Saturday, March 5, 2016

Eccentric clothing

People tell me I dress strangely, but compared to this ordinary looking Japanese man I think I do not stick out that much, right?

Getting home and feeling tired

After all the magic shows and photos, I finally got home and tried to get my makeup off. I had to fly to Tokyo early in the morning (like really early, taking the train at 6 in the morning early), and could not look like a zombie at that time.

While a lot of the paint and glued on stuff starts to peel off before you want it to, some of the stuff sticks like crazy and applying water, soap, glue solving magic stuff, scraping with tools, etc. does not always help.

This time I had quite a lot of stuff stuck to my face after a lot of work. I decided to get two hours of sleep and continue in the morning. Then I got almost all of the grey stuff off. But later I noticed I had some paint stuck in my ears and at other locations that are hard for myself to see.

What is weird with this photo?

While having a drink at a bar where one of my friends work to rest up after my magic show, a guy I know a little and who sometimes uses my Facebook updates of where I am and seem to be having a good time as recommendations of places to visit (on other days, when I am not there) showed up and ended up in the seat next to me. He wanted to take a photo together with me. My friend the bartender suggested he should take a photo without making any Halloween style poses, just looking normal. And to use this photo on Facebook with no comment as to there being a zombie beside him, just posting it with something like "Drinking in One Star Bar again.".

Looking "normal"

Other people in the bar also wanted to take photos, but they wanted to take photos being bitten by a zombie or things like that.

My Halloween stalker

There is a girl who I first met because she often comes to our magic bar. Now, her friend is also married to one of my friends. I keep running into her when I am dressed as a zombie or something similar. And in weird places, not in our magic bar or some place like that.

Once, I was meeting another friend for Halloween and she was going to a party and I had to go work in our magic bar, so we just met to say hello and see the other's costume choice. When talking there, random people kept coming up to me and asking if they could take a photo of or with me. So when I was talking to some random office worker outside KFC, this Halloween stalker of mine also showed up. I have also met her in the corridor outside a karaoke place. I have met her outside the shared toilet in a building with 93 bars. I have met her in the Sapporo Art Forest park (although at that time I was there for the Star Wars exhibit and was not actually dressed weirdly, only wearing Star Wars clothes). I have also met her in our magic bar when working dressed as a zombie, but that is not surprising.

This time, I was packing up my stuff after my magic show and was about to leave the bar I had performed in when I noticed my Halloween stalker sitting at a table not far from the exit. She seemed surprised to see me.

Magic show at the H's Cafe Halloween party

H's Cafe (read "his cafe") is a bar in Sapporo that among other things serves great hamburgers. Possibly the best burgers in Sapporo. They also have Halloween parties. Last year I was asked to do a magic show at their Halloween party, and they were apparently happy with the show and asked me back this year too.

The whole place was decorated with fake spider web and strange paintings that looked scary from some angles and not so scary from others. H's Cafe has a fairly young (early twenties? I cannot really tell with Japanese people even when they have not painted their faces for Halloween) clientele, and the Halloween party was no exception. You had unlimited drinks for the duration of the party and you could get free hamburgers and chocolate too.

There was a costume competition, and anyone in costume got a number to stick to themselves somewhere and you could vote for two or three numbers to win the costume competition. The winners got a H's Cafe free pass, which means you can eat and drink for free during November, under the condition that you are there with at least one other person (who will have to pay for their food and drinks). This year I ended up in second place in the costume competition, but I did not have time to use the free pass (the university keeps me too busy).

Scary reflection in the red bull cooler
My magic show went well this year too. People laughed at the right times and were surprised at the right times. It is always a bit difficult for me to do magic in weird costumes. No pockets where you are used to having them. People cannot understand your facial expression. Things like that. After my magic show was finished, people I know showed up by change (they had no idea I was doing a show, I had no idea they ever visited this place).

A group of vampires, and me. The girl in blue (rightmost) won the costume competition.

Three guys dressed up as "people who forgot to dress up for Halloween"

I took a photo with this guy last year too (last year he won the costume competition)

Face paint starting to peel off

Friday, March 4, 2016

Dressing up

Back in Sapporo, I was asked to do a magic show at a Halloween party one week before Halloween. I had bought a t-shirt in Sweden that has a skin color print that makes you look like a girl, and I used this and a wig I bought but never used for my slit-mouthed-woman costume back in August.

I also added some torn pieces of skin that you could peel back. I had to get up really really early the next morning and fly to Tokyo, so I did not want to have a costume that would take too much time to get out of after the party was finished (sometime after midnight)


One night when leaving our magic bar after midnight, I saw a pair of shoes in the hallway. No other living being was in sight.

Surprisingly difficult puzzle

Back in Sapporo, I was given a puzzle to solve in a bar I often visit to have dinner. This puzzle turned out to be quite difficult, and it took me several visits to this bar before I solved it. The goal is to get all the pieces into the frame, of course.

Since the pieces do not fit by just reordering them using the "obvious" way to put them into the frame, I thought the round corners and non-round corners and the fact that if you put to cat heads towards each other you get some slack etc. had something to do with the solution. but neither of these things had anything to do with the puzzle solution. These red herrings cost me two nights of puzzle failure, haha.

Stopover in Finland

During my stop in Finland, I had a reindeer burger. It was good. I saw some cloudberry alcohol. Cloudberries are not common in Japan, but in Sweden it is quite common to have for instance cloudberry jam.

