I have to say since I got back from Osaka last week I have been at a total loss for words for what to write. When I got there together with Kajsa from Syko we had one day before we stepped into work at the Christmas market where Nordic Garden was introducing our products. So we jumped right in.
It was like stumbling through a teleportation door in my little world in Rovaniemi right into a crazy busy Christmas realm with neon lights and people everywhere.
This here is the center piece of the Christmas section of Hankyu, proabaly the world's biggest Himmeli, surrounded by our christmas carriages of hand crafted goodies, Finnish coffee (thank god, a Finn can only sustain on green tea so long, however delicious ;), Tonttus, books, knits, even Arabia vintage tableware. (HOT TIP: if You have some old Arabia mugs and plates you want to get rid of; do sell them in Japan).
Part of the daily routine was doing workshops, which was a great way to sit down with people and have a chat. Most different about Japanese and Nordic christmas is that in Japan it's mainly the number one holiday to go out on a date while in Finland we tend to spend it with family. So though Nordic Christmas is visually very in in Japan, the social meaning of it perhaps still is very different..
By the second day there they had a tv crew shooting us for a live show where Kajsa was introducing the TV host to the Nordic Christmas market. Also the world famous knitter dudes Arne&Carlos who were on a book tour in Japan at the time and we got to meet them. WOOO! Yes, they are as cute in real life as they are on paper ;)
Everything just loses its perspective in Japan, where suddenly you are on TV and surrounded by people so keen to hear where your from. A surprising amount of folks also came up and spoke fluent Finnish and Swedish!
From what I experienced Japanese people are everything but shy.
To be visiting Osaka for work rather than just tourism made the trip so very special. Apart from meeting and talking to so many locals, it was also little random things like seeing the backstage of the department store and daily things such as the staff cafeteria which were some of the best parts.
Not to forget the shopping. Holy crap! Let me tell you about Yarn Shops in Osaka and Kyoto... no, wait, that's going to be its own blog post!
Let's see.. ok yarn stories and crazy coincidences:
This lady I spotted thanks to her Noro Cardie (you knitters know what I'm talking about, I saw it a mile away ;) I instinctively reached ouyt my hand but realized I didn't know what to say so I just blurted out "you knit with Noro! Ito!" frantically pointing at her cardie.
Thank goodness our superman translator Tom was standing right there and caught on quickly and so he started speaking for me. And wouldn't you believe it this lady of course had a knitters heart and came back three consecutive days to show me some cool techniques and gave me a pair of angora mittens, hand made. The generosity and grace of Japanese people, I tell you... <3
At Tsutaya books, which was fully stocked with wonderful literature, all in Japanese, offered me loads of eye candy and of course I couldn't resist checking out their Finland section. Among 30-40 books or so, I found Katsumi's too ;)
I owe a huge thank you to all the folks at Nordic Garden and Hankyu, our super bilinguial salespeople who made this possible, and later this spring we will see what our next joint adventure will be. I would be nothing but thrilled to do something again next Christmas or before that. Maybe I will also start working on that book I've dreamt of for so long?
The rest of Osaka then...
We did have time to do some sight seeing between work, and catching on to the Osaka subway system wasn't at all impossible as expected. Here's just a few of some cool things I found.
Kinji Second hand clothing store in Amerikamura. All the plaid shirts you can imagine, all assorted by color. Deeply satisfying discovery.
Amerikamura and its murals:
An endless party in your mouth:
Random words in Finnish where you least expect it:
Cool cityscapes and big trees in the almost in the same block. How do they do this and how could we have the same in Finland?
And of course shrines! Whether they are modern or traditional they are undeniably magical: