About Me

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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.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Plum flavored potato chips


In Japan the like sour plums. They also have weird flavors on their potato chips. I found a bag with sour plum flavored chips. I tried a few. Not good. I gave some to my colleagues. No one liked them. I put them in the "anyone who wants some, take these for free" at the university. They are still there two months later.

More "fun-derwear"


I managed to ruin some of my funny underwear and ordered more from Amazon. The yellow ones have the Japanese sticker you put on a car to indicate that the driver does not have a license yet but is still in training and the text says "beginner". The black ones have the sign for "You have to be over 18 to enter" that Japanese shops use to separate the porn corner from the rest of the bookstore etc.

The red one could be read as a Japanese abbreviation of  "Cola can" (a can of Coca Cola) but also is the word meaning "crotch". The other two are the ones I already had, the Facebook symbol but the text changed to "green light tonight!" instead of "like" by changing one letter, and the Japanese present wrapping for very unpresuming gifts.

Summer rain


This summer it rained. A lot. Many times, and heavy rain when it rained.

Tiny playing cards and free ice cream


A friend of mine had mentioned that there was a shop very close to my home that sells really tiny decks of cards. I finally managed to go there when they were open. I bought six decks of cards, which probably made me the highest paying customer in months, since all the stuff they sell (except the cards) go for like 10 yen or so, and I ended up shopping for 6500 yen.


So the owner gave me an ice cream for free. Yeay!

When I entered the shop, there was an old grandmother and a six year old boy there shopping already. The owner looked at me and then asked me: "Are you together?" pointing at them. Perhaps he though I was a relative, haha?

Christmas party in August?


Back in August, one of my friends invited me to a Christmas party. In August. Since there are close to 0% Christians in Japan, Christmas is a bit different here. It is celebrated as either a romantic date night for couples, where you go eat "Western" food, or it is celebrated by eating Kentucky Fried Chicken (the lines are extreme, and many KFCs only allow you in if you have booked in advance on Christmas...).


Celebrating Christmas in August still seemed a bit strange to me, despite living in Japan for years. There was a fairly reasonable explanation, though. My friend used to live with her sister. When they lived together they always ate the same things every year for Christmas, and since my friend is a great cook, that food is of course excellent.


The sister has now moved to Australia and married a Germany guy, so she does not get to eat this food any more. She was back in Japan for a one month visit with her daughter in August and wanted to eat that food again. So far it makes sense, but I am still a bit unsure if you really have to call it a Christmas party every time you eat roast beef.

My friend has a garden and grows very nice blackberries
Christmas cake
My friend's niece was also attending the Christmas party. She was a bit shy in the beginning, despite us having the same type of outfit (both she and I wore jinbei, summer clothes, while everyone else wore what would work in December). After an hour or so, when everyone else had grown too physically exhausted to play with her, it became my turn, though. She wanted me to fly her around like an airplane and things like that, so I had severe muscle pain the next day from a few hours of playing...

She liked my cell phone, or at least one YouTube clip that we watched for 20 times or so
Jinbei wearing group

Swedish shirts, magical phones, and exploding glass bottles


Some time ago, a guy came to our magic bar wearing a shirt that that said "Sweden". He likes Sweden because of sports, he said.


There was also a girl there who claimed to not do magic but who had a very magician looking cell phone decoration...


During this evening, I needed a new bottle of soda water for some cocktail I was making and one of my colleagues was putting bottles of soda into the refrigerator since all the bottles there had been used up by this time. He stretched out his hand that had two bottles towards me and I thought "great, he is giving me one of these two bottles since I need soda". Turns out he was thinking "here, take these two bottles of soda and I will go get more". So I grabbed one and he released both.

The glass bottle fell very cleanly and landed standing on the floor but the glass broke any way and things went flying everywhere. Soda is not so bad to get on your clothes so that was fine. I noticed later that I had several small cuts on my face from glass passing a bit too close for comfort, though. Since the cuts were very fine, there was not that much blood. And when I got around to take a photo, someone had wiped off most of the blood but if you look really carefully there is a small speck of blood left near the center of the photo, haha.

Oiran parade and Susukino Festival 2015


Back in August there was the yearly Susukino Festival. They close off the streets in the entertainment district from 18 to 22 during three days, and instead of having lots of taxis blocking the streets you have lots of tables serving not very good food and cheap drinks. Our magic bar had a stand together with a yakitori place that has very good food.

You run into lots of friends in the Susukino festival
The first day of the Susukino festival has an "Oiran parade". Two girls (usually from the hostess clubs in Susukino) have to practice how to walk around dressed like an oiran. This involves wearing many layers of kimono and carrying a very long kimono belt that weights several kilos. There are also lots of other people in the parade, since an oiran would not walk around alone, I guess.

The oiran in orange

Oiran in purple
Oiran wear very high geta (Japanese clogs) that are very difficult to walk in. They also have to walk in a certain complicated style.

This year it only rained on day out of three, so financially I guess the Susukino festival this year was more successful than usual (it usually rains like crazy for at least two days). We had a pretty good spot, but a very small area.

It rained a little the first day, but some people still stayed.
I usually show up in yukata for Japanese festivals (you have to use every opportunity to wear a yukata, since there are so few of them). This makes doing any actual work hard, though. It is also a pain doing magic wearing a yukata. But doing magic at the Susukino festival sucks anyway, so I figured why not?


Some reasons for disliking doing magic at the Susukino festival includes rain (ruins anything made of paper, like a deck of cards), strong winds (blows away cards, sponges, threads, paper money, anything light), no space to stand (very very crowded), people being completely unfocused (people they know pass nearby and start talking to their friends all the time), and much more. People are usually very happy and enjoy the magic, though.

Students from my university dancing in the street

There are other entertainments during the festival too. There is a yosakoi (team dancing) competition, and the team from my university was there of course. There are also karaoke competitions and musical performances. There are mobile temples being carried around too.

This kid wanted to see "one more magic trick" for 5 hours, haha.

Doing magic to the son of a friend who went to the trick art museum with me in Tokyo.

New yukata on day two
Two people I kind of know
In Susukino, you meet a lot of people that you know when everyone is drinking in the street. Normally everyone is hidden away in the hundreds of small bars here. I walked past a table where two guys who are so into fishing that they looked up information on the Internet and then found their way to a bar I often go to just because a "famous fishing expert" they follow on Facebook mentioned he was there drinking. They recognized me from the one time we met in the bar, and bought me drinks and food in the festival. They were drinking with one of the transvestite dancers from LaLaToo, our famous transvestite show club.

Tourists from Taiwan (?) with a selfie stick
My blond friend and his colleagues passed by
Mobile temples carried by thirty people trying to pass through the crowds.
The people I buy my cameras from stopped by our place, and then continued on to our bar!

I spent a ridiculous amount of time barfing cards out of my mouth to try to get passersby interested in our little stand
Yet another yukata on day three