Weird things in your suitcase

When going back from Sweden I had quite a few strange things in my suitcase. I bought some licorice root extracts (because who doesn't want to make food that tastes of licorice?) and some salmiak salt (chemical stuff that tastes like licorice), since that is not available in Japan. I also keep buying fun props that may or may not be useful for magic tricks. This time I found a shop that sold huge CocaCola bottles for 10 dollars. So I bought two. This meant I could not fit anything else into my suitcase, so I had to fill the bottles with all my clothes and other luggage...

I flew from Stockholm to Helsinki, and then from Helsinki to Nagoya. And from Nagoya I was going to fly to Sapporo. Upon arriving in Nagoya I had a small delay. I was politely dragged into a small room far away, where they frisked me, took out everything from my pockets, and unpacked everything from my bags.

We talked for 30 minutes or so about how wonderful it must be to work at Sapporo's most prestigious university, and whether or not my bags contained drugs (they do not). They kept showing me photos of different types of drugs and asking if I was sure I did not have any of these in my bags. They also explained that "even marijuana" is considered an illegal drug in Japan, so even having that would qualify. I told them that I did not have any drugs and they kept asking and unpacking my bags.

Since I had a kilo or two of magic props, once they reached those parts of the bags, there were many many suspicious looking items. There were many: "And what in the world is this?!" After a while they asked if I do magic. But by the time all the weird props started appearing out of the bags, they seemed pretty relaxed and they thought it was funny that I did magic.

But apparently I look like a drug smuggler. And they also thought it was suspicious to have "only two" heavy bags when visiting Europe. I had plenty of time between my flights, and the flight to Nagoya arrived early so I still made my connecting flight to Sapporo. Once they let me go from the customs, I hurried to the domestic terminal where I again received special treatment at the security check and had to be frisked, and remove lots more things than most people. So I guess I also look like a terrorist, haha. But the customs people told me that it was one of the drug sniffing dogs that had indicated that it thought my carry on bag contained drugs (which of course it did not). They also said that sometimes the dogs indicate for other reasons than drugs, but since they are dogs you cannot really ask them about why they do what they do.

Rune stone in the airport

In Sweden you can find old stones with runes carved into them. Runes is what people living in Sweden used before the Christians arrived and brought the Latin alphabet with them. So most rune stones are old, from around 1000 years ago.

In the Stockholm airport I passed a rune stone. It was found in 1990 near the airport. It was raised about 1000 years ago in the memory of some guy going east in the late 1030-ies and being killed during this adventure.

Pizza again

Swedish pizzas are bigger than Swedish dogs.

Not a dryer

When I was in Stockholm, I saw this thing in a public bathroom. It says "tork". In Swedish, this means "dryer". It can be used for things that dry your hands, or for things that dry clothes or bigger things.

This was located next to a sink for people to wash their hands, so you might expect it to be something that dries your hands. It was, however, not. It was a soap dispenser.

It turns out that Tork is a company (not Swedish) that makes, among other things, soap dispensers.

Japanese products and chance meetings in Stockholm

In Stockholm, there is a shop that sells specially imported goods from Japan.When visiting this store, I saw some ramen from Sapporo. Since I can eat all kinds of Sapporo ramen whenever I want, I did not buy any, though.

I also ran into a guy I know from high school and university in Stockholm. He was there with his two children. He lived in Kyoto for a while. I was happily surprised to see him. It had been at least 10 years since I last saw him, I guess.

We talked over the Internet from time to time in Japan, for instance when the Swedish embassy called everyone living in Japan early in the mornings to suggest evacuating from Tokyo with some early flight during the Fukushima incident, even though we both lived very far from Tokyo and did not have to evacuate and if we wanted to could have done so much better without going to Tokyo first...

Natto, fermented soy beans. Look like the eggs in the movie Alien, and smell really bad. But I am told they are very healthy.

My part of the world, described in Chinese

I found a tourist magazine with photos of Görvälns Slott, which is a nice place close to where I used to live. You can walk there from my parents' place if the weather is good. There was text that I assume talk about what you can do and see there, but it was all in Chinese so I am not sure.

Bowling and steak

Some friends that I first met in Sapporo are now living in Stockholm. When I visit Sweden, we sometimes meet. This time, we met and played a few games of bowling. No one of us is very good at bowling but since everyone is more or less on the same level, it was quite enjoyable.

For kids that are too small to use bowling balls the normal way, a ramp was provided. You aim the ramp and then you roll the bowling ball down the ramp.

After the bowling, we went to a shop that sells specially imported goods from Japan. I can get all the Japanese stuff I could ever want without trying since I live in Japan, but for my friends in Stockholm there are some things that are hard to get (some teas, for example). In this store, I ran into a guy I know from high school who was there with his two children. He used to live in Kyoto, so I guess he also uses Japanese things in his daily life. I was happily surprised to see him. It had been at least 10 years since I last saw him, I guess. Though we talked over the Internet from time to time in Japan, for instance when the Swedish embassy called everyone living in Japan early in the mornings to suggest evacuating from Tokyo with some early flight during the Fukushima incident, even though we both lived very far from Tokyo and did not have to evacuate and if we wanted to could have done so much better without going to Tokyo first...

After the quick stop in the Japanese shop, we went for steaks. I also ordered deep fried cheese and habaneros. This was good, as was the steak. There was also an offer of all you can eat ice cream and ice cream toppings, so I and the kid in our group went for that. They turned out to have licorice sauce for the ice cream. In Sweden, almost everyone likes licorice. In Japan, almost everyone thinks it is the most disgusting thing they have ever tried if they ever try it, so it is not normally available.