flashback: a swiss-developed quest (03.02.2009)


when: 03.02.2009
where: the dorm (Japan)
tools: n/a
treasure found: yes


To be fair, as indicated by the keyword 'flashback', this adventure predates the Easter hunt by around two months. However I decided to order the adventures as they were recorded, so this then makes adventure number two. As there have been many treasure adventures of varying importance thus far, I doubt I'll write about them all especially since they will clearly fall short in the face of the grand treasure hunts awaiting. In any case, any adventures that are flashbacks will be signalled, quite uncannily, by the word 'flashback'.

Well, onto the adventure. My inclinations towards the art of treasure hunting and adventures, even if present for as long as I can remember, seem to have been amplified during my exchange in Japan, something perhaps influenced by the fairly adventure-packed lifestyle we led over there. There was lots to see and do, and being in a foreign country can still feel like another world even after you've been there a while and gotten used to the differences. So it was there that I first thought, apparently audibly, wouldn't it be nice to be a treasure hunter?

Luckily for me, I happened to whimse1 this in the vicinity of the very kind Jane2 who put her Swiss ingenuity into making what would become my first-official-treasure-hunt-post-deciding-to-become-a-treasure-hunter. Basically, my first official treasure hunt. So one night close to the end of my exchange, I came back to the dorm to find a mystery awaiting.

This treasure hunt involved following a series of clues, some more baffling that others (actually there was just one which stumped me almost indefinitely), towards an end goal where I was told a treasure may be found. Of course, I wasted no time in beginning the hunt and immediately set to work, determined to find the treasure before it was too late - I was warned that the treasure might be in danger if I took too long.

The first clue was easy enough and led me to the calligraphy painting of a friend. From there, I pingponged3 around the dorm's lounge and reception area, following clues that I knew would lead to an eventual treasure. The list of clues, in the order I remember them (though I might try and check with the source), follows, with an explanation of the meaning of each clue.

1. 力 「トム」- a calligraphy painting of the kanji "力" hanging on the whiteboard. The clue was behind it. 
2. X (in sequins) - leading to its sequined partner 'O' on a nearby cupboard. The clue was inside the cupboard.
3. 现在几点了 - a Chinese encryption meaning "now what time is it". The clue was behind the wall clock.
4. "thirsty?" - the vending machine, of course. Inside the vending machine was the next clue, taped securely.
5. [map of 1st floor with X on it] - indicating the elevator. The clue was stuck behind a warning sign in the lift. 
6. "turn around and smell the flowers" - the token vase of flowers on the shelf. The clue was inside the vase. 
7. "treasure hunting is dirty business, you should wash" - leading to the kitchen. The clue was in the cupboard.
8. [blank] - there was no clue on this, it was the last note.

The most frustrating clue for me was #2, because I couldn't for the life of me figure out what it meant. I handled encryption, orienteering, metaphors, rhetorical questions… but the visual staring me in the face, I missed. A tip for the future.

If stumped, look around for obvious visual clues.

Once I had assembled all the clues, I turned them over and began trying to figure out the final clue. Each note had a letter written on it, and it was a matter of reassembling them to form the final word that would lead to the location of the treasure. Here are the letters:


Do you see it? I probably sat on the floor staring at the pieces of paper for a good minute before it clicked!

Well, this is where I went next. And, after fifteen minutes of running around like a chicken without a head, I finally found it. The treasure! It was a small Oriental box, cylindrical in shape, with pretty designs covering it. Inside there was some Lindt chocolate, a small golden coin (not sure where from actually!), and a keyring with a bell inside. All very awesome, and well-worthy of becoming my first-official-treasure-to-be-found-post-deciding-to-become-a-treasure-hunter.

This treasure hunt was a lot of fun, and I still (of course) have the box to prove it. I ate the chocolates, but the keyring and coin are in there, and I'm pretty sure that's where they will stay. Maybe one day I will have a treasure room, filled with whatever I have been able to keep from various quests all over the world (and beyond). If so, this will be the first thing to go in.

Note: Thank you muchly to "Jane" for orchestrating this adventure!

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