Jonas's travels: Sapporo, November
Atrocious spelling ahead!
Since I use a laptop (weird keyboard layout and really small keys) with Japanese keyboard layout (even weirder than normal), many typing mistakes are made. If you feel the need to impress me with your proof reading skills, feel free to send e-mails to the address printed further down.
Work work work (20051101)
To show that I am still doing some work, I snapped a picture at todays seminar. For the first time since I arrived I actually understood most of todays seminar. This however has little to do with my infinitesimal improvements regarding Japanese and much to do with the fact that all presentations today were held in English.
The "dryer" here has turned into my eternal nemesis. I manage to use the related washing machine to get my clothes clean. They are however, not unexpectedly, quite wet afterwards. This is where I thought to use the dryer. The amount of cooperation from the machine is less than expected, though. It makes my clothes hot (very hot, actually), but not dry... I have tried most combinations of button pushing, waiting for enormous amounts of time etc. Nothing makes any difference, every time it is the same, the clothes are hot and wet. This is why my room often looks like in the last picture. And I just like the sign about "please don't ever press the button ...".
Kevin Costner (20051101)
Today I topped of the successful laundry with going to a restaurant in my shorts (the only dry clothes I had) and then watching Kevin Costner speak Japanese. After maybe 30 minutes it turned out to be The Postman, which I saw a very long time ago and have only vague memories of (mostly that it was rather boring and enormously long...). That everyone now seemed to be speaking Japanese didn't really make it more enjoyable for me. Oh, and I managed to break bike number 2 today.
Birthday presents (20051102)
My birthday passed quite unnoticed in Sweden, the celebrations consisting only of e-mails, totaling 3, one of which arrived after the actual birthday had passed. This was however compensated by the people around here surprising me with birthday presents. First out a cup that is quite a contrast to the ones I had been using previously. This present arrived on my actual birthday, and was a gift from one of the people living in the same building as me. Today I also received a card holder from people at my research lab. This is excellent, since my wallet is already broken and patched up with tape (see October), and also another chance to show off my cool cash cards.
Undefeated Scrabble Champion (20051102)
I have been advised to register with the Swedish embassy, so if there is an earthquake and I die, they can call Sweden and let them know. This doesn't really seem to help me very much, but I decided to do it anyway. First I needed to buy some refills for my pen. With my limited knowledge of foreign languages, it almost seemed like these were supposed to smell like fruits. It turns out that indeed now my pen smells like grapes. To round of the shopping I picked up some envelopes in the most discreet color available and then sent my important documents to the embassy.
New slippers (20051103)
More trees (20051103)
Today is Culture Day, so all my classes and similar things are canceled. I went to Nakajima koen today, since people have been recommending it to me and I live only 5 minutes away. It was nice, but also full of flies and a slight rain. All in all, it was very much like home, with colorful trees, rain, rune stones etc.
Today being a holiday I had nothing to do really, and being lazy I didn't feel like studying Japanese. I tried stargzing, but it was cloudy, so instead I tried to play badminton. This, however, is not so much fun when you are alone, I found out. Luckily, people noticed this sad performance and invited me along for dinner. For some reason, people here seem to think I only photograph weird things, so it was suggested that I wear the serving pan made of stone on my head for the photo (which would be considered weird even in Japan). Since food was still frying in it, I declined, pointing out that as a Swede, I am not used to hot temperatures.
Weird store (20051103)
The dinner was served in the restaurant part of a shopping mall. On the way out I took pictures in a store with many weird things for sale. Who would want to sleep on something that looks like a skinned panda, for instance? But they did have spoons and cups with the Swedish flag, and quite cool ski masks. And clothes for "supanky" girls... Indeed, "the spiritual world is peaceful with love that it is woven and which is made".
