About Me

My photo

Born in Stockholm (Sweden), now live in Sapporo (Japan). Hold a Ph.D. in computer science and work with computers during the days, perform magic in a bar during the nights (and weekends, for kids). Also used to teach historical fencing back in Sweden.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Japanese games

Back in Japan, I was in our magic bar as usual during the weekend. On Saturday, one of our regulars got married, and they held the "after party" in our magic bar. After this party, the husband went off with most of the guests to have an "after after party", but the bride stayed in our bar.

They had planned quite a lot of party games for the after party but did not have time to do all of them. This meant that they had a bag full of panty hoses left, which they gave to my colleagues. Two of my colleagues then put these on their heads, and had a kind of tug of war. The first one to have his panty hose pulled off his head loses. Weird game...

Strangely enough, the bride stayed in our bar the whole night, at least until 7 A.M. when I left. The groom also showed up at around 4 A.M., so they at least spent their wedding night together... but why spend it in a magic bar!?

Tit bit

In the airplane between Munich and Tokyo, they had "tit bits" in a cupboard. Not sure what that was.

Poland: Lekomat

In the airport there was a machine called a "lekomat". It sells drugs. In Swedish, anything that ends in "-mat" is a machine like that, so so far the words are similar. In Swedish, "lek-" means "to play", so it sounds like a machine that will play with you (or at least sell toys). The "healing" word in Swedish would be "läke-", where "ä" sounds similar to "e", so it is still close.

Poland: Strange green tea

In the airport, I found something called green tea. It was indeed green, and possibly tea, but it was very different from Japanese green tea. It was flavored with strawberry and aloe vera, and tasted pretty much like green colored aloe vera. Not great.

Kórnik: Flat tire

The best time to get a flat tire is perhaps not when you are on your way to catch a plane from Europe to Japan...
When we were on our way to the airport, we got a flat tire in the middle of nowhere. It was a little bit worrying, since for this business trip we had had to sign a paper stating that if there were any extra costs because of for example missing your flight, the university would not pay. So if we were late to the airport, I would have to pay my return ticket myself.

Team work = one guy changing the tire, three guys watching, and one guy taking pictures.
Luckily, our Polish guide said that the Polish roads are very bad and this kind of thing happens all the time, so he was used to changing tires. He was slower than a formula 1 team, but changed the tire in less than 10 minutes and we had no problems at all in reaching the airport on time.

The only thing close to where we got our flat tire was a place selling Swedish made gardening machines.

Kórnik: More scenery

We went out to see another palace like place, that also had oaks that were many hundreds of years old.

Kórnik: Great food

I had a traditional soup based on sour rye, ham, and mushrooms. Very good.
We went to a restaurant in Kórnik that our guide's sister (who lived in Kórnik for quite some time) said was the best. It was very nice, had great food, and even had "normal" toilet paper, haha!
The restaurant interior was very nice.
I also had the recommended local specialty: a duck filled with apples. The white things are steamed bread.

A toilet in Poland with toilet paper that you can find in Sweden too!

Kórnik: Botanical garden

It was already spring in Poland, though we still get lots of snow in Sapporo (that is by the way much farther south than Poland is).
Outside the Kórnik castle there is a huge botanical garden that we took a quick stroll in.
The strange knobs on the ground to the right of this tree are parts of the roots of the tree.

We saw some frogs mating.

My professor thinks all trees in Europe looks like this, and wondered why. We were told the ball shaped things are a parasite that lives in some trees (and I have never seen something like this in Sweden, so not "all trees in Europe").

Kórnik: Very low toilets

There was a toilet that cost you 2 Polish zloty to use outside the castle museum in Kórnik. It was one of the lowest toilets I have ever seen. It also had the cardboard/sandpaper toilet paper.

Kórnik: Castle museum

Here are some pictures from a castle in the village of Kórnik that is now a museum.

There was an extra charge if you wanted to take pictures (doubling the price).

You had to wear slippers on top of your shoes so as not to wear out the floor.

