Monday, 31 May 2010

About Swedish and snails

I overslept today. Was awoken at 8am by my host mother. 8am is the time when I usually leave the house so in ten minutes I got dressed, swallowed a banana and some juice and half-ran to the train. I actually managed to find some time to buy a bread and an onigiri at a konbini (japanese word for convenience store... easier to say) and then get on the train. Everything went fine until the train left Nagatacho, which is the eighth station from my home station and still two more stations to go. When I just by standing still got dizzy and warm and shaky and the world started to turn black in front of my eyes and I felt like throwing up. I managed to sit down at an empty seat and it all went away. But that was scary! I've never felt close to fainting before but that was just horrible... I don't know why either... I've managed to skip breakfast before without any problems... Maybe it was with the combination of running? I don't know. But I managed to be in school on time ;)

Anyway, after that I felt anemic all day so when it was finally time for lunch I wanted meat. But since Japan recently got a fling of mad cow disease no real meat is to be found anywhere... Which meant I had to make do with chicken tonkatsu... And it did feel a little better after a real meal :)

After lunch (that I had with Julian and Ebu) Ebu wanted to go to a bookstore and by a book he wanted. This turned out to be a real treat for me :P As I don't have any room to spare in my suitcase I have strictly forbidden myself to buy anything besides food but seeing all those books... There were so many I wanted to have... Like Alice in Wonderland in both English and Japanese (in the same book)... or Dante's Inferno or some Dickens... It was fun to see how many Swedish writers they had there; Camilla Läckberg, Henning Mankell, Steig Larsson... And what was even more funny was when I went to the language books section. I found a section where they had practically any major European language (excluding English, French, Spanish, Italian and German); Portuguese, Polish, Russian, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish :P A fair few of the books considering Swedish is quite a small language... Ofc I had to take a peek in one of the books... And the dialogues were so funny! People really, really, really don't talk that way. Not even if they want to make it simple... After the bookstore I took a trip to Shibuya to make a reservation for the airport bus and to buy packaging tape. My package is finished and will be sent tomorrow. I think my host mother will call and make my airport bus reservation too tomorrow. Turned out that you could only make a reservation by telephone and since I'm not very skilled at telephone Japanese, I asked her to do it for me and she said she could :)

And just now the weirdest thing ever happened! I found a snail in my room. I've heard of bugs and flies, but snails?!??! Anyhow it grossed me out so I asked my host mother to deal with it for me... If it's been a bug or a fly I would've simply killed it and thrown it out but a snail is just gross... How did it get in anyway? My window is locked! :S

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Last week

I know I haven't posted a lot lately, reason is it's been kind of normal stuff that's been happening. Nothing special at all, but I'll give a review of the past week so you'll know what I've been up to anyway :)

Monday started out kind of unusual. The school has to buildings and the building we usually have our class in was under construction work or something like that. So we had our class in the other building. In this building the classroom looked like it was taken right out of the 60s! xD After a fairly entertaining class that left everyone, especially me, saying "yosh" all the time we went to have lunch at Ootoya together with Ebu. This is a restaurant that Julian and I discovered after Sam recommended it to us one day. It serves various Japanese food, it's delicious and cheap! A whole big meal for 600 yen :) Then we all split up and went home.

Tuesday we had a new student in our class, Sabrina from Taiwan, and we were also back in our normal building and classroom. Since it was Suzuki-sensei the time flew by and then we went and had lunch together with Sabrina in Shibuya. Then we went around the place to find a record shop Julian had heard of. It turned out to be an awesome retro store with lots and lots of old records. Since I still hadn't thought of a souvenir for my dad I thought a record would be nice but it was all weird electronica music :/ But the shop looked cool, though! On Wednesday the lesson seemed to drag on for forever and when it was finally time for lunch and today it turned out to be on the Italian/Japanese buffet place! Because today Massimo wasn't in a hurry for work :D So I, Julian, Sabrina, Massimo and Lise spent a nice lunch at the buffet and then we all separated and went home. At the house I brought out my suitcase and started packing. Turned out that I had too many things and couldn't fit it all, so this coming week I'll be sending away a package of books and winter clothing.

