Fukuoka · General Life · Japan Travel

September & October

Where July and August were fairly quiet, other than taking off for Beijing, September and October were jam-packed with trips and concerts and social outings.

I started September miserable in Beijing. I am certainly not clamoring to go back any time soon. And when I do go, hopefully it’s not for two plus weeks again. Anyhow, I came back to Fukuoka on the 9th, quite grateful to be back.

YohjiI had just a day or two to recover before my parents let me know that they’d had to have Yohji put to sleep back in August. I had come to terms that I wouldn’t be bringing him over, since they felt the trip would be too hard on him, but having to accept that I would never see him again was hard … is still really hard. I’ll never know how long the cancer had a hold of him; he certainly seemed happy and healthy when I left him. And he had apparently bounced back from that desertion to make a home for himself with my parents. He was my beautiful, fuzzy boy, my constant companion for 10 years and I will miss him for a long, long time. At some point I need to make myself go to a cat cafe and indulge myself. It won’t be the same, but it’ll be something.

Thankfully, I had only a day or so to brood on my own before I was off to Tokyo again for a long weekend. I am beyond grateful that I had the time away with friends, and wasn’t alone. On Saturday I hit the Namja Town Bakumatsu Rock event, met up with Riko for tea, then went with Nancy to the Sunshine 60 KuroBasuke exhibit. In all my years of coming to Tokyo, I’d never been up to the observation deck — quite the view at night.

Sunday saw us off to day 2 of the Kishidan Banpaku music festival, for, you guessed it, Kishidan BanpakuGranrodeo (and Vamps). All told, each way was 20 minutes of walking, 5 trains, more walking, a bus, and more walking. And you know what? Worth every bit of hassle. The location, in Sodegaura down on the Chiba penninsula was gorgeous. The day was lovely and we could see all the way to Yokohama and Tokyo across the bay. Despite some obvious nervousness at playing to a crowd not entirely their fans (we were a definite minority compared to Vamps or Gazette fans) and an adorable flub announcing the wrong song at one point, Granrodeo were in fine form. Discovered I really didn’t like the Gazette, but was tickled pink to finally be seeing hyde on stage again — my first Vamps show (and unlikely to be my last). Wish we could’ve stuck it out for the Kishidan set, but it was late, the trip was long and we had another festival the next day. Will definitely go back if GR is invited again.

Monday was Odaiba and Lantis Matsuri day 3. We were smart and slept in, missing most of the acts (who we had little interest in seeing) and showed up late, getting to briefly meet Alisa, who we met through the GR fandom, and catching the Ali Project, Kuribayashi Minami and GR sets. Including a collaboration between Minami and GR, a medley of KimiNozo songs.

Miyajima deerBack home for a short week, which then saw me off to Hiroshima on Saturday morning to see Suzumura Kenichi in concert. Made a stop at Miyajima island first, and fell utterly in love. Despite battling a cold, I wandered around for almost 4 hours, finally wrapping up with a delicious oyster lunch before hopping the ferry and train back to Hiroshima. Spent a quiet night in a hostel, then headed out the next morning to the Peace Park and Peace Dome before the show. The former were sobering, as expected, but the concert light-hearted fun to balance it out.

Worked one day, then had the autumnal equinox off, which I used to meet my friend Diana for another SuzuKen show, this time here in Fukuoka. Didn’t like the venue, but enjoyed the show anyhow.

Around this time, I was beginning to sweat bullets that I wouldn’t get a pass to the GR acoustic mini-live here in Fukuoka, but the postcard finally made its way to me, so on October 4th I was at Tenjin Vivre Hall, front row, for the three song set and handshake event. Had Kiiyan point me out to everyone there, and e-zuka … say something apparently quite inappropriate that had everyone around me, plus Kiiyan, flailing. He made sure I hadn’t understood him, which only doubled my desire to know what he said. Limited myself to saying thank you when I was up on stage for the handshake portion (I was #2), since I hadn’t really rehearsed anything, and it was safe. I’ll leave being eloquent to letters, where I have time to get the right words. Though at some point I’d like to manage something approximating a real conversation, even in those few seconds.

That night went to an annual festival in the red light district, but only stuck around long enough for the floats (all two of them — pulled solely by women)Dazaifu before calling it a night. Actually my first time visiting Nakasu after dark, though I suspect one would have to stay much later for the crowds to come out.

The following Saturday saw a group of us off to Dazaifu for the day, to see the shrines and a flower art exhibit (which was smartly incorporated into the shrine grounds). Other than lunch, where we found the one restaurant in Japan to run out of rice, and getting turned around trying to find a Buddha statue (not to scale, no), we had a great time. I hope we can do more days trips like it in the spring.

On the 18th, went around Hakata to see the various lantern illuminations set up around the ward. I now finally know where Kushida Shrine and Canal City are. Will have to visit again during the day. I spent that evening wishing I had a better camera to capture the lovely displays. Looking forward to this festival next year.

The weekend of the 25th-26th would have seen me back in Tokyo for the final date of SuzuKen’s tour, but instead found me at the Yamaha Tsumagoi resort in Shizuoka for the Granrodeo Fan Club bus trip. I had a wonderful time, making new friends, getting pointed out again (with literally an “Again?!” from Kiiyan) and coming Kappa Lanternaway with some precious memories and momentos.

For Hallowe’en, donned some red velvet and lace leopard print ears and ventured out to the Tenjin nightlife for the first time with friends. It was a bit overwhelming, since people were out in droves, and even on a night where everyone was dressed up, we were exotic enough to get considerable attention. But not from the right folks. Ah well. Interesting experience.

After that whirlwind month and a half, I needed a breather — so the next entry to wrap up the year will be pretty light on travel.

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