このサイトの推奨ブラウザはGoogle Chromeです


Regional Feature 4 / Hokkaido, Iwamizawa-city

In the northern city where art disabled people has permeated
Focusing on large-scale festival management

To Iwamizawa, a commuter town on the outskirts of Sapporo

/A magnificent panoramic sight of Hokkaido is visible after entering Iwamizawa city. A different view from the large city of Sapporo

From Sapporo, the largest city in Hokkaido, take the regular train on the Hakodate Line heading toward Asahikawa. While passing through the metropolitan area suburbs, the view from the train window is lined with a well-organized cityscape representative of a developed district and extending scenery emblematic of this northern region. After passing Ebetsu and shortly proceeding along the Ishikari River, the scenery from the train window changes. Vast green farmland stretches far across to the base of the Yubari Mountains, creating a magnificent landscape that is typical of the northern region. In the fields, colored plots are visible in some areas during harvest season, along with the patchwork like geometric terrain. Such depth and breadth, found nowhere else in Japan, seemingly symbolizes the art scene in Hokkaido.

Iwamizawa is a town located at the base of the Yubari Mountains, east of the Ishikari Plains, about 40 minutes by train from Sapporo. There used to be many coal mines in the Sorachi area, and Iwamizawa has a history of prospering as a transportation hub. Currently, it is positioned as a commuter town to Sapporo, and the city with grid patterns surrounds the station square street. When leaving the station, one will see a lot of greenery, trees on the lefthand side, Shiminhiroba Park, an event space, and trees aligned along the city streets. There are also tributaries of the Ishikari River, such as the Ikushunbetsu River on the north side and the Tonebetsu River on the south, giving the impression of a suburban city abundant with water and greenery.

Disabled People’s Arts and Culture Festival - Hokkaido block, held here in Iwamizawa City, was operated and disseminated in a different format than that of festivals held to date in the other blocks. About 10 minutes on foot from Iwamizawa Station is the main venue "Deaeru Iwamizawa," a civic exchange facility facing Shijo-dor in the most central area of downtown, but no performing arts performances were held there. Video feeds were connected online and distributed on YouTube from the Internet broadcasting station "ART BRUT CREATION Hokkaido." A special studio was set up near the entrance, and in collaboration with FM radio broadcasting, the contents were transmitted.

Transmitting all across Hokkaido via FM and Internet broadcasting stations

/Deaeru Iwamizawa is one of the venues for the Hokkaido block. At the entrance, there is a special studio for the internet broadcasting station.

/Barrier-free movie were screened at a drive-in theater as a countermeasure against COVID-19.

The reason for this format was to prioritize the prevention of COVID-19, but as a result, it also was a successful transmission method unique to the Hokkaido block. We interviewed Tsutomu Yamada, Chief of disabled people’s Arts, Welfare Division, Health and Welfare Department of Iwamizawa City, about the background, characteristics, objectives, and developments after the festival. Under the circumstances, Yuyu, a social welfare organization serving as the administrative office, was able to determine at a relatively early stage through trial and error, how to inform and convey this festival's efforts, largely based on the unique lifestyles of Hokkaido. As Mr. Yamada says, "In Hokkaido, the radio media in daily life is still a powerful tool for communicating with many people," who need a car in their routine. Radio is highly weighted as an information source in Hokkaido.

At the opening event of the festival held through October 3rd and 4th, in collaboration with FM Hokkaido (AIR-G') covering Hokkaido's entire area, before the opening time of 10:00, a special program was broadcasted from 8:00 until 11:55 and adopted in the opening. On the first day, a live broadcasting booth and monitors were set up at the Internet broadcasting station at the entrance of Deaeru. It is a busy location in the center of town, resulting in gathering customers. "We are now able to convey the contents to people who are not able to visit the venue even if they want to see it, and to people in remote areas throughout Hokkaido," says Yamada. In particular, the chances of getting involved with this festival through the radio are greater than attracting audiences to the venue, and it is possible to effectively convey a variety of initiatives to many people in conjunction with Internet broadcasting.