Thursday we had Suzuki-sensei again so the time flew by. For lunch we went to have sushi. I, Julian and Sabrina met up with Ebu and one of his friends on the way. After lunch I wanted to go to Asakusa to buy souvenirs for my family and friends and Julian and Sabrina decided to come along. On the way to the train Sabrina randomly bumped into her old Japanese tutor and he tagged along with us. When in Asakusa it suddenly started raining heavily out of nowhere and we took shelter in the temple while waiting for the rain to pass (about 5 min). Then we walked around in Asakusa's souvenir shopping street for a while and I bought souvenirs for some people. When I got home I continued to try to put together a suitcase that wasn't too heavy and a carry-on luggage that I could actually manage and trying to make a package that wasn't too heavy. Now I have everything decided (hopefully).

Friday, as usual, dragged by. The minutes seemed to be hours, everything beacuse the teacher sucks and no one likes her. When it was finally lunch-time we went to an Indian all-you-can-eat buffet. It has the most delicious naan-bread! Can't stop eating it! :P Had a nice time with Lise teaching us bad words in Japanese xD After lunch I went alone to finish my souvenir-shopping. So that turned into yet another trip to Asakusa and then a trip to Shibuya before going home. In the evening I started planning how to get to the airport with the help of my host mother. Can't believe I'm going home in two weeks...

Saturday, yesterday, was a boring day I spent watching the second semi-finals in Eurovision and a George Carlin video, as well as writing.

Today I had promised myself I would go do something if the weather was nice. But it's been cold and rainy all day so I spent yet another day watching some clips from the Eurovision finals, another George Carlin video and also writing some. I also unpacked my suitcase of all the things I need to use everyday until I go home. Hate to live in a suitcase! :P

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Meiji Jingu Shrine

Yesterday was a horribly warm summerday, a day when the heat didn't leave much air to breathe. Today on the other hand it's been raining all day and summer rain is nice :) So today I decided to go to Meiji Jingu Shrine. I think it was about the only shrine in Tokyo I hadn't seen yet and I thought today was a good day to take care of that :) Turned out it was a much better idea than I had originally thought.

The shrine is situated in central Tokyo, in Harajuku to be precise. But it really didn't feel like it! After crossing the Jingu bridge I found myself at the foot of a forest. And when entering that forest the sounds of the city vanished completely (Tokyo has a way of doing that. Everytime one enters something natural or sacred the city vanishes). Everything that existed was the forest, the gravel and the smells of the wet woods. When I arrived at the temple I immediately realised that there was a traditional wedding going on. The ceremony seemed to be over, but the groom and the bride were being photographed so I took a picture myself ;) among lots of other tourists. When walking around the temple taking pictures I also realised that it had Totoro-trees :) And the whole woods, seen a little from above, seemed to be taken from the film. It was a really cosy feeling. I also saw this procession inside the temple. Don't know if it had something to do with the wedding, but the bride and groom didn't participate so maybe it was just a normal mass? Since it's Sunday... When I got home I was still in quite a cosy mood so I changed into an overly big sweater and soft pants and crawled to bed with Neil Gaiman's Stardust. Started reading it then, read about half by now and I think I'll go back to my book now :)

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Happoen, dinner and drinks

Tuesday was a warm day of about 30 degrees and clear skies so that day I decided that after lunch I wanted to go to Happoen Garden in Shirokanedai. Happoen Garden is a traditional Japanese garden that I found in a tourist brochure. When we stepped out of Shirokanedai's tube station we couldn't believe that was Tokyo. It was spacious and quiet and green :o

