Japan-Finland Friendship Project
A bridge between Japan and Finland.
We wouldn't be here without the Nordic wild blueberries of Finland. Their variety is called "bilberry", and they grow in the vast forests of Finland and the rest of Northern Europe. Bilberries are the main ingredient in our flagship product BLUEBERRY-EYE.
That is why we wanted to repay our debt of gratitude to Finland, the source of our wonderful bilberries.
We began in 2005 by planting fir trees in the Santa Claus Forest and inviting Santa Claus himself to Japan, and ever since then, we have gone on to create events that fuse our cultures, lectures about Finnish education, and books about Finland and Japan.
Planting Fir Trees in Finland
Finland is known as the home of Santa Claus. Next to his village is the Santa Claus Forest, where fir trees are planted every year in September during the Tree Planting Festival. Fir trees grow for about 200 years and are used as Christmas trees.
In 2005, we participated in the Tree Planting Festival and planted about 70 fir trees. Company president Kenichi Kakutani himself joined in planting the trees.
After six years, the trees had grown double of their original size. They are growing fast and healthily, and we planted 50 more trees in 2012 and 65 trees in 2013.
Inviting Santa Claus to Japan
Every year since 2005, we have invited the official Santa Claus from Finland to Japan. He tours the nation for about a week every time and brings Christmas joy to children (and adults too) in schools, kindergartens, hospitals, shopping streets, and facilities for the disabled.
In 2015, Santa Claus visited six cities and 14 different places. He gave presents, told stories, answered questions, and took pictures together with many, many children.
During 2005-2015, Santa Claus has met a total of 23,373 people here in Japan.
Music Culture Exchange
In 2006, we organized two collaboration concerts, which featured Japanese Buddhist chant known as Shomyo, and Finnish traditional singing known as Joiku. They were performed in Finland at the Lapponica Hall in Rovaniemi and Helsinki University in Helsinki.
In 2007, we brought the concert to Japan and had performances in four cities. They were a success with about 2,000 people in attendance.
Spreading Finnish Education
Finland is said to have the best educational system in the world. The secret, it is said, lies in in the mother tongue classes that respect reading comprehension.
To spread the knowledge of the Finnish education system, we invited Mervi Väre, whose textbooks are widely used in Finnish elementary schools, to Japan in 2007. She visited schools in Kyoto and Tamba, inspected Japanese classes, and talked about Finnish education.
A year earlier, we had cooperated with the publishing of 10,000 copies of the Finnish translation of Japan: Mini Encyclopedia of Japan, presented them to the Department of Education in Finland, and donated a copy to every elementary and middle school in the nation.
In 2007, we did the same in Japan. We cooperated in publishing Yasashii Finrando: Kodomo no Tame no Shōhyakka (lit. "Easy Finland: A Small Encyclopedia for Kids"), and then donated a copy to every elementary and middle school in Japan, with some presented directly by Mervi Väre herself.
We have done all of this to increase mutual understanding between Japan and Finland. We hope to be a bridge between the two nations and give back to Finland for being the origin of the bilberries in our BLUEBERRY-EYE.