Friday, August 31, 2012

Surprise at Seicomart

On my way home from our magic bar, me and a colleague who lives close to my place usually walk home. We also usually go to the Seicomart convenience store that we pass at 5 a.m. and buy breakfast/dinner. There is a very nice woman who works that shift who is almost always there when we shop.

Once she laughed a little at my t-shirt that had a salmon eating salmon sushi. My colleague said: "Yes, it is weird, right? And he wears such shirts on purpose!"

I said: "And the best thing is, if you do this, a piece of sushi appears" and produced a piece of sushi from my t-shirt by magic.

She made a very funny face, with her jaw dropping quite a bit. She seemed VERY surprised. We explained that we work in a magic bar, and then left. Probably that was the first time she knew we were magicians. And probably it was the first time someone produced sushi from a t-shirt in their convenience store.

Omiyage t-shirt

Yesterday I received a Hokkaido souvenir t-shirt from a friend who traveled to some other part of Hokkaido. We both live in Hokkaido, though. But I still got a t-shirt full of Hokkaido dialect expressions, and a "I love Hokkaido" written in Japanese. There is also English text: "Hokkaido is wonderful in Japan", which sounds a bit strange...

Anyway, we usually have lunch in the nearby student cafeteria. Recently, the staff there have high expectations for my t-shirts. It seemed to start with me wearing a t-shirt saying "I am not Japanese" in Japanese. They laughed for over 5 minutes at that shirt... So for a few weeks now, they look at my shirt and comment. "Ah, Starwars desu ne!" when I wear a "Starwars Coffe" parody t-shirt etc.

On Tuesday, I wore a perfectly normal and pretty nice t-shirt. The woman at the register looked at it for a long time and then gave me a questioning face. I said: "Yes, today it is not a funny shirt. Sorry." And she said: "Yes, it looks very normal." (with a nuance of "in a bad way") and looked very disappointed. I said sorry again, and she said she was looking forward to next time... The pressure on me to wear funny shirts is very high!!

I wore the "I am not Japanese" shirt again, and she said that she thinks that is the best one. I have also worn an Adidas pun shirt, a shirt saying "Super Masochist", a shirt saying "In some sense a god", 6 different shirts with animals being cannibals (like a family of pigs eating pork), two different Starbucks parody shirts, a shirt saying "I am single" in Chinese, a t-shirt saying "I love Kobe", and maybe something else.

I once also produced a piece of sushi by magic when commented on that there was a salmon eating salmon sushi on my t-shirt.

Today I wore the souvenir shirt, which only has print on the back. So I got the questioning face again, and said "The print is only on the back" and showed my back. She laughed a little at that.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

O-mimai and IMAX 3D

A colleague broke his hip and is hospitalized now, so we went to see him last night. He has Internet access and said that he was no always happy with the hospital food. Knowing what food he likes, we went there with a big bag of McDonald's hamburgers and another with chocolate. We figure the healthy stuff he needs the hospital already provides.

After visiting him, we went to the cinema complex to see the movie Prometheus in IMAX 3D. It was a pretty good movie, and the cinema salon was nice too.

Licorice in Japan!

Japanese people hate licorice (Swedish people generally like it, though) so it is very rare to see licorice in Japan. When I went to the meeting of the Magic Club of our university to meet my apprentice (I have my first ever apprentice now!), there was however a big pack of licorice there too. Everyone agreed that it was disgusting, and wondered why the guy who had bought that stuff when travelling abroad had bought so much.

Ant attack!

I visited the Magic Snack "Ropossa" and ended up having a lot of ants stamped onto my skin. We also played some interesting German card games, did some magic (the Mama does magic, and the guy sitting next to me was also a pro magician), and ate way too much food. A good evening.

Someone brought sushi and shared with everyone.
Someone had brought tomatoes from their own field.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Toranpu-man lecture

I went to a lecture with the Japanese magician going by the stage name Toranpu-man (toranpu is Japanese for playing card, from the word "trump").

Before they let us know that photographing was forbidden, I took a picture of the other people listening. Apparently, Toranpu-man performs wearing a mask and no one is supposed to know what he looks like, so you could not take pictures. He is not in my picture, so I figure it is OK to blog about it.

There were about 50 people listening to the lecture, which was a lot more than I had thought would be interested. Lots of beginner magicians in their 50:ies, it seemed.

A very sudden request

I spent every day during this week working until 22:00 or later, which meant having dinner very late. On Thursday I went to Bottom Cafe to have some dinner and it turned out that they were having some kind of very loud party there. I got my food without problems though.

One of the organizers of the party had seen me do magic before, and suddenly he grabbed a microphone and said: "And now the foreigner at the counter will do a magic show!" Which I was not really prepared for. The room was full of drunk people, very loud, and there were people all over the place. So I would have to perform something with an immediate punch (before people lost concentration), something that is angle proof (since I was surrounded), and something that does not require much talking, and which people can see from far away.

