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
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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

Break, 1st quarter: Finnish in Fukuoka

Last week we had quarter break here in APU, so I more than gladly took the chance to get away: first to Kyushu’s biggest city Fukuoka, and from there to South Korea’s capital, Seoul!

It took just two hours from Beppu to Fukuoka by highway bus, watching the beautiful fall scenery. During the two days I saw a lot, and visited all the main “areas”: Tenjin, Hakata and Canal City. It was great to get to a bigger city, and to get to eat good bread and “westernish” food!

More or less lovely Christmas decorations were all over the place

 

Besides roaming around all the department stores and malls, I found something quite peculiar in Fukuoka: The Moomin cafe!

Moomin cafe, selling oh-so familiar Lapin Kulta beer (yuck)

The Moomin shop sold Iittala and Arabia products from Finland as well as other Moomin-related stuff.

The cafe menu was not “Finnish”, even though they had bread rolls that were supposedly made by a Finnish lady whose picture was on the wall. Seeing those white buns, I doubt their Finnish origins. Notice the only Finnish thing on the bottom of the menu: glögi, our traditional winter/Christmas drink!

Cute, (over-sweet) dishes featuring Moomin characters

The Moomin cafe had Moomin books in Japanese, and the background music was actually Moomin episodes (nihongo, of course)! The slogan of the cafe is: “Kaikki hauska on hyvää vatsalle” which means “Everything fun is good for the stomach”. Cute!

I also stumbled upon this:

Kitchen, selling clothes

Oh yes, I do like Japan, especially the cities. You never know what you might find (in my case, that is not clothes, though)!

Next time, something about Seoul.

Japanese harmony and perfect fall weather

 

Christmas came early, from Finland

Last week I found out that something is coming my way to Beppu, from Finland. Yesterday was my lucky day, but unfortunately I missed it. Instead, I found this on my mailbox.

 

Clear instructions on how to receive your mail

 
For a while I thought I would have to go all the way to Beppu to get my package, but then I recruited a Japanese friend to call the yuubinkyoku (post office). And, like a Christmas miracle (yes, I know it is October and the weather is still +20), they promised to deliver the package on the same evening.

I received a call 40 minutes before the agreed delivery time, and just like that, it was Christmas for me!
 

This is Finland (and some Goji berries)

 

Wasa näkkileipä/knäckebröd (the Swedish girls got knäckebröd from Ikea in Fukuoka last weekend for 300y small pack, expensive!), two packs of Finn crisp bread (now I will have to find something to put on it!), 4 grain (oat, wheat, barley and rye) groats for making porridge, instant apple-cinnamon porridge, loads of Moomin-stuff (raisins, gum, pastilles), candy (Fazer’s best, plus salmiakki) gum, and best of all: some raw chocolate, cocoa nibs, mulberries and goji berries.

And let’s not forget the 4 crossword puzzle magazines!

Can’t escape the Finnish

With these omiyage, I will survive until Christmas!