As I have been writing books and blog posts about the Finnish way of living and what makes Finnish people happy in their lives for the Japanese market for a few years now, I was overjoyed when I was invited to explore the coastal town of Kalajoki and write stories about this hidden gem to you. This is the first story on my ”Stories from Kalajoki” series in which I will do my best to introduce you to this coastal town, the local people, the surrounding nature, local sights, food specialities, schools and educational system and local businesses. I hope I can really get into the deeper thinking of the Kalajoki people and into essence and feeling of this town and convey it to you. Welcome to this Kalajoki journey with me!
It was towards the end of November when I first visited Kalajoki. The night before it had snowed (together with strong wind from the sea) and during my drive down from Oulu, I felt so happy as I could enjoy snow-coated trees along the road. My hometown of Oulu is located by the sea on the Bothnian Bay, and so is Kalajoki, about 135 km south from Oulu (about 2 hours by car). I chose a route which was the one closest to the sea and even if I could not quite see the sea behind the trees, I could still imagine that I was driving along a coastal route and almost smell the fresh sea air. I was excited!
When I got closer to Kalajoki, I was greeted by many wind power turbines. A real wind energy production park as you might call it. Our world is changing, and we must take responsibility now in assuring that our precious globe and the diverse environment will still be here for the future generations. I am happy that there are nowadays alternatives available for us consumers to choose from (in this case, which kind of energy supply we use) and that steps are taken towards a more environmentally conscious world.
I stayed in the lovely spa hotel Santa’s Resort & Spa Sani right by the sandy beaches that Kalajoki is mostly known for in Finland. I must admit that I have always been mesmerized by the sea (and lakes); there is something magical – and calming – about water in my mind. Right the moment I entered my hotel room in Kalajoki, through the large windows, I could feel the healing and calming power of the sea. (I could have just stood there for hours to admire the sea.) I could also imagine the big sandy beach out there in front of the hotel in the summertime, full of people enjoying the sunshine and the sea (now covered with a thick layer of snow).
But I also love this quiet period when everything is covered with snow. Eerie and mystic. Silent. Spacious and meditative, giving room for quiet contemplation. The sunshine and warmth often makes you energetic and perhaps a little bit restless. The winter season’s quietness is just perfect for calming down and perhaps for more inwardly thinking and meditation. Large pine trees just outside my hotel room windows gave me the feeling of the immediacy of the sea and also reminded me of pine trees I have seen in Japanese wood block prints and in Japanese sea-side resorts. I have arrived in a peaceful winter relaxation retreat!。
I sat on the sofa and put my feet up for a moment and enjoyed the serene atmosphere and gazed towards the wintery sea… Later on, after my first trip to Kalajoki, I read an article on how so-called “silence and quietness travel” has attracted a lot of foreign tourists to Finland recently, to enjoy the quietness of the nature and surroundings, and the fresh and clean nature and air. I myself need to retreat to quietness and nature on a regular basis, to combat work stress and to take care of my overall wellbeing, both physical and mental. (In my normal daily life, I take care of myself with regular long walks in the quiet nature surroundings.)
In the evening, I had a chance to meet Kalajoki people… a lot of them actually, in a local business gala. What surprised me the most, was how friendly, open and energetic all the Kalajoki people I talked to seemed to be! I could notice the feeling of connectedness and atmosphere of doing things together and helping each other out there in Kalajoki. This is something that, unfortunately, if too often forgotten in busy, bigger cities.
Walking back to my hotel late at night after the gala, the quiet spa hotel area took me back in time and reminded me of a small Japanese onsen village in the mountains. Walking back to your spa hotel or inn, wearing a yukata… The spa in Kalajoki is, of course, not exactly similar, there are no hot springs in Finland, but something in the overall atmosphere had the same effect on me. Similarly healing and relaxing, and the dark night surrounding you…
In the morning, looking through the windows of my room, it all became clear to me. I had seen a glimpse of Kalajoki and its people, and it made me want to see more, definitely! The sea was something I intend to explore more on my forthcoming visits to Kalajoki too. I want to see how the surroundings, the nature and the sea is reflected in the lives of Kalajoki people.
Who is Monika
Monika Luukkonen is a Finnish lifestyle expert and published non-fiction author. Monika writes books about the Finnish lifestyle for the Japanese market. Her first book ふだん着のフィンランド was published by Graphicsha in January 2015. Her second book, フィンランド人が教えるほんとうのシンプル was published by Diamond in Japan in September 2016. Her third book will come out in Japan in February 2018.
Monika’s writing themes are Finnish lifestyle, meaningful life, healthy eating and living, environmental consciousness, Finnish education, working mothers’ life, and the nature, to mention a few.
Monika also has a nearly 20 years of experience dealing with the Japanese market. She 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 and cross-country skiing and spending time in the nature.
You can follow Monika on Twitter and Instagram at
Main photo: Vesa Rönty
Other photos: Monika Luukkonen