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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

2016 Maguro Festival Photos

New Star Kazuma Asa 朝一眞, Sasuke All-Star Toshihiro Takeda 竹田敏浩 (with Nagano's son Kaiou 塊王), New Star Hitoshi Kanno 菅野仁志 (with son Yuuto 雄仁 ), co-worker for Takeda at Anju and Sasuke All-Star Shingo Yamamoto 山本進悟 ©Hitoshi Kanno
Sorry this blog is really late this year.  Luckily I was able to share pics of this event earlier with a blog post that Lost in Ube did.  Thank you Ube!  I've been busy getting ready to fly out to Japan for Sasuke 32 thanks to the generosity of some really really awesome people.  I posted another blog entry on the new website.  Our 1 year anniversary of the Final Stage Podcast is up and we should get the next one up sometime after I get back from Japan. William also will be out of town roughly around the same timeframe so the podcast may be delayed by a week.  No worries.. we will have PLENTY of content upcoming. LOL Sasuke 32 tapes in just over a week from now in Japan so I'm scrambling to finish off loose ends before I head out there! Again, I can't thank everyone enough who helped make it happen! ♥
2016 Poster

As is tradition here on Rambling Rican, I'm writing about the Maguro Festival again!  This is the 8th year I'm covering this event! This year we had less photos from different sources but for a very somber reason.  This event took place just a couple short weeks from the horrific double Earthquakes in Kumamoto. The Shinkansen (the bullet train) was also out of service until only a day before the event.  Kagoshima is south of Kumamoto on the same island and that train goes right through the affected area. One of their bullet trains suffered a derailment during the earthquakes and blocked all traffic coming from the northern part of the island. That is the main throughway for people coming from up north (like Ube) heading south into Kyushu island.  Also, many of those who would have normally gone (including contributors to past blogs) were directly affected by the quakes and chose not to go to the festival.  For those who aren't familiar with this event, the 25th Annual Maguro Festival 第25回串木野まぐろフェスティバル is a Tuna festival that has been held yearly for a decade in Kagoshima Prefecture. This year's event took place on Saturday, April 30 and Sunday May 1, 2016 in the city of Ichiki-Kushikino. This of course happens during Golden Week in Japan.

Sasuke Corner Poster ©Makoto Nagano

During this time Sasuke 32 had changed taping dates making everyone scramble to reschedule previous engagements.  I'm assuming it affected Nagano directly because he could not take time off for the festival this year.  Nagano will be in attendance for Sasuke 32 and I do believe this change was to accommodate that.  Speculation on my part but it all makes sense given that he mentioned he was hosting it (again) then all of a sudden he couldn't take time off.  Both events are during the month of May and for those who know Nagano's schedule (he has to work 25 days in a row) he had to make a choice. He could not do both given the schedule change.  So while this Sasuke corner event traditionally is hosted by Nagano (as part of Takasui Corp. renting out space during the event) at the Tuna Festival, this year his friends held the fort alone.  In fact, according to the chart, Yamamoto, Takeda, Kanno and Asa all knew they would be alone for the festival by the time the poster went to print (approximately 2 weeks before the event).

 Event Schedule ©Makoto Nagano

Nagano was able though to take photos of the prepared areas (he builds it himself since his company rents out that corner for their activities) before shipping out to sea. So by the time the festival started, he was already long gone.  It was nice of him though to take photos and promote the event in his social media corner of the world before heading out. It must have been odd knowing he would miss the whole thing. Not since his father's death did he miss a day of this event and this is the first time he misses it entirely.

Sasuke All-Stars Shingo Yamamoto 山本進悟 and Toshihiro Takeda 竹田敏浩 ©Lost in Ube

Only 2 All-stars were able to go. If I'm not mistaken, this is the least amount for all the years this event has been going on.  If I'm not mistaken Sasuke corner has existed in this event for the very least 9 years and possibly 10 years.  To my knowledge it started when Nagano won in 2006.. so 9 years?  I'd have to ask if he did it the same year or the year after.  I'm thankful that Ube was able to go and take photos because he took photos of stuff "I" wanted to see. Besides.. LOOK AT THAT PHOTO!!  That's phenomenal! ♥ Ehem.. Dammit I want an All-Star shirt... I should have asked for Ube to buy me one.. cries..

Sasuke stars sign the Warped Wall ©Ryota Watabe

They were blessed with great weather by the way. I know a lot of those who were going just wanted something positive to happen given the events of the past couple of weeks.  49 deaths, over 3,000 injuries and over 44,000 people evacuated/displaced.  So this event was a respite from reality. Especially for the kids.  Kagoshima itself was completely unaffected, but given the island is small, there were plenty of people who had family, friends, etc. in the affected areas.  The ground was still shaking  up north while this was going on.  Scary.

