Friday, November 30, 2012

Lawson Wine

One point in the favor of the Lawson konbini chain is that it has a fairly extensive collection of free catalogs for advertising their products, with new issues coming out every few weeks. Occasionally, the catalog will focus on some anime product tie-in, with Evangelion being one of the main examples. A few days ago, I noticed a flier there for specialty wine and shochu featuring anime characters on the label. The bottle on the left has Misato from Evangelion.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

More artists in Magazines

Media Factory actually does live up to its name. They're a multi-media publisher, putting out anime, music, magazines, games and other products. One of their magazines is Da Vinci, (490 yen) which is kind of aimed at following media trends. The December, 2012, issue is dedicated to Mitsuru Adachi, manga artist responsible for H2, Slow Step, Touch and Q and A, among many other titles. This issue includes interviews with Adachi and a number of other people connected to his works, a complete bibliography, examples of artwork over the years, and tribute artwork from about 20 other artists.

While the issue also has reviews of mainstream books and authors, there is some representation of several different manga, as well as a monthly publication chart of manga releases from each of the other publishers. This is the first time I've noticed Da Vinci on the shelves, so it's not like it's a major force in the manga entertainment industry, but I will be watching it a little more closely in the future in case they cover someone else I may be interested in.

I mentioned this issue of Brutus in a recent blog entry, and I was considering getting it relatively soon. Then, when I returned to Junkudo bookstore, it wasn't on the main shelf anymore. I can't find the release date quickly, but I think I first saw it a year ago, so I know it was a back issue. As I was going over the shelves to see if the two issues that had been there were moved behind something, I paid attention for the first time to the shelf at the top of the bookcase. It's packed with old issues of Pen, Switch, Brutus and a couple other magazines, but only the spines are visible, which is why I ignored them up to this point. I eventually found the Ghibli special in with the back issues, where it apparently was returned after being aired out the week before.

The entire issue is dedicated to all of the movies from Studio Ghibli, with pictures of the artwork, write-ups on various Studio employees, and even a walkthrough of the museum in Tokyo. One sidebar discussed "office romances" that have taken place between artist co-workers. There's also 3 sheets of Ghibli character trading cards. No stickers, though.

Pen has something of a sister magazine called Pen+, which is dedicated to photo displays on specific topics. This particular issue is on Fujio F Fujiko, creator of Obake Q-Tarou (along with partner Fujio A Fujiko) and Doraemon. Articles include a brief biography, lots of old photos, a write-up on his time at Tokiwa-sou with Tezuka and the other Tokiwa-sou artists (Ishinomori, Fujio Akatsuka) and a walkthrough of the new FFF museum that opened up in Kawasaki last year a half-hour walk from my old apartment. A must-have for FFF fans.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


South end of the Kagoshima Chuo station switch yard.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Straight Out, 2

I had a little time one afternoon recently, and I decided to take the opportunity for another long walk before the weather turned too cold. The sky was clear and blue for most of the way out, but then got overcast as I came back and the sun began to fall. Sunset comes early in Japan after October. While there's no daylight savings time here, night starts around 4:30PM - 5PM about now. The route this time was Straight Out NW, following the Kotsuki river. However, I'd been thinking that while the sidewalks peter out half a mile past the expressway, that I might have a little better luck finding a walking path if I stayed alongside the river.

Even this close to the newer parts of the city, the side streets look a little rats nesty.

A car barrier at an entrance to the river walking path. This is what I refer to as "the tetsu tori" (iron birds). I first saw this design when I was working at Hitachi in Kudamatsu in 1995.  Hasn't changed at all since then.

One of the more unusual entrance way designs I've seen so far. Looks like the builder took an old sluice gate and bolted it to the wall over the door. The doorway itself looks new.

As I work my way northwest, I encounter more birds in the river. I'm assuming the little one is a duckling. Two of the chicks had been following this crane around. The chick pictured was incredibly energetic, and kept diving underwater for 6-10 feet just as I tried to snap it.

The camera just can not resolve details on white birds more than 50 feet away.
When I get to the expressway, the river bends away from the main street and winds between a bunch of hills. There's a huge waterworks plant a mile or so farther along, but it looks virtually abandoned. At about 3 PM on a Tuesday, there were only 3 cars in the front parking lot. While the lights were on in the offices, the only person I saw was the guard at the front lot shack. At one point, the street on the south side of the river narrows down to one lane with no shoulder, so I took the path down at river level. A few blocks later, the path deadended at the base of a low bridge, and the only staircase up was actually a grass-covered part of the wall designed to only look like steps. The area had gotten marshy and water was starting to soak into my shoes.

