Getting out of the comfort zone in Amsterdam アムステルダムで安全地帯から出る

Every second year each department at my job can go on a study trip to some destination in Europe. The newest member of the group organizes the trip. So, this week we went to Amsterdam and I was the organizer. If you read my last blog post you know that my life lately has been a bit colored by stress and anxiety. This trip was one contributing factor for two reasons. First of all I was terrified that something was going to go wrong since I am a complete control freak when it comes to travel. I even ended up carrying around my college’s passport all the trip because I thought he would have a bigger chance of loosing it than I did… hm…
私の会社のそれぞれの部署のスタッフは二年間に一回ヨーロッパの旅に行かせる。部署の一番新人を旅の計画させる。週末アムステルダムに行って、私がすべてオーガナイズした。この前のブログポストを読んだ方は私の最近の生活が少しストレスと不安で影響されたことを知っているかも。この旅はその不安の1つの原因に成った理由が二つあると思う。まず、旅の計画の担当人が私だったから、何かうまくいかないことについて不安だった。ずうっと、旅行なら支配欲が強い性格だった。旅の通じて、同僚の中の一人のパスポートをずうっと運んだ。彼のほうなくす可能性が高いかと思ったから。。。おかしいだろう、私?DSC_6109It has always been like that – whenever I go on a trip somewhere I end up organizing everything, checking time tables for trains, transport to and from airport, which restaurant to choose, which café to go to etc. Needless to say, it came in handy this time because I was all prepared and the planning of the trip went just fine. But I just wonder when I will ever get a complete trip planned for me? Probable never. But even if that would happen I would probably just feel powerless and confused. And I have to admit that when my boyfriend and I travel domestically in Japan he deals with everything, so I occasionally get the luxury of someone planning a trip for me. That will happen this Christmas for example, I’m looking forward to that :)

DSC_6112Besides from the trip organisation in itself, I was also very nervous about one of our study visits. We visited a Dutch research institution called Deltares. I would say that they are number one in Europe when it comes to flood protection and research and considering the situation in the Netherlands they have much more money and historical knowledge for dealing with flooding. We met with a group of researchers in their office, which was surrounded by storm water ponds, and they gave us some lectures and we gave them two as well – of which I held one. So, I had a presentation about flooding (my masters’ thesis) to a group of flood researchers in Europe’s most flood prone country… Confidence not on top. Doing these kinds of performances are totally outside my comfort zone and they make me so nervous. But the presentation went really well. I didn’t mess up at all, and I didn’t even shake. Maybe I am adjusting to work life and holding presentations as a part of that? Or maybe I was too stressed recently to even have time to be nervous? Maybe that is actually it. When you have too much things on your mind, other things that actually aren’t that crucial (like the fear of making a fool out of yourself in front of a group of researchers) fade a bit. In any case I’m stepping out of my comfort zone in many ways recently and this was one. I would lie if I said I wasn’t at least a bit happy with myself.
So what about the city of Amsterdam? It was the first time I was there, it was rainy and most of the time we were out it was dark since our study visits during daytime were in other towns. But it was absolutely wonderful. The canals are really as picturesque as expected, there are nice shops and cafes and the food is good and fairly cheap. Quite a lot of beer was consumed. My colleges were pleased with the trip.

DSC_6111This cake however,  purchased due to its tasty looking appearance, really was a disappointment.  But it can’t all go well all the time. And it was still pretty..

DSC_6119Next time I go to Amsterdam I will make sure to go when there is a bit more time to explore the city during daylight. I don’t have any canal pictures that aren’t dark. And for once there is actually a picture of me. In the same manner as I always plan the trips, I always take all the photos so I come home with hundreds of pictures of everyone else and none on me. But this time my college grabbed my camera and insisted that I should be in one. That was nice :)

DSC_6133Our second study visit was to the huge Maeslantkering storm surge barrier in Holland which protects Rotterdam from being flooded every 10 years or so. It’s the biggest moving construction in the world and it consists of two huge arms closing together in the river, creating a wall, whenever the water is too high. It was hard to get a good picture of how huge it is, but here you can see my college standing under one of it’s arms. If you are interested in either big constructions or flood protection in general I recommend a visit to the site, it was truly interesting.
研究センターいがい、Maeslantkeringというデッカイロッテルダムを守っているバリアの見学もした。水の壁になって、世界中の一番大きな動ける構造だ。大きすぎて写真なかなか取らなかったけどバリアの1つの腕の下に立っている同僚が下記に写っている。デッカイ構造や洪水防止に興味があるなら、行ってみたほうが良いと思う。DSC_6142 DSC_6144 DSC_6145 DSC_6146Back to talking about Amsterdam. We also went to the National Museum. Their main attraction was their Rembrandt paintings but there were also some Van Gogh. The building in itself is quite amazing as well.

