February 2014 - Vikingess Voyages

Friday, February 28, 2014

Disney's Frozen: Inspired by Norway

4:29:00 PM

You've probably already watched (or at least heard about) Disney's latest movie Frozen. But did you know that a Disney delegation travelled all the way to Norway to get inspiration for the film.?

As stated by the movie's art director Mike Giaimo, “Norway offered a cultural backdrop we’d never explored before and we thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to blend its dramatic environment, architecture and folk costume aesthetic?’ It feels like a world from a classic Disney film, but it’s completely new.”

Here are some ways that Frozen was inspired by Norway:
-The characters in the movie have traditional Scandinavian names such as Hans, Anna and Olaf
-The name of the kingdom 'Arendelle' is based on the name of the Norwegian town Arendal
-The clothes featured in the movie are inspired by the Norwegian folk costume called bunad
-In addition, you can also see the northern lights (aurora borealis), trolls, stave churches and the characteristic Norwegian fjord landscape.

The Frozen Kingdom of Arendelle
On a side note: Here is the song "Let it go" performed in 25 different languages. It is really impressive how they have used voice actresses that sound almost completely the same! I simply love this video.. And my favorite version of the song is.. Surprise, surprise.. The Japanese one. 少しも寒くないわ!v(-_^)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Studying Korean in Tokyo: Seoul Academy

7:00:00 PM
As you probably know, Japanese and Korean are quite similar languages. If you know one of them, it is not too hard to master the other if you only have the time to sit down and study. I already know Japanese to a certain level (passed N1 a couple of years ago, but you know, there's always room for improvement), and this helps me a lot when studying Korean.
My Korean textbook
Right now I'm on my last school vacation, and I figured out that I might as well try to spend the time wisely by taking courses to improve my Korean skills. Although I spent a year as an exchange student at Kyung Hee University in Korea I didn't really have the chance to study the language that much exempt from a three week intensive Korean course I took at Yonsei University last year. This time the intensive course didn't work out with my schedule, but I didn't give up on taking classes in Korean. After some research I discovered a school called Seoul Academy situated in Takadanobaba (高田馬場) that offered various courses at a reasonable price.
I was surprised to find that the Seoul Academy actually was situated on the 11th floor in what used to be a totally normal apartment. At first I was running around the front part of the building looking for the school in the area where all the offices are, so it took a little while before I discovered the entrance.

The entrance to Seoul Academy
I ended up taking one of their 短期集中コース (Short-term focus course). The price was 35.000 yen, and included classes two days a week from 12:00-14:50 (including a 10 minutes break) plus the book we used in class. I was really surprised when my teacher told me I could choose myself whether I preferred group classes or private classes, as I though I would automatically be placed in a group. He told me the price didn't differ, so of course I chose to have private lessons. Lucky!
The reception at Seoul Academy
Our classroom
I had two different teachers on the different days, and because I was the only one in class I got to practice my Korean a lot.! I think that it is advisable to already have a certain level of Japanese before taking the class though, because that is the language you use when your Korean is insufficient. But it is possible that Seoul Academy also has teachers that are fluent in English.
Introduction of the teachers at Seoul Academy
Map to the school
Although the course is over I'm considering taking classes there again once I come back to Japan in the end of March. I'm worried that I'll be too busy since I start working in April, but if not I'll definitely take their courses and try to improve my Korean further.

PS: A little while back I made a PDF with rules for how to translate Japanese words into Korean based on the Chinese characters. This makes it a lot easier to remember Korean words if you already know Japanese (or the other way around of course). Please have a look here if you're interested.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Japan Travels: Skiing in Hakuba

2:19:00 PM
The Bell of Happiness and the main slope in the Goryu ski resort
Japan is well-known for its many great skiing destinations. Among the best places you can visit is the prefecture Nagano, which also was the site of the 1998 Winter Olympics. This weekend Yuma and I went to Hakuba, a small village in the Nagano prefecture where many of the Olympic events were held back in 1998. We took a night bus from Shinjuku and arrived in Hakuba early in the morning. The place was totally packed with people, so we had to wait for quite a while until we could rent the necessary equipment.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

TED: Making friends with stress

6:03:00 PM
I think I might have to rethink my conception of stress after having watched this video.. If you can't get rid of your stress, it might be better to make it your friend. Or..?

"Stress. It makes your heart pound, your breathing quicken and your forehead sweat. But while stress has been made into a public health enemy, new research suggests that stress may only be bad for you if you believe that to be the case. Psychologist Kelly McGonigal urges us to see stress as a positive, and introduces us to an unsung mechanism for stress reduction: reaching out to others."

