Visiting Skagen with the Scandinavia-Japan Sasakawa Foundation Board

Sockerbagaren hade varit framme och spritsat kristyr på många hustak i Skagen, som jag besökte för första gången i helgen. Allt för att inskärpa idyllen i den mytomspunna miljön från Skagenmålarnas tid, där vresrosor prunkande och trädgårdarna tävlade i prakt. Självklart spelar ljuset och stränderna huvudrollen, och allt känns igen  från Skagenmålarnas tid kring sekelskiftet . 4000 invånare bor i Skagen under vinterhalvåret, med 150 000 besökare under turistsäsongen. Anledningen att jag fick den här möjligheten, är att jag ingår i styrelsen för Scandinavia-Japan Sasakawa Foundation, som varje år roterar årsmötet mellan de olika nordiska länderna och Japan. Förra året var vi i Finland, och nästa år blir det Japan. Fantastisk upplevelse, inte minst kulinariskt med landets främsta kockar och restauranger. Självklart bodde vi på Bröndums hotel, där konstnärerna samlades och bodde, hos Bröndums – dvs konstnären Anna Anchers familj. Tack för denna upplevelse.

This year the annual meeting of the board of the Scandinavia-Japan Sasakawa Foundation was held in Skagen. Every participating country takes turns. Last year we were in Finland, next year we go to Japan. I am lucky to be on the board together with a group of prominent members connected to Japan and the Nordic Countries. Our Danish hosts, Ms Grethe Rostböll and her colleagues Kjeld Erik Brödsgaard and Nina Brandtoft-Rasmussen had prepared an impressive program, starting with an informal dinner at Grete’s home, filled with books, art and warm hospitality, where we also were given some inside reflections by former Foreign Minister Per Stig Möller. The second day we continued to Skagen, lucky with the weather, where we could experience the unique light the meeting of the seas, the sand dynes and all the mythic places of the Skagen painters. I always wanted to come here, and was happy to get an opportunity. Of course we stayed at the Bröndums hotel, where the family of one of the main painters of the time, Anna Ancher, was born. We saw the hotel, the home of Anna and Michael Ancher, and a unique exhibition at the Skagen museum, where we were given insights in the life of the painters and their surroundings of the time. From the speaker that day, Professor Ove Kaj Pedersen, we not only learned that Denmark is unique in every way, we also learned that Skagen is not only about idyllic painters, fishery and environment. It is also a geopolitical central meeting point on many levels. For such a small place – and us arriving at the very tail end of the season –  we were deeply impressed by the highest culinary level at every meal we were served – both when it comes to taste and aesthetic presentation. The board meeting only lasts two hours of the whole 3-day program, since all the items have been so well prepared in advance by our chairman, Ambassador Magnus Vahlquist and Secretary Edvard Fleetwood. What binds us all together is the difference we actually can make by giving out so many grants to young and worthy students, researchers, artists, authors etc, who all will continue to strengthen friendly relations between the Nordic countries and Japan in accordance with our statutes prescribe. This year the Scandinavia-Japan Foundation celebrated 30 years! Hip hip hurra!