Pari sanaa tosta säästä.
Monilta kanteilta asiaa pohdittuani ja erilaisia näkökulmia tarkasteltuani voin hyvin puhtaalla omalla tunnolla sanoa että ei, tuota säätä mulla ei ole ikävä. Ei lainkaan, eikä mulla ole suuriakaan vaikeuksia todeta että se on AIVAN PERSEESTÄ se sää.
Hyväksyn kyllä sen jos jollakulla on eriäviä mielipiteitä; saavat pitää ne kyllä omana tietonaan.

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IMG_1843.jpgWhenever I see newspapers, TV, internet, anybody discussing the disaster in Asia – I feel like choking on tears.
Very unusual.
Like this crystallized all the sadness in the world around me.

IMG_1847.jpg The dog is behaving ever more strangely: it’s not anymore OK to sleep at my feet. She needs to have her head on the pillow next to me. Too bad the bed is not very wide.
I guess I should be happy that she does not drag all the toys and sticks to the bed, as well.

Joulusirkus

Jälleen kerran tarvittiin jouluaatto jotta muistettaisiin että perheessä on uhmaikäinen lapsi. Heti aamiaisen jälkeen alkaa kitinä. Joulukuusen koristelusta, siitä saako pitää jalkoja sohvalla vaikka suojapäällinen on otettu pois. Pitää leikkiä, päästä kavereiden kanssa pihalle, jossa on liian kylmä eikä mikään ole niinkuin pitää. Joululeivonnaisia on olohuoneen pöydällä mutta äiti ehdottomasti kieltää koskemasta niihin.
Illalla, jouluaterian aikaan ruoka ei maistu, kaikki on taas pielessä, väärää juotavaa tarjotaan ja kukaan ei tunnu kiinnittävän huomiota siihen että kuusen alle on ilmaantunut kasoittain LAHJOJA, LAHJOJA, LAHJOJA! Kaikki tuoksuu liian hyvälle vaan puhutaan koko aika pöytätavoista eikä saa syödä mitä haluaisi. Jälkiruokaa ei saa ennenkuin pääruoka on syöty, mutta kun se ei maistu…
Jotain perhevalokuvia. Pitää istua sievästi, katsoa kameraan tolkuttoman pitkään kun äiti säätää itselaukaisinta kymmenettä kertaa. Perhepuheluita ulkomaille, jokainen ihminen vuorollaan latelee tervehdyksiä skypen läpi.
Vihdoin lahjoja. Kaikki muut saavat enemmän lahjoja. Ahdistaa.
Loputtoman odottelun jälkeen oma lahjapaketti on edessä, paperit revitään surutta auki, ahmitaan joulunamit – hermoja riipivä jännitys on ohi, ei jäänyt tänäkään jouluna ilman uutta pehmolelua.

IMG_1777.jpgEnsi vuonna hankin koiralle joulumausteisen koiranruokapurkin. Vaikka epäilen että mikään koiranruoka ei kelpaa kun muu perhe nautiskelee jouluateriaa…

INBOX)16119.jpg Veli väittää että Kiinan kansanarmejan karvalakki on huomattavasti parempi kuin Suomen Kansanarmeijan norsunv****. Pohtii huomaisiko kukaan jos palaisi lomiltaan punatähden kera ja hukkaisi suomalaisen version…

Just a little ray of light…

… shone on this small village, and for a short while – but it was enough to transform it. It might be dark and cold, but instead of many PEOPLE there are many PERSONS around. I met 9 friends today, most of them unintentionally just by hanging out around the 3 smiths’ statue, had my hair done (red, and a nice red one!), had a coffee at Wayne’s (the interior has somehow changed I think, and the selection was poor, and bagels were served COLD!) and an other at Java, shopped at Vanha’s christmas market for presents (mainly for myself I guess since I had all the presents already a week ago), thought I’d lost my mobile phone at least three times (and did not even once) and visited Tin Tin Tango for a short glögi.
Not bad for first day’s work…
There was a storm last night, I heard it howling and read that the wind blowed somewhere over 30 m/s – quite remarkable even for some typhoons. I should probably think nothing much of it, coming from an island that is regularly on the path of storms… of the storm gods. But whereas in Japan the gods seem to just pass over the islands, without a slightest feeling for the tiny humans huddling in their miserable paper houses and trampling onwards, the storm gods that played around here behave diferently. They vent their anger and frustration *personally* on the people, tearing, punishing, with contempt and distaste for anyone foolish enough to stand against them and go out in their way. Or, so I felt: during the worst typhoon I’ve experienced I stand out in the rain like surfers in the wake of a transatlantic ship that does not pay attention to them, but the finnish gods turn their icy eyes and searing whips of rain towards me like they really wanted me to be sorry for ever having born…