Happoen Garden was so worth the trip. It was incredibly beautiful all of it. I just wanted to stay there, stay and relax. Even the shrine there felt like a real one, not like those big commercial stuff they have in the city that have been somewhat converted into tourist attractions. After walking through all of Happoen Garden, which wasn't very big, we decided to go to the big park we had seen on the map on our way to Happoen. Turned out to be a disappointment, no way I'll pay 1100 yen to enter a park just because it's connected to a museum... But anyway it turned out to be quite a nice walk anyway and I did manage to get a slight tan that doesn't seem to be falling off :o Imagine that! ;) Yesterday my friend Andreas, whom I hadn't met in three years, had invited me to dinner in Ebisu. His treat. He first thought of going to a restaurant he knew of, but then changed his mind and we went to a restaurant that his friends had talked about. I can see why they had talked about it. You sat in armchairs while eating on a glass table. There was a shark tank and the candlabre in the ceiling had real candles and real fire. Except for the main dish and the desert I let him decide everything. It was his money after all and I really don't know anything about drinks. But for appetizer I got to taste oysters for the first time! Same consistency as mussles, only bigger, and it tastes exactly like sea water xD Champagne along with the dinner consisting of Japanese beef - lovely, but once again designer food, fancy food :P And for desert; limoncello and tiramizu :D When we talked he found out that I yet hadn't been to any bars in Tokyo so ofc he also brought me to his favourite bar in the neighbourhood while he was at it xD There we had one white absinthe each, 55% the strongest I've tried yet. That was pretty fun xD I liked the interior of that place. On the shelves with bottles there were signs. Some (most) said 'Absinthe' but there was one shelf with the sign 'Dangerous bottles' on xD Some of the bottles on that shelf had skulls on them and one bottle was even shaped as a skull xD Awesome!

When I went to bed yesterday I hoped to not be too tired when I woke up today, and no I wasn't too tired but I still had no desire of getting up. It's summer here! I want to have my vacation now! Now! :P

So... the best conversation of the night:
"Interesting with stairs up to a bar."
"Keeps you from getting in if you're too drunk."
"Keeps you from getting out too."
"Well, that's a later problem!"

Saturday, 15 May 2010

25th floor

When I woke up today I was alone. Audray was going home. Since it was her last day yesterday she, I and Yoshiko went out to have lunch together. Yoshiko had reserved a table at a fancy restaurant on the 25th floor in the Tokyu building in the middle of Shibuya. Of course 25th floor meant incredible view over Tokyo. Since it was a fancy restaurant the food was also fancy. You started out with a bread/salad buffet which was nice. First time in my life that I ate vegetables that were pink xD Then there was the food and fancy food is always a disappointment. It's always just something small and nice to look at in the middle of a HUGE plate. The desert was even more so... But that small piece of cake was delicious! So now I've asked around and looked around and I've come up with some places to go during my last month. I think it could be fun. On top of all that I was invited to dinner with a friend who lives in Tokyo xD This last month might not turn out as boring as I expected :P

Thursday, 13 May 2010


Sorry about the silence but nothing's been up for a while. Trying to change that, though, asking my friends on Facebook on tips about what to do with my last month here. Except for the wedding my time back in Tokyo has been pretty slow. But still it feels pretty good to just relax and take it slow for a while, but I do have that nagging feeling that I should do something with my last month. But everything I've wanted to do, like really, really wanted, I've already done.

Julian is the only friend that's still here since I arrived and he too feels like he's been everywhere, so none of us have any motivation really, which doesn't actually help the problem here xD We switch our lunches between sushi and curry and that doesn't matter because there are so many different kinds that it doesn't really feel like we are eating the same thing all the time xD

The only thing I have planned right now is my last week when I will buy souvenirs and presents for everyone and at the same time try to fit everything into my suitcase (that will be interesting). I've seen Audray's progress these last few days (she's going home on Saturday). Two packages sent by air mail and still loads of stuff to pack. On the other hand she's been here for six months and bought much more stuff than I have so I hope I'll be OK :)

Sunday, 9 May 2010


Sorry about the long silence, but nothing interesting has really happened since I got back from Korea. Except that Friday was Gan's last day so we went to Sweets Paradise again xD

