In March 2018, I was fortunate to meet two lovely visiting Japanese educational tourists who had come to Kalajoki for a 12-day visit during their spring vacation. These were two high school students Chio (16) and Hinako (17) from Fukuoka. These girls were the first students from their area brought to Kalajoki by a Japanese tour operator which offers programs in educational travelling around the world. The supplier for the educational trips in Kalajoki is the local destination management company Kalajoki Booking Centre which collaborates with the local schools and Kalajoki municipality. “Maybe next year more students will come to Kalajoki from our area,” the girls said.
I also met the hosting girls, Tuulia ツーリア (16) and Jasmin ヤスミネ (17). We had a nice evening tea and chat time at Tuulia’s family house. I heard that Chio stayed at Tuulia’s house and Hinako at Jasmin’s, and that each day the visiting girls went to school with their hosts. At school the Chio and Hinako joined first grade classes (of the Kalajoki high school), and were always hosted by someone from this grade. The girls joined a variety of classes from the international studies programme, English, Arts, to Music.
Ice skating and visiting a farm with the host student
I wanted to hear about the differences the Japanese girls saw between their school life and learning in Japan compared to their experience in Kalajoki… The way of teaching and learning is different in the Kalajoki high school and in the schools they go to in Japan, I learnt from Chio and Hinako. In Japan, often a teacher just teaches and students memorize things for the tests, the girls explained. In the school in Kalajoki, the Finnish girls Tuulia and Jasmin said that during the lessons learning included also group discussions, team-working, and using electronic interactive tools like Kahoot. (These are all elements from the new national curriculum in Finland.) “Also, during Arts and Music lessons here, students get to do creative things,” Chio and Hinako chimed in. “The level of imagination in teaching is very good here in Kalajoki.”
An outdoor excursion
On a snowmobile safari
Tuulia also mentioned multidisciplinary learning modules about their school. According to the new national curriculum in Finland, each school year, there should be at least one clearly defined theme, product or course that combines content from different school subjects and thus this theme is dealt with from many perspectives. (For instance, in my daughter’s school in Oulu, one theme on her first grade of elementary school was “safety” and they handled this theme on different lessons, like Finnish and PE.)
When we talked about materials used in learning in Kalajoki High School, Chio and Hinako mentioned that in Japan, a blackboard and chalk are still commonly used, whereas in Kalajoki you find whiteboards and marker pens in the classrooms. No mobile phones were used in learning in Japan as is sometimes done in Finland. Furthermore, Tuulia and Jasmin mentioned that textbooks are not nowadays always used completely, maybe just some chapters, and that they use a lot of electronic books and learning environments as part of their daily learning.
The host students and families and the supporting Kalajoki organisations had also organised a lot of free-time activities for Chio and Hinako. Chio and Hinako had been kicksledging, horse-back riding, ice skating, cross-country skiing, shopping in a nearby larger town of Kokkola, visited a farm to see animals, visited the Kalajoki’s sandy dunes by the sea (snow-covered still in March), and been on a snowmobile safari on the sea ice, just to mention a few of their activities.
Chio and Hinako also visited a nursery school in Kalajoki
When I briefly talked to Hannele ハンネレ , Tuulia’s mother, she said that the girls seemed to have really enjoyed Finnish food. She said she had also made Finnish meatballs one day. This evening we had red currant juice (Hannele had herself made it from garden berries), tea, sweet buns (pulla) and ice cream. I was really inspired by the chat we had about schools in Japan and in Finland!
Chio and Hinako with the host students
Who is Monika
Monika Luukkonen is a Finnish lifestyle expert and published non-fiction author.
Monika’s new bookマイタイム 自分もまわりも幸せになる「自分のための時間」のつくり方 by Discover 21 has come out in Japan in April 2018! With this book, she wants to tell you how Finnish working parents can handle both family life and career at the same time. With adding the concept of ”my time” to your days, you can find balance in your busy work-family life situation and learn to nurture yourself. This new book is Monika’s third book published in Japan and it continues her series of books about Finland, its people and the Finnish lifestyle. Read more about this book at www.d21.co.jp/shop/isbn9784799322543
You can find information on her previously published books ふだん着のフィンランド andフィンランド人が教えるほんとうのシンプル through these links:
Monika has a nearly 20 years of experience dealing with the Japanese market. She also has a background in international marketing and sales (e.g. in telecoms, medical technology, and business consultancy). Monika has lived both in Japan and the UK twice and is currently living in her home town of Oulu, in the Northern Finland, with her daughter. Monika enjoys reading, walking, meditation and spending time in the nature.
You can follow Monika on Twitter and Instagram at
翻訳：Miki Kanda写真：Monika Luukkonen & Tuulia & Kalajoki Booking Centre