Journey to the dark side of Earth

My jet-lag-avoiding method failed me. Usually, after the plane leaves the ground bathing in sunshine, I put on the eye mask and stay in dark until it is supposed to be some kind of daytime in the destination – and, while flying westwards, I should actually be flying in a constant daylight if leaving in the morning.
After some sleep, I look out in utter confusion – it’s dark. I spend some time wondering what had happened (maybe we took the longer route around the earth) until I realise that no, flying over northern Siberia to Finland will not show me ANY sunlight. After turning towards south I see a very faint golden glow in the horizon – somewhere there still is sunlight. I start to miss my sunny mornings, flowering bushes and orange trees bearing fruit.
Onboard I read about the latest achievements and furure plans of science, and about the brave little satellite or probe that is going to land in Titan sometime in the future, through the gas storms and maybe into it’s freezing cold methane sea.
And, then, we land. Into the sea of darkness and cold, the aeroplane dives deep and furious winds shear on the wings. Visibility less than half a wingspan, all the flaps out ploughing the air full of snow, and the descent seems to take ages. Deeper, darker, colder… I feel a sensation, akin to despair, creeping up from my feet and I seriously wonder how anyone can live in these hostile conditions.
How can one place change so much just over half a year? It seems an eyeblink ago I was drunk on the beauty and gentleness of Helsinki.
Fortunately, home is warm, the dog does not hate me (even though she’s gone completly deaf, poor thing…) bro looks good in uniform, and I have no difficulties in falling at sleep in my old bed after 10 PM, waiting for the new day to dawn.
I wake up; my internal clock says it is morning, and the clock on my cell phone says so as well – but the world does not. It is still dark. I feel like it was 3 AM even though my jet lag, had I such, should claim its afternoon. Dark and cold and raining freezed water (not snow) when I dare to go out with the dog. I feel weird, worrying that someone would see me, going out at this completly inappropriate time ot 8.30 AM.
Seriously, I had forgotten how dark dark can be, and how cold, and how wet.

Packing it up

Not so many hoyrs until I have wake up and drag myself almost 100 km away to the Narita airport… thank heavens for the luggage delivery service; 25 kg of chocolate and sake is not what I consider a convenient thing to carry on three trains.
Again, after all, I hate leaving. But I would hate staying, as well. Never happy, I guess.
And, everybody (and I mean *everybody*) is asking me – what the hell are you going to Finland for? It’s cold there, man, isn’t it?
So far it seems that Japan is one of the optimal places to spend christmas at, if you’re one of those who get mad at the whole thing: naturally, you CAN shop all with all your strength and go crazy about having the house cleaned from floors to roofs, but you don’t have to. Christmas does not exist here, really; just another funny custom from somewhere else. No-one will think you are crazy if you wish to spend it working or singing carols round with your family. No need to be merry if don’t feel like it, no need for gift-giving (outside the usual japanese custom of having gifts for everyone all the time.)
Actually, I’m one of those who DO like christmas and has nothing against gifts and decorations and the whole tradition. Nevertheless, I must say – I’m rather tempted to stay here next year to see through it.
Wish list:
I’d like to learn some shamisen. I know it’s probablt extremely difficult (especially since I don’t have any good grasp on even what kind of melodies are played with it) and expensive, and that I don’t have any thoughts of ‘mastering’ it in any way – I just think it would be cool to be able to play something with it. Or, at least, know how to hold it properly.
I’d like to draw, paint – started to think again about those artpads (or whatever are they called, the thingies whereby you can draw with computer using a pen instead of a mouse); many, many years ago when I still had time, imagination, inspiration, hopes, dreams and such, I think I did draw quite a lot. Honestly, I don’t actually remember if this is true or not since I can’t find any traces of the files.
I’d like to learn to use the brush – calligraphy sounds great and pompous and veery japanesque, but I’d be happy with the skill of being able to write neatly with a brush. Sumi-e, ink paintings are also something I sometimes phantasy about; I don’t have any great artistic skills but sometimes I wonder, if, having enough time and patience, something would just … emerge..
I’d like to try kyuudo, the japanese archery. It seems to be very popular among girls around this town, every evening you see bands of teen girls with short skirts, carrying the incredibly long bows and arrows wrapped in colorful cloth… and, while at it, yabusame as well 😉
The last point summarizes it. Maybe there are things that I’d want to; but I just don’t find the will to actualise them. And, the same way it is easy to produce a relatively nice layout for webpages compared to the trouble of finding anything meaningfull to fill the pages with – no matter how fine pens and brushes, no matter how skillfull I’d become with the shamisen (or violin, for that matter, that has been collecting dust since over a year…) – as long as I have nothing to paint, nothing to play, no songs to sing – it’s all useless. Mudana.
Still, I marvel at the ability of many of my friends to find time and will for their hobbies – 6 lessons of dance a week seems to be nothing very unusual, and I’m overjoyed with myself if I get three lessons of Bujinkan a week or two weekly lessons for three consecutive weeks.
*sigh*
See you in Finland.