Another mile on, there's a huge junior high school in what looks like a rural setting. The parking lot was empty and I didn't see or hear any kids. One teacher or administrator was just closing the gate behind him as he was driving out at the end of his day. The river continues between some more hills, but a side road runs south and west under a tall overpass. I headed to the overpass just to see what was around the next hill - just some houses, construction offices, small farms and more hill. At the base of the overpass, someone had built a croquet golf course on a thin wedge of lawn. (In Japan, croquet is called "ground golf".) Didn't look like it had been used in a while, though. I'm now within 3 kilometers of the Kagoshima Agricultural Center, and maybe 3 km from a large public park slightly SW from me. But it had taken close to 2 hours to get this far and the sun would be going down before I got back home, so I turn around and head back. Next time, I need to leave before 1 in the afternoon.

I follow the street a few blocks, and encounter the statue of Yoshiyuki Tsuruda, Japan's first Olympic gold medal winner for swimming. The interesting thing here is that there's a billboard in the back with news articles tacked up with refrigerator magnets. One sheet of paper has a translation of the memorial marker in pretty good English.

"Yoshiyuki Tsuruda was born to a farming family from Ishiki Village, Iiyama in 1903. He was the 2nd son of 12 children. As a child, one of his favorite hobbies was swimming in the Kotsuki River. He began to swim seriously when he joined the Sasebo marines. He would swim at least 10,000 meters a day. During the 1928 Amsterdam and 1932 Los Angeles Olympics he won gold in the 200m breaststroke, becoming the first ever Japanese national to win a swimming gold medal. He also became a member of the International Swimming Association, based in Florida, USA. "I feel that swimmers are being overcoached. I believe that swimmers should have more control over their own diet and training methods. Who are swimmers training for?" he once said in harsh criticism of the swimming establishment. On the other hand, he coached swimming for 37 years in Ehime, his wife's home prefecture. During those years he fostered and encouraged children's swimming. His particular passion was helping children who could not swim. He died in 1986 at the age of 82."

A matter of perspective.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Yamakataya Christmas Houses

The Yamakataya department store in the Tenmonkan shopping complex hosted a "build your own Christmas house decoration" event in the open space near the Lotteria burger shop. I didn't see any prices on the house kits, but I assume that they were for sale, and not being given out for free.

Another example of housing destroying the forests.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Google Doodles, 2009

It's not until we finally get to 2009 that Google starts letting their artists break away from the straitjacketed logo template. There's not that many interactive doodles yet, but at least what we do get is more visually interesting. The factors I used for deciding which doodles to include here are: visually interesting; related to science, invention, cartoon strips, manga, anime, or Japan; are musicians I like.

Jackson Pollock

Tadataka Ino

Dr. Seuss


Samuel Morse

Alexander Popov's invention of the radio

Scientists unveil fossil of Darwinius masillae

150th anniversary of Yokohama Port Opening

25 Years of Tetris

Anniversary of the publication of Pinocchio


40th Anniversary of Moon Landing


The 40th Anniversary of Comic-Con

Ilya Repin

Kenji Miyazawa


400th Anniversary of Galileo's Telescope


Crop Circles

H.G. Wells

Invention of the Bar Code

Edogawa Ranpo

Asterix 50th Anniversary

40th Anniversary of Sesame Street - Boombah and Chamki

40th Anniversary of Sesame Street - Kami

40th Anniversary of Sesame Street - Leniemienie

20th Anniversary of the Wallace and Gromit Characters

40th Anniversary of Sesame Street - Abigail

40th Anniversary of Sesame Street - Abelardo Montoya

40th Anniversary of Sesame Street - Big Bird

40th Anniversary of Sesame Street - Cookie Monster

40th Anniversary of Sesame Street - Bert & Ernie

40th Anniversary of Sesame Street - Oscar the Grouch

40th Anniversary of Sesame Street - Elmo

40th Anniversary of Sesame Street - Count von Count

40th Anniversary of Sesame Street

Discovery of Water on the Moon

E.C. Segar