Sweden Hills — An Idyllic Piece of Sweden…….In Japan

Walking through the streets of Sweden Hills, with its traditional red-and-white Swedish houses, Swedish flags and traditional Swedish outfits, you’d never guess you were on the island of Hokkaido in Japan. Located in Tōbetsu, about 18 miles from Sapporo, Sweden Hills was inspired by the visit of a Swedish ambassador. During the visit, the diplomat commented on how similar the climate and landscape were to his native Sweden, and in 1979 planning for the town of Sweden Hills began. Today, Sweden Hills is home to about 400 permanent residents, as well as several hundred who vacation there each year. If the picturesque red-and-white houses of Sweden Hills look remarkably similar to those in actual Swedish towns and villages, it’s because they actually are from Sweden. The original homes were built in the town of Leksand in Dalarna, Sweden, by a Japanese company and were later on shipped to Japan. The locals have embraced both the Swedish language and Swedish traditions. They celebrate Midsummer every year, enjoy crayfish parties, and love indulging in Swedish culinary treats like Kanebulle (cinnamon buns) and Chokladbiskvi (chocolate cookies). About a third of the homes in Sweden Hills are vacation homes, which rent for about $1,500 a month in the summer and $1,650 a month in the winter.