Over a decade ago, I participated in an event organised by the Japan Finland Contemporary Music Society in Tokyo. Unsurprisingly, a topic that was constantly brought up in the speeches and informal discussions was the vibrant musical exchange between the two countries. Everyone seemed to agree that music was one of the spheres where Japan and Finland have demonstrated an exceptionally fruitful collaboration – something that is also evident in the articles of this Special Feature.
During that evening in Tokyo, I had the pleasure of discussing with a Finnish guest of honour – a representative of a prominent cultural institution devoted to fostering cultural exchange between Finland and Japan. Considering the prominence of music in cultural relations between the two countries, I asked him how the institution he represented would ensure the continuity of musical collaboration.
“I don’t think we actually need to do anything,” was his reply. “The connection is already so strong – everything seems to happen by itself.”
But does anything happen “by itself,” really? The fact that the musical exchange between Japan and Finland is so strong is entirely thanks to the countless individuals, groups and institutions – musicians, composers, music-lovers, critics, societies, cultural organisations and scholars – who have endeavoured to build up, strengthen and maintain musical relations between the two countries (and peoples) for generations.
And yet, at the same time, I completely understand what my interlocutor meant by stating that everything “seems to happen by itself.” After all, the musical ties between Japan and Finland have been strong for such a long time that it may certainly seem like they do not need any further support – or interference – from external parties.
The versatile forms of musical collaboration between the two countries are certainly far too diverse and abundant to be covered in one Special Feature of FMQ. This time, we will focus on these collaborations with a focus on Finnish music in Japan. While all the articles address different topics, it becomes apparent that, regardless of genre or generation, the strength of Finnish-Japanese musical exchange ultimately boils down to avid enthusiasm and fruitful collaborations. These collaborations have resulted in long-lasting friendships – both between two countries and between people.
Featured painting created with DALL·E 2