I asked someone to pick a card, then hammered a nail into my nose and used that as an ESP antenna to detect what card they were thinking of. That went over quite well.

Afterwards, the owner of the bar said "Sorry you were forced into doing magic like that" and bought me a drink. I asked for whatever was most popular during the party and ended up with something called "Monkey Punch". Seemed to be peach liqueur with pineapple juice. Very sweet.

Sorry, we're open

There is a bar nearby our magic bar that has a sign that says "Sorry we're open" hanging on their door. I am not sure if this is a joke or if they are just bad at English or what is going on. It is a bar where all girls working are dressed in bunny suits, so you are not really allowed to take pictures of the place. I tried to take a picture while casually strolling by, but it became very blurry.

More Spanish food

After the Bon Odori fancy dress competition, I went to a Spanish restaurant with a magician friend of mine. We had spicy chicken paella and some form of cheese wrapped in pork, which was very good.

Fancy Dress Competition at the Sapporo Bon Odori

The cute team of  Alice in Wonderland, my favorites.
The last day of the Bon Odori in the Odori Park in Sapporo sport a fancy dress competition. There are usually around 100 competitors, and some of them are very good. I went there to watch this year too. There were several teams that were very good. I liked for instance the Batman themed team.

The girl in the middle has playing cards on her stockings!
My "cameraman" apparently has very unsteady hands, so even with flash the pictures were sometimes really bad... I liked this "ace of spades" costume, though.
My favorites was a group of girls dressed up as different characters from Alice's adventures in Wonderland. One girl was dressed as the ace of spades (human sized playing card), and another had playing card stockings. I asked them if I could take a picture together with them, since I had a playing card patterned yukata that day. According to the presentation they got at the competition, they are the "masquerade club" of some university or somesuch. A masquerade club sounds fantastically funny! I want to be in a masquerade club! I wonder what they do doing their meetings...

I also danced Bon Odori for 30 minutes or so, which all contestants also have to do. All in all, a nice Monday evening.
Some people put more effort into their dress, some less.

I liked this dancing Hello Kitty

There was a team called a "Nepalese Wedding", which had their own elephant.

My favorite team, dancing.

Another very good team. Batman, Catwoman, Robin, The Joker, The Riddler, and Harley Quinn

This team was also good. I especially liked it when the competition staff wanted to interview the guy dressed as a wall...

There was one foreigner in the competition, dressed as Mario. And it was a guy I know!

I liked the girl dressed as Dracula. She also had a bat that flew around her.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Chinese food and thank yous

The parents of my friend who traveled with me to Sweden were in Sapporo a few days ago and visited my friend. They invited me out to dinner and treated me to a very nice Chinese dinner as a thank you for taking care of their daughter in Sweden. The mother I have met from time to time, a few times per year. She once came to our magic bar, for instance. The father, I think I have not met for something like 4 years.

They also wanted to see some magic, and we talked about some TV show with magic that they had seen recently.

Then I went off on my own to dance some Bon Odori for an hour and half.

Bitten, again!

A minute or so after being bitten.
When I was talking to a girl I know who had come to our magic bar about how I was bitten by another customer a few days back, she said: "Oh! I can bite you too! When I bite, it hurt really really much!". I am not sure if "it hurts really really much" is really a positive thing, but she was insistent.

She only bit me once, but just like she had said, it hurt a LOT.

A day or two after being bitten.
It has been several years since I trained the medieval fencing I used to do back in Sweden. Back then, I would have huge bruises and fingers too swollen to bend most of the time. People hitting each other with sticks, that kind of thing. It has been awhile since I experienced that kind of pain, so it was a bit nostalgic. The resulting bruise was not much when compared to the effects of our sparring back in Sweden, but a fairly respectable bruise considering I was "only" bitten by a girl.

She says that when the bruise fades, she is ready to bite me again to give me a new bruise. Maybe this is some Japanese custom or something?

A week or so after being bitten.

Playing card fashion

I have a yukata with playing card patterning. I also have a pair of underwear with that kind of look. Other than that, there is very little in the way of clothes for men that has playing card designs. For girls, there is however an endless amount. A random girl waiting for the elevator had stockings with playing card symbols, so I took a picture.

Bite marks

I went to one of our magic bars on one of my days off. There was a very drunk woman there who apparently likes to bite people. She was biting one of our other guests (a friend of our owner) and she also asked if she could bite me.

I figured maybe this was normal in Japan, and said that as long as she did not draw blood, why not... She bit fairly hard, but the marks were gone an hour or so later.

My Japanese friends have later explained to me that in Japan it is considered weird to bite people the first time you meet them. There was no explanation as if to it is weird to bite people once you get to know them.