There were lots of armors and weapons, which I like. I used to do historical (European) fencing when I lived in Sweden and we would sometimes visit places with collections like this:

Someone living in the castle was apparently a collector of exotic weapons, so there were also daggers from Asia.

I bought two or three daggers like the one on the right when I was in India, though the ones I bought were in very bad conditions.

I want a hat like this.

I want braces like the one in the center of the picture.


On our last day in Poland, we had a few hours between leaving the hotel and the departure time of our plane. Our friend from Poznan took us to the village of Kórnik where we saw a church, a castle/museum, a botanical garden, and a great restaurant.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Poznan: Garbage bins

Conveniently located garbage bin
In Japan there are almost no garbage bins. You can find some that are for recyclable goods, like PET-bottles. Other ones are difficult to find, though you can often find some when you find a convenience store. This is one of the few things that are somewhat inconvenient in Japan. According to my older friends in Japan, Japan also used to have garbage bins everywhere, like most normal countries in Europe. Then someone put sarin gas in garbage bins in Tokyo and killed lots of people. After that, they removed all the garbage bins. And to be fair, no one has gassed people to death since then, so in that sense it worked.

In Poznan, there are of course garbage bins everywhere, so you do not have to carry all your garbage all the way home with you.

Poznan: Pizzas and toilet paper

My colleague is not happy with pizzas in Japan. Pizzas are usually very expensive and when they are not, they are not very good. Some of the expensive ones are not very good either. So whenever he goes to Europe he as a rule has pizza at least once. Since we are going back to Japan tomorrow, today was pizza day.

We asked around at the meeting for a good pizza place and the local people told us that "da Luigi" is a good pizza restaurant close to where we are staying. We went there but it was full. My colleague went inside to ask when they expected to have seats for us, but they said they were fully booked for the entire evening...

We found another pizza place around the corner which seemed nice, so we went there instead. I ordered a pizza with salami and some banana juice (the weirdest drink I could see on the menu). The banana juice was not very good, but the pizza was very nice.

Also, the toilet of this restaurant had toilet paper that was quite similar to normal toilet paper (though still not quite as soft as Japanese toilet paper)!

Poznan: Second hand sweets?

I noticed a sign with a Swedish flag on it. It said "Second hand", but did not specify what type of second hand stuff they sold. The only things being sold nearby were sweets, which would not be great to get second hand... But the sign turned out to tell you to go to a store around the corner, upon closer inspection.

Poznan: Proletaryat

Not only are there bizarrely named clubs and restaurants in Japanese in Poland, they have absurd names even in Polish too. Naming a club Proletaryat and having Lenin in the window is pretty funny.

Poznan: Sweden

When listening to the history lessons on Poznan, there were many mentions of Swedish people coming and plundering the town. The "Swedish flood" meant the Swedish army coming from the sea (we are just across the sea from Poland), flowing all over the country down to the southern border, then withdrawing and lugging all the wealth with it leaving only devastation in its wake. This apparently happened often enough to make Polish people invent a special expression to describe it...

Today I bought a post card to send to my parents. I asked for a stamp that would cover sending the card to Sweden and then one of the women in the information center where I bought the card asked if I was Swedish. She gave me a brochure on Poznan written in Swedish. Very good Swedish, but not Swedish a native speaker would use, so it is probably written by a Pole with good knowledge of Swedish.

As it turned out, it would actually have been cheaper to bring the card back to Japan and send it to Sweden from over there. Despite the Japanese yen now being very very strong. Japanese postage is ridiculously cheap.

Poznan: Da Vinci

My (barely liquid) drink

The same, but with some whipped cream on top...

My cake

My colleague wanted to go to a cafe called "da Vinci" so we went there to have some sweets after the meetings were over. The place had a very nice atmosphere, with da Vinci drawings on the walls and the menu items being named things like "Mona Lisa". The stuff they served was very good, but it felt like being on a highway to diabetes. I tried hot chocolate, which seemed to be a chocolate bar that they melted and put in a cup. Very good, very thick, probably not very healthy. My colleague ordered the same but with a mountain of whipped cream on top...