Hokkaido Art: A Fusion of Modern and Ancient Tradition

  • By Tsuyuki

Setsu Niseko’s art collection is a carefully curated selection of art from Hokkaido, including traditional Ainu artworks, Hokkaido’s distinctive calligraphy, through to contemporary artworks of modern sculpture. The collection is a celebration of the concept of ‘Setsu Getsu Ka’ that was a guiding influence in the design of the hotel. ‘Setsu Getsu Ka’ is a phrase derived from a poem by the famous Tang Dynasty Poet ‘Bai Juyi’ that means Snow - Moon - Flower, encapsulating the beauty of Japanese design. The concept was the guiding principle in the design of Setsu, and the curation of artwork was an extension of this vision. The artwork collection at Setsu aims to capture the incredible landscapes and natural environment of Hokkaido through the eyes of some of Hokkaido’s finest artists. 

Ainu Artworks

Hokkaido has a long artistic heritage, which dates back thousands of years. The Ainu, an indigenous people who have inhabited Hokkaido for more than 10,000 years, have a rich artistic tradition that includes intricate wood carvings, woven textiles, and decorative designs. Ainu traditions have been carefully handed down over many generations and include Ainu Rituals and Ceremonies to pray to the gods, Ainu dances, Ainu utensils, hand craft techniques and unique Ainu patterns. 

Works by Toru Kaizawa and Mamoro Kaizawa, who are two of the master artisans of Ainu arts in Hokkaido are on display at Setsu Niseko, including ‘Nibutani-ita’, ‘Tuki’ and ‘Ikupasuy.’

Hokkaido’s Calligraphy

Setsu Niseko’s calligraphy collection is inspired by the traditional Japanese culture of calligraphy and Hokkaido’s rugged landscape and climate. Artworks of the most talented and legendary Hokkaido calligraphers, including Yoko Arano and Natsuki Kubo are featured in the Setsu collection.

Natsuki Kubo, born in Kyowa Town, is currently based in Sapporo, Japan, where she collaborates with sound, clothing, light, food, and dance to bring the tradition of calligraphy to life in a contemporary performance framework. The works in Setsu Niseko's collection are inspired by the casual everyday life, vast nature, and animals of Hokkaido, and include works on Japanese paper handmade from Hokkaido plants, allowing visitors to feel the energy of Hokkaido.

Yoko Arano, a resident of Kutchan Town, has over 60 years of experience in calligraphy. She has held more exhibitions of her works than she can count. Living in Hokkaido, snow has formed a large part of Yoko’s life; due to the precise temperature of the glue and the ink used to write, she only writes when the temperatures reach -5 degrees. For Arano, snow accepts and watches our lives gently. Her piece ‘Glitter of Snow’ forms a stunning visual centrepiece of the hotel’s main reception, celebrating the shining snow piled up on the ground in the morning light. The works of art that you will see are the result of a love of calligraphy, a passion that is still powerfully expressed through the brush of the artist as he grows older.

Contemporary Hokkaido Art

Hokkaido's art also reflects its complex cultural history, including influences from Japan, China, Korea, and Russia, among others. Contemporary artists draw inspiration from these cultures and the natural environment to create works of art that dynamically depict Hokkaido’s landscapes. 

Kohei Nawa is an artist exploring the perception of virtual and physical space and examines the relationship between nature and artificiality, and between the individual and the whole, illustrating how parts aggregate together, like cells, to create complex and dynamic sculptures. His acclaimed ‘PixCell’ series, whose origin was influenced by globalism and the growing significance of data, produces a visual and tactile experience that queries the reality of the skin of the object, while reflecting the relationship between the digital camera lens and the object that is digitised by it.’ Nawa uses glass beads and transparent prisms to cover found objects, such that their original contours become variously distorted and magnified. The term ‘PixCell’ was coined from a combination of ‘pixel’ and ‘cell.’

His work ‘PixCell-Deer’ is on display in the lobby at Setsu Niseko and is a celebrated work from the series. 

Setsu Art Tour

Guests in Niseko are encouraged to experience Setsu Niseko’s collection of Hokkaido art by following the self guided art tour. More information about the collection and art tour can be found on our Art Page.

Hokkaido's art scene is a reflection of the island's unique cultural history and natural environment. From woodworking to textiles to contemporary art, Hokkaido's artists are pushing the boundaries of their respective mediums and creating work that is an intersection of innovation and deeply rooted traditions. Whether you are a lover of art, nature, or both, a visit to Hokkaido is sure to be a feast for the senses.

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