Baruto and Paavo Järvi are the most famous Estonians in Japan

Big in Japan: according to a survey commissioned by the Estonian embassy in Tokyo, the best-known Estonians among the Japanese people are former sumo wrestler Kaido Höövelson – known as Baruto Kaito in Japan – conductor Paavo Järvi, rally driver Ott Tänak, model Carmen Kass and composer Arvo Pärt.

The Estonian embassy in Tokyo commissioned the survey to find out how much and what do people in Japan know about Estonia.

The Japanese pollster, Carter JMRN, conducted the nationwide survey in March, covering people aged 18-69. The sample included 10,000 people, with in-depth interviews conducted with 1,000 people. The survey showed that nearly 10 per cent of the Japanese population knew Estonia to some extent.

Paavo Järvi is the principal conductor of NHK Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo. Photo by Kaupo Kikkas.

Known as a safe and friendly country

“Most of the people interviewed knew Estonia’s location, basic facts on history and politics, and could list Estonia’s best-known industries. Our IT, tourism, wooden buildings and transport companies were mentioned most frequently, as well as design, culture and food. Respondents knew Estonia as the most advanced digital state and a safe and friendly country,” the Estonian foreign ministry said in a statement.

The Estonian best known among the Japanese people who took part in the survey is Kaido Höövelson – a former sumo wrestler, known as Baruto Kaito in Japan. Höövelson, who now is a member of the Estonian parliament, was followed by the former chief conductor of the Tokyo-based NHK Symphony Orchestra, Paavo Järvi, rally driver Ott Tänak, who used to compete for Toyota, model Carmen Kass and composer Arvo Pärt.

Carmen Kass. Photo by Alexandra Nataf for Unconditional Magazine, courtesy of Carmen Kass’ official Facebook page.

Interested in gourmet food

“Most respondents tended to have a positive image of Estonia and were interested in visiting the country. They highlighted Estonia’s beautiful nature and city scenery and culture most frequently. The negative aspects that were mentioned included the cold weather, accessibility and insufficient information available on Estonia.”

Nearly half of the respondents considered tourism and gourmet food the areas that interested them in particular in Estonia.

“Estonia also has a chance to advance business diplomacy by presenting and offering various Estonian products, services and cultural events to the locals. Respondents considered Estonia’s business environment rather favourable and stable, in particular the younger group of people aged 18-29,” the foreign ministry said.

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