Sunday, October 24, 2010

tanukis, their behavior and the very special tanuki soup

this is a tanuki - the related wikipedia entry is even more funny than the picture

Wikipedia says:
The Tanuki - Japanese racoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides viverrinus) have been part of Japanese folklore since ancient times. The legendary tanuki is reputed to be mischievous and jolly, a master of disguise and shapeshifting, but somewhat gullible and absent-minded.

Statues of tanuki can be found outside many Japanese temples and restaurants.These statues often wear big, turtle-shell hats and carry bottles of sake in one hand, and a promissory book or empty purse in the other hand. Tanuki statues always have large bellies.

--> The statues also usually show humorously large testicles, typically hanging down to the floor or ground!!  Tanuki may be shown with their testicles flung over their backs like travellers' packs, or using them as drums  <--

The tanuki has eight special traits that bring good fortune, possibly created to coincide to the "Hachi" symbol (meaning eight) often found on the sake bottles the statues hold.
The eight traits are: a hat to be ready to protect against trouble or bad weather; big eyes to perceive the environment and help make good decisions; a sake bottle that represents virtue; a big tail that provides steadiness and strength until success is achieved;
--> over-sized testicles that symbolize financial luck <--
a promissory note that represents trust or confidence; a big belly that symbolises bold and calm decisiveness; and a friendly smile

During the Kamakura and Muromachi eras, some stories began to include more sinister tanuki.--> The Otogizoshi story of "Kachi-kachi Yama" features a tanuki that clubs an old lady to death and serves her to her unknowing husband as "old lady soup," an ironic twist on the folkloric recipe known as "tanuki soup." <--

I strongly recommend the whole article:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

my house, my car, my boat

Not exactly my boat, not even my car or my house, but here I want to give you a virtual tour through my shofu-dormitory:

this is my dormitory
it has 46 single rooms and 5 double rooms and therefore space enough for 56 residents, unfortunatly only male :(
the double rooms are on the 1st floor, single rooms on the 2nd and third floor.

 This is the (main) entrance. Please notice the two signs, that tell you that you are not allowed to enter without permission. So please use the phone to call the person you want to visit and sign in at the guestbook; entrance time - leaving time - reason for the visit. Visiting time is from 9:00 am - 9:00 pm, only in the common room, which is the left door in front of you.
And, please, notice the camera in the upper corner. The oversear's watching you.

This is the entrance from the other side. Looks a little more welcoming, I think.
 Here you see our very homelike common room (just kidding ;) But there is a table tennis plate.

And a very interesting book collection.
when we go upstairs...

there's the common kitchen on the left side.

 with some simple (but really fast) cooking devices.

lets leave the kitchen and go to the laundry room

the washing machine looks strange. However, it's ease of use. Just push the large grey button, than the large blue button. Please do not push any further button.
Fascinating for me, there's no heating, the washing temperature is room temperature (it works ...partly).
For completeness, this is, of course, the toilet:
At least, I hope

 Following the corridor on the right side of the stairs
leads us to my room
which is larger that it looks like (notice air condition, left upper corner)
and fridge, right lower corner

Eventually, this is the view from my (indeed small, but my own) balcony:

thanks for joining the program - arigato gosaimashita °°

Saturday, October 16, 2010

umbrellas in japan

When you come to Japan, you will notice very soon that japanese people have a very special relationship to their umbrellas. Of course, they have to, because when it starts raining here, it will not end for days. The drizzle surrounds you everywhere and due to there terrific perfectionism, Japanese hate to get wet. So everybody carries a large umbrella during rain time (not these small ones that we call Knirps® in Germany). And because there are umbrellas everywhere, it is hardly surprising that Japanese created some very useful, but curious devices for their umbrellas.
For example you can find lockable umbrella stands in front of noble restaurants and stores, like these:

Another very handy thing are plastic bags, which are provided in front of almost every store and which you can pull over your umbrella, so that you can't wet the store equipment or other people. However, I never saw anybody using this up to now. Maybe it is because it takes much time to fumble the bag over the umbrella.
So, somebody created this:

As you can see, this is an automat that pulls a plastic bag over your umbrella. Even more handy than just a plastic bag ;)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

japanisches Obst

muss das hier mal loswerden - und zwar auf deutsch ;)

ich hab ja in Japan schon einige komische Dinge gesehen (kommt später mal), aber als ich grad auf dem Weg nach Hause war, hab ich mal kurz in einen japanischen Luxus-Supermarkt gleich um die Ecke reingeschaut. Nur aus Interesse. Und da hab ich das hier gefunden:
das interessante in der Ecke unten rechts sind die 6000. Wenn ich das richtig verstanden habe, ist das der Preis für diese Weintraube (das Yen-Symbol kann man leider nicht lesen, meine Handy-Kamera hat noch keine 15 MP).
Mit dem momentanen Kurs von 0,87 € pro 100 Y macht das stolze 52,20 € für diese Packung. Ok, Obst ist in Japan ziemlich teuer, aber das ist schon grenzwertig...

