Finns and Japanese people are both said that they are shy, honest, polite… sure! They wouldn’t become friends instantly with strangers unless they are drunk. Well, there’re many differences among both which apply to other countries so I’d only like to note what I’ve found some similarities between both countries during my student life in Finland.
They are both experts at finding beauty in silence. Throughout Japanese history, artworks which are pretty much simple and aesthetic especially in a form of painting, ceramics, tea cult, flower arrangement, and gardening.
There has been the idea of being entertained in simplicity and cultivating own cultural perspectives, which is called “Wabi-Sabi” rooted from Zen Buddhism. It offers an inspiration in your life by embracing imperfection as a worldview. I actually experienced this feeling in Finland when seeing everlasting ripples on a lake. My Finnish family also loved escaping to their summer cottage in nature doing nothing rather than going out and spending money when they had time. It was absolutely amazing to just soak in the silence moments while being comfortable and fostering own senses to smell, feel, hear, and enjoy every small thing surrounding us.
We take relatively a long time to get along. Yup, we’re like onions. Those who might think of Japanese people being kind to other people, that kind of situation only happens when they see people in need on the ground of having enough time in their schedule. Two of my Japanese best friends told me before that they don’t usually open their mind to people unless spending 1 or 2 years. Similarly, it was difficult for me to become a close friend with Finnish people compared to other Europeans.
Finnish and Japanese languages have many common words. Let me explain some of them for instance. A basic one is Kissa meaning a cat in Finnish but it’s a cafe in Japanese. And if you say “mitä?” in Finnish, (means what) Japanese people will understand you said: “Did you look?” Lastly, the funniest one to me is Ahonen, which might be the most common Finnish surname, however, in Japanese “Aho” literally means stupid and “nen” can be “I am” in the southern dialect. So it actually sounds “Hey, I’m stupid” when a random Mr./Ms. Ahonen introduces to Japanese people. Additionally, both pronunciations are easy and similar to each other in terms of the structure of vowels and consonants.
So here’re some similarities about two countries I’ve found interesting most. I hope you’ve got a sneak peek into Finnish and Japanese culture even a little.