Monday, October 31, 2011

Birthday presents!

Today I got unexpected birthday presents! My birthday is October 29, and on that day I got no presents. Well, I did get some photos from a friend, and inside the photo envelope there were three pieces of chocolate, so that should count as a present I think. Two friends also paid for my dinner, which may count. Although the 29th did not see much in the way of presents, I did get licorice filled chocolate from my Swedish friends on the 27th, though.

Rilakkuma-shaped playing cards.

Today (31st) I got one more present from my Swedish friends! Amazing. They gave me a deck of cards shaped like Rirakkuma, a Japanese character.

A present from a secret admirer?

When I got back from lunch there was a present standing on my desk without a note too! I wondered who my secret admirer could be (not many people have access to our building) and shortly found an e-mail from our secretary explaining that the present was from her. A very good day today!

The effects of the Fukushima incident?

My skin turning whiter than normal. Probably not Fukushima related.

After the Sapporo Zombie Walk and the Halloween party I got home and finally had a chance to wash off my zombie makeup. The syrup based blood comes off from your skin really easy, so that is not a problem. It does stick to anything, though, and getting the red food coloring out of clothes is more difficult. I still have blood spatter all over my bathroom even though I cleaned it three times by now. The stuff has apparently ended up everywhere, and I find new spots of blood every time I go near the bathroom.

My bathroom turned messy.

The face paint was more difficult to get rid of. I spent 45 minutes in the shower, finally resorting to using a Scotch Brite pad with a very rough texture to try to scrub paint off. Most of the paint is gone, I think, though there is still some stuck around my eyes, in my eyelashes, in my ears, and under my nails. My hair still has paint and possibly some syrup in it too.

Time to wash the shirt?
I still have not begun cleaning my clothes. I like the look of the t-shirt, so I might keep it as it is (though it smells quite strongly of maple). The jacket will be difficult, I think.

Halloween Party 2

My party outfit.

My friend invited me to a Halloween party. Since I had just been to the Sapporo Zombie Walk I went to the party as a zombie.

Two years ago, this friend and her friends invited me to go to Bon-Odori, a kind of traditional summer dance thing. "Let's all go in yukatas!" Yukata is a summer kimono, and one of the chances of wearing this without looking out of place is at the Bon-Odori. So it was decided two months in advance that everyone had to come wearing their yukatas.

I had to go straight from work at the university to get their in time, so I spent a whole day at work dressed in yukata. Fairly popular with the ladies in the student cafeteria, but I was stared at a lot, and my professor asked me what in the world I was doing?! He also took a picture of me.

When I showed up to the Bon-Odori, no one else was wearing a yukata, only me. "It would have been too much work to change at work", "I have my yukata at my parents place", all kinds of creative excuses (during these two months, couldn't you have picked it up when you visited your parents?) were to be found, but no yukatas.

So when I was invited to a party and told "Everyone has to come dressed in a funny costume!", that event sprang to mind. Indeed, when I came to the party there were three men and five women already there, and a total of 0 of them were wearing costumes. One had a ribbon in her hair, which may have counted as being dressed up. Two more showed up later, none wearing costumes.

There was some screaming when people first saw me, and the one girls that I had actually met before did not recognize me when she came to the party.

 There was a lot of very nice food at the party! And after a while, people started changing into costumes. Some were quite good. One guy dressed up as a Japanese office worker, in a suit, with his hair combed slick and wearing nerdy glasses. A bit like me dressing up like a foreigner the night before. The best was a guy dressed up to look like Winnie the Pooh.

Winnie the Pooh and a Halloween pumpkin.

Other costumes.
Winnie the Pooh looking kind of obscene.
There was also a bingo game that was kind of funny. One girl handed out bingo cards to everyone. She also ran the software to select bingo numbers in a supposedly fair way. She also got bingo first of all... There was a price in the bingo game, and only a price for the very first person to get bingo. She got it and claimed that while it did indeed look a bit suspicious, there was not cheating going on :-)

The results of the costume competition!
There was also a costume competition. I think Winnie the Pooh deserved to win, but I won. I got a weird little figurine as first price in the costume competition.

My prize!
I was asked to do some magic, and tried to do a short performance dressed as a zombie. This was more difficult than expected. With my hands covered in paint (and some blood) the way things slide against the fingers was very different from normal. This made all kinds of things difficult. I often put a pen behind my ear as a magic trick too, but this almost failed since my hair was caked stiff by having lots of fake blood in it. All in all, a fun and interesting experience. People said they had never seen a zombie do magic before.