Another feature of the Hokkaido Block Festival is the screening of barrier-free movies in a drive-in theater format. This content, held at the Kitamura branch of Iwamizawa City Hall, was also designed to prevent infections from COVID-19. However, as a result, it fits into the aforementioned car-based society of Hokkaido and is particularly comfortable for disabled people, who are the main viewing audience. "Compared to movie theaters, which requires quiet viewing in a public space, the interior of a private car is comfortable with a sense of security at home," says Yamada. It was especially beneficial for children with disabilities who had limited opportunities to go outdoors. It appears that presenting a Studio Ghibli movie being conscious of children resulted in a fair number of viewers.

Iwamizawa is a city of welfare and art for disabled people

/Iwamizawa City advocates "a city of arts, culture, and sports." Many people were seen visiting the exhibition hall.

Iwamizawa City's perceptions and efforts toward the arts of disabled people have greatly influenced the content and management methods in the Hokkaido block and the installation of related facilities. Iwamizawa City has many facilities for disabled people, and the list of disability welfare service establishments in the city reflects the degree of acceptance and various types of support. Also, Mr. Satoru Matsuno, the mayor of Iwamizawa, has included "town development for coexistence" as a priority for the welfare of disabled people under the city administration policy, "City development where everyone can live in good health." The mayor himself has a deep understanding of the arts of disabled people and has ideas for its promotion, such as referring to specific businesses related to the art of disabled people in relation to this festival.

Furthermore, Iwamizawa City advocates a "City of Arts and Culture/Sports," and there is a lot of art exchange with citizens in collaboration with the Department of Arts and Culture of Hokkaido University of Education Iwamizawa Branch School. In this way, the locality of Iwamizawa City, where citizens have a high affinity towards the welfare and art of disabled people, is the center for acceptance for the arts of disabled people. While holding art exhibitions and special exhibitions, the works are also presented in public spaces such as station halls, public facilities, and bank lobbies. According to Mr. Yamada, exhibitions at general stores and exhibitions at vacant stores are also active being held, and citizens often see the art by disabled people.

A new base for the art of disabled people

/Iwamizawa Art Brut Gallery, located across Shijo-dori from Deaeru Iwamizawa

Under these circumstances, remarkable future development in the city's initiatives is a facility to continuously display works of art by disabled people. Since 2016, the lobby of Iwamizawa City Hall and the "Iwamizawa Kenko Hiroba" near Iwamizawa has a corner set up, called Art Brut in Iwamizawa, to display works of art by disabled people. "The purpose is to be in close contact with these works at any time in a place where people gather," says Yamada. A permanent exhibition gallery allows citizens to continually view artworks by disabled people and show natural appreciation without prejudice that they are "by disabled people." The venue "Iwamizawa Art Brut Gallery" for the festival's special exhibition "Art Brut-Humanity and Nature in Japan-" will continue to be a permanent establishment, and it will be a base for further expanding this trend and showcasing the efforts of this festival.

The contents presented at the Hokkaido block are the drive-in theater mentioned above, the Iwamizawa Art Brut Gallery, and "Hokkaido Art Brut, my house, my town" held at the Matsushima Memorial Picture Gallery, which is about a 3-minute walk from Deaeru Iwamizawa. In exploring the festival's theme, " Humanity and Nature in Japan," the local perspective was to talk about the daily lives of Hokkaido, rich in nature, and works by artists in Hokkaido which unravel their home, lifestyle, town and scenery were put on display. It seems the style of traveling by car which is closely related to daily life, the scale of the natural landscape, and the tendency to stay at home in winter due to the deep snow, is reflected in the lifestyle unique to Hokkaido.

Due to the impact of COVID-19, festivals in the Hokkaido block adopted an online-based format, but overall, it can be said that Hokkaido was more effective than a single centralized venue. However, when artwork and performing arts are experienced directly, one may get a sense of presence and excitement that would be otherwise difficult to attain online. "From now on, using both the method to communicate with a wide audience and the method to convey a sense of reality, such as combining informational matters online and works and performances live, will be an effective transmission method." Mr. Yamada seems to have confidence and positive expectations for this format in transmitting art by disabled people. This is a festival in the northern city demonstrating impressive pragmatic efforts unique to a place with a deep understanding of the arts by disabled people.
Interview in collaboration with: Iwamizawa City Health and Welfare Department Welfare Division Chief of Arts for Disabled People’s Arts

Coverage Author: Jitsugyo No Nihinsha, Blue Guide Editorial Department
Coverage cooperation: Iwamizawa-city Health and Welfare Department Welfare Division
Chief of Arts for Disabled people Yamada Tsutomu