Celebrating Norway's National Day at the Embassy in Tokyo! - Vikingess Voyages

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Celebrating Norway's National Day at the Embassy in Tokyo!

Here in Japan people really love festivals, and you can find them all over the country in all variations. It is therefor not unusual that I get asked about festivals celebrated in my home country, and every time my answer is the same. If there is one festival you should not miss, it is the National Day on the 17th of May. On this day the streets gets filled with people; there are parades and food, people dressed up in their national costumes (bunad) and music in the streets.

In Norway the 17th of May is a national holiday, but as this isn't the case abroad the celebration of this day is usually moved to one of the closest weekend. For this year, the day was set to be on the 13th.
I had taken the decision on going to Tokyo to participate in the celebration at the Norwegian embassy, like I did last year as well, and had therefor booked tickets with the night bus about a month ago. Personally it was also a great chance to meet up with Yuma, who moved to Tokyo to work for Hitachi about a month ago. So in addition to the event at the embassy I also got the chance of enjoying his company for a couple of days! And then we're talking nice dinners, shopping and partying in Roppongi..
On Sunday it was time for the celebration at the embassy, and after I had dressed up in my bunad we left the hotel heading for Hiroo, the area where the embassy is located. On the way to the embassy Yuma made a funny comment about me looking very Norwegian in my dress. We spent some time on the train practicing self-introductions; I have been teaching him a little bit of Norwegian too, so we hoped he would get the chance to practice a bit. Learning Norwegian can be hard when there is nobody around who speaks it..
Time for speeches at the embassy
Further, living in a foreign country, especially when you come from a small country with few citizens, there aren't too many opportunities to interact with others in your own language. Arriving at the embassy it felt quite strange seeing so many people with blond hair gathered at one place (yeah, it's quite a stereotype, but being used to seeing "only" Asian people every day made all the Norwegians look blonde.. ><), not to mention hearing the Norwegian language everywhere around me. With that said, it was still quite an international environment with people from a lot of different backgrounds both idiomatic and culturally.
But although there were a lot of Japanese ladies present, it turned out the Yuma was the only Japanese man attending the celebration. Too bad, he had looked forward to see if there were any Japanese guys in the same situation as him; being in a relationship with a Norwegian girl. I guess we might be rather a rare couple.. However, we did meet a lot of nice people, both new friends and some I met at the embassy last year. I was almost overwhelmed to see the number of people attending: the number had at least doubled since last year. But considering the situation in Japan last year it really isn't that strange after all..
Delicious food... Yummy..
Besides meeting new people we also got the chance to eat a lot of delicious food! But not until after all the official speeches were done. There were of course two things that particularly were in focus: Last year's earthquake in Tohoku, and not to mention the terror attack on Utøya and all the Norwegian people. As the trial in Norway against the terrorist Breivik still is ongoing, and continues to affect people's daily life in Norway, it was a natural part of this year's speeches. Still, it felt quite strange to be situated on the other side of the globe with so many people affected by the attacks, especially since it has been almost two years since I left the country and lately rarely see any fellow countrymen at all.
17th of May parade in Tokyo
The rest of the day mostly included a small 17th of May-parade around the block (last year we didn't have any parade at all, because of the situation in Japan), some dessert and a small lottery. It is quite far to travel all the way from Kyoto to participate in the celebration, but it was worth the trip (perhaps mostly because I had the chance to be with Yuma too, haha xD). Next year around this time I just might be in Korea instead of Japan, so we'll see if I have the chance to participate or not.. Anyway, I survived the night bus back to Kyoto, so hopefully there will be more possibilities to go back to Tokyo in the near future on other occasions.

And to all other Norwegians out there, I'll start off a bit early with a hurra for søttende mai!
In front of a picture of the Norwegian King and Queen.

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About Anette
Anette came to Japan as an exchange student in 2010, met the love of her life and got stuck. From her base in Tokyo she writes about her experiences as a full-time worker in Tokyo and about her travels in Japan and abroad. She's a free-spirited adventurer who enjoys both the great outdoors and her urban lifestyle.

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  1. Eg likar at du tar bilete med kongen og dronninga! Som seg hør og bør på 13/17-ende mai!

  2. Ja, det e ittno' knussel når 13/17 mai skal feires i Tokyo vettu;) hehe..


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A modern day shield-maiden who loves to explore the unbeaten paths of the world. From her base in Tokyo, Anette takes on both rural and urban challenges, and goes by the motto "No challenge too big, no adventure too small"!
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