Then I left to take the subway back home again. People stared in the train, but at least there were less people in the subway at midnight. People near my home also stopped and stared from time to time, and some asked if it was because of Halloween. I said yes.

My life as a zombie

After the Sapporo Zombie Walk finished, I was scheduled to go to a Halloween party. I had about two hours to kill, and was worried that parts of my makeup needed fixing up.


I started walking home, but decided to stop by Magic Shop Mebius since it was right on my way home. It is a shop that sells goods for magicians, and I am friends with the owner. He was very surprised (to say the least) to see me looking like a zombie. He ran off to get his camera and had me posing with weird props for 10 minutes.

I left the magic shop and when I was turning around the corner on the street the magic shop is to turn towards my place, I ran into a group of six young people (high school students?). One girl screamed and jumped away. One boy also exclaimed that he was surprised, quite loudly. On my way home, other people also stared.

Once home, I got in the elevator behind a young woman, just as it was closing. She turned around and looked at me and asked me what floor I wanted... Then she said: "Halloween?" I said yes, and that I had been to an event called Sapporo Zombie Walk. She said she should have taken Sunday off from work to go see that.

The makeup required fixing (the lips, for instance).

I touched up my makeup and set off for the Halloween party. Usually I walk wherever I need to go inside Sapporo, but my friend has moved and it would take an hour and a half or so to get to her place now. So I had to go by subway.

Alone and awkward in the subway.
Taking the subway alone dressed like a zombie was a bit awkward... I had to change subway lines at the Odori station, which is the most heavily trafficked station in Sapporo. Right in the middle of the busy hours... People stared. People shied away. Luckily, I ran into an acquaintance and his girlfriend inside Odori station, so I could at least talk to them while I was waiting for my train (thus looking less like a lone lunatic). They were going in the opposite direction though, so I was once again alone in the train.

I stood close to the doors, and close to the doors on the opposite side there were two high school girls, one sitting and on standing with her back towards me. The kept throwing furtive looks at me, and talking quietly about "weird foreigner". Not so quiet so that I could not hear them though :-)

They got off one stop earlier than me. When I was looking out the doors at the wall paintings at that station, I noticed that they had stopped just around the corner of the wall near the escalator and peeking out with only their cell phone cameras and their eyes, taking pictures of me :-)

There was also some kid pointing at me inside the subway and talking to his parents about me. The mother kind of nodded to acknowledge that yes there was a crazy foreigner in the train, but tried to not look in my direction.

Once I got off the train I phoned my friend and asked where to go. She said she would come to meet me, and that I could wait for her inside the super marked next to the station. I decided it would be better to wait outside... My friend came up on me from behind (from where I look normal) and was quite scared when I turned around when she said hello.

Sapporo Zombie Walk 2011-10-30 ・ ゾンビ会議

Me in front of the TV tower.
On October 30, 2011, we had the Sapporo Zombie Walk (札幌ゾンビ・ウォーク) here in Sapporo. About 150 zombies gathered in Odori Koen park in the center of Sapporo and walked around for two hours. It was great.

I got up early and turned myself into a zombie using some quick and simple (since I did not have any time) things. A description of how I became a zombie can be found in another blog post.

Once I looked like a zombie I set off for Odori. There were some problems. First, I had smeared my hands with fake blood based on syrup, which sticks to everything. Trying to get out of my apartment without turning it into a bloodbath was tricky. Using elbows etc. in a surprisingly successful way, I managed to get out into the corridor and when trying to lock my door by holding my keys through my t-shirt (which was already covered in blood), someone came out from my neighbors apartment. I said hello, and he gave me an uninterested look and said nothing... Not surprised or anything... which was a bit disappointing.

There were a lot of bloody nurses at the event.

The elevator opens automatically, as does our front door, so the rest was not so difficult. Some people were staring when I walked through town towards the park, though. Once I got to the park, I started looking around for other zombies or the registration people for the event. I saw no one. No zombies. No other people. No one... Hmm, if I am here on the wrong day, this may turn a bit awkward, I thought. Then I spotted to nurses with huge amounts of blood on them and was a bit relieved. I also found the registration people soon afterwards. I was just early. I got zombie number 8 (the registration staff had the lower numbers themselves), so I was just early.

