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Craftsmanship close to nature - Asahikawa

Chair in a boat motif

Visit to a furniture craftsman's workshop

Onsen hot spring by the river

Asahikawa is a city at the foot of Mount Daisetsu, located in the heart of Hokkaido Prefecture and blessed by an abundance of nature. It has been one of the top producers of furniture in Japan since the Meiji era, and in recent years, it has produced several pieces that have won international acclaim for their quality designs. Our traveler is James Lambiasi, an architect working in Japan. On the show, he visits a workshop and discovers the Japanese aesthetic values in furniture. In the second half of the show, he goes to a mountain lodge in Asahidake Onsen at an altitude of 1,100 meters to enjoy magnificent views of nature.

Furniture showroom, Asahikawa Furniture Center
A popular tourist spot showcasing pieces of some 30 furniture makers of the Asahikawa region. Purchases negotiable.
Address: 1-35, 10-chome, Nagayama 2-jo, Asahikawa City, Hokkaido
Access: 15 mins by bus from Asahikawa Station
*Furniture featured on the show:
BARRINGER 336,000 yen, SORAHE 95,550 yen, and BARCA 882,000 yen

Furniture craftsman and chair maker, Kōbō Miyaji
Akio Miyaji is a furniture craftsman who does everything himself from the initial design to the final touches. He is known for making comfortable wooden chairs.
Address: 10, Nishi 2-go Kita, Higashikawa-cho, Kamikawa-gun, Hokkaido
Access: 40 mins by bus from Asahikawa Station and 20 mins by foot

Mountain lodge, Nutapukaushipe
With an appearance of a rustic log house, the interior is also full of wooden furniture such as tables made of a tree trunk split in half or chairs made of logs. The hand-made outdoor onsen hot spring bath offers a spectacular view of river and the forest. Popular with foreign tourists.
Room rate: 7,500 yen (with dinner and breakfast)
Address: Asahidake Onsen, Higashikawa-cho, Kamikawa-gun, Hokkaido
Access: An hour by bus from Asahikawa Station or Asahikawa Airport

Approx 1.5 hrs from Tokyo to Asahikawa Airport and 30-mins ride on buses to reach the city area.

Travel Log - Traveler:

Travel Log

Traveler:James Lambiasi, Architect (USA)
Date :Sep. 14 - Sep. 18, 2012

As an architect I value wood as an essential building material and I utilize it in every project. Wood is light but strong, can be molded or shaped into infinite forms, and best of all is a natural material that is beautiful to see and feel. Not only is the final crafted product important, but so is the process of its making and the joy that goes into its creation. Wood is an excellent material to convey this love of creating. In my trip to Asahikawa I was able to see firsthand this community's dedication to craft.

I met craftsmen who turn wood into works of art, and witnessed the dedication it requires to do this. I met the people who rely on wood craft in their everyday lives. Wood has been utilized in large buildings such as the main train station, it is used to bring life to room interiors, and it is even used to teach children the value of craft. I hiked through the thick forests of Mount Asahidake, which is of course the source of this great natural resource that made Asahikawa such a center of wood production. By valuing wood craft and passing this appreciation on to the next generation, the people of Asahikawa truly show us how to value our natural environment.

In my own practice "Crafting materials and details" is the center of our philosophy. By taking this journey to Asahikawa I was able to learn more about craft through many dedicated people. I hope you enjoyed the journey as well, and sincerely thank you for joining me.