This, you might think, is a prefectly normal Swedish neighbourhood, on a perfectly normal Swedish summer day. Red wooden houses with white corners, the classic Swedish style. An impressive 14°C and excessive precipitation in June — nothing strange here, you might think.
Well, think again.
What we’re looking at is Sweden Hills (スウェーデンヒルズ) — a Swedish themed neigbourhood located on Japan’s most northern island, Hokkaido. Apparently the idea came up in the late 70’s after the Swedish ambassador made remarks on, during a visit in the area, how much the surroundings resembled those of Sweden. I have myself been to Hokkaido (although not to Sweden Hills yet) and I couldn’t agree more!
Fellow swede Peter Wemmert got a chance to celebrate Midsummer, perhaps the oldest and most iconic of the Swedish traditional holidays, in this peculiar village. Below are a few of his photos from this, to me, surreal celebration. I mean, their celebration look infinitely more traditional to the occasional Midsummer celebrations I’ve had the pleasure to attend. Midsummer celebraters donning national costumes is a rare thing to see in my parts of Sweden, but I’ve heard it’s more common in the counties up north.
Maybe it’s a northern thing.
Always keeping details in mind, the Japanese even made sure Sweden Hills has no above-ground telephone or power poles, sadly an unusual sight in most other parts of Japan. Moreover, apparently two thirds of the area is made up of forest, adding to the natural atmosphere and scenery of it’s “home country”.
Add a dysfunctional railway system, double the taxes and this is Sweden!