Morning huddle ©Lost in Ube

Ube was able to take a bunch of photos of the guys just hanging around which as you might imagine is a lot.  Still getting used to Takeda's goatee. I suspect he will shave for the tournament.. he usually does. LOL This is his last chance to totally be lazy with his primping.

Shingo, Kanno, Asa and Takeda ©Lost in Ube

Takeda looks like he needs a nap.. not sure wtf Shingo is doing... LOL Letting out a burp?  Either way, they do 2 demonstrations a day, 2 days in a row for a total of 4 demonstrations.  Ube was able to go for the first day so all of his photos were taken on that Saturday, April 30.

Sasuke All-Star Shingo Yamamoto 山本進悟 ©Lost in Ube

Hey I'm surprised that Shingo doesn't have that weird back brace thing he's been wearing lately!  I am happy though he made that trip all the way from Tokyo to lend his support to the event.  Especially given the difficult circumstances.

New Stars Kazuma Asa 朝一眞and Hitoshi Kanno 菅野仁志 doing Wall duty ©Lost in Ube

Also massive kudos to Asa and Kanno who always have been really cool with fans in the past for going to the festival to lend their support to Nagano's event.  Here they are at the top of the wall to grab whoever they can to get them to the top.

Kaiou's run at the wall solo ©Lost in Ube

I still can't believe Kaiou is going to be 7 years old this year.. yeah.. 7.. so Nagano's oldest son with Asami is brave enough to run by himself to get up the wall.  He loves trying to emulate his Dad and he loves the Sasuke stars (Asa in particular).  Kanno's son Yuuto is being influenced as well (he's 2 1/2 now). Takeda was basically his babysitter all weekend.

Takeda and Shingo yelling directions to Moody ©Lost in Ube

I found this particular photo funny since usually it is Nagano yelling directions.  Shingo is pawning off responsibility as well as they both tell the 2 STQ'ers who there for fun (Keita Tomino (UNCLI #4) and Makoto Yahagi (Moody)) that they were being roped into testing for them. LOL

Makoto Yahagi 矢作誠 demonstrating while Takeda stands watch ©Lost in Ube

So yeah, meeting up with Ube, Keita and Yahagi went to the festival to have fun.  They were soon drafted to test the obstacles for the stars given their loooooooooong background with Sasuke obstacles.  So in the end, they tested the obstacles before each of the stars runs.. you know.. in case they fell it wouldn't be the stars all wet. LOL Bastards.

Shingo, Kanno, Asa and Takeda being introduced to the crowd ©Salt October Vinegar

The event itself went off without a hitch and the weather cooperated so everyone who went had a great time.  As the years pass, more and more we are reaching the end of this event. There was a rumor that this was supposed to be the last one but with Nagano missing it I'm not so sure now.  We will just have to wait and see what happens to this particular side event.

Sasuke corner at the 2016 Maguro Festival ©Nao To
So with my upcoming retirement I'm still not sure if I will cover the event next year.  I assume I will cover it since it's not really news related but All-Star related. It was a great way to just hang back and enjoy the photos.  So while this event continues I'll probably blog about it.  I'll still be here in some capacity since I'm shifting focus to writing the book. I hope this wasn't the last one though, I'm sure many people want to properly say goodbye.  Thanks again to Ube for saving me on the photos this year.  You had an awesome set of photos and given the circumstances this year your contribution was really really really appreciated.  Thanks for sharing! ♥ Oh! and enjoy the Sasuke Stars Karaoke! (Song was a tribute to Nagano since he couldn't be there).

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Rambling Rican Vlog - Final Stage Podcast, Japan Trip, etc.

Rambling Rican Vlog - Direct Link
Did a quick video update covering a few topics on my YouTube channel. I talk about upcoming blogs on the 2016 Maguro Festival, the release of the current episode of the Final Stage Podcast (Episode 13), the upcoming Japan Trip among other things.  I hope to get the next video in the series of Rambling Rican in Japan (Part 7) before I head out to Japan.  We'll see how it goes!

Sasuke All-Stars Shingo Yamamoto 山本進悟 and Toshihiro Takeda 竹田敏浩 ©Lost in Ube

While I work on all of that, head on over to Lost in Ube to check out his collection of photos from the 2016 Maguro Festival! ♥ I will get to my blog with the rest of the photos I found online at some point hopefully before I head out to Japan this year.