The Finnish Institute in Japan continues its versatile academic and cultural program this autumn! (Kindly notice that the program may be subject to changes). The exact dates and venues will be updated later! Stay tuned!
- Finnish language course (will continue until the end of December)
- Knitting Club for Advanced and for Beginners (will continue until the end of December)
- Seminar on aging
- Women for sustainable materials (international seminar)
- Well-being, sustainable work and work recovery
- Wild at Heart – exhibition
- Women’s empowerment (an International conference)
- Finnish-Swedish week (music, lifestyle, fashion, minority culture and crayfish party)
- Photo exhibition (theme the Finnish sauna)
- Exhibition of Japanese ceramics
- Finnish folklore dance class
- Seminar on Finnish architecture
- Finnish Christmas and workshops, such as:
- Tonttu workshop
- Christmas decorations
- Christmas delicacies
- Christmas songs
- Christmas plays
- (Photo: The staff of the Finnish Institute in Japan at the Crayfish party November 8th, 2019).
So, at the time this comes out Tokyo is in full reopening mode. And I figured I’d make this the last diary, at least for a while. To begin with corona diaries seemed to me a sort of silly idea, as if the trainees would have more to write about when they are locked in their homes. At any rate I hope you have liked reading this stuff!
I have plans to go shopping, not that I’d need to buy anything but just to air myself. Been looking forward to going to an arcade but they are a category 3 service and with that the last ones to reopen. Also been looking forward to going to a bar or a club or a concert but that stuff is even more dangerous, or technically equally dangerous, I guess. Lines need to be drawn somewhere. It’s a new kind of consciousness I suppose, most of us already limit or adjust our consumption for environmental reasons. This is an extra layer of similar stuff with similar processes of bargaining and shame.
For now, I’ve decided to start with a hike to nearby Mt. Tsukuba. That at least should be a reasonably safe activity that I can also do while leaving my mask home. I really wanted to do a Fuji hike, but as the trails won’t be opening this season that will have to wait to another year.
At the time of writing they just issued first ‘Tokyo alert’ accompanied with lighting the rainbow bridge red. That is one flashy way of keeping people alert. Especially when just the other week they lighted the bridge with rainbow colours in celebration. I don’t think this stuff is really helping people feel more normal but maybe that’s not the idea either.
Personally, I think that kids are going to have nightmares about red bridges for some time to come. Then again, I’m from the countryside so maybe some nuance is lost on me.
This has been an unnecessarily gloomy last entry! Let me just finish on a positive note and say that I’m excited for whatever lies beyond.
In this third entry I’m going to talk about what has been going on recently. Now as I’ve said all of the Institutes physical events have been moved to autumn, which is poised to be really, really busy. In the meanwhile, I’ve been working on planning some events of my own as well as doing various online related stuff.
Staying inside has been horribly boring but yeah. For now it’s probably best to do as asked. In some way it’s also nice to have an excuse to stay inside and play games days on end lol. This would have been a great time to get that new Animal Crossing but everyone else has been thinking along the same lines and the consoles are sold out everywhere! Nintendo could have made bank had they known.
If my tiny kitchen had an oven, I would definitely have picked up baking. Having my social media loaded with pictures of sourdough loaves and flower focaccias really makes me want to try those too. Been thinking about something easier to do in limited space like watercolours or calligraphy, I am going to have to visit a crafts store one of these days. I wonder if this is going to be one of those I’m gonna do this and I’m gonna do that stories.
About crafts stores, a thing that has surprised me here under the state of emergency has been that since the Japanese government lacks the power to impose any real sanctions for not complying, the companies are left to do as they please. This has result in that many absolutely non-essential shops such as hairdressers, fishing-goods stores or dance studios on the close-by shopping street have remained open throughout the state of emergency. It seems that whether to remain open or not has been left for the shop owners to decide.
In Tokyo they are lifting the state of emergency in two weeks. Looking forward to regaining some normalcy! Even if whatever comes will probably be different from before.
On March 23rd, The Finnish Cultural and Academic Institutes network launched the Together Alone -project: a fast progressing open call for artists and creatives, many of whose projects were cancelled or postponed due to the COVID-19. Nine weeks and 437 applications later, we have now commissioned 20 artists, creatives and collectives around the globe to reflect upon the current situation through diverse artistic practices. We are incredibly thankful for every application and extremely moved by how creatives have mirrored the major social upheavals of our times through the arts, and most importantly – have done so together. For the third and final application round of Together Alone, we have selected eight projects out of no less than 166 applications:
- H-ome by Emrecan Tanis
- In-between by Anna Nykyri
- Out of the Flood by Invisible Flock & SubZero
- Soft Variations – Online by Sonya Lindfors
- Untitled by Caracara Collective
- Untitled by Miila Westin
- Unum by Sakari Männistö
- We need to talk about the future by Anne Pajunen and Psychopomp! Theatre Collective
We will soon share more details of the individual commissioned projects, so remember to follow our social media channels and the hashtag #togetheralonefi for more details.
Selected projects from the first round
Selected projects from the second round
Trainee’s Diary 2: A change of pace
Hello again! This time a few things about the beginnings of all this.
For the longest time life in Tokyo remained relatively normal and it felt like the pandemic did not really affect Japan. It was only with the postponement of the Olympics and subsequent declaration of the state of emergency, that really made it concrete. There was panic buying of masks and toilet paper but altogether I have not seen anything too crazy compared to pictures from other places. Actually, I have not seen much of anything recently!