DSC_6170DSC_6169 As for the food I ate Indonesian for the first time. I can’t believe that I have never eaten this cuisine before! It was extremely tasty! After Japanese and Indian this might just be my new favorite. The next activity in Stockholm will probably be to find a good Indonesian restaurant and enjoy the great flavors of ginger, soy, tempeh, vegetables and fish again.
食べ物と言ったら初めてインドネシア料理食べた。いったいなぜ今まで食べていなかったの?!超美味しかった!和食とインド料理が一番好きだけど、それからインドネシア料理が気に入っているかも。ストックホルムのレストランに次行く時、インドネシアのレストランを探しましょう。小が、醤油、テンペ、野菜、魚、美味しい!DSC_6175Tomorrow is work again. After an intense weekend with almost no sleep and a tight schedule. And on Tuesday I’m going to Copenhagen for a conference. I don’t know when I’m going to have time to go home to my parents and soak in the approaching Christmas feeling without missing out on something else such as enjoying a cozy December in Stockholm. Always these choices of where to be and not and what to do and not. And as usual there is too much to do at work, which is good because then I stop worrying about small things, such as presentation anxiety. But at the moment if all feels a bit overwhelming, especially with all the responsibility. Some days the added responsibility makes me feel empowered and like I have all the possibilities in the world, and some days I just want to run away to another country leaving everything behind. These bipolar emotions are tiresome. But hey, it’s soon Christmas. Christmas will be nice.

Dark November 暗い十一月


DSC_6023I haven’t been blogging for 3 months. I quit, just like that. No big deal. Somehow, I just didn’t see the meaning anymore, trying to find things to blog about that potential readers would find interesting. And then I had quite a gloomy fall. There have been few things that I have been feeling up to doing, and least of that blogging about things, pretending that everything is fun and fabulous and fantastic.

三ヶ月間このブログで何も書いてない。辞めた、急に。大したもんじゃない。なぜか分からないがもう、もしかしている読者が気になりそうなものを考えようとして、書く理由が見つからない。後、今年の秋は結構暗かった。やりたいことが少なくて、ブログで人生が完璧で最高のように振りして書くのもあんまり魅力的じゃなかった。DSC_6014 DSC_6025 But last week I when I was at my parents place I just realized that I really enjoy taking photos, of random things around me, and that I also want to share them somehow, with the aim being the actual sharing rather than feedback. Also it’s really great for my Japanese skills to continue writing here… So, I’m back. And from now on, if I keep up, I hope that this place will be a little less pretentious. Maybe a place for just showing photos and expressing my thoughts and feelings at the moment. Of course I will continue to post recipes. Cooking, baking, eating, going to cafes and of some strange reason taking pictures of food are a bunch of things I really appreciate.


DSC_5954DSC_5994Basically, it will be what I feel like posting. That’s it :)


About this fall then. Yesterday we watched the film Mr. Nobody, great film I have to add. And there is a quote, that caught my attention and describes my current state of mind rather well.


There comes a time in life where everything seems narrow. Choices have been made. I can only continue on. I know myself like the back of my hand. I can predict my every reaction. My life has been cast in cement with airbags and seatbelts. I’ve done everything to reach this point and now that I’m here, I’m fucking bored.

Especially that last sentence. I’ve been waiting for the last 4 years to be able to move together with my boyfriend. Whenever I had a bit gloomy times until now, I could push myself knowing that soon I’d be where I wanted to be – living somewhere with him, working, occasionally travelling, living a “real” life. And now that I’m here? I’m not going to say that I’m bored, but it feels like I hit a wall of sorts. On paper I’m doing well. I got a good job which is fun. I live in an apartment that we will be able to keep for at least 2 years. I’m traveling to Japan this winter. But it’s not really perfect. We live in Stockholm, a city that I have yet to come to fully like. We live in the suburbs, it takes long to travel to work and town and the area is quite depressing. Work has become extremely busy since a college quit and I suddenly got a lot of responsibility that a “new” employee usually wouldn’t get – fun and challenging of course but stressful and scary.

上記で英語で読めるが、最後の分だけ翻訳する:”目標を目指すように何でもしてきましたけど、やっと達成したら、くそつまらない。” 私はこの四年間彼氏と一緒に住めるように頑張った。今までいつも大変や悲しい時、彼と住んだり、仕事をしたり、たまに旅行したり、最高の”本当”の生活がもうすぐ始まるから頑張ることができた。で、今やっとその本当の生活が始まった旬間?つまらないというわけないけど、進まない。名目上はうまくやっているけどね。いい楽しい仕事をゲットしたし、せめて2年間住めるアパートを見つけたし、年末日本に行くし。でも完璧じゃない。まだ好きになっていないストックホルムに住んでいる。アパートは郊外の悲しいエリアにある。通勤時間が長い。オフィスで先輩の同僚が会社辞めてから私が新人として普通にあるはずない責任が大変に増えた。面白くてやりがいのある状況だけど、同時に怖くてストレスが多い。DSC_5947DSC_6006I have realized that I’m the kind of person who can’t have a static life but always needs to feel that change is going and that I’m heading somewhere. And since I’m now officially where I wanted to be in my life I do not have a current goal, which I’ve had for the last 4 or 5 years. I don’t know what to struggle for, or look forward to. I hope I will find something soon, or it will be hard to know what the point of making an effort and improving is.

