- Time seems to move slowly in Hokkaido; I guess you could say it’s moving on “Hokkaido time.” People tend to walk slowly, even in the city of Sapporo. I guess since downtown Susukino isn’t too far from the residential areas, you never have to rush to catch the last evening train. But more than the convenience of transportation, this distinct flow of time was probably born from Hokkaido’s unique culture and environment.
I was born in the city of Akabira in Hokkaido, and moved to Sapporo after failing my university entrance exams and was studying to retake them the following year. I became familiar with the Susukino district in my teens, and spent my youth in the flow of Hokkaido time. Susukino is a bustling area, but it’s always been safe and you can wander around by yourself. If there’s a bar or restaurant that attracts your interest, you can just open the door and walk in; there’s no need to do any research beforehand. I think this easygoing atmosphere is one of the best things about this area.
I’ve always thought that whatever Hokkaido or Sapporo lack in entertainment, I can try to create myself, so over the years I’ve founded my own theater company and so on. Fortunately, Yo Oizumi and other talents whom we represent are gaining popularity throughout Japan these days. Hokkaido citizens are generally very supportive of Hokkaido natives who left the region for other parts of Japan. Hokkaido is so big - Hakodate and Kushiro are very far from each other, for example. Yet, even though they’re so far apart that they almost wouldn’t be considered part of the same region if they were in other prefectures, they share the same Hokkaido mindset. Perhaps this is one of the defining characteristics of Hokkaido, both in terms of its people and the land. We’re fortunate to have so many supporters out there.
The more you walk, the more you discover new things. That’s Sapporo today.
- Eleven years ago, I built a house in my hometown of Akabira. These days I spend half of the week in a forest in Akabira, and the other half in Sapporo. After so many years of staring at the snow in Akabira, I now notice how the color of the snow subtly changes from the beginning and end of winter. Farm work and shoveling snow is hard work, obviously, but I’ve come to a point where I can detect small changes in the landscape and appreciate the beauty of snow, which I didn’t even like that much before. Nowadays I feel as though I need both the peacefulness of the countryside and the convenience of the city, and have found a good balance by living in two locations. I also feel as though Tokyo, where I do theater performances, is
the third base in my life in addition to the forest of Akabira and Sapporo.
Back when I was only based in Sapporo, I never really walked the streets of the city past my own neighborhood, but since I also based in Akabira and making weekly trips Sapporo, I began to realize just how big of a city Sapporo is, and learned to enjoy riding the bus or the subway and strolling through different areas. The city is very accommodating towards young people who want to try their hand at running a business, so new stores are opening up all the time, and it’s fun to look around and see what’s new. Recently, I went for a walk around the Maruyama area and discovered some stylish restaurants that had recently opened. The northern part of Susukino where our office used to be, especially West 6, 7 and 8 chome (“district”) located west of Minami-Sanjo Street, has completely changed. I even found a charming Spanish bar there, so I definitely want to try it out soon.
I tend to walk everywhere when I travel. I’ve been to various places, both in Japan and abroad, but I’ve always loved walking around aimlessly and going to the local supermarkets. Even finding a tube of toothpaste I’d never seen in Hokkaido would make me so excited. Hokkaido has many local supermarkets and convenience stores that only exist here, so I hope this is one of the things that visitors from elsewhere get to enjoy when they come.
Because I’ve traveled so much for business and for pleasure, hotels have become a very important place for me. Sleeping in a hotel is the finishing touch to a day of travel, after you’ve worked or played all day at your destination. That’s why I want to choose my hotels carefully. I’m especially picky about bathrooms. It’s not that I’m a stickler for having a particular type of bathroom, for example, but I like how hotel bathrooms are so different to your regular bathroom at home, in the sense that they’re well designed and have a good selection of fittings. If I encounter a bathroom that I’m attracted to, I take pictures and keep them for reference in case I ever decide to redo my own bathroom someday.
I also like hotel corridors extending from the elevator to the rooms, and the feeling of excitement you get the moment you see your room number and head to your door. I can sense whether it’s a good hotel or not just by stepping off the elevator onto the corridor. It’s not something that I have specific criteria for; I just know that certain corridors or hotels instinctively feel good.