The future is near

My time in APU is getting close to its’ end. Today was the final report submission deadline (no more school for my bachelor’s degree!), and my check-out is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon. After cleaning my room, I will be spending the night on a ferry to Osaka, and from there I will hopefully find my way to Kyoto. This short trip of mine will end on Monday night, when I finally move on to my next destination, Hong Kong.

Small version of my next home
Small version of my next home

I have been waiting to go to Hong Kong since coming back from Tokyo – I have had quite enough with this Beppu experience already. The mountain doesn’t quite suit me the way a city does (evidence of this: each time I go downtown, I come back with enormous headache that ruins the rest of the day).

Bye bye campus
Bye bye campus

For the next 5 months, I will continue what I already started here: my practical training in Four Sigma Foods . Not bad at all! I highly recommend to check out their video about Hong Kong and other locations; they’re rather inspiring, to say the least. So, I will continue this blog with topics probably more related to health and overall well-being, since I believe I will be getting into more holistic and healthy environment than here. I believe my time in Hong Kong will be at least as unforgettable as my time here in APU – at least it will be completely different. I can’t wait! But before leaving, it’s time to go to izakaya and karaoke one last time, and see the ancient capital of Nippon. But Hong Kong, here I come!

Bye bye AP house
Bye bye AP house
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Land of the Lakes in the Land of the Rising Sun

What a poetic title to a post mostly dedicated to consuming.
There’s more Finnish things than just the Moomin cafes in Japan, although most of the Finnish items you can find are related to Moomin. During my travels outside Beppu, I have found Marimekko stores as well as shops selling Iittala dishes. In Tokyo, there are also several shops with Finnish names. The shops may have nothing to do with Finland, but apparently the words sound nice to the Japanese.

Cucumber
Cucumber restaurant
Thank you shop
Thank you shop

I’ve also seen “I, butterfly” and “Maybe Cute” as well as “Kitchen” shops.

Some want to take the Finnish back home!

Sweet and savory Finnish containers
Sweet and savory Finnish containers
Our national pride, Iittala, on sale
Our national pride, Iittala, on sale

The Japanese travel to Finland to see the Aurora (Northern lights), which I have’t seen since the 90’s. Maybe also the nature attracts them. Food – not so much.

This is what Finland looks like
This is what Finland looks like

To balance things out, Ikea is not the only Swedish thing in Japan.

I thought Lapland is in Finland
I thought Lapland is in Finland

Eat Moomin

Usually people have no clue about what or where Finland is, but in Japan I can proudly say I am from Finland. In few occasions with my Swedish friends, the people asking our origin don’t understand the word “Suweeden”, but start “aahing”, smiling and nodding when I say Finland. Why is Finland so well known and popular? Not because of ice hockey or Angry Birds (which is not so popular to begin with). It’s Santa Claus and Moomin!

Moomin cafe, Tokyo Dome
Moomin cafe, Tokyo Dome

After seeing the Moomin cafe in Fukuoka, I of course had go to see the other two highly popular ones in Tokyo as well.

Tokyo Skytree, waiting time unknown
Tokyo Skytree, waiting time unknown

The verdict (without actually trying the menu):
All of the Moomin cafes are very adorable, and they have the Moomin atmosphere. The plush toys and books are comfy addition to the decoration, and the moomin background “music” surely reminds of the animation series (even though in Japanese and with different voice-overs).

Finnish color theme and happy customers
Finnish color theme and happy customers

My favorite of the cafes is definitely the Tokyo Dome one. Where as the menus in all of the cafes are similar, Japanified versions of something people might eat in Finland, in Tokyo Dome they also have a pretty decent selection of what seemed like pretty decent breads. Unfortunately, the bread buffet couldn’t be ordered without a meal. Having been bread-deprived for the last half year, I most likely would have gone overboard with the buffet alone.

I have never heard about blueberry coffee in Finland - and the "naminami" (yum yum) munkki doesn't sound familiar, either
I have never heard about blueberry coffee in Finland – and the “naminami” (yum yum) munkki doesn’t sound familiar, either

The menus in each cafe are a bit different, but all of them have cute “breads” (=sweet bread rolls) with Moomin characters on them. In all of the cafes, one can also enjoy (or “enjoy”) the Finnish Lapinkulta beer.

Moomins welcoming customers to come feel at home
Moomins welcoming customers to come feel at home

Visiting Moomin cafes is definitely interesting, no matter if you’re Finnish or not. If you don’t know what Moomin is, it will still be an experience. For me, the cafes were something familiar, yet something completely different from what we would have back home. The meals were kinda close to Finnish style food, but still very much like in other lunch cafes. The shops attached to the cafe sell more or less Finnish Moomin products for high prices, but at least some of the stuff (or Chinese versions of them) you can buy from other places as well.

Enjoy the Finland feeling and fall in love with Finland and the Nordic countries. From the land of lakes and snow
Enjoy the Finland feeling and fall in love with Finland and the Nordic countries. From the land of lakes and snow

Peculiar shopping

What you can’t find in Tokyo, you probably don’t need. On the other hand, there are many things that you can find, but definitely don’t need.

The "shaker"
The “shaker”

Besides the 100y shop (God bless Daiso for solving the students’ everyday needs), there are many peculiar shops such as Don Quijote, that sell rather unuseless knick-knacks.

Dirty bellybutton?
Dirty bellybutton? This chipmunk can help!
Squeezing diet
Squeezing diet
Iittala, on sale!
Iittala, on sale!

While most of the stuff is fairly harmless and mainly just peculiar (not the Finnish design plates, but the other items and so much more), there are some things in the stores that I just find a bit…disturbing.

Fetish literature, Village Vanguard
Fetish literature, Village Vanguard
Actress DNA, bra hok, honey lingerie and whatnot
Actress DNA, bra hok, honey lingerie and whatnot
Toys?
Toys?

Some things just can’t be explained.

Yokohama humahuta

The title of this post will probably seem odd to all non-Finns, sorry about that. (The title is from a bad joke that involves a Japanese name, that’s actually all I can remember about it)

What's a city without a ferris wheel? Minato Mirai
What’s a city without a ferris wheel? Minato Mirai

Yokohama is the 3rd largest city in Japan with the population of 3 million people. It is conveniently located within half an hours train ride from Tokyo, and definitely interesting location to visit.

Skating rink by the red brick houses
Skating rink by the red brick houses

Yokohama is located next to the sea, and it was the first port to be opened to the outer world in the end of the Edo period in the late 1800’s. Originally, the city was divided for foreigners and the Japanese, and in between the Chinese built their own habitation.

A bit of China in Japan
A bit of China in Japan

Nowadays Yokohama is an interesting mix of the Western, Japanese and Chinese style with an area of contemporary and futuristic architecture. In one day you can go from the colonial infrastructure to China and see many interesting high rise buildings as well.

Cool as steel
Cool as steel

One can find various shopping, the tallest building in Japan (296m), Pokemon center, cup noodles museum (was all booked for the day I visited, boo), ramen museum, amusement park and God knows what else! (At least a museum for modern literature) in Yokohama. I also found The Little Mermaid!

Miniature version of the Little Mermaid
Miniature version of the Little Mermaid

I also found glass jars with Finnish words “sokeri” and “suola”, as well as the staple Moomin-stuff.

Sunset in Yokohama
Sunset in Yokohama

For something different than Tokio, or anything else in Japan, you should definitely spend a day in Yokohama.