Sleep deprivation (20051104)
Today I found the people that do sports in my building. They beat the crap out of me in badminton, not so good for my ego (though I suck at most sports, so no big surprise). I regained some self esteem by playing some Scrabble. As can be seen from the score card, Mr. Pigeon did indeed slide in for a quite comfortable win. After this I was sort of in a hurry to see an acquaintance DJ at a club nearby. When I arrived he was just finished with his part... great. At least I got to talk to him and a lot of other people. I still have no clue to Japanese society, I noticed... early in the evening people poking me and another guy in stomach. I got thumbs up, he didn't... considering my general fitness, I have no idea what this meant. It was followed by people running their fingers through his, my and my DJ friend's hair. Again, a win for Sweden, if I understood correctly. At least people were running their fingers through my hair many at a time for many minutes. I arrived back in my room at around 8 in the morning and was rudely awakened 2 hours later. Construction workers in Japan work also on Saturdays, which mad it hard to sleep. I decided to head of to a Japanese class instead, though not in tip top condition mentally.
Swedish food (20051105)
Birthday party (20051105)
Today one of my colleagues had a birthday party. There were a lot of people (although the apartment was big for a Japanese apartment, it was still quite crowded) and a lot of food. Having made plans for early Sunday meetings, I gave up early and was home already by 2 in the morning.
Party things (20051105)
Address in utf-8:
Jonas Sjobergh 様
Colder than Sweden? (20051107)
When I describe the usual weather in Stockholm, especially the winter temperatures, people here always say that Sapporo is colder. So far, I seriously doubt it. I usually walk around in T-shirt and sometimes shorts. Other people do it too, which this girl will have to represent (since people keep moving so fast that I rarely have time to pull forth my camera, but she had to wait for a green light). Other people wear less, which would be considered remarkable in Sweden in November.
Work work work (20051108)
Swedish food (20051109)
I received some Swedish food from home (mostly candy, but if it's edible, it's food by my definition), which I brought to todays language practice. And we also played some Scrabble, with unsurprising outcome.
Christmas trees (20051110)
Today was a slow day on the weird photos front, consisting mostly of going to different language classes to learn how to say "conceptual space" in Japanese. I did see these Christmas trees with interesting covers, though.
Some more work (20051111)
Today at the seminar, someone is browsing Slashdot, and not even the Japanese version. Then people were offering hot pumpkin filled with mint tasting ice cream, which they had seen in a manga. The taste is pretty much as you would imagine.
Welcome party (20051111)
Today there was a welcome party for me and the other new student in the lab. As usual in Japan, there were enormous amounts of food and unlimited drinks. Then the party continued at another place with just a little food and another two hours of unlimited drinks. Luckily, drinks in Japan are quite weak. Unlimited drinking for 10 Euro...
No Scrabble (20051111)
Being busy with the welcome party, I did not have time to attend the Friday evening Japanese practice, where we usually play Scrabble. Luckily, they did not play Scrabble today, so I am still the reigning champion.
Trees again (20051112)
Today I was meeting a guy for some language exchange at 13.00. Unfortunately, being well organized and as smooth as usual, I had put it down as 12.00 in my calendar, and thus spent some time photographing trees while waiting around.
Today I went to Otaru, which is another city near Sapporo. There I spent some time walking in the mountains with a Japanese mountaineer. The view was very nice, but since it was snowing a little, I used a long sleeved shirt, totally ruining my reputation as the crazy Swedish guy who never feels cold.
More food (20051112)
We ate yakiniku today, which was very nice, though there was (as is usually the case in Japan), too much food. Take a look at the onigiri (rice ball) for instance, it is huge. There was quite a lot left when we gave up. Since our table was the only one with flames almost reaching the ceiling, I suspect we were either eating more exciting food than the other guests, or we are simply more talented when it comes to spectacular cooking.
Enormous food (20051112)
I found a shop selling enormous cabbages for 100 yen (less than one Euro), so I bought one. It's always good to have an enormous cabbage, right? It turns out to be a bit unpractical, though. It didn't really fit in the bicycle basket, nor in the refrigerator. And what I'm supposed to do with it, I don't know.