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Norway Yumenet Presentation in Tokyo (Norsk Salong)

12:02:00 PM
On Saturday I gave a speech at Norway Yumenet (ノルウェー夢ネット)'s "Norsk Salong" (Norwegian Salon) about various things related to my life in Japan. I had been invited to give the lecture by Junko-san and Yoko-san who together run Norway Yumenet. They are hosting various lectures every second month with guests who talk about different things related to Norway, as well as holding courses in Norwegian. 
The first slide of my presentation
This time it was my experience with Japanese job hunting that was the main topic. Since I already have studied for a long time in both Japan and Korea and worked as an intern at the Norwegian Embassy in Tokyo I got to talk a bit about these things too.

Self introduction
There was only one very unfortunate thing about the lecture, and that was the weather. As a Norwegian I am familiar with both snow and wind, and keep holding on to the quite Norwegian motto "Det finnes ikke dårlig vær, bare dårlige klær" (there is no bad weather, only bad clothing). But although Saturday was a beautiful and sunny day to be out in the snow about half of the participants chose to cancel due to the snow that had fallen the day before. It must have been hard getting around Tokyo with many of the trains cancelled or running on delayed scheduled.
Talking a bit about my Japanese studies
It was still incredibly nice that relatively many had chosen to come to the lecture hall despite the complicated weather. The atmosphere was good and I got many questions from the audience during and after the presentation. 
Practicing Norwegian with Junko-san
I had brought my boyfriend along too. It was a great chance for him to hear more about Norway, and he also got to learn some new Norwegian words during Junko-san's small Norwegian course at the end of my lecture.
Me &Yuma
Although it would have been nice if all the registered participants had made it to the lecture I'm really happy for the people who came, and of course that I got this fun opportunity to talk about my experiences in Japan. Junko-san and Yoko-san are really working hard to promote and teach about Norway here in Japan, and I would be more than honored if I get the chance to come back to Norsk Salong and hold another lecture some time in the future.

In the meantime, here are some related links for those who are interested:

Yumenet Homepage (Japanese/Norwegian)

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Monday, February 17, 2014

My Snowy Tokyo Valentine: Valentine in Kagurazaka

12:12:00 PM
A few weeks ago we had this year's first snowy day here in Tokyo. I never thought we were going to get so much snow again this spring, but it seems I was really wrong on that. 

On Friday it was Valentine's day, and the bars and restaurants must have had pretty expectations of a new sales record this year as well. I suppose this year the Valentine's day came as a big disappointment. It was snowing intensely throughout Friday 14th, and the blizzard continued into the evening. This is one of the sights that met me while I was walking to Kagurazaka on Friday evening:
A golden symbol at a gate to a shrine
It was probably many who had to spend Valentine's day indoors without date that day. I for my part could not have had a better evening. A small blizzard has never stopped a real Viking (haha :3..)! On the contrary, the fact that it snowed so much made ​​it possible for my boyfriend and I to get ourselves a restaurant table even without a reservation. Although I'm personally not a big fan of commercial days such as Valentine's day, I have to say that a Friday evening date without having to face overcrowded premises in Tokyo is never a bad thing. And yeah, all the snow made the day even more special.

Entrance to the restaurant Hajimeno ippo
Enjoying a glass of wine
We ate at a restaurant called Hajimeno Ippo, a restaurant that specializes in dishes with garlic. All their garlic comes from Aomori-ken, which supposedly has Japan's best garlic.
Inside the restaurant. Notice the garlics hanging in the upper left corner.
The kitchen as seen from our table
Of course they have any garlic related food you can imagine, and for dessert we even had a garlic ice-cream.! 
Garlic ice-cream 
While sitting at the table we couldn't help noticing their funny English on a card placed at out table. It read "I am available at your table accounting" (The Japanese text can be translated as "Please feel free to pay at the table") and "I will only cash settlement indeed without permission" (We are sorry for the inconvenience, but we only accept cash here). Their translation was kinda cute. Before leaving we gave them a note with our translation suggestions, which it seemed like they appreciated a lot.

