On the hermit cruise, you can get to know the life and living conditions of the hermit Toivo Pylväläinen. A hermit’s cabin with original furniture and objects can be found on the island.
Take a public cruise to Erakonsaari or book a charter cruise for your own group.


Toivo Pylväläinen, 45 years in Päijänte

Toivo spent most of his life in Päijänte. In his youth, he was a restless soul who didn’t stay in one place for long, the road called all the time. At Päijänte, he finally found a pleasant way of life and peace. He enjoyed himself there until his last years. Toivo’s life was hard, and hunger was no stranger to him either. From an outsider’s point of view, his life was not enviable, hardly anyone would have wanted to trade places with him. For Toivo, this lifestyle was the best, he never complained. He even thought that he was richer and happier than others.

Korean birch or Harhu

Toivo’s home was located on a small island in the middle of Päijänte’s biggest ridge, Tehinselkä. Its length is about half a kilometer in the west-east direction. The widest point, on the other hand, is in the north-south direction, a little over 150 meters. In its old name it was Harhu. The newer name Korea Birch came from a particularly handsome birch that grew next to the hawthorn at the eastern end of the island. Lightning felled the birch and it rotted away.

In the middle of Koreakoivu island there is a wash that divides the island into three parts between Sysmä, Kuhmoinen and Padasjoki. The barren island chamber is covered with boulders, there is very little exposed land. The northern coastline is completely covered with rocks. Kivikko continues on the lake bed, there are hardly any places suitable for landing a boat. The southern beach consists of water-sanded gravel and sand. It is shallow near its coastline. You can’t get right to the shore of the island with a big ship, but it’s easier to go ashore by boat.

The Korean birch is located in an open area. Both to the south and to the north there is an open ridge for tens of kilometers. Also on the east-west line, the distance to the mainland is ten kilometers in both directions. On windy days, regardless of the wind direction, the wave gets big.

Toivo has been called a hermit, which does not, however, describe him as a person. In the decades he spent on Koreabirch island, he formed a wide circle of friends around Päijänne. His attitude towards life and his good stories made him an approachable person.

Toivo supported himself by fishing, he himself told about trap fishing in winter:

“I have thirty kilos of big walleye in it. I have nets but…-but I was really hard. But I was in good shape. Sometimes when I went to the other side of Isoselä, there were nets by Tehinniemi and from here it was all around and Kalkkinen. Sometimes when the weather is bad on skis, you don’t ski at all, the water in such cracks is like a puddle on the ice. I came home at four in the morning. But Miel is happy, hi, when there are forty kilos of walleye in the sled.”

Photo: Markku Lepistö

Toivo was born in Leivonmäki on July 10, 1894. His parents were Wilppu and Olivia Manninen. Wilppu bought the Hasa farm in Joutsan Tolvasniemi for the family in 1897.
Olivia’s mother died in 1902 when Toivo was eight years old. He spent a couple of years in the neighborhood as a ring boy, before he left to travel the world.
He traveled around southern Finland for a dozen years, working in houses and operating e.g. as a ‘handbag’.

Toivo Pylväläinen joined the army as a 23-year-old volunteer on February 15, 1918. . The place of entering the service was Rantasalmi’s Kolkontaipale.

As a foreman at Rautatiehallitus
After conscription, Toivo worked on the farm of Hilma’s sister and her husband in Pertunmaa as a horseman. After all, he had training as a horse groomer. He stayed on the job for only two months, until he disappeared to his own ways again.
Toivo settled in the Heinola region in the 1920s. He worked for the Railway Board for about ten years. The leadership skills acquired in the military were helpful in managerial positions. Acting as a foreman shows his abilities, even though he was only a man who went to a circuit school a little. Toivo also had good reading and writing skills.