I arrived safe and sound in Helsinki, and checked into my hotel, and it is nice. Rather small, but that's good. It doesn't have a window, but that's fine. Unfortunately, I discovered that I 1) have to pay eight euros to go to the aviation museum, 2) would have to walk 20 minutes to get there, or 3) would have to take the bus. Obviously, the walking bit would be fun, except for the part where it's dark out.

I did go walk around the airport a bit before it got completely dark, though. THERE IS SNOW. SO MUCH SNOW. Actually, not much snow, but it was snowing when we landed and it hasn't stopped. \o/ I GOT SNOW ON MY BIRTHDAY YAY!!!!! SNOW SNOW SNOW SNOW SNOW!!!!!!!

I also got myself a piece of chocolate cake instead of dinner. It was delicious. It was a great birthday present, but I am looking forward to some real birthday food on Sunday.

Also, I only noticed that it was Friday the 13th some time this morning. How could I possibly not have been extremely prepared for the fact that my birthday was on Friday the 13th this year??? HOW DID I NOT KNOW???

So anyway ... I read more than 100 pages of my biogeography textbook on the plane, and spent a while working on my 2012 project. I am getting very excited about it. I like the characters I have so far, and the world has much promise. I just have to decide how much like Shinto I want it to be, versus how much I am willing to modify it and/or make it a sort of dark Shinto. I rather like Shinto, so I don't really want to make it dark; but on the other hand, I really like the idea that I have at the moment ...

I must have taken the slowest possible train to get to the airport this morning, but I made it in time. Plus, getting through the airport (the Nagoya airport) was extremely breeze-like.

Also, I finished editing the Vampire's thing for her, as well as the other thing from the con lang listserv. But both of those were a few days ago.
So, on Wednesday we went to the Nagoya port area. We didn't see much of the port, but we did stop at two museum-like places: a spinning top museum and the aquarium.

The spinning top museum was ... extremely weird. Basically, the person who ran it put her ENTIRE COLLECTION of spinning tops on the shelves of the building, and then labeled them by country of origin. That was it. Except that there were ungodly numbers of spinning tops. Yeah ... her curatorial skills were lacking, but it was still pretty cool—we saw more tops than I have ever seen before in my entire life. There were enormous ones and tiny ones, ones made from acorns and ones that were tops with other tops stuck in, and so on and so forth. Sadly, I don't have any pictures, because I felt really awkward taking pictures in the middle of this random museum/store place; but it was exciting, mostly because it was so odd. According to the Vampire, I pick the sketchiest places to go to, but I thought it was fun.

Then we went to the aquarium, where we totally did not have enough time. We spent a long time looking at whale skeletons, which were really cool, but we didn't look at many actual live cetaceans. I find it really depressing to put a dolphin into a tank, because perhaps even more than large terrestrial mammals, they need SPACE. Anyway, we got to see lots of fish, and turtles, and coral, and it was fun. I have many pictures, too.

*******

Yesterday, Thursday, we went to Osu Kannon, where we saw a big temple, and walked around, and saw a small temple, and saw a kofun (burial mound, pre-AD), and tried to find another kofun only to discover that a shrine had been built on top of the kofun. We walked around some more, and got food. Lunch was ... very dispersed, since we basically ate like this:

11:30 — Amazing orange things from Valor that I will miss SO MUCH when I get back to the States.
12:35 — Delicious vegetable buns that were basically steamed bread around vegetables.
1:30ish — Parfait, with matcha ice cream, rice krispie-like things, dango. Good.
3:15ish — Another of the vegetable buns, because they were so good the first time.

I think I am missing something in there, but anyway.

Osu Kannon was basically a huge shopping district (a teramachi, it seemed) where there were lots of small shops all lining a large indoor building. It was huge, and we kind of got lost (in the sense of, where exactly are we in this ginormous structure?), but we saw a lot of interesting shops, including an Asian Style place (infused with ASIAN!), a bike shop that was advertised as a shooting range, and a zombie store.

After Osu Kannon, we walked around for a while before deciding to go to the Nagoya science museum. As students we got an amazing discount, but unfortunately we only had about an hour and a half there—and we hadn't even finished the first floor (out of five) within an hour. My brother and the Vampire are going back there today, while I am flying off to Helsinki ... Alas. It was pretty awesome; they had a sand table where they had sound vibrating the table, and depending on the resonant frequency the sand made variable patterns. They had a pendulum with a bucket on the bottom that sand could drain out of, so you filled up the bucket and then let it swing around the table and make patterns. They had a pin-based music turntable thing where you set the pins and then could compose a song (or have it make whatever tune you wanted). They had a water wheel that climbed a ramp as the water flowed down, and optical illusions. It was pretty awesome, and that was just the first floor. We went up to the fifth floor for the last half hour to look at elasticity and the weights of various types of substances, but unfortunately they kicked us out. :P

That's about it. I am now in the airport, having finished my frappuccino, and am enjoying the free wireless. I am getting obsessed with Akemi, and the world is looking good!
Yesterday we went to Higashiyama Koen, a park with a zoo, botanical garden, park, amusement park, sky tower, and probably other things I don't know about, and walked around a lot. (On a random note, we've walked about 40 miles since we got to Nagoya, which is pretty impressive, especially since we've only been here for six days!) The zoo was pretty depressing, since the large mammals (an elephant, rhinoceros, polar bears) had the tiniest spaces ever, and there were a bunch of large birds in tiny cages, too; but the botanical garden was really cool, lots of interesting plants. No ice plants, sadly, but many many cacti, agave, aloe, and a bunch of monocots, too (including some commelinoid monocots!). I've got lots of pictures of those that I'm going to try to sort through to figure out what the plants are.

The day before we pretty much just went to shrines; since it was おしょうがつ(お正月)absolutely nothing was open, and everyone was just hanging out with their families. This means that when we tried to go get dinner, we walked through several completely vacant malls and eventually ended up at a CoCoIchibanya, which we'd already eaten at. But at least we knew the food was good; and more importantly, we actually found food. My brother and I learned our lesson and bought lots of melon bread for emergency meal situations, though now that お正月 is mostly over (or at least, the stores are opening up again) we probably won't have any trouble finding food. I am a little disappointed in our hostel, because it's very difficult to cook in there; for one, it's freezing in the kitchen, and for two, there are no chairs to sit on while cooking. I think they mostly expect us to heat things up rather than actually cook, which we weren't fully aware of when we booked this place.

Anyway ... I'm getting a little concerned about how much money we've spent, though a lot of that money has gone to hostel. But we've probably been spending about $10-15 a meal (except for breakfast), which isn't what I was expecting to pay. I wish my brother and his girlfriend seemed more excited about going to panya for lunch, because I personally would TOTALLY be happy just eating pan for lunch. They don't seem to consider it a real meal, which it probably isn't; but at the same time, I can get a delicious, amazing lunch for less than three dollars rather than for $13. What's even better about the panya is that when we go together, we can buy six different types of bread for about 115-130 yen each, and then we get to try ALL OF THE DELICIOUSNESS.

In the last few days, we've basically been going to tons and tons of shrines. We went to Susanoo, Kawahara, Atsuta, Gosha ... probably more that I am forgetting. We also went to a few temples, including one with an enormous green Buddha. It was pretty awesome.

On a completely unrelated note, I had a huge story idea this morning while I was attempting to sleep but failing. It is only in the very earliest of stages, but so far I am liking it. It might even be my 2012 project!

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lailoken

July 2012

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