Oh brother, where am I, what am I doing here

10 monts in Japan have passed. But, after some discussions a week ago about how the image of Japan is different when viewed as a tourist or a businessman, I’ve begun to wonder.
So, I live in Japan. I have the visa and a residence and a job and a membership card to the local gym; but, compared to people who come here as tourists or as business visitors, I seem to experience very little of ‘Real Japan’.
I have not been to the Imperial Gardens or Nikko; I have not spent a night at Tsukiji fish market, and most definetly have not experienced any True Traditional Japanese Dinner with company executives or even a drunken night with normal sararimen in a cozy local izakaya. If in hurry and hungry I usually prefer a restaurant with at least partially western menu and definetly do not bother to enter anything that looks like a japanese restaurant if not in the special mood for something special. I have raamen and miso and all the staples in the campus canteen on a daily basis, I do not eat fish so sushi’s out, and while dragging my sore feet home from training the lights of burger joints are way more tempting than any cultural experiment could.
There are many places I know but even more such that I have not even heard about, that belong to the realm of Business Japan that is somewhat unaccessible to me. I live in this safe bubble of RIKEN campus, where at least some portion of people do speak English and foreigner faces are not startling. True, the great majority of people do look Asian and many signs are in Japanese only but still – it feels like Japan is something that is seen on TV, as the funny talk shows and language lessons and earthquakes and typhoons. Also, Japan is something that can be bought in the local supermarket – chopsticks, Hello Kitty hotpants, keitai accessories, electronic gizmos. Things that would be considered cool and japanesque in Europe and that can be ordered from the internet – here they just happen to be available over-the-counter. Second-hand kimonos, wall scrolls with calligraphy, tea ceremony utilities.
It is a quite real possibility that I spend my few years in Japan without ever climbing the Fuji, without seeing a geisha, without any close relationship with anybody else than fellow gaijin scientists or budokas, without spending the night at Tsukiji or sleeping at a buddhist temple. I’m already so overwhelmed by the amount of incredibly cool stuff (like samurai armours) that can be bought at the markets that most likely I will not even have had obtained any True Japanese Thingies to show off with. But in that case, where have I spent the years, and what kind of culture I have absorbed?
It would be a shame, having spent years here and not managing to arrange for at least some sightseeing. Even though, to think that I would have to actually DO something during the weekend, in addition to going to the training and Ito Yokado for next week’s grocery shopping… most of the weeks, it just would be too much.
I learn the language (recent successes include reading a combination of kanjis and all by myself realising that they mean ‘pollen’, and the other revelation of the kanjis for the word ‘anhydrous’ (‘nothing/empty’ + ‘water’ )), the mere thought of entering the bathtub without washing oneself first thoroughly is disgusting. As the winter has engulfed us in chilly weather I try to shop for a winter skirt – one that would be short enough for the season, and feel ashamed when coughing in the train without wearing the mask to protect the fellow commuters from my flu. I have at least some grasp on why the Japanese ‘never’ say ‘no’ and I know is which train line takes you most efficiently from Ikebukuro to Shibuya (no, it is NOT the Yamanote) .
Still, I feel like everybody else who’s even spent a weekend in Tokyo has experienced more of True Japan than I have; maybe it would be different if I lived in a smaller town, with less contacts with foreigners (note how I avoid using the word gaijin, but in reality I feel uncomfortable in a train car if there’s a group of foreigners at the other end, unless they keep quiet and behave themselves).
I guess it would not hurt to have some vacation that would be spent in Japan instead of rushing off to Narita immediately…