"I am available at your table accounting" and "I will only cash settlement indeed without permission"

 We also visited Kagurazaka's Yebisu bar, where there were hardly any other guests. That is not exactly common on a Friday night; usually you will hardly be able to enter the premises without reservation .. So we really felt we got our money's worth when we could sit down and enjoy a glass of beer without having to deal with the huge crowds. Anyone who has been in an izakaya in Japan also know how lame it is to come home at night with clothes and hair that reek of smoke. That was another thing we totally avoided that night!
A quiet Friday night beer at Yebisu bar.
Not many people to spot in the street either!
The god of fortune and beer, Ebisu.
 The way home was somewhat cold and wet, but we were awarded with some great pictures:
A snowy night in Kagurazaka 
Let it snow, let it snow..
The gate to the Ushitenjin (牛天神) shrine
A torii at the end of the white staircase 
A banner that says "red plum festival" (紅梅まつり)
Plum flowers in bloom and snow
Plum flowers in bloom and snow

White shrine
A statue covered in snow
The Ushitenjin shrine
Bike-cycles in the snow
Needless to say: it was an awesome Valentines's day.

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Sunday, February 16, 2014

NEW Kanji to Hanja: 300 words

10:35:00 PM
It's been a year since I promised I would make an updated PDF about how to translate Japanese kanji into Korean based on some simple pronunciation rules. Sorry for the delay! My last year as a student has been pretty busy, but now that I'm on my last school holiday I've finally been able to finish this list!  If you already know Japanese and want to learn Korean (or vice versa) this will come in handy for learning the vocabulary faster. Good luck, and please let me know if you have any comments or if you find mistakes in the document (hopefully there aren't any, but you never know).!
Kanji to Hanja - 300 words

Thanks again to Jostein for the great logo!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

TED: Where do you consider home?

6:09:00 PM
As the world becomes steadily more globalized the question of pointing to a "home" also becomes more complicated. This video hit me right in the heart, and I hope that it will be interesting to watch for my fellow globetrotters out there.

"More and more people worldwide are living in countries not considered their own. Writer Pico Iyer -- who himself has three or four "origins" -- meditates on the meaning of home, the joy of traveling and the serenity of standing still."

Tokyo Cafes: Aoyama Flower Market Tea House

11:25:00 AM
The entrance to the tea house at the back of Aoyama Flower Market
It might look like a normal flower store when you enter and the fresh scent of flowers greets you. But at the back of the Aoyama Flower Market in Omotesando there is actually a hidden café waiting to welcome you with its range of herbal teas. The café's theme is greenhouse, and the walls are covered with plants that help to create the right mood.
The greenhouse cafe
Great atmosphere and great company
My friend Anna and I stayed quite long in the cafe, and we tried out both their tea, salad, and cake. We picked a tea that was supposed to be quite refreshing, and it was served with a small jar of honey added. 
A green tea with various leaves inside
We also had one of their salads. Although it, of course, was very good we had not expected that it would come with sausages. It is somewhat typical in Japan that what you order always comes with a small piece of meat or something even though the menu didn't indicate that there would be any. I guess Japan is not the easiest country to be a vegetarian in.
Our salad, which also turned out to include sausages.
We decided to stay a little longer and try the chocolate cake theirs too. If there is one type of sweets I find hard to resist, it must be chocolate.
Chocolate cake with whipped cream and blueberries
A flower by our table
In addition to the food and drinks that the Tea House has to offer, they also sell a variety of flower-related products such as the fancy vases below.
Fancy flower vase
Some more flowers
The tea shop is quite popular
Tea house 名刺
Today's flower
Flower party coming up!

Got a free rose at the Aoyama Flower Market
During our stay at the tea shop, a Japanese lady came up to our table and asked us to help her correct some of her English sentences. She seemed very happy when she left, but we didn't think much more about it. When we went out of the café to leave one of the florists came up to us with two roses, and explained that a lady had wanted her to give them to us. Such a sweet gesture! So now I have a pretty rose to use for decoration in my room. 

The Aoyama Flower Market Tea House is such a cute little cafe! If you have the chance I would definitely recommend visiting. Just be aware that you'll probably have to wait in line for a while to get seated because of its popularity.

Basic Info
  • ・Name of Cafe: 
  •     Aoyama Flower Market Tea House 
  •     (青山フラワーマーケット )
  • ・Address:
  •     〒107-0062 Tokyo, Minato, Minamiaoyama, 5 Chome−1−2, 
  •     青山エリービル1F
  • ・Phone: 03-3400-0887
  • ・Opening Hours: 11:00~20:00 (Mon-Sat),
                               11:00~19:00 (Sundays & official holidays)
  • ・Official Home Page:http://www.afm-teahouse.com/aoyama

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About Me

Adventures ofAnette

A modern day shield-maiden who loves to explore the unbeaten paths of the world. From her base in Tokyo, Anette takes on both rural and urban challenges, and goes by the motto "No challenge too big, no adventure too small"!
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