machine in such a way that I thought I might have a chance at it. The machines are 1 play for 100 yen, or 6 for 500 yen. I broke a 1,000 note into two 500 yen coins, and took a shot at it. The plushie moved around enough that at the end of the first 6 tries it was almost ready to fall into the bin, so I threw in the second coin, and got Koro on the 9th try. Fortunately, the shop clerk was willing to move my remaining credits to another machine so I could try to get something else, but I failed on that one. In effect, I spent 1,000 yen on Koro, or about $8.20 USD.

He's about 16 inches tall, squeezable, and very well-made. If I bought him at a store outright, it'd be at least $25.

I think I got a good deal here. Now I have to figure out what to do with him. I keep aiming him at the moon, but that's not having any kind of an effect so far...

Monday, March 28, 2016

Rampo Magnet

I wrote about Edogawa Rampo many years ago. Born Taro Hirai (1894-1965), he started writing mysteries with his debut in 1923 under the pseudonym "Edogawa Rampo," which is the Japanese pronunciation of Edgar Allen Poe. Rampo became one of the first, as well as one of the most successful writers specializing in Japanese-style home-grown mysteries (as opposed to simply translating English stories into Japanese.

In 1936, Rampo wrote "The Fiend with Twenty Faces," featuring his main detective - Kogoro Akechi (this name gets reused in the Meitantei Shonen Konan manga) leading a group of school boys. This novel laid the foundation for the Shonen Tantei-dan (Boy Detectives Club) series that ran 26 volumes up to 1962. I mention all this because I discovered a capsule ball dispenser with refrigerator magnets printed with the original cover art from some of the Boy Detectives Club books. 2"x1", 200 yen apiece. Series of 7 magnets (one "secret" magnet). The one I got is "Tettou Ookoku no Kyoufu" (Terror of the Iron Tower Kingdom).

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Mar. 26 and 27

Wan Wan Fest

Another slow weekend, event-wise. Nothing on Friday, and I had to work pretty much all of Saturday. On the way in to the school at 12 PM, I passed through Tenmonkan. The Wan Wan Fes (Arf Arf Fest) was just getting started in the space in front of 7-11. According to the schedule near the stage, most of the events were either contests for dog owners, or advertising for things like shampoos and doggy accessories. Nothing much worth hanging around for if you don't own a dog. Lots of dogs in the audience, though.

When I arrived, the comic duo Party were interviewing a couple of the event sponsors, and two kids with their pets.

Additionally, there were the regular arts and crafts tables that often show up here on the weekends when the weather is good.

This area is an intersection of two walkways, and each one has its own types of tables. Here, we have purses, bags, necklaces and ear rings. I may need to add that normally there aren't any tables in the walkways, that they're usually wide open and used for sparse foot traffic.

A close-up of the pets currently on stage.

Plus, little doggy clothes.

And little doggies in little doggy clothes. I was surprised by just how many of the dogs had diapers on.


One of the most frustrating things on Saturday was that the weather was almost perfect. Generally, the air is so humid that Sakura island is barely visible, and if it's raining the volcano is completely invisible. Naturally, when I had to work the air was so clear as to be painful. At some point, the weather is going to be good and I'll be able to climb up to the observation building again.


A closer look at the observation deck building, and the mudslide prevention dam.

Mar. 27
RC Racing

I had a little free time on Sunday, so I came back out to Tenmonkan. There was nothing new going on with the Wan Wan Fes, and I kept walking down to Lotteria, where an RC car racing event was scheduled for the day. The sign says that it was to run from 11 AM to 4 PM, with kids being able to play with the cars for 100 yen for 5 minutes. I got here at 2:30 PM, and things were pretty slow (and I'm not talking about the car speeds). I don't know if they had that many participants earlier in the day, but the kids here seemed to be having fun, anyway.

I doubt if they ever got around to having competitions; it may just have been an opportunity to play with the cars a bit.

Era-buu Land

Meanwhile, up at Amu Plaza, we have Era-buu Land. I'm not exactly sure what "Era" refers to, but "buu" is the Japanese version of "oink". A lot of the local mascot characters here are based on pigs, in part because Kagoshima is recognized as a producer of black skin pigs, and they have "buu" in their names.

For the most part, it's an electricity education camp for children and adults. All of the rides and attractions are powered by modified exercise bikes with built-in generators. The adults pedal, and that causes the merry-go-round to run.

There's also a train ride, with one of the generator bikes to the right side of the photo.

And the race cars. The generators here are easier to pick out.

Then we have Era-buu himself. They had a performance stage, but it was used mainly for educational activities, and the character show. Nothing that was worth recording.

From the back side, notice Era-buu's tail.

And, that was it for this weekend.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Neko Cafe keychain figure

Having written in the last entry that I have to pace myself in buying capsule dispenser toys, I admit that when I was in Tenmonkan, I went past a bank of dispensers and bought 2 more at the same time, two days after getting the Noh mask cell phone strap. In part this was because I could, and partly because I wanted the Rampo magnet along with the Neko (cat) Cafe keychain and I didn't want to risk having the machines disappear when I wasn't looking.

Neko Cafe consists of 6 cats dressed up as desserts, 200 yen each. Mine is a white cat treated as the whip cream filling of a pancake and cream sandwich called a dorayaki (modified as "doranyaki", where the "nya" means "meow"). It's about 2" nose to tail.

