That weekend we'd been planning for awhile; there was a new Studio Ghibli (Hayao Miyazaki's bunch, responsible for Mononoke, Spirited Away, etc.) movie coming out that Saturday, and a bunch of us wanted to see it. The original plan was for Aya to rent several cars that the AP buddies would then drive groups of us out to Oita city to the Park Place mall; however school admin caught wind of it, so it got changed to chartering a bus...which worked out to be cheaper, actually. Barring the somewhat isolated portion the elementary school was located in, this was the first time in Oita for the majority of us (about a half-dozen stayed behind at the school to go wander by themselves from there).
The bus took off down the coast, through Beppu, down beyond 高崎山 and 海卵 (Takasakiyama & Umitamago: Monkey Mountain and the [Sea Egg] Aquarium), through downtown Oita to the more suburb portion of the town where Park Place was located. If I lived in Japan...this is the kinda place I'd like to live. The neighborhoods have a good bit of old and new construction mixed in, it's not super crowded like the larger cities, but there's more going on than in a tinier town like Beppu.
We arrive at the theater, welcomed by numerous posters of Hollywood movies in their Japanese poster form, as well as many native works. Much to our delight, you can get a very respectable sized 'small' popcorn (about the size of a medium back home) for a mere 200￥. We're early, a group of people we met up with along the way opted to go for food at 'Freshness Burger' at somewhat perilously close to showtime, so we're left with some time to poke about the lobby...specifically all the capsule toy machines they had there.
Aya and Asami show up, Aya with tickets and IDs to return to everyone, and we move into the theater. A few things about the theater: for one, concessions are bleedin' cheap, the seats are way more comfy in the stadium seating back home, and when you buy a ticket, you actually have a seat assigned to it. Given there were as many of us as there were (we were half the audience of the first show of the day), we just took up 2 aisles anyway and sat where we liked.
Finally the movie proper: 借りぐらしのアリエッティ (Karigurashi no Arrietty: The Borrower Arrietty). Anyone familiar with the concept of The Borrowers and a beginner -> intermediate-level grasp of Japanese would have no problem with the movie. The narrative is basic enough, and not overladen with jargon or complex history, and visually explicit enough in the ongoings to get the grasp of what's happening, if not understand the story entirely. I only missed a few specific words here and there, mostly concerning with a type of herb/tea/etc.; very cute movie, definitely gonna have to see it again when it comes stateside.
Following the movie, we've about 4 hours worth of shop-n-wander time until we need to meet back at the bus to return to Beppu/APU. Adam, Jason and I decide to scope out the music store we passed by in a rush earlier, while Becky heads off to peruse the sales we saw before breakfast. Foiled in my attempts to find a comprehensive CD of the K-On! tunes, I pick up one of Tak Matsumoto's (guitarist from B'z, badass stuff) solo CDs, and Jason nabs the non-soundtrack CD from Arrietty that has her song done by Cecile Corbel. A bit more wandering about, and we reunite with Becky to go find some lunch.
Despite not finding any good Engrish shirts, there was at least one photo-worthy Engrish sign out in front of a shop opposite the Plaza Capcom; it reads: Smart One Had One Good Idea and That Was Stupid. Be Stupid. I think it was a watch store, or some odd designer product. Go figure >__>;
Time in Oita about up, we return to the bus, my efforts at finding a proper obi to match my yukata also foiled, where it's a bit of a feat to gather the stragglers and make sure we're not forgetting anybody. As we get back to Beppu, the bus stops at Spa Beach where well over half of us depart with the promise of a BBQ later, and not wanting to take a bus we have to pay for to come back downhill. We split yet again with some of us wanting to go to Book Off (a few people needed more luggage), and others thinking it's 'too far to walk.' Wusses.
An hour or 2 later we meet everyone else back down at the beach, but we're still waiting on the BBQ set and such to arrive. As many of us are somewhat ravenous at this point, we walk further down to Youme town, run into Sam again, and snag food from the food court there.