Finland’s national tourism organization has kicked off a campaign to promote the sauna culture of the Northern European country in Japan, with the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the two countries’ diplomatic ties coming up next year.
The campaign, launched last Thursday, will last until October 2019.
At a forum held on Sept. 19 at the Spa Eas spa facility in Yokohama, Mari Saloniemi, a senior specialist at Visit Tampere, a tourism organization in the southern Finnish city of Tampere, gave an explanation on the Finnish way of using a sauna.
She said that people in Finland enjoy being engulfed in hot air created by dousing water on hot stones in the sauna rooms, in a method known as “loyly.”
Laura Kopilow, junior adviser at the Trade Section of the Finnish Embassy in Tokyo, said that Finnish people, unlike the Japanese, do not endure or push themselves to stay in the heat, nor do they go to saunas for the sake of beauty.
People in Finland use saunas as a way to relax, and they go out when they feel like leaving, she said.
They will not put up with the heat to an unnecessary extent, added Kopilow, who studied in Japan for a total of seven years and is well versed in the bathing cultures of the two countries.
The Japanese way of using saunas puts weight on the refreshed feeling people get after enduring the stifling heat, while the Finnish style views going to saunas as a way to relieve stress.
Unlike in Japan, there is no music or announcement inside sauna rooms in Finland, according to Kopilow.
Noting that television sets are installed in many sauna rooms in Japan, Kopilow said she thinks that this is a way to get people to stay longer there. Meanwhile, people in Finland never watch TV in sauna rooms, she said.
Finnish people have conferences, business talks, and even diplomatic exchanges, in saunas, Saloniemi said, explaining how they play an important role in socialization in her country.