Note the cat's paw burned into the top of the pastry. There's a very similar series called "Hamu Cafe" ("hamu" is short for "hamster"). I won't be getting one of those figures, but the idea is to have hamsters sitting in coffee cups and dessert dishes.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Noh Mask Cellphone Strap Series

Hmm. We rolled over 800,000 hits yesterday and I wasn't even prepared for it (wouldn't have mattered anyway, because I was outside working all day). I knew it was coming up, but I was thinking I wouldn't hit this milestone for a few more days. As I write this, we're at exactly 800,400 hits. If I can, I'd like to screen cap hitting 800,800... I've been averaging 250 hits a day lately, so maybe that will happen between Sunday and Monday.

I kind of made myself promise not to get any more capsule ball toys for a while, because there's just so many different series, and it's getting kind of expensive just buying the ones I have already (especially with the metal and wood puzzles). However, there are some new toys out at Amu Plaza that are kind of irresistible, and as long as I pace myself, I may be ok. One series that really caught my eye is the Noh-men, or Japanese Noh theater masks, as cell phone straps. There are 10 total designs, 5 painted wood style, and 5 with the same masks as netsuke (carved boxwood). 300 yen each.

This series has some of the best designs I've seen in a while, and very informative insert sheets.

Mine is Koomote, or "smiling woman." She's considered to have been the embodiment of the attractive woman of the Edo period (1600's to 1850's). About 1" tall.

The back side simulates the carving technique for this type of mask.
Noh theater (or, Nogaku) was developed in the 1300's, and comes from the word for "skill" or "talent". It generally consists of 5 plays, with comedic plays in between the main acts. From the wiki entry: "Noh is often based on tales from traditional literature with a supernatural being transformed into human form as a hero narrating a story. Noh integrates masks, costumes and various props in a dance-based performance, requiring highly trained actors and musicians. Emotions are primarily conveyed by stylized conventional gestures while the iconic masks represent the roles such as ghosts, women, children, and old people."

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Kappa Contacts Ad

Kappa are Japanese water sprites that have a bald spot at the top of their heads that holds river water. If that spills out, they die. Generally, Kappa are malevolent and are known to drag human victims under bridges to their deaths. Here, they're enlisted as slave labor to moisturize soft contact lenses. Serves them right.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Crack Floor

That's the nice thing about Japan, everyone works so hard to take the guesswork out of this sort of stuff.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Bra & Peace

Amu Plaza is running a rather bizarre advertising campaign right now for what I guess is the Bragenic brand of bras.

Bra and Peace, with Hello Kitty...

Monday, March 21, 2016

How Do You Use Today?

Ad poster for Sienta at a new car dealership near the apartment.
"How do you use today?"

I usually use it like a hammer to crack walnuts. How about you?

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Wine Shop

This weekend was a mixed bag. I had to work a couple hours on Saturday, but there really wasn't much in the way of events then to visit during my free time. Lotteria had a bunch of bakeries promoting over-priced breads, while Amu Plaza had a wine distributor set up in the big space in front of the train station. Some of these distributors treat wine purchases as being on the same order as buying a car. You have to sit down and sign a contract with a salesman. I'd rather get the $2-a-bottle stuff myself.

On Sunday, there was the big 12-mile hike up in Kirishima, at the north end of the bay. It commemorates Ryoma Sakamoto's honeymoon walk, when he was being chased by government forces around 1860. Sakamoto had been wounded in an ambush, and he was invited down to Kagoshima by Saigo Takamori to help recover, under the guise of celebrating his honeymoon with his new bride. Kirishima has been holding this event for many years now, but they'd changed the date to March to get more participants in the more pleasant weather then. I'm told that it's a lot like the Myoenji Walk, with music and activities at Kirishima shrine or some place, and free food along the route, but with much better scenery and more walking up into the hills.

Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your viewpoint, I was asked by one of my students if I wanted to see her perform in a school concert in Kagoshima on the same day. The starting time would be 2 PM and if I wanted to attend, she'd give me a comp ticket (normally, tickets are 1,500 yen ($13 USD) for adults). To get to the walk, I'd have to take a train up to Kirishima, which would be 1 hour each way, and the walk itself would be about 4 hours. Start time would be 9 AM, and I wouldn't have time to look at the events, or even rest afterward, if I were also going to get back to Kagoshima for the concert. I missed the walk last year, and I ended up having to forgo it again this year. The concert was good, and I did take some photos and video, which I won't post on the blog. But, at some point, I really do want to do the Sakamoto Walk...

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Dr. Slump Bottle Caps

New toys from the capsule ball dispensers, this time representative headgear for the characters from Dr. Slump. 200 yen each, just large enough to fit on the caps of 500 ml plastic bottles.

I didn't have any special hat that I really wanted, although I was thinking that I didn't want Peske. Of course, that's the one I got.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Doraemon 36 Board

Sigh. Mediafire. It works at night, my time, but not during the day when I'm posting this blog.

Advertising poster board in the basement of Amu Plaza for "New Nobito and the Birth of Japan." Not sure how prevalent tiger skins were in Japan back then...

Thursday, March 17, 2016

One Good Thing

Sigh. More problems at media fire. I hope the photos start loading soon.

This sticker was on the sides of all the shipping containers used as kitchens for the Ramen Oh event. The text reads "Doing One Good Thing During the Day". The character is Saigo Takamori, along with his beloved pet.