The guest parlor at the Finland Embassy of Tokyo speaks of Scandinavian restraint and simplicity. Artworks by Finnish artists adorn the walls. Blond wood, clean lines and a minimalist palette form an appropriate backdrop to interview Ambassador Pekka Orpana, who is preparing to wind down operations for the year, also a celebration of 100 years of Finnish-Japanese relations.

He is also preparing for Christmas. “The way we celebrate Christmas has been the same since my childhood; the menu is more-or-less the same. How we decorate the tree, eat rice porridge at a certain time of day … it’s very traditional. In Finland my family always have Christmas carols at church, people singing Christmas songs,” Orpana said with a smile.

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