Japanese Tutoring while Husky Sledding in Lapland

Husky Sledding in Lapland

One of the fun activities to do when visiting Finnish Lapland is to go dog sledding with Siberian huskies. With a spare day in the city of Rovaniemi in northern Finland, this seemed like the perfect way to spend the day out in the March snow.

When we arrived at the husky farm, we were introduced to the dogs and split up into pairs. Being a solo traveller, I was paired up with a Japanese girl, Kayoko who was about the same age and also on her own. After we were given our instructions, she said that she did not want to drive so I could do both turns, which was fine with me.

Off we set a convoy of dog sleds heading along a track into the woods, at first taking it slowly as we got the feel for everything. Soon enough we were at a cracking pace, racing through the forest. Driving the sleds was really all about managing the speed of the dogs and sled, generally slowing the sled at corners and going downhill, by stepping onto a bar that drives claws into the ground and slowing the sled. The huskies were quite funny to watch, always so eager to get running whenever we had to stop. I think we had a strong team as I often had to brake to avoid running into the back of the sled in front of me as the dogs would just try to run around it.

Photo Courtesy of Kayoko, Husky Sledding
Photo Courtesy of Kayoko

When we had set off there was plenty of snow blanketing the ground, but the air was clear. That soon changed and we were hit with waves of snow, some light and some less so. As we went along the forest tracks, Kayoko took photos for us both and I was having a ball driving as we flew through the forest and the snow.

As we got talking, I happened to mention that I had learnt Japanese in high school and Kayoko said that she worked as an English tutor. After getting through the Japanese basics that I could recall, Kayoko started throwing out some phrases that I had forgotten and we got to practicing. Soon we were speaking mostly in Japanese (me mostly in short words and phrases admittedly), my companion gently chiding my when I spoke in English and giving me the Japanese translation. This continued on for probably the last 20 to 30 minutes of the sled ride and for a brief time some of my Japanese returned.

Photo Courtesy of Kayoko, Husky Sledding
Photo Courtesy of Kayoko

Anyway, that’s how I ended up being tutored in Japanese while sledding with Siberian huskies in the snowy forests of Finnish Lapland. What a weird sentence.


Have you had ever had an odd scenario where old language skills have come up? Please share in the comments.

Short Story: Japanese Tutoring while Husky Sledding in Lapland @travelsewhere


9 Comment

  1. Awesome stuff – I love dogs and would love to spend some time with huskies in Lapland. Hopefully I will get round to it one day! Heading to Tokyo later this year so I may need to pick up some Japanese myself!

    1. David says:

      Thanks Lexx! If you love dogs, then I definitely recommend trying husky sledding some time. The dogs are just great, so energetic and full of character. All the best with Tokyo, a little Japanese won’t hurt but from memory, you can get by without it.

  2. Thanks for this article. A tour with huskies in Lapland is still one of my dreams. Hope I can make it one day.
    And you have been lucky to learn Japanese at the same time, what a stroke of luck.

    1. David says:

      I hope you get to too Ursula. Judging by your photo, I’m guessing you are fond of dogs. It’s certainly a fun experience.

      1. Your guess is right. The photo is a tribute to our most beloved husky, that accompanied us on many travels. She was a street dog from Naples and with her we learned that huskies are different. Since that time we fell in love with huskies.

        1. David says:

          Oh wow, she was beautiful. I’m sure you had some great adventures together.

  3. Kirsten says:

    This is special. Practising Japanese in Lapland, who would have thought. I think it is only true travelers who can end up in unique situations like this. I love your page, going to keep reading and followed your insta as well!

    1. David says:

      Thanks for reading Kirsten. I think these experiences can happen to anyone, some of us just have more time and opportunities.

  4. haha what an odd experience to be refreshing your Japanese while dog sledding in Finland! I’d love to do both! I was born in Japan so one day I plan to revisit so it would be nice to learn some Japanese. #WeekendWanderlust

Comments are closed.