Sure, I’m in Japan but somehow a lot of Dutch things still cross my path here all the time. For example, this display of KLM merchandise which I stumbled upon during my Christmas shopping last Monday. In the luggage department of the ‘Loft’, a cool Japanese department store mostly famous for its stationary, without any warning I found all this KLM stuff. It wasn’t like there was a display of merchandise for every country’s official airline, I couldn’t even find any kind of merchandise of the Japanese airlines. KLM doesn’t even fly to Nagoya Airport either, I have to go all the way to Osaka to catch a KLM flight home in December. They also had some mannequins wearing the KLM gear in the middle of all the expensive suitcases, but I forgot to take a picture of them.
Then there is of course ‘Nijntje’ or internationally known as ‘Miffy’. Dick Bruna’s rabbit is famous and popular all over the world, even in Japan. And I see Nijntje and her friends pop up everywhere, even in my own classroom. Problem is most people don’t even know she’s Dutch at all. I think many just take it for granted that Nijntje is one of many cute Japanese animations, or if they’ve figured that Nijntje is not Japanese they usually think she’s American. But when I was in the browsing the books at Takashimaya department store in Nagoya, I found this Nijntje display with a very clear (albeit Japanese) explanation and map of where Nijntje is really from: the Kingdom of the Netherlands ;). Honestly, I never really cared much for Nijntje, but when you’re so far from home you tend to be fond of anything Dutch.
Besides that I’ve discovered stroopwafels, jodekoeken, speculaas, Gouda cheese, Dutch chocolate in foreign supermarkets in Nagoya (and even in Inuyama), but my happiest discovery was Pickwick tea, a Dutch brand which I haven’t even seen sold in Belgium. I love tea, especially when it’s cold outside, but only Pickwick tea, all the others, especially English brands are too strong for me. After the sudden appearance of winter in Japan and my acquiring a severe cold last week, my tea supplies have quickly started to disappear and needed to be restocked as soon as possible, and now I can! They don’t have any cactus or rooibos, but for now the forest fruits will do just fine.
Something very Japanese that I love is the huge supplies of stationary in the department stores here. I used to be so addicted to pens and papers, that I’d buy notebooks, pens, markers, pencils, post-its etc. in every available color and size and then put them safely in one of my desk drawers because they were too pretty to be used. So everything was still pretty and unused when I decided to move to Japan and needed to get rid of anything that I didn’t need anymore, so then all that pretty stationary went from too-precious-to-use to useless. Now, I still love browsing the thousands of pens in hundreds of colors in the Japanese department stores, but buying them doesn’t seem important anymore.