The Sapporo Odori Park yearly Bon-Odori ("Bon dance"; O-Bon is a Japanese holiday) started again. Two years ago I was there dancing with my two Swedish friends (that this year left Sapporo the day before the Bon Odori!) every day for the whole week this even lasts.

There is also festival style food at the Bon Odori 
Last year, I was only there on the last day since I had a very bad cold.

There was one more foreigner there, wearing a yukata
This year, I went there on the first day in my new yukata, and my new geta. One of my magician friends showed up too, and we danced for 2 hours straight. This is a traditional dance that you do in huge groups. Lots of people were taking pictures of me, since there were very few foreigners there.

I even ended up being on TV. Our secretary at work came and complained to me a few days later. She said: "When I turned on the news at 6 in the morning, there was a huge zoom up of Jonas there! The narrator explained that the Sapporo Bon Odori had started and said something like "and there were even foreigners dancing" too. I do not want that kind of shock in the morning. Why do you have to do lots of weird stuff all the time, instead of just working seriously in front of the computer!" Our secretary is funny :-) She also thinks I should spend all my free time working overtime for free, since that would be better in some sense.
My friend was also dancing. The one with a "bullseye" design on his shirt.

Trying to find tiny panties

I want to do a magic trick with a disappearing pair of panties instead of a disappearing handkerchief. One of my friends said that in a store in Sapporo they were selling panties that when folded up looked kind of like a rose, and that came with a rose stalk so you could make a flower out of them. They might be small enough for my magic trick, he suggested.

I went looking for such panties, but after much searching the result is that they are no longer sold. The staff even called all other stores in the Sapporo area that might have them and asked on my behalf, but no one has them anymore.

I figured there must be other ways to buy panties too, like for instance going to an underwear shop. I found a place that sells costumes, joke products, etc., and that also sells underwear. They might have some very light and small underwear. And they are also cheap. I bought a very cheap pair of panties that seemed to have minimal amounts of cloth.

Once I got home, it turns out that these panties are too big for the magic trick. So now I have a strange pair of panties hanging from a hanger among my magic props.

Birthday cake for four men

The boss in my magic bar is born in August, and since the magic bar was open the night before his birthday a cake appeared slightly after midnight. The cake delivery shop had become a little late with the order, so they had given us a free upgrade of the cake to larger size. Which was maybe not that great, since there was just one customer in the magic bar, our magician friend.

So we were four men, with a huge cake. Japanese men normally do not eat sweats, but our boss seemed very happy about the gesture at least. And everyone at a share of the cake, which was a very nice cake.

Men's cider and cake in the grass

Men's cider

Farewell cake
My Swedish friends left Sapporo to go back to Sweden to work, so we had a farewell lunch at Sapporo station (tonkatsu). Then we went to the Odori park and bought some cake and had a cake party in the grass. I also found something called "Men's cider", which is a kind of strange name for a drink. Presumably it means it is very strongly carbonated. It was not very good. The cake was good, though.

Dressing like a weirdo gets you free stuff!

Free stuff!
I wore a t-shirt saying "私は日本人ではありません", which means "I am not Japanese" and stopped by at an Italian restaurant owned by a friend. The woman also working there laughed so hard that she had problems serving me my tea. She kept laughing for several minutes, and started laughing again every time she looked at my t-shirt.

The rest of the people in the restaurant also laughed, and took pictures. They stopped laughing after a few minutes, though. The owner also gave me some friend squid just because I was funny.

When I wore this t-shirt at work at the university, three women who work in our cafeteria saw me when I was standing in line at the coop shop (they were standing in line at the other cashier). They also laughed. A lot. They laughed while they were waiting in line. They kept laughing while leaving the store. They laughed when they walked up the stairs, and they were still laughing when the disappeared down a corridor in a direction we were not going...

My Greek colleague thought they were laughing too much, haha. His opinion is that since it is just a factual statement, which is a true one, and not  a joke, why would you laugh at all. I suggested it is because it is so obvious that I am not Japanese that stating the obvious becomes funny. We then discarded this theory, because no one is laughing at all the fire extinguishers that are marked "Fire extinguisher" even though it is obvious what they are, or the "Automatic door" signs on the obviously automatic doors, etc.

Spanish food

This beef based dish which was called paella was very very good
A friend of mine wanted to go to the Sapporo Beer Garden again (we went there together last year) so we scheduled a "date". In the end, she suggested we skip the Beer garden and go to a Spanish restaurant instead.

They had a wide selection of tapas (small dishes)
They had great food! They also had something called "Kato's potatoes", which we felt obliged to order, since the reason we first met was through our common friend, Ms. Kato.

More tapas

And some more tapas, probably

Kato's potatoes

Menu with specialties, listing the "Kato's creamy potatoes"!