Thursday, May 30, 2013

Wearing your yukata right over left

A few months ago, a magician I know suggested we should go to the 25 year anniversary of a bar where the mama does magic dressed up as zombies, batman, or something else. I thought it was a great idea, and I even bought a light colored yukata to have something that shows off the color of blood really well. Two days before the 25 year anniversary, my magician friend said that he had given up on the whole dress up thing, but he would bring a camera...

I figured it would still be fun to dress up, so I made up a fresh batch of fake blood and put on my new yukata. A yukata is originally a pajama or underwear type of clothing but nowadays it is used as a summer kimono kind of thing. Normally you wear your yukata with "left over right". Right over left is a way commonly used for dressing dead bodies for the funeral. Since zombies are dead, this was a chance to try wearing my yukata right over left.

I was experimenting with gluing paper to my face to make the skin look worse, but the fumes from the glue made my eyes hurt so I skipped it for now.
I like the stickiness of the fake blood,it can hang and drip from your face for hours before drying
I went to the party, met my not dressed up magician friend, and generally had a good time. I was stared at a few times when walking to and from the bar too.

The yukata was bought in a real kimono specialist shop, and is a quite high quality yukata (most yukatas are sold in normal clothing shops just for the yukata season, and the cheap ones have lower quality cloth and print). I figured I might at least try to wash the blood stains out, but even though the red is gone there are still lots of chocolate stains (I dull down the pinkish color of my fake blood with chocolate syrup) and there is paint stuck in some places (the face paint rubs of on the collar and on other places). So I guess this yukata will mainly be used by zombies from now on.

My friends had walked around town painted like Golden Bomber (an "air band", a weird story in itself) and showed a video of that time, but they did not dress up together with me.

I also noticed when I got to work at the university that there are actually quite large amounts of paint still stuck to my arms. The face is clean, but the arms are speckled with white. I figure I can just claim that "since I am Swedish I am naturally white" if anyone complains... but it does look quite weird.

Party food
Zombie Jonas eating sausages
Zombie Jonas eating pasta
Zombie Jonas eating zombie food

Weird drinks in the university coop

There have not been that many weird drinks showing up among the new products of our university coop recently. One of the most accessed pages on my blog is the "men's milk" they had here back in the days. Nothing on the level of that has shown up now, but since I have not written anything about strange products recently, I at least picked three that are a little bit weird to me.

The first one is "ビタミーナ" ("bitamiina", from the word for vitamins). The name is not strange, but the text on the bottle is a bit strange. There is a long explanation of how Swedish mothers (which would sound bad in Sweden, since we are proud of equality and men and women both do this kind of thing) make サフト, "saft" (which is apparently called "squash" in English), from berries. There is also a big map of Sweden with Stockholm marked. Inside the capital is not the best place to pick berries, but it is a nice map (though in the common Japanese style, north is not the up direction). It is true that it is common to make saft. The story also tells of how they wanted to make saft from red berries (why they wanted red ones is not explained) and made juice from raspberries, blackcurrants, and acerola.

We do have lots of blackcurrants and raspberries in Sweden, and we do make saft from them. I am pretty sure blackcurrants are not very red, though. I am also sure we do not have any acerola in Sweden.

Next, we have "sparkling white", which is pretty much carbonated milk. Why would you carbonate milk? This is from the "sparkling" series. They have sparkling anything, with new flavors several times per year. Sparkling water melon juice etc. The most interesting one so far was "sparkling chocolate", though the new "sparkling white" is a bit strange too.

Finally, we have "salty lychee". Lychee is popular in Japan (especially in alcoholic drinks) and is a nice flavor for juice, but why make it salty? Who thinks making drinks salty is a good idea? Last year we had "salty watermelon", which was also weird.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

YouTube transcripts are funny

I recently noticed that YouTube automatically creates transcripts for uploaded videos. If you click on the transcript button, you get a box with text that highlights in real time the sentence that you are (possibly) saying at each time. This is pretty cool, though the speech recognition is automatic so there are some mistakes.

I recently uploaded a video where I do a magic trick while talking Japanese and noticed the transcript button. The transcription is almost complete nonsense, haha. But I guess this could be because I am not a native speaker, so my Japanese pronunciation and my use (abuse?) of the language could be too weird for the system to handle.「好きかなぁ」("suki kanaa", "that I like") became 「スキーカバー」("sukii kabaa", "a cover for your pair of skis").

I checked a video with one of my Japanese friends speaking Japanese. His Japanese should be good enough. There are lots and lots of weird things there too, haha. 「安値は約14万円を要しました」

This made me check lots of my other YouTube videos. They are all full of strangeness. One of them is mistakenly transcribed as if it was English, despite almost all of it being Japanese.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Pink flowers

Inside the university grounds it has now become almost summer like. The pink plum trees have caught up and turned pink, and most of the cherry trees have lost all their flower petals by now. I came to work wearing shorts with sakura (cherry blossom) embroidery, a t-shirt with sakura embroidery, and a  hip bag for magic props with sakura embroidery. The woman at the register of the student cafeteria complimented me on my very appropriate choice of clothes, so very fitting for the season.