However, yesterday was Ruri's wedding day (the daughter of my host family) and Audray (my room mate) and I were invited to the party after the ceremony :) I've never really been to a wedding before but I can guess that it was pretty different from Sweden. They had the party at a huge place. I guess it's pretty popular for hosting wedding parties, since we could watch another couple getting their pictures taken :P I also got to meet the son of the family, Jun, for the first time. He was so cute xP And Yoshiko (host mother) looked so cute in her kimono :D When it was our turn we went up to the second floor. First we payed for the party and then we had our picture taken with a polaroid and got to write messages on the pictures and put them in a box for the couple to read later :) Then we went downstairs where they had food and drinks. So we got our welcome drinks and took some pictures and then the couple arrived. Everyone was going crazy with the camera. After they had sat down and then when they had cut the wedding cake all the guests got to take pictures with them. All the while a kind of PowerPoint was rolling on the big screens full of pictures and some messages that Ruri had made before. Turns out Masa and Ruri met in high school 15 years ago ;P When everything had calmed down a bit we went to get food and while eating, some Japanese guys that were friends of Masa's started talking to me. It was pretty fun and relaxing to realise that I did understand what they were saying without concentrating too much :D There were two other "gaijin" (foreigners) there; a French-American couple. They were fun talking to and Audray talked a lot to the French guy. I was trying to listen and make any sense of what they were saying, but that didn't go very well xD After a few hours of games and talking Masa and Ruri read their vows (at least I think that's what it was. I heard "dreams" and "I love you") and then thanked everyone for coming. Audray and I hung around outside and talked to some more Japanese people, while waiting for Yoshiko to come back (she was changing from kimono to normal clothes) and then we went back home :)

I had been kind of worried about this night. Mostly because I thought it would be just me and Audray and a lot of Japanese people speaking real Japanese; not tape-Japanese or teacher-Japanese or slow host family-Japanese, but the real thing. I was worried I wouldn't understand anything and would just hang around there waiting for time to pass... But everything went well :) I was also worried about the clothes. I wanted to wear a dress, but I didn't have any dress that I didn't think too short to be appropriate so in the end I went there with a skirt. Yoshiko had said before that since I have blond hair and blue eyes I wouldn't have to dress up a lot because my natural colours would be fancy enough for them xD

I have uploaded pictures from Korea to the wedding in the albums :)

Monday, 3 May 2010


Today I had decided I wanted to be cultural and historical so my first goal today was to go to the old prison. Turned out that since it was Monday, it was closed :( I don't get it. In Japan too all the tourist stuff and the museums are closed on Mondays, it's weird :P So instead I walked around the Independence Park and took pictures from outside the prison, I also took a trip to Dungnimmun (I think that was the name), which turned out to be a huge disappointment. It was supposed to be a huge stone gate, but it was pretty small :/

So since everything I wanted to go to was either closed or disappointing I decided to go to Namsan, which is a huge mountain. The trip there had me change tube line twice and I had to walk up huge slopes to get there. I haven't been to San Francisco but I can imagine Seoul's something similar -.- So when I got to the "station" I was exhausted from climbing all the slopes. But it was so worth it afterwards. I took the cable car up to Namsan where they had several view points, restaurants (ofc) and a teddy bear musuem for some reason :S I didn't go inside the teddy bear museum, though, but I had some weird ice cream. I saw it yesterday at the aquarium too but today I tasted it. It looked like Solero Shots but it had the taste of banana split xD There were other flavours too, but I thought banana split sounded the most interesting.

When I went back to my "home" station it started to rain. Not much but it was heavy so I walked around in Seoul's greenery for a while in the rain. Pretty cosy ^^

Tomorrow I'm getting up early to get to the airport and go back to Japan. Maybe I can get revenge on my Canadian roommates. I went to sleep around midnight yesterday and they all came home drunk from the wedding around 1am so I got about an hour's sleep. Then they were loud, turning on the lights and running in and out of the dormitory until about 4am. When I could finally get some sleep, before they woke me up again around 9am -.- Not considering other people at all... I chose the biggest dorm because I thought I'd get some friends that way, never occurred to me that they would all already know eachother and treat me like I'm interfering -.- Oh well, after tomorrow I will never have to see them again ^^

Sunday, 2 May 2010

COEX Aquarium

So for today I wanted to take it slow and get up when I awoke on my own. This was made very difficult by my Canadian room mates who were getting up around 8am to get to some friends' wedding :/ Nice for them, but couldn't they have been more quiet?

