Master wood craftsman Nobuhiro Ichimatsu shares with us his personal journey and his thoughts on the upcoming Niseko Craft Art Festival on 4 October 2014.
How did you get into craft?
I started making furniture at the age of 38 years old. I was a Civil Engineer with the National highway Authority before that. On an outstation trip to Hokkaido doing land surveying and clearing the mountain forest for road building, I was inspired by the surrounding trees and Hokkaido's natural landscape. I left my job soon after and went on to study furniture making in Obihiro, Hokkaido. A year later upon graduation , I went on to apprentice at a furniture atelier for another year and a half. I had always wanted to set out on my own and start my furniture making company, I looked around Hokkaido for a suitable place to set up base. I travelled many places around Hokkaido before choosing Niseko as home.
It was something unexplainable. I just felt an instant connection with the area surrounded by Mount Yotei and Mount Annupuri. There is a special kind of energy here.
When and how did the Niseko Craft exhibition start?
The first exhibition was just last year in 2013. I was inspired by the level of skill of the local artisans and crafts people in Niseko. I was also surprised that there so many of them in a relatively small area. Most of the artisans and crafts people are from other parts of Japan who ended up in Niseko for similar reasons as I. I want to showcase their skills and spread the message to the world. I am happy that there are more participants, especially foreigners, participating at this year's exhibition. I hope to see more cultural exchange between Japanese and foreign participants so that we are able to build a stronger international craft network.
What can visitors expect to see from this year's exhibition?
More products, more participants and something for both Japanese and foreigners – young and old – alike. \\\
[The Niseko Craft Art Festival will be on from 4 – 13 October 2014 at Hotel Chalet Ivy. Exhibition hours: 10am – 6pm]