Das ganze dient wohl als Geschenk. Ich frag mich ob das Preisschild da wohl dran bleibt.

Monday, October 4, 2010

finally ... in tokyo

I've been in Tokyo for two week now and finally, I'm eager to start my blog.
I've decided to write this blog in english, not only for improving my english skills but to make it readable for everyone. And I think its quite funny too :) So please ignore my non-perfect school english, that is sometimes a little halting for sure. Maybe, I will switch to german later, but for now, I will try it in english.

So, how to start. The best first topic is probably about the flight and the first days in Tokyo. where I ran after bureaucratic stuff in a 12 million residents metropolis full of noisy and blinking stuff, without speaking the native language, without sleep for about 26 hours. Was awesome ;)

It took me 2 hours for Berlin --> Frankfurt (the start was one hour late) and ca. 11 hours for Frankfurt --> Tokyo. With waiting time, it was about 15 hours all in all. Seems to be much time and for sure it was, but a look in the past for barely 100 years says that the world has become a village. Back in the past, it took about 3 month, or 1080 hours on a ship, passing storms, seamonsters and sea sickness. In 2010, in took me only 0.0139 x the time, without seamonsters and it was quite more comfortable, too.

I flew with the new A380 Jet. For me, I was very curious about the flight, because my last long-distance flight is ca. 15 years in the past and I was a child as this time. 
The one how likes to know, my seat was about here (red arrow on the picture), but on the other side.

By the way, Frankfurt am Main is the largest Lufthansa-Airbase, what is prooved with the next pictures.

But up to now, the Lufthansa-Airline possesses only three A380 Jet (and the one of my air-route was the first  one :) But without the glory, to be one of the first 500.000 Lufthansa-customers flying with this beauty, it is a long distance airplane like everyone else. Small seats, many people and you feel like a tuna in a can. But the entertainment system is quite good. You have a touchscreen to touch, some of the latest movies to watch and, as the cherry on the top, you can choose between three external view cameras. Unfortunatly, I flew during the night and so there was nothing more than darkness on the screen, interrupted by the periodical flash of the signal light that went:

---flash- flash-flash (3 seconds waiting) - flash-flash-flash-flash-flash-flash-flash-flas-flash-flash
 (have I mentioned that an 11 hours flight at night can be a very boring experience?)

But who cares, the Lufthansa took care for almost everything. The drinks were for free, alcoholics too ;) (at least, if you don't stretch it to the limit) 
 They even put ashtrays in the lavatory, just beside the very obvious notice:

Perhaps it's for testing the discipline of the smoking passengers or it's some kind of joke ... I don't know, but I think it's quite funny. All in all, I can say that the flight was long and uncomfortable, but there was a really good entertainment program on board, the flight was soft and it is much more better than to deal with seamonsters. Only at the landing approach there were some turbulences. Maybe Godzilla, or just the weather.

Finally, we landed in Tokyo - Narita Airport just in time at 07:45 am. And this is what you look like after 11 hours in a plane (even in the A380)

There were two passengers, that collapsed during the flight (happens, even in the A380) and we had to wait for them to be carried away. Hope, that they are ok, but they seemed to be well. 
Just after leaving the plane, I saw my first face mask wearing japanese behind an infrared camera.

It was some kind of scary, but I think he just looked for some H5N1-infected zombies (Luck for me, I wasn't catched, so probably I am healthy and not undead)
The most annoying procedure after arrival was the pass control. We had to fill out an application form (I'm pretty sure, that "application form" is the most frequently used non-japanese word at japanese official counters (really, japanese bureaucracy loves application forms, even more than the german does)). The AF (official short form for application form) was about the reason of the visit in Japan, my adress there and so on (things that I wrote down at least to times before, when I ordered my visa, with an AF of course). But even with this AF, the procedure was long and annoying because they took fingerprints and pictures from every passenger. So this took me again about 30 - 45 min, waiting in a row, before I passed the last control. And finally, I arrived in Tokyo.