They had lots of registered people on a printout, and asked me for my name. I said "Jonas", and they asked when I had registered as a participant. "5 A.M. today". That helped, because then I would probably be on the last page. I was, but there were about 5 people who had registered even later.

More zombies arriving.

Zombies lining up to register.

After awhile, more and more zombies started arriving. An American guy came riding a bicycle in a full zombie outfit. He asked me what I had used to paint my face and I said I found makeup face paint at Donkihoote. He had not found any, so he had used stuff like building plaster and car paint to build his own zombie face... He was worried that it might not come off after the event was finished.

Me, my favorite zombie (and the most popular to take pictures with): the bride; and an American guy who was unsure if his makeup would come off.

Lots of people asked to take pictures (of me, but also of many of the other zombies). Both zombies taking pictures of each other, and random tourists visiting the park or Sapporo people passing by. I was quite popular since there were very few foreigners and since my blood looked very real. Many zombies only had makeup in their face, so I was complimented on my hands a lot. Having hand drenched in blood quickly turned my camera into a syrup covered camera that did not work that well (the shutter was hard to open), so it was not only good, though...

Receiving instructions.

When about 150 zombies had showed up there was an introductory speech by the organizer. He explained the rules: no walking on the grass, no pulling up flowers, no crossing the streets at a red light, no scaring innocent bystanders, no running like zombies in recent movies (Sapporo Zombie Walk are traditionalists). He also gave an overview of the plan for today: shuffle from Odori West 5 to Odori West 3, mill around at West 3 for 30 minutes posing for tourists, shuffle back to West 5. There was some quick zombie training: how to stare vacantly like a zombie, how to moan like a zombie, and how to walk like a zombie. Then we shuffled off towards West 3.

Lots of zombies, and even more people taking pictures of zombies. Including some of my friends from Poland.

Lots of people stopped to watch. Odori park is normally heavily trafficked, and there are also many big streets crossing through the park, and one of the largest shopping areas is located right by Odori West 3. It is also a popular tourist destination, where people take pictures of the park and the Sapporo TV Tower, located in Odori West 1.

Many people also showed up just to take pictures of the event (or friends participating). There were professional cameramen from the event itself too, as well as TV crews, freelance photographers, and whatnot. I was asked "Can I take a picture with you?" more than 100 times during the day I think. Other people were even more popular.

The event was a lot of fun. The organizers had prepared food (a mannequin) for zombies to eat etc.

After the event was over there was apparently a party where they ate zombie like food (sausages looking like fingers etc.) and watched zombie movies. They also voted on who was the cutest zombie, the scariest zombie, etc. but I did not have time to go to the party so I do not know how that went.

I had to go to a friend's Halloween Party instead. Getting there dressed as a zombie was a small adventure in itself (more about that in the next blog post).

Here are some of my pictures from the event:


My favorite.

This woman is eating a hand. She was also very good at walking like a zombie. Unfortunately, she was always moving so my picture is not so good.

A zombie with a knife (?) throught the chest.
Possibly the youngest zombie there.

Another foreigner, with very nice makeup for the chin damage.

This guy was really funny.
One of my favorites, the surgeon. He also had a zombie nurse with him.

The bride was the most popular zombie to have your picture taken with.
Another newly wedded zombie, checking her iPhone.
Another of my favorites, the pilot and stewardess team!

The pilot and stewardess zombies waiting in line with a French maid zombie.
The school girl zombie with a big plastic bag. She lugged it around all day. I wonder what was in it?

I have no idea what kind of zombie that is, but an A for effort!
I liked the yukata wearing zombies a lot. And looking at this photo now, I think I actually know the girl in red, though I did not recognize her at the time (and she not me either).

Apparently this (red clothed girl) is a character from the manga/anime Onepiece. Possibly a zombie character. Very cute girl.
The girl behind the bride had very very nice cuts opening up her mouth to three times its normal width. She also had great eye makeup. And a funny dress.

How I turned into a zombie

The goal.
 On October 30, 2011, there was the Sapporo Zombie Walk event in Odori Koen park (our big park in the center of Sapporo). I wanted to participate (who wouldn't?).

I have never dressed up as a zombie before, but one of my friends has. He even used to go around giving lectures on this kind of extreme makeup. He said he did not have any tools/stuff to use, so he could not help me this time, though.

The day before the event I was busy with lots of other things and did not have time to do much zombie preparations. I did find time to buy a white t-shirt for 100 yen though.

