10 years ago, the sculptor Hirohiko “Hiro” Takenaka, visited Niseko for the first time. Based in Itoshima, Kyushu, he’d been searching for a place to display his art. At that time, Niseko was not as developed as much as it is today, but it still seemed like a city compared to what Hiro had imagined Hokkaido would be like.
Hiro’s father is an artist as well, and started the two most famous ice festivals in Hokkaido, “Sounkyo Hyobaku Festival” in Asahikawa, and “Chitose and Lake Shikotsu Hyoutou Festival” in Chitose. With his father as his role model, Hiro couldn’t imagine doing anything other than following in his father’s footsteps and becoming an artist.
In Niseko, Hiro works with Mother Nature to create the interactive sculpture that is “BAR the ICE”. To create his ice sculptures, Hiro must sense the cold, read the wind, and even use the warmth in the air. As a drop of water turns to a flake of snow, the water he sprays forms the ice and the heavy snow becomes a part of his work. Through the winter months, his work continues to change. He keeps an eye on it, and constantly modifies it to bring out its beauty. His stunning work attracts people from all around Niseko.
Hiro currently resides in Miyakojima, Okinawa, which is over 2,000km away from Hokkaido, with his family of five. Hiro and his family move to Hokkaido when the snow falls in Winter, and return to Miyakojima when the thaw comes. They spend their time in the snow-clad world of Niseko during Winter and then in Summer the tiny jewel like tropical island of Miyakojima.
Hiro says that “Miyakojima is a mystic place, and so is Niseko”.
His ice art project in Niseko will continue this season and likely further into the future.