Nature.Art.Food. My trip to Hokkaido
A few weeks ago, I took a spontaneous trip to Sapporo that gave me an opportunity to see some of the famous but remote attractions. At first, we visited the lake Shikotsu with the purest, cleanest water I have ever seen.
The transparency reaches 25m and because of its form and depth, the lake never freezes even at the coldest of times.
I was really in love with the place – so quiet and secluded. Immediately, I felt like staying there for hours. We rented a boat – one of those swan catamarans and spent an hour on the water watching mountains and the fog that was slowly covering the valley.
Imagine the pure mountain air heavy with fog and fragrance from the oaks and katsura trees – you feel almost high with so many positive emotions overwhelming you. At least I felt that way..
After the lake, we took a road that ran along the shore and went further south to the Sapporo art park “芸術の森”. That’s a place to go to if you are looking for an inspiration. It’s a huge space dedicated to art in every form possible. We only had an hour before the closing time so unfortunately I could only see some of the statues in the sculpture garden but even that small part impressed me to the depths of my sensibility and made me completely speechless and even depressed with the very idea of leaving that place without getting to know each and every piece of it.. I may sound dramatic but really you would too once you see that perfect harmony between nature and the human mind.
Out of 73 pieces I could only see half and these are my favorites.
A statue of a girl holding an owl – the symbol of wisdom.
A statue of a woman that expresses the sorrow of something lost or banished while still continuing to claim its existence.
A moment of movement – installation with eight curves, each looks like it was hand-drawn in the sky – all connected into one infinite circle.
And of course the main jewel of the crown – Dani Karavan’s “way to the hidden garden” – a magical, epic journey that helps you reconnect with nature and notice things you usually take for granted like sunlight, the touch of wind, the sound of water, the smell of grass and dimensions of the ground we walk on.
You start at the gate with golden coating inside that reflects the sun and gives you the feeling of a promise and reassurance. Then you move through two grass domes that gives you the awareness of the form and its beauty.
The sundial clock behind the domes shows the eternal passage of time and seven square basins that follow it act as connecting links between installation and a human as each water fountain begins to work only as you approach them.
Finally, you reach the hollow cone that once entered repeats in a whisper every sound you make. There, you can also listen to the sounds of forest from the eight microphones installed in various locations.
My favorite part of the path is the water channel behind the cone. The water represents life and the sound of its journey down to the basin awakes all your senses and prepares you to meet your inner self at the hidden garden.
When I got there, I could feel every pore of my skin opening. I just stood there, hugging a big tree in the middle wishing for that peace and harmony to remain in my heart forever. Dani Karavan is a genius that never cease to amaze me. I went to his exhibit in Tokyo’s museum of modern art a few years back and there his work helped me gain a new level of appreciation for the organic beauty of form and texture and sound…
In the evening, we had dinner at one of the very local and very old yakitori restaurants run by a family in third generation.
Everything was of course super delicious. As always the best of food is found at the least expected place in the middle of nowhere – a quiet street at a residential area.
The next day, we woke up early and headed to Tomita farm to see lavender in full bloom. It’s two hours away from Sapporo – my longest solo drive yet. ^-^
Lavender was never my thing but I got to like it because it is often used in Japan for spa treatments and room deodorants – for me it became the smell of comfort and relaxation so I really wanted to see the famous Hokkaido farm that grows it.
The place was also famous for melon and lavender ice cream and milkshakes. Guess what I’ve chosen to try. ^-^
Close to Tomita farm was the Patchwork – a variety of agricultural fields that when viewed from afar form a kaleidoscopic picture – white potato flowers, yellow sunflowers, green corn, brown wheat etc. It looks very vivid in autumn so I think I’d need to give it another try later. ^-^
The patchwork is often used for various Japanese TV commercials. You’d probably recognize it next time you watch Sapporo’s beer ad or something. ^-^ Believe it or not, some tourists visit the place just because of that. ^-^
On my way back to Tokyo I had a very interesting incident – will blog about it later when it comes to conclusion. ^-^ Stay tuned!