Fukuoka · General Life · Japan Travel · Rodeogirl

Long time no see…

Been a while since a real update here. Mainly because work has been sucking the life out of me and I’ve been escaping as best I can when I’m not here. Looking back … all the way back to the end of March, wow. As always, click on pics for a bigger view.

Aoba Shrine
Aoba Shrine, Sendai

The weekend of March 29th, I ran off to Sendai for the Granrodeo show at the Izumity 21 Hall. Like last year, I had a front row spot. Unlike last year, where I was a novelty that needed to be pointed out, this time most everyone on stage recognized and acknowledged me, which was gratifying. Plus, this was the only show where Kiiyan made a point of high-fiving the front row, even more gratifying. Fit in some good sightseeing in the morning before the show (I was taken by a little old lady to see a 500 year old ginormous almond tree at one temple – wish I could have understood the backstory she told me) and two good meals of gyutan (grilled beef tongue), plus a gyutan lunch box for the seven hours’ worth of trains going home the day after the show. I will always have a soft spot for Sendai for giving me such precious memories.

Ritsurin Garden, Takamatsu
Ritsurin Garden, Takamatsu

Then the following week, I did a whirlwind three town tour for two Granrodeo shows. I got
to visit the island of Shikoku for the first time, crossing the Seto Sea on a long, high bridge, that wasn’t nearly as scary as I thought it might be. Would’ve been worse in a car, I think. Went down on a Friday morning, and spent a rainy afternoon exploring the best garden I’ve ever been to, bar none – Rtisurin Garden. Beautiful cherry trees, red cliffs, natural waterfall. If it had not been pouring, I would’ve spent hours there. Would like to go back some day. The concert itself was excellent, one of the best of the tour, even if I was last row, 2nd floor balcony.

Okayama Castle
Okayama Castle

The next morning, it was back across the Great Seto bridge to Okayama, where I had a lovely sightseeing day, exploring the Okayama castle grounds, a cherry blossom festival (more grilled gyutan for me!) and one of the most famous gardens in Japan, Korakuen (pretty, but too planned to be as appealing as Ritsurin for me). There were several couples getting wedding photos taken in the park, which is tailor made for that sort of thing.

And then the last day, headed 20 minutes west to Kurashiki, where the next live would be. Spent the morning wandering around the historic district before holing up in a Starbucks to read and relax before the show. Fun show, good vantage point from first row, 2nd floor balcony. Zipped back to Fukuoka on the shinkansen afterward, exhausted, but happy.

Kurashiki
Jizo amidst falling cherry blossoms, Kurashiki

I then had two whole weeks at home, including my various one year anniversaries. Finally visited Canal City, which is a beautifully designed mall here in town. The exterior was lovely, and ramen stadium was worth the visit, but it is otherwise … a very large mall with lots of people. Did find an owl café on the way back from there that we’ll have to try out at some point.

Then there was a hurried trip to Saitama for Sakamoto Maaya’s 20th anniversary show (with special guest Kanno Yoko!). It was amazing, as expected. I cried through a number of the songs (not so expected). A lot has changed in the 17 years since I first became a fan of these two incredible women.

Canal City
Canal City, Fukuoka

And last week, took advantage of the national holiday on Wednesday to go to Granrodeo’s first “home town” show in Yamaguchi. Had a really good time, unexpectedly meeting up with someone I’d met in Osaka last year (who recognized me from 3 summers ago), watching the local TV crew interview just about everyone (not me, which is just fine), participating in a GR 10th anniversary project with a local fan, delivering a set of older scifi novels (in Japanese) to Kiiyan as a gift and enjoying a great show. Last one man live for a long time, alas. Unless they do a late summer/early fall tour before the G10 shows. Met an older gentleman in a drugstore who was gobsmacked to see an obvious foreigner in Yamaguchi (I did run into another American later). I explained why, after he told me all about his trip to the U.S. – NYC, driving Route 66 and … Montana. Making him the second person I’ve run into here that’s gone to Montana. Must be the lure of wide open spaces, because … well, Montana?! I didn’t get Granrodeo’s name out, but maybe he looked them up; he was certainly effusive with his thanks that I made it to Yamaguchi. Heh.

Oh, yeah, work … no raise for me, but I am becoming a manager. Pleased about the latter, less than pleased about the former. We’ll see where things go from here. I am minding the fort here on my own this week, as my coworker is off visiting his inlaws.

Have a few weeks here in Fukuoka before I get to escape work for a week (in exchange for having worked this week, during the big Golden Week holiday), heading to Tokyo for some shows, sightseeing and catching up with friends.

Sendai pics
Takamatsu, Okayama, Kurashiki pics
Various other April pics

Upcoming Plans (not nearly enough GR in my future):

  • May 31 – seiyuu Kiuchi Hidenobu & Tsuda Kenjiro in Nakameguro
  • June 5 – ROUND GR 2015 (Granrodeo, Flow, OldCodex, MUCC, Fo’xtails)
  • June 6 –ROUND GR 2015 (Granrodeo, Flow, Breakerz, Miyano Mamoru, Fo’xtails)
  • August 30 – Animelo at TamaAri (Granrodeo, Kalafina, Ono Kensho, et al)

Plus other things that are in the works for July (Corda), September (Kurobasu) and October (G10).

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