Aya Obayashi – messenger of creativity and wellbeing

”I hug a tree!” japanese Aya Obayashi declares as an answer to a question from where she gets her energy. The beauty and colours of Finnish nature make her happy, as do wider themes like equality, respecting one another and well-being of children.

Studying in Finland has offered great views to Finnish society and entrepreneuship but also a living lab to develope different methods to the well-being of individuals and teams in working life.

Obayashi is finalising her studies in social services in Laurea University of Applied Sciences. Studies have strengthen her understanding of what makes a society a good place to live in.

”I think that how the children are taken care of is the main indicator of good society and well-being. This is one reason why I decided to come to Finland four years ago”, Obayashi says.


Games and art

Already in the beginning of her studies Obayashi started her own business in Finland. Her company, SAI social change and inclusion, offers creative workshops and consultation to companies, educational organizations and other societies. She has just published a game: a method that is used in teams as well as for supporting well-being of individuals.

Cx3 BOOSTER is a game that encourages us to listening to one another and being present in a situation, respecting each other and good co-operation. The game supports teamwork for example in workplaces and among students in educational institutions”, Obayashi says.

Joy, positive attitude and creativity are present also in Obayashi’s workshops. She makes use of Encounter Art (Kohtaamistaide in Finnish), a method that allows participants to process things such as communications, motivation, stress management and wellbeing at work.


In between two cultures

Obayashi’s future vision rises from her studies, knowledge of both Finnish and Japanese societies and from her background in design and IT industries. Home will most probably be in both countries.

Obayashi intends to find Finnish innovations in the fields of education and wellbeing and take them to Japan markets.

”I will most definitely shuttle between Finland and Japan also in the future. I know both cultures and I feel that I have something to give to both directions.”


Aya Obayashi’s tips to students travelling to Japan


– Learn some phrases in Japanese: it breaks the ice and can encourage Japanese to use English.

– There are high hierarchies in working life. Remember polite and formal behaviour.

– Japanese are very hard-working and superiors expect a lot from an employee.

– In big cities like Tokio you need to learn how to use public transport. There might be three million passengers in a day passing through one subway station in Tokio!

– Find out beforehand how to buy a ticket and how to reach your destination.

– Not many restaurants have menus in English.

– Learn how to use some aids like Google Translator.

– It can be very hot and sticky during the summer. In winter it can be chilly.


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Story and photo: Marja-Liisa Torniainen