At the university they have a really cyber toilet, automatic in many ways and with functions that you never knew was necessary in a toilet. Not all Japanese toilets are like that though, here are two along the more "traditional lines". Especially the second one, which doesn't even have running water.
Problem solved (20051112)
I could borrow a knife to cut up the giant cabbage, and also found people to give away cabbage to. I even got a pear in return (which is indeed a good deal, since I don't like cabbage and pears are probably more expensive).
Bird feed (20051112)
Having gotten rid of all the cabbage yesterday and today finding the closest restaurant closed, I decided to go for a more Spartan dinner (mostly because it was a funny item to buy). This is the Calorie Mate, for people who have little time for food but still need energy. The taste is not that great though.
More salsa (20051113)
I went to another salsa party, to see if I can learn this thing. The indications so far point towards a "no", unfortunately... But it was a lot of fun, and hard physical exercise. I did get to practice the "ballroom dancing silly smile", as shown in the photos, and as shown in the last picture, some of my Japanese teachers were there.
School lunch (20051114)
I sometimes go to this place to eat. Though if you go at lunch time it is packed with students. Food is really cheap (lunch is less than 2 Euro) and I like it (though people tell me I have no taste, which is convenient for me).
Nothing Weird (20051114)
Today, nothing really weird seemed to be happening. Though I did go to a food store, where they sell slippers shaped like Barbapappa (I would have bought some if they didn't look so incredibly hot) and "bread", with something that is quite likely chocolate, judging from the taste.
Being from an exotic country, I am to be interviewed by the local paper on Thursday. So I might not even have to implement the "going to the snow festival in shorts and t-shirt" plan to become famous here. With my Swedish TV career kicking of in January, I am probably set for eternal fame by now...
Today I didn't really have anything important to do, so I spent some time in front of a TV. This is often amusing, but also hampered by the fact that I don't understand anything. Today there were girls fighting, the Emperor's daughter's wedding, weirdly dressed people singing karaoke and of course anime. I think "Smackgirl Korea" might be the best name of a TV show I have seen so far.
Always party party party (20051116)
Today there was a lunch party (free food!). It consisted of various homemade Japanese dishes, very tasty, and a lot of exchange students (almost all of which are from Asia). The purple thing next to the egg in the bowl I photographed is basically potato... though potatoes in Sweden does not look anything like this.
Today I went for dinner together with my Polish colleague. Outside the building we were to eat in, this somewhat suspicious sign was all lit up. It turned out that we were not going to that part of the building, instead we went for some soup curry, which was very nice. In this restaurant the also played reggae covers of eighties music like Michael Jackson and Eurythmics, and the whole building was already full of Christmas decorations.
No sleep (20051116)
I continued my tradition of never sleeping by going with my friend and his girl friend to their apartment, where we discussed such important things as how to hurt people with a sword. I came home at around 1.30, which is when people back in Sweden are sending mail like crazy, evidently. So I had to answer some important looking e-mails before passing out in bed (and since I have to get up early on Thursdays, I of course forgot to bring my textbook to class in the morning).
Working conditions (20051117)
Exotic and beautiful (20051117)
Several times people have remarked upon how exotic, different, beautiful or otherwise non-brown my eyes are. This meant that today I tried to take a picture of my own eye with my camera. This was however slightly more difficult than expected, and the flash started to hurt after many failed attempts, as did the range finder beam shining straight in the eye.
Today there was hail. Then there was snow. Unfortunately, it is too hot here (as always), so it melted. This meant that when I was riding my bicycle, my shoes filled with melted snow, which is perhaps not the most pleasant feeling I can imagine.
Language practice (20051119)
Trying to learn this mystifying language, I went for some language practice today. I brought the quality literature of "Die Hard" in book form. It contained mostly men insulting each other on the pages we studied today, which was fun. This Chinese girl said something about a photo, so I whipped out my camera and took a picture. Though the original idea was for her to take a picture of me, it turned out.
