Sakkii’s words about her visit to Finland from Japan. – Kendo / Sauna and so on…

asageiko kendo Japan Finland

Do you know any Japanese words or have a favorite phrase?

The phrase that has impressed me for a long time is 「天運は人に返す」.

It means ‘using the destiny bestowed by the divine not to enrich oneself, but to bring happiness to others’.

This is a quote from a book ’Ryoma Goes’1 that describes Sakamoto Ryoma who was one of the most famous Japanese revolutionists from the Edo to Meiji period2 and made a huge impact on Japanese history.

When I hear this phrase, I feel ‘I may only be able to do little, but I want to start repaying someone little by little with what I can do.’

Anyways, in this post, I would like to talk about Finland from the Japanese viewpoint. It has been over a month since I arrived in Helsinki but there were many curious things I found.

First of all, people have very friendly personality. Anytime I was lost, I always someone helped me. If a stranger like me came to the keiko suddenly, they  were welcome to accept me here at the University of Helsinki Kendo Club, and also in the Ki-Ken-Tai-Icchi dojo. So far, I met and was supported by a lot of cool and nice people!

Shiai event- competition kendo - Finland 2024
Sakkii looking happy after winning shiai at the University of Helsinki Kendo club shiai event organized within the capital region Kendo league – Finland 2024

Secondly, you know, but a sauna is definitely awesome!! Before coming here, I went to Japanese saunas so many times and I felt ‘Oh…this is a sauna, what an amazing place…!’. But I realized it was a completely different style to the original when I went to a Finnish sauna in Finland for the first time. In Japan, saunas are really-really popular and nowadays they are very trendy as well.

TV shows and Youtube videos often instruct their viewers on how to enjoy the sauna and tell about it being a tool of developing a person’s condition through visiting the sauna.

Almost all saunas in Japan are buil at and combined with hot spring facilities. First, we usually take a quick shower and get into a hot spring and then go to the sauna and hot spring again (1 to 5 times depending on the person) and finally take a shower.

I did not know how I could one spend half a day just in the sauna but now, I am convinced that there is no place like a Finnish sauna in Japan…

My favorite things in Finland are the following – there are too many, so I will not explain them in detail:

  • Breakfast after the keiko☺
  • Library (Oodi)
  • Quick and free internet!!
  • Nature
  • Buildings of city center
  • Expanded of rental cycling network
  • Recycling system (e.g. returning the PET bottles and getting a small fee back in exchange)
  • Respecting each other

….and the list goes on.

And finally, I thought I would mention two of the biggest differences I see between Japanese and those who live in Finland.

One of them is using English in daily life regularly. I met many people who use it as second language in the kendo club, or during other hobby activities whenever they are organized with only Finnish people.

In Japan, simply being able to speak English commands respect, so I was surprised to find that most people in Finland use English fluently.

Usually Japanese compulsory education includes English starting from the fifth grade in elementary school. When a person graduates from high school, it means eight years of studying English. However, many researchers say that the Japanese education system of teaching English system does not focus on conversation, only on reading and listening skills. This means, that almost no one can speak English “naturally” when graduating from high school. I feel there is a big division between a person’s native language and their second (foreign) language in Japan: our life is created and structured only in Japanese and it therefore understandable that we cannot speak English. Of course, I was thinking about this before coming to Finland, but being here made this a bit more obvious!

The other thing is to say things frankly.

Japanese people are very polite and modest, but these modest and polite personalities are generated by getting along with each other and by not wanting to bothering others. But the meanings of modesty and politeness have been “changed” inappropriately: they are a create a situation where people cannot say the things they really think. This situation sometimes causes serious problems in relationships. In Finland, on the other hand, many people talk to each other so casually and frankly that they can easily understand what the other is thinking and make a conclusion more smoothly.

I want to emulate this attitude in my life too.

I wrote this thoughts down in a stream of consciousness. These are the things I was thinking about over the past month.

Breakfast post asageiko University of Helsinki
Sakkii enjoying her breakfast and casual chat in english after asageiko with the University of helsinki Kendo club. Finland 2024

I still want to enjoy my life and time in Finland to the fullest!


  1. Fun fact: He was said to be over 5.8 feet. Basically in the Edo period Japanese men’s average height was 5.1 feet so he was “gigantic.” Plus, his kenjutsu was amazing. ↩︎
  2. The Edo period (江戸時代, Edo jidai), also known as the Tokugawa period (徳川時代, Tokugawa jidai), is the period between 1603 and 1868 in the history of Japan. The Meiji era (明治時代, Meiji jidai) was an era  that extended from October 23, 1868, to July 30, 1912. ↩︎

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