Tuesday, April 7, 2015
Viking rune stone in Tokyo
I woke up early in the morning and headed from my hotel to a much more expensive hotel to pick up one of the foreign guests that had been invited to the research meeting in Tokyo. He also wanted to visit our lab in Sapporo, so I had been assigned to get him there. He told me he comes to Japan five times per year and he seemed very accustomed to travelling in Japan, but my boss thought that we need to hold his hand during the trip to Sapporo. Since no one else had time to do that, I was asked to do it. I even had cancel my plane ticket and book a ticket with a different airline, since my boss wanted me to be on the same plane as our guest ("In case of snowstorms, one airline might fly and another not, so you should be in the same plane").
Anyway, while walking to his hotel, I passed a Swedish rune stone. I was very much surprised to see a rune stone in Japan. It turned out to be a memorial stone celebrating something that happened in 1957, not something from the viking age.
In Sweden we played with the rune alphabets a little bit in elementary school, but it is not something I can read normally. Looking up some of the things now, I managed to read it, though. It says (with spelling adjusted to modern Swedish) "Skandinaver öppnade luftvägen mellan Japan och Europa över nordpolen den 24 februari 1957 och reste denna sten till hågkomst tio år senare". Or in English "Scandinavians opened the airway from Japan to Europe over the North Pole on February 24, 1957, and raised this stone ten years later to commemorate that."