Sweden Hills – An Idyllic Piece of Sweden in Japan

Walking through the streets of Sweden Hills, with its traditional read-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 30 kilometers from Sapporo, the largest city on Hokkaido, Sweden Hills (スウェーデンヒルズ) was inspired by the visit of a Swedish ambassador in the area. During their visit, the Swedish diplomat remarked how similar the climate and landscape were to his native land, and that inspired developers in the area to build a settlement modeled on idyllic Swedish towns. Planning started in 1979, and the actual construction began in 1984. Today, Sweden Hills or Suēden Hiruzu is home to about 400 permanent residents, as well several hundred who only vacation here. It’s safe to say they are all massive fans of Swedish culture.

Photo: Gaudi9223/Wikimedia Commons

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 are actually 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.


But there’s more to Sweden Hills than its Sweden-hinting name, Swedish houses, and Swedish climate. 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 Fika.


Although Sweden Hills may seem like a gimmicky tourist attraction, visitors are always reminded that this is not some fake town designed solely as a tourist destination. It’s a residential area where people actually live, so visitors need to respect the privacy of the residents.


According to Swedish Nomad, about 1/3 of the homes in Sweden Hills are vacation homes, and 2/3 are residential homes with permanent residents. Some of these fully-furnished vacation homes can be rented to anyone wanting to experience life in Sweden about 5,000 miles from the actual country, with monthly rent costs estimated at 170,000 Yen ($1,500) in the summer, and 190,000 Yen ($1,650) in the winter.