Nara Yoshitomo's first photograph exhibit in Hokkaido

Nara holds a picture book in front of photographs decorating the bookshelves at niiiwa building.

From April 29 onward, a photograph exhibit by globally famous artist Nara Yoshitomo (61) appeared in 13 shops, including knickknack shops and restaurants, in the cities of Sapporo and Otaru. Nara is known for his paintings and three-dimensional art objects, and this is his first time to hold a photograph exhibition in Hokkaido. The exhibition came about through his relationships with shop owners lasting several years, and culminated into a show that enhanced the unique atmosphere of each location.

Displays of several to several dozen photos were put up in each shop from among works that Nara shot when traveling in and outside of Japan, in places including Shanghai, New York, Afghanistan, and Hokkaido.

With its knickknack shops and the like, “niiiwa building” (Odori Nishi 17-chome, Chuo-ku, Sapporo City) was decorated with photographs of horses in Hokkaido that go perfectly with picture book shelves. In the shoe store “cagra” (Odori Nishi 16-chome, Chuo-ku, Sapporo City), photographs focused on shoes of indigenous Sakhalin area people. There were also numerous photographs capturing the pure, unadorned faces of children he encountered in his travels. The atmosphere of the participating shops were unique as well, as exemplified by the sole Otaru venue and knickknack shop “vivre sa vie+mi-yyu”, with a history spanning over one hundred years since it was first built.

The origin of the project arose about five years ago. Nasu Junko, who runs the Chuo-ku, Sapporo knickknack shop “castanet” (Odori Nishi 17-chome), was won over by photographs from Nara after meeting him at a Hokkaido art event, and consulted with him about the idea.

As they talked, they decided to bypass art museums and galleries, and instead put works in shops run by people Nasu knows and put together an exhibition designed for a “small community” (Nara) made up of the familiar faces of regular customers at those locations.

Regarding the reason for this, he explains, “I wanted to return to the kind of world where there were strong ties between people, just like in childhood. That was my wish.”

Since last year, Nara visited each location multiple times and discussed the organization of the exhibition. He started preparing at each location on April 24, and comments, “Everyone was so excited about creating an exhibition together, and that made me so happy.” The exhibition lasted until May 9.


niiiwa building