Finding stuff to use

Mixing blood in the bathroom.
What you need:
  • Face paint, or makeup powder, in large quantities. I used white and black face paint. Some people use red too, to make bruises. I found that using fake blood and then paint on top worked too.
  • Fake blood. Make your own from red food coloring (color), syrup (texture), chocolate syrup (the red is not blood like, so make things better by adding chocolate).
  • Clothes that you are willing to throw away.
Since I worked until 4 A.M. on the 30th (came home at around 6 A.M.), I did not have that much time then either. I set my alarm clock for 11 and managed to get up with very little trouble, and went out looking for white makeup to smear on my face. Toukyuu Hands is the obvious first place to look (and it is relatively close to my home). Indeed they do sell grease paint you can use on your face, but it is expensive and comes in very small packs. I decided to run around some more, even though I was running out of time.

My next stop was Donkihoote (Don Quixote in Japanese), that also sells lots of weird stuff. They had a Halloween corner, but it was even more expensive and even smaller packs... I asked the staff if they had "huge packs" of face paint somewhere too, and was recommended to check on the 4th floor. There they sold tubes of paint that you could also use on skin, and it was fairly cheap. I bought one large tube of white and one of black.

At 5 in the morning on my way home I had stopped by my 24h open super market and bought maple syrup, chocolate syrup, and red food coloring. Once back home with my face paint, I mixed the foodstuffs until it looked like fairly realist blood and then set about turning myself into a zombie.

Applying makeup

The recommendation is to dress in whatever you plan to wear while applying the makeup. Any blood running down your chin will then give natural looking blood stains on your clothes. The first layer of white on my skin I did when more or less naked, though.

First step, adding black and white so you look like a panda.
I did not have much time, so I decided to do something simple. Face and arms were painted white. Eye sockets, mouth and nostrils were then painted black, and some more white were added to clean up the edges. I also painted the roots of my nails black to make them look dirty.

Drooling blood down onto your clothes gives nice patterns.
I then took a handful of blood (it is syrup, so it is not as runny as real blood and you can keep it in your hands for a while) and put it on my forehead/in my hair and let it run down my face. I then sucked a large swallow of blood into my mouth and let it run out of my mouth down my chin and drip down onto the shirt. This gives realistic looking splatter.

Adding blood to the panda look.

I also added some bloody hand prints on the shirt. To get some more red, I dipped a toothbrush in blood and used it to get small drop of blood in spray/splatter patterns on my face and shirt. This also sprayed blood all over the walls in my bathroom, but it comes of with very little effort.

Finally I dug my hand down into a cup of blood, do get my hands and fingers bloody.

That is all there is too it!


Some tips from my experience as a zombie:

Things will be messy.
The process is messy, do it standing in the bathtub or somewhere that is easy to clean.

Blood that is edible is good, you can put it in your mouth and then let it run out. Looks nice while it is happening (bring a bottle with you), and it gives you realistic blood stains on your clothes.

My camera, still with syrup/blood on it (most on the other side though).
Blood on your hands looks great but is annoying when you want to take pictures of other zombies. My camera was covered in blood after 3 minutes, and could not be opened after 10 minutes since everything was stuck in the syrup. Trying to open my door, lock my door, ride the elevator etc. without smearing blood everywhere was also challenging.

The blood looks great more or less forever (this is 12 hours after applying it).
The paint tends to dry up and flake. It is also water soluble, so the lips will lose their color.

The blood stays good forever. The paint will have to be reapplied if you are going to be a zombie for more than a few hours.

All of your clothes will be ruined (they can possibly be washed more or less clean, but the red sticks  fairly well), even those you did not expect to be ruined. Blood will run everywhere (I drooled blood on my jacket, trousers, and shoes) and other zombies will shuffle into you and smear whatnot on you.

Flies like syrup. And the get stuck to syrup. Looks realistic perhaps, but is a bit uncomfortable for you.

You will itch. Boy did my face start itching from time to time, and I did not dare do anything about it since it would ruin the makeup...

Not only will you itch, but eyelashes and hair will get stuck in the syrup, which will make blinking painful sometimes, and difficult to achieve at other times.

Riding the subway with no friends to talk to (to not look like a solitary crazy person) and no one else dressed up for Halloween can be a bit awkward.

People will stare. This can be good, but riding the subway alone was also a bit awkward...

Hot weather is probably better than Hokkaido autumns. It was cold.

Being a zombie is fun, take any chance/excuse you can find.

A good way to meet people, and see famous sightseeing spots like the Sapporo TV tower.