December 18, 2011

Jazz & Shaking

The past two weeks I've been busy at the laboratory finishing a set of experiments and preparing a presentation about the results. I don't remember ever putting in so many hours in a week. Then, last Wednesday, just before the presentation, the tension was literally palpable. It started off as a little shaking and suddenly the building was swaying gently. It lasted for 20 to 30 seconds and, as suddenly as it had began, it also ended. I had just experienced my first earthquake. No need to tell you that after the tremor, the presentation was the easy part.

Our takoyaki party. Alisson behind the camera.

During the week I also received a very pleasant surprise from my parents, who had sent me a care package stuffed with chocolates, piparkakku, näkkileipä and warm socks. Thank you, Christmas came early this year! Speaking of Christmas, it doesn't really feel like it is at hand. Perhaps it is the lack of snow and cold. Or then, it is because Christmas is merely a popular day for romantic dates in Japan. Of course, many department stores have decorations in an attempt to exploit the commercial aspect of Christmas and boost their sells, but it doesn't have any deeper meaning to it in here. On the other hand, New Year is the most important holiday in Japan and it is the time when families gather to spend time together and visit temples. So the festive traditions are more or less the exact opposite of those in the West.

It's rare to see Christmas decorations in private houses, but these guys are
quite eager about it to say the least.

After all the sweating and shaking at the laboratory, last weekend was finally time for some fun. On Friday Viviane organized a takoyaki party. The takoyakis turned out delicious and it also came clear to me what some people were laughing about earlier that day, when I told them about the night's theme: it is usual to fill one random takoyaki with an excessive amount of wasabi to one unlucky person's delight. After eating, we headed to Sakae to sing the night away at a karaoke bar and took the first subway back home. Thanks Vivi for the great night!

Definitely no wasabi in that takoyaki just below the chopstick.

To put a perfect finishing touch to the weekend, we went with Joy and her friends to see Drunken Fish featuring guest stars from Jazz Dragon at Jazz Inn Lovely yesterday. The lead guitarist, who had been drinking something stronger than virgin Cuba Libres, engaged in spirited improvisations and solos to the surprise of some of the other band members too, judging by their laughs and expressions. You could see that the band was having fun playing together and the public was also entertained and amused, me included.

Drunken Fish feat. Jazz Dragon.

This week will be an interesting one and I'm looking forward to both our lab's and my ultimate team's 忘年会 ("Bounenkai"), the Japanese counterpart for end-of-the-year party and somewhat similar to pikkujoulut in Finland. The kanjis in Bounenkai actually mean "forget year party" and the aim is to leave behind the worries and troubles of the past year. In other words, it is an occasion to go on a binge and forget. Sounds good.

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