All of this really is in stark contrast to weekend before the first restrictions, which coinciding with the best Hanami or cherry-blossom viewing season saw the parks around Tokyo fill with hundreds of thousands of people. There was probably considerable reluctance from the government to take action as that would also mean not being able to have the Olympics as planned. I was of course glad, being able to go out during this season was one of my planned highlights for my time in Japan.
A friend from Finland was visiting me just prior the cut-off of all flights to Finland on 26th of March. A few days before departing back to Finland she had received an email with the purpose of instructing Finnish citizens in crisis-struck regions. We were laughing (in bad taste yes) about which region exactly is the crisis-struck one here, since Japan was really business as usual when compared to the full-on lockdown in Finland at that time. Since then of course it has been the same thing in most places around the world.
This is now my sixth week of telecommuting. I started work at the Institute in February, which means that I was just about to get used to rhythm here when I switched to working from home. Still, as most of my work has been SNS related, there has not been that big a switch in the contents of the work, regardless of where I do it. Of course, not meeting people does take a toll on you.
It would be nice to explore the city a bit more, but obviously taking the metro just for giggles everyday would be irresponsible so walking the neighborhood will have to suffice for now.
If anything, it is nice to get a bit more sleep instead of commuting in the mornings!
Next time a bit more about the telecommuting routine!
The second selection round of Together Alone is now completed! We were thrilled to receive (once again!) no less than 142 applications from homebound artists and collectives around the world. For this second round, seven projects were selected, employing bravely and widely the potentialities of digital culture and taking new paths to create connections between isolated artists and audiences worldwide.
The selected projects from the second round are:
- Care Practice: Recipes for Resilience by Ceci Moss & Jenni Nurmenniemi
- Constructing a specialist network to produce knowledge and act as springboard for artistic work by Aapo Nikkanen
- DEMO by Pekka Airaxin, Caterina Avataneo & Felice Moramarco
- Felt the Moonlight on my Feet by Jani Ruscica, Sam Watson & Suzanna Pezo
- Monitor Man in the Time of Pandemic by Yassine Khaled
- Where from Here by Lenore Malen & Samir Bhowmik
- World-Body by Jenna Sutela & Ella Plevin
There is still time to join in on the project – the third and the final deadline for applications is on May 4th at 4 p.m. (EEST).
More information here
Selected projects from the first round
Selected projects from the third round
Hi! I’m Lauri Selonen and I’ll be blogging from Tokyo, where I’m the intern for Finnish Institute in Japan.
I’m a masters program student at the Centre for East Asian Studies at University of Turku. This internship through EDUFI, while not strictly required for my studies was something that I had wanted to do for quite some time! This is a diary related to my work and/or the extraordinary circumstances we are in. I’ll be posting every other week starting now with stuff that happened before – well, all this happened.
I was absolutely delighted to be picked for this internship since I’ve been looking for ways to spend more time in Japan and especially Tokyo which is probably my favourite city in the world (Osaka is pretty cool too so maybe it’s a tie). Chance to do a 10-month internship here was then really a dream come true! Another thing was that I had never been in an Olympic city before, so that would also be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, right? This would also really cement my Japanese skill, which for me at least has been difficult to keep up without immersion.
Arriving late January, I was really quite excited for setting up my life here. Work seemed interesting if a bit intimidating at first. The institute had organized for the previous intern to stay behind for my training, which was a great way of getting me started. Staff seemed nice and everyone pitched in on making my orientation as comfortable as possible. The work would include communication and organizing of events, as well as planning and executing some events of my own. The institute had various events, seminars and exhibitions planned and it seemed that things would get quite busy!
Moving in and immigration process both went smoothly. I live in Kita district of northern Tokyo. This was a bit far from my place of work at the Embassy compound in the Minato district, but commuting would surely pose no issues and if it did, I figured moving closer would be easy enough. Also living an hour away, I could afford an apartment instead of just a room. Having a kitchen and a bath of my own is nice, not that I intended to spend that much time indoors anyway. (LOL)
Tokyo is such a swirling mass of light and energy. A city of such size that I could live here my whole life without knowing every corner of it. Coming from the middle of nowhere in Finland this prospect was very appealing to me. Whatever I wanted to do I could probably find it here. This idea was actually also a bit intimidating since I had to figure how to make the most of my time here, as if this was some sort of competition. I guess that’s FOMO for you. Luckily ten months is such a long time that I did not get too stuck on the idea.
A bit less than two months of working, I had started to really get my routine down. Scratch that!
We’ve gone through amazing applications by artists and collectives from across the globe – from Finland to Burkina Faso, from Japan to India and Australia. Five projects have now been selected, taking us on an exploration of artistic practices in times of physical isolation: artists weaving futurology and contemporary dance practices, studying fresh-water polyps and creating algorithms based on Covid-19 data, and others focusing on collaborative practices via soundscapes and online reading programmes.
The selected projects from the first round are:
- Across the Way With… by Shimmer Rotterdam and PUBLICS
- Bodytalk by Simo Vassinen, Roope Mokka and Maria F. Scaroni
- Hydra Human Hybrid by Charles Quevillon and Maija Tammi in collaboration with Tedd Robinson
- Untitled by Maria Korkeila
- World Wide Window by Mikki Nordman
The project still continues. Kindly send your proposal (max 3 000 characters) by April 20th or May 4th at 4 p.m (EEST) to firstname.lastname@example.org
Let’s make the best out of this situation – together!
Selected projects from the second round
Selected projects from the third round