Hakodate omiyage

When I stopped by our magic bar for the first time in about three weeks (having been to Sweden and Osaka lately), my boss produced a bag of presents for me. It was omiyage (souvenirs) from Hakodate, that one of our customers who lives there had brought with her when she visited the bar (and I was in Sweden).

At first, I just got a big brown paper bag from the hamburger chain Lucky Pierrot (famous in Hakodate) and I was a bit worried that someone had left me an old hamburger that no longer would be edible... But it turned out that inside there were no hamburgers. There were noodles, a cup, some playing card shaped rubber stickers, some "Swedish" candy, and more! A very nice present.

Bic Camera

On Friday I stopped by Bic Camera on my way home. I wanted to buy a plunger shaped iPhone stand (there is a magic trick with a tiny plunger that is "hot" now, and I wanted to see if it worked the way I thought it worked when I saw a video clip of it) and since Bic Camera has lots of phone accessories it made sense to look there. I found one of our regular customers to our magic bar (who works there, and was even listed on a big poster with "photo masters") and we looked around together but could not find any plunger shaped accessories. In the same house they have a "Loft" store too, though, and there I found a cute little plunger. And it turned out the trick works fine the way I thought it would.

Suspicious shoes

A few days ago, there was a pair of shoes left in the lobby where my mail box is. They were gone the next day.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Why mosaic?

The possibly obscene rice of the original picture

In Japan, the put mosaics on lots of stuff on TV. Apparently they are not allowed to show penises on TV, but the comedians still like to get naked for more or less no reason, so there is a lot of mosaic because of that. They also do it to keep a surprise for later in the show, or to hide private information in news shows etc.

When I was checking Facebook (I prefer Google+ but only 2 of my Japanese contacts use Google+ while hundreds use Facebook...) a place I often go to eat had a picture of their food with parts of it hidden with mosaic.

The not so obscene but possibly motivating mosaic shape that I received

I went there and ordered that dish. I said: "I am so looking forward to finding out what lewd shape the rice will appear in!", knowing fully well that they had just put mosaic on the picture as a joke. But they were kind enough to shape the rice into something requiring mosaic just for me. They chose a completely different direction than I had expected, but I guess there would be a reason to put mosaic on a picture with the rice shaped like this on the page belonging to a shop not affiliated with Disney, haha.

Sakura in Sapporo

I went straight from the airport to my office at work. While lugging my seriously heavy suitcase and a big rubber salmon from the train station to my office, I passed by some cherry blossoms that finally blossomed. There was still a big pile of snow beside the tree, though. Spring is later than usual in coming to Sapporo this year.

Fun things to do in Hokkaido according to JAL and JR

For the last flight from Osaka to Sapporo I flew with Japan Airlines (JAL). They handed out tourist information pamphlets with tips on fun things to do in Hokkaido. Our magic bar was listed.

When I rode the train from our airport into Sapporo City, I browsed through the Japan Rails (JR) tips for things to do in Hokkaido. They had a page about Sweden Hills.

Train ticket art

The Kansai International Airport railway station has some nice art that are reproductions of famous paintings using only the brown and black colored train tickets.

Walking around with a big Salmon in Osaka

My salmon (the angle makes it look smaller than it actually is)

On my way from my hotel looking for something to eat, I happened to pass by a Village Vanguard store. They sell funny t-shirts and funny props you can use for magic tricks, though they claim to be a book store (and they do sell books too). I did not find any funny t-shirts to buy, but I did find a huge rubber salmon that looked pretty real.

I do a magic trick where salmon sushi comes out of my t-shirt that has a picture of a salmon eating salmon sushi, with a sad face. People sometimes ask me to produce the fish too. This salmon could possibly be used for that, so I though I should buy it. But since it was big and my suitcase was already full, getting it back to Sapporo might be bothersome.

Turkish food. For some reason, Japanese people believe the that Turkish cuisine is the third most famous/popular/best cuisine in the world (after French and Chinese). I have never heard anyone outside Japan say that.
I figured I will just have to suffer for the art, and bought the salmon. Then I went looking for somewhere to eat. I found a nice looking Turkish restaurant and ate there. The food was very good, though a little expensive. When I was leaving the restaurant the waitress asked why I was carrying around a huge salmon. I did not know what to say, so I said that it might be useful to have one.

The next day when I checked in at the airport I could not fit the salmon into my suitcase so I had it sticking out of my carry on luggage. The girl at the check in counter asked me a lot about my ("I am not Japanese") t-shirt, but no one, not even the people X-raying my rubber salmon at the security check, commented on the fish. I guess they see a lot of strange things at the airport.

