December, 2009

This page is written monthly
by Harumi Okochi.
Sometimes Harumi's friends join.
We'd be happy if you look at
previous issues.


Meeting Santa Claus
Shigeko's Finland Trip

Merry Christmas, everybody!
Our niece Shigeko is very active, and she sometimes goes out to far countries.
I asked her to tell us about her latest trip to meet Santa Claus.
Please enjoy meeting Shigeko, even though she rejected to show her own photo on this page.

Trip to Finland
Shigeko Nagai

At the end of September, my friend and I had a trip to Helsinki and Rovaniemi, Finland.

Speaking of Finland, the most popular key-words are:
Glass of littala, pottery of ARABIA, textile of marimmeko, sauna, Moomin, and Santa Claus!
Also the movie "Kamome Shokudo" (meaning Restaurant Seagull) has a big influence over Japanese young women, making them want to go to Finland.

I am a fan of Kamome Shokudo myself, and this trip has
Kamome Shokudo
long been my dream.
Our itinerary was one week, and after we stayed in Helsinki for some days we took "Santa Claus Express" to Rovaniemi of Lapland, of course to meet Santa Claus. We stepped over the Arctic Circle too.

In Finland, the sales tax is 22%. (17% on food). This is the highest among the countries I ever visited. Tobacco and alcohol drinks are especially expensive compared to Japan. High tax will mean good education and welfare system, that makes people's living easier.
There, people seldom work overtime, and on Sunday, even department stores are closed.
Work enough, and rest enough. Isn't it ideal?
Japanese are working too hard. Don't you agree?

During this journey, I was often surprised with the difference of cultures. Above all, the traffic! We sightseeing travellers buy 1day tourist card, and we can ride tram, subway, bus, and public ferry. But we didn't see any tickets gates in the stations, nor we saw any officers checking our tickets in the car. Is this a system found on the mutual reliance between the company and the guests? Surprising!
The guidebook says sometimes officers come and if you don't have a ticket, high penalty will be fined even to a traveller.

Another interesting thing was that we had to take a numbered ticket even at a supermarket or sightseeing office. Hungry! I must hurry home! But even in this case too, you must wait patiently until your number is called. I was impressed that nobody was grumbling. We also waited for 15 minutes to get some fried herrings and salad.

People there are gentle and kind, and men, women and children are all good-looking. They are attractive and bilingual, speaking Swedish or Finnish and English. Their fair skin and handsome features match so nicely to dark colored clothes.

If you visit a country where you have never been before, you might naturally be able to understand some simple words after some days. But Finnish was quite difficult! I could only learn two words, Kiitos (thank you) and olut (beer) ! I am a poor English speaker, so, as always, I managed to make myself understood with my abundant body-language!

In Japan, the saying "Seeing is believing" is often used. I like a trip in which I really go to the place, see, eat and experience. A journey is a spice of the life. What I get from journeys becomes the energy of my daily life.

Because of the influenza, I was never be so nervous before, preparing for this journey. We came back safely though, and the trip this time was so exciting.
Not a long time passed since my last journey, but a new plan is already budding in me. Where shall I go next year?

Thank you for your joining my journey. Kiitos!

Please enjoy more photos.

Dear friends,
Did you enjoy the trip to meet Father Christmas?
I wish you happy holidays.
Sleep well tonight, and you will wake up to find a gift from somebody you love!

I will see you again next year.
May God bless you!

Thank you very much for visiting this page.
I hope you will return next month.
Yours, Harumi Okochi
Proprietress of

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