Very Christmas (20051119)
Today I saw a movie at the cinema. The last time I did this in Japan I didn't understand anything. This time I understood a lot. I think the trick might be avoiding Japanese movies and movies dubbed in Japanese... this time everyone spoke British English.
Today I received a letter. It was a thank you note for the interview (I think), with a gift. I believe it to be a subway ticket, though I don't really know. Update: it is a ticket for public transport, for 1100 yens worth of travel.
Cell phone (20051120)
Today I bought a cell phone. 090 6448 7530. It can also be used for watching TV, read bar codes, has a compass and of course a 2 megapixel camera and other necessary things. I also found a strap in a matching color that makes small tinkling sounds. For some reason, I got a free gift with my phone. I could choose between a pack of golf balls, which I have no need for since I don't play golf, and a brown fluffy thing. So I now have a brown fluffy thing. I also bought a cool glow in the dark post card, but there is not so much glow and very much dark, so the photo did not turn out so well using my camera.
German Christmas (20051120)
Light show (20051120)
Language class (20051121)
Conspiracy theory (20051122)
Today (as most days) there was a party. This was at a place where not only had I never before set foot, I have never even been close. Yet, I meet one of my language exchange partners, one person from my Japanese training (got away before I had the camera ready), and one person from the first salsa party. In a city of over 2 million people. I suspect there is some conspiracy, with a goal I cannot yet fathom. It's like this "earthquake" thing. People tell me there was an earthquake here about a week ago. I didn't notice anything (which might be explained by me sleeping at 6 o'clock in the morning, unlike Japanese people, evidently, but...), just like the time there was an "earthquake" when I was in Akihabara... Other than this, the party was like most Japanese parties, full of food that costs very little.
Food and Sweden (20051126)
Today I found a pair of (working) gloves that for some strange reason were very cheap. And cool. So I bought them. There were also a pair of pants in very bright and interesting patterns, probably colored by someone on LSD. They were a little long for me I think, but maybe I should go back and by them anyway...
I think my senses have been deadened when it comes to strangeness. I have not really taken any pictures of strange things lately, except for the "English" sign of a pachinko parlor, but it was too dark so the text in the photo is unreadable. At least today I was a bit surprised to find dairy clothing. Turns out it might just have been a spelling mistake.
Bad timing (20051129)
Yesterday I tried to get some money using my Swedish VISA card at the post office bank near the university. In Tokyo, my card worked perfectly in every post office ATM I ever tried (though these were probably only 4 or so). Here in Sapporo of course it did not work. Also, for some reason ATMs in Japan are not open in after about seven... So when they opened again today I decided to go to a larger post office bank to see if more modern ATMs would help, and also visit some banks to see if I could use my card to get money. Today the weather was of course really bad, so I have spent most of the day soaking wet. Banks just say no when I show my card, while the post offices say sure, but still it doesn't work, so they say that my card is probably broken. To top it of I finally receive my tuition bill today, which should be paid no later than tomorrow (a little shorter waiting period than earlier bills). This will of course not be possible, since I don't have enough cash here (and paying with a card is not allowed). Basically, the timing could have been better. Possibly, I should rethink my forward planning strategies when it comes to money.
Becoming Japanese (20051130)
Today I took a TEG test (Tokyo University Egogram). The new version. If I understand correctly, it measures your personality. After answering 50 or so questions in Japanese, you can check your personality. It turns out that I am pretty much as the Japanese average, except probably a bit more strict as father. So I have already been assimilated (though since my comprehension of many of the questions was somewhat limited, this may not be the whole truth).
Today at the language practice there was an attempt at heating some cookies. The microwave oven was not very cooperative though. When trying to set the time for heating, it responded with this. Basically, "I would like to heat this for 5 seconds please", "Liar!".
Complaints should likely be sent to Jonas. If you would like to have a high resolution copy of one of these images (or some other you suspect I have), please feel free to let me know.