Magic in Osaka

Me and Christian Engblom
Me and Miguel Angel Gea
Me and Dani DaOrtiz
The "Fat Brothers" way over 400 kg together, they said. This means that their clothes are also very big. This Japanese woman is a little more than average height and normally built, but you could fit 4 of her into one of their jackets...
On my way back to Sapporo from Sweden, I stayed two days in Osaka. There was a magic event called "Magic Panic 3" with three famous magicians there that I wanted to attend. All three of them held lectures, and they did a big magic show together. There were also Japanese magicians doing shows, and a close up magic contest with 10 contestants. All in all, it was a very nice event. The "Fat Brothers" (as they are called) were fantastic! One of them turns out to speak Swedish too, which I did not know before.

I also visited the magic bar A Majide, which is close to my hotel, where I got to see a guillotine illusion and where they gave me a present (because I go there too often, I guess).

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


I flew back to Japan via Helsinki. In the Helsinki airport there were lots of Japanese travelers. Finnair has flights to Osaka, Tokyo, and Nagoya, and going through Helsinki is one of the faster ways to travel to Europe.

Two women laughed at my t-shirt and asked if they could take a photo. I said sure.

Leaving Sweden

Last breakfast, egg served in a viking ship

On Friday morning I flew back to Japan. By then, the cherry blossoms were gone from the airport.

Arriving in Sweden
Leaving Sweden

Blood pudding

My mother was away on some art thingy on my last evening in Sweden, so me and my father took this opportunity to eat some blood pudding. Many people in Sweden like this, and it was quite popular as a school lunch when I was a kid, but my mother does not like it much. It is made from blood, but is not really a pudding.

The best vanilla buns in Sweden?

My brother claims that a place close to where he lives has the best vanilla buns in Sweden, or at least the best ones he has ever tasted. I tried to go there on Tuesday, but the place is only open Wednesday to Sunday. I tried again on my way home from my old university, but I arrived in the afternoon and all the vanilla buns were sold out! Destiny does not want me to taste these delicious treats, I guess.

The girl working there said that while the vanilla buns were great, they also had some other things that were good. I tried a cake she recommended, since I had gone out into the horse riding fields in the middle of nowhere and should do something there before going home again.

Student food

On my last day in Sweden, I went to see my supervisor from my Ph.D. years at my old university. We had lunch in the student cafeteria, where they apparently serve such Swedish sounding food as "vodka pasta".
There was vodka pasta on the menu, but not available on the day I was there.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Lejonet och Björnen

My brother recently told me that possibly the best ice cream he has ever had was chocolate banana ice cream from the ice cream maker Lejonet & Björnen ("the lion and the bear"). I received a whole bucket of exactly that from a friend today! Yay! It was indeed very good.

Japanese izakaya in Sweden!

Some of the things on the menu behind the sushi chef I can read (I know 南瓜 is pumpkin, for instance), but about half of them I cannot read...
Today I went with a friend and my parents to a Japanese izakaya in Stockholm. There are lots and lots of sushi restaurants in Stockholm, but not many places that serve other types of Japanese food. The restaurant Blue Light Yokohama is an izakaya and serves many types of Japanese food.

Some Japanese style decorations on the walls

They have sushi and sashimi, but they also have lots of salads, chicken wings, fried chicken, more or less raw meat, Japanese pickles, green tea ice cream, and many other Japanese dishes. I ordered a large selection of dishes, and all of it was good. The taste was what you could expect to find in Japan.

The staff all spoke Japanese to each other (the kitchen staff calling the waitresses etc.) and there were lots of Japanese on the walls and on their t-shirts. I read in a newspaper that the place was named Blue Light Yokohama since the owner, who is a Swedish man who lived in Tokyo, once thought he should learn to sing at least one song in Japanese when going to karaoke and then learned the song Blue light Yokohama. And then he named his restaurant after that song when he returned to Sweden and opened his own place here. I do not know if this is really true, but they did seem to have the lyrics of Blue light Yokohama on the wall.

The staff were very nice, and the food was good. If you like Japanese food or want to try something that is not raw fish without going to Japan, this place is good.

More Japanese decorations, on the toilet walls
The staff wear t-shirts that say "It like a Japanese person" in Swedish and Japanese.
My friend asked me what it said on the wall, and my guess is that these are the lyrics to the song "Blue light Yokohama". It sure reads like song lyrics.

There are some tatami mats with tables to sit at too.

My tea cup had the faces of all the Japanese prime ministers.

My mom likes both 梅酒 (plum wine) and 梅干 (dried plums)

The miso soup of the day

Sashimi selection

Shabu-shabu salad with sesame dressing

Buta no kakuni

Fried chicken (竜田揚げ)


Shrimp dumplings

Sushi selection

Fairly raw beef

Chicken wings