私の性格は単調で動かない生活がいやで、どっかの違う方法にいつも動いていないとだめだと気づいた。だから今ずうっと送るべきだと思った生活を暮らしていると次どうしようか分からない。何のため頑張ればいいの?もうすぐ何かの目標を見つけるといいんだけど。だって、そうじゃないと頑張ると進歩する意味が分からない。DSC_5993These pictures are from my parents’ house. The cats, my brother’s and sister’s kids, and the nature around the house are good things in my life. I really love being in my parents’ place and in my family we spend a lot of time together. My cousin noticed something the other week though, when the family celebrated my 26ht birthday at my parents’ place. There is a generation shift going on. My grandparents are gone, my parents are now the grandparents and I am now one of the “adults”. As the youngest in a family with 4 siblings, where I used to be in the center all the time, this is quite confusing for me and I’m not sure how to handle this identity switch. As an example, I didn’t get any birthday gift from my parents (or my boyfriend for that matter, but he’s overloaded with work so there’s nothing to do about that), which totally makes sense because I’m working and there’s no reason they should run around and buying me gifts. But at the same time, I can’t help but feeling a little sad that the excited feeling about having your birthday is totally erased from my life. So many things that used to be exciting have no meaning anymore. Is that what happens when you grow up?

今日の写真は実家で取ったものだ。猫、姪と甥、その家の周りの自然が人生のいいことだ。実家にいるが本当に好きで親戚一同は一般的に一緒よく会ったり遊んだりする。この間私の従姉妹は少し面白いことを発見した。親類一同の中、世代交代が今行っている。おばあさんとおじいさん亡くなった。その代わりに私の両親がおばあさんとおじいさんになってしまった。私はもう子供じゃなくて大人です。兄弟四人の一番若いほとんどのアテンションを受けた子として、結構混乱されて新しいアイデンティティーをどうやって扱えばいいか分からない。例えば今年両親から誕生日プレゼントをもらわなかった(彼氏からでももらわなかったけど、彼忙しくてしようがない)。でも本当にもらわなくていい、だって私仕事しているし、両親がわざわざプレゼント買うわけないし。でも、子供のころ誕生日のワクワクさせる感情がもう全くないのが少し悲しい。最近、昔ワクワクさせるものが急に意味なくなってしまった。それは大人になるということか?DSC_5962Christmas has still a bit of magic to it though, and I’m doing my best to decorate our little apartment accordingly. I won’t be home this Christmas, but in Japan. I have mixed feelings about that but it sure will be great to eat all the amazing food and seeing all friends again. The times I lived in Japan feel distant. Hopefully returning will remind me of good days and maybe inspire some new goals to work towards.


Hiking in Sweden スウェーデンでハイキング


Not to be bragging,  but oh my god the Swedish mountains are wonderful! Last week my dad, my cousin, two friends of mine and I went hiking in the Swedish alps, in Grövelsjön. Situated almost on the border to Norway we did day trips ranging from 8 to 22 km climbing both Swedish and Norwegian mountains. At some mountain tops there are lakes!


The clouds, the lakes, the naked mountains – they look like amazing water colour paintings from the romanticism. It’s simply stunning.


Other mountains still have snow, although it’s in the middle of summer. It’s indeed an odd landscape.


And no matter what mountain you climb you will have a beautiful view over the vast and almost completely uninhabited Swedish and Norwegian alp landscape with its lakes, woods and mountains.


The Swedish mountains are fairly flat, with no too harsh peaks. You don’t really need any mountaineering equipment to get up vertical walls or so – all you need is a good pair of hiking boots and a good spirit. I really like this kind of mountaineering, which is more like hiking or walking just with a slight uphill inclination all the time. Nevertheless, without much effort and just after walking some 10 minutes or so you will have a even more breathtaking view than just a little earlier. It’s a very rewarding activity.


But of course, reaching the peak is the most rewarding.

DSC_4999DSC_4975 DSC_4980

Relaxing at the top of a mountain, watching over the world, no sound but the wind. I really want to go next year again. It’s also nice how good everything you eat taste during and after hiking. Instant coffee during a break after 10 km of rough walking tastes fantastic and the cold beer you get when you return to the cabin in the night is nothing short of fantastic.


It’s really easy and convenient to go hiking in the mountains over here. You can rent a fully equipped cabin for around 200 euros per week with room for 5 or 6 people. And there are plenty of mountains to get on top of. And if you are not into the hiking, there are other things to do such as picking berries or just enjoying the different wildlife. Look at this little dotterel (Fjällpipare, mother) watching out for his little chicken for example :)