Geographically Finland reminds a bit of a woman. If you look at the map of Finland it reminds of a lady: you can see the head, arm, waist and dress. Maybe because of the shape of the country, "Maiden of Finland" has become the personification of Finland - a bit like Uncle Sam is the personification of United States.
Graphically Maiden of Finland has turned into young blond woman wearing Finnish folk costume. She has been popping up everywhere: in art, comedy, even on the label of oatmeal (image above). Couple of weeks ago the embassy of Finland in Tokyo announced an illustration contest about "updating Maiden of Finland". The result: 35 adorable manga figures!
I'm amazed by the outcome of the contest. Why? Because the illustrations are so cheerful! That kind of a playful approach didn't even come into my mind. If you'd give the very same updating task to a Finnish artist, the end result would be either a melancholic adaptation or a clear statement. Joyful adaptation is just not part of our "artistic database". I'm refreshed in a positive way.