Purpose one: writing a travelogue to describe my various trips.

Purpose two: muse.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Pacific Sweden

I have spent the last few days in Hokkaido, Japan's northern-most island. It reminds me strongly of Sweden. The snow, the firs and the birches could all have been supplanted from Scandinavia, although there is a bamboo-like shrubbery that looks out of place in the snow.

It is not only the fauna. A lot of the architecture is similar as well. I have seen houses throughout Japan that I thought could have been built in Denmark, but up here, whole neighbourhoods share designs with Scandinavia.

I wonder if there is also an affinity people here feel with the countries just across the pole. I see many names and other little nods that are clearly directed towards their European brethren. Perhaps part of all this is just that living in a cold climate leads to certain necessities and comforts, such as hot drinks and slanted roofs. Still, Japan is a surprisingly open country, and I would not be surprised at all if part of what is going on is an import of concepts.

Hokkaido is about level with England, but the coldness is similar to Sweden's, again showing the influence of the cold Pacific.

Of course, Stockholm is a retail backwaters compared to the shopping mecca in Sapporo.

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