When I really woke up it was around 10.30am and after showering I decided to go on a little adventure and explore Seoul's tube. It was kind of easy when I started getting used to it :) I went to Samseong to go to an aquarium I had looked up on the Internet. For some weird reason it was located inside a huge mall and it was hard to find. But when I did it was so worth it :D Except for fish it also had small mammals and reptiles and spiders and scorpions :) I've never seen a beaver so up-close before ;) But the best part was the underwater tunnel. That was the biggest aquarium there and it had sharks and huge sea turtles and other small fish in it :) That was just great. Apparantly that aquarium's main thing was the African manatee and I managed to catch it just when they were feeding them...

They also had some weird things. Like a two-headed turtle and hedgehogs. I just had to take a picture of the hedgehogs, cause since when do you have hedgehogs in an aquarium? They are everywhere! xD

After the aquarium I had some more time so I originally planned on going to a second location I had looked up on the net, but I happened to take a wrong turn at some point and ended up spending an hour in a huge bookstore. I bought a Korean textbook for English users who wants to learn Korean. So I'll try to get started with that again. I'm getting sick of not understanding anything xD

Tonight there's a Korean BBQ party at the hostel. The food is delicious and ofc there's booze. But after drinking just two days ago, I don't really feel like it today so I'm just gonna socialize a little tonight ^^ There are some new people and the German boys left just an hour ago so it could be fun, although it feels kind of quiet without the Canadian people here :P

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Korea - day 1

Yesterday it was time for me to go to Korea. So everything went as well as it could considering it was me. It started with me getting on the wrong train line in Nippori, but in the end I got to the airport, but much later than I would have wanted. The plane was leaving at 6pm and I was there around 5pm. Luckily I didn't have any luggage to check-in so it went smooth after I had panicked for a while for not finding the flight for Seoul leaving at 6pm on the board :P Turned out they listed the flights according to when the boarding closed, which is 15 minutes before departure.

When I got on the plane everything went fine. I filled out the landing permit and the customs form and when we landed I knew the drill so I could get in line for the entrance to Korea pretty quickly. Korea seems to be more open than Japan, they didn't take my photograph or fingerprints and they didn't ask anything at all. Everything went smooth getting on the airport coach and after around 40 minutes they announced the station. I thought that the bus would, like the bus in Japan did, stop at every station. But it didn't. Two stations later I found the stop button xD Luckily I had printed a map so I could find my way there after taking a wrong turn a few times :P

When I arrived at the hostel the time was about 10.30pm and after paying and choosing a bed I sat down in the living room to socialize with the people. Especially three Canadian girls and three German boys :) Already when I got there they had booze up and I joined in the drinking pretty quickly, which turned out not too be such a wise decision since I hadn't eaten anything in almost all day xD So around 1am I went to bed and just a little later the rest of them went out clubbing.

I woke up around eleven today and had Korean breakfast that they cooked. I didn't feel too well so I spent the day playing DS, until the time was around 3pm and everyone else had gone out and I figured I might as well do the same. So without any plan I just started wandering around in Seoul. It's so different from Japan! To begin with it's dirtier and here are almost no skyscrapers and the buildings are more colourful, not like in Tokyo where almost all buildings are grey or white :P

It was pretty scary going out and I feel a little lonely here. Not lonely in the sense that I'm all alone, but lonely in the sense that I don't know the language. When I was ordering lunch I first asked the staff "English?" and when she said no I asked "Japanese?" and she said no again, so it was all up to pointing and nodding. I kind of miss Japan right now...

Can't upload any pictures so that will come on May 4th when I'm back in Japan :)