Release | Yuki Konishi
Saeki Farm: Have a relaxing time created by mixing art and agriculture
Nakashibetsu-Cho is approximately in the midway of Shiretoko and Nemuro in the east Hokkaido. The town’s core industry is dairy farming, as there are more cows than the population. We are heading to “Saeki Farm,” which is located in the middle of the vast rural landscapes such as grasslands and grid windbreaks.
Saeki Farm has been involved in dairy farming for three generations.
In Saeki Farm, there are many monuments. There is a museum, farmer’s restaurant, and a trail to walk in the middle of grasslands. People can spend their time as they like in Saeki Farm.
▲The second-generation owner, Masashi Saeki, supports artists and opens museums to the public for free.
Passing the culture built in the region to the next generation - the farm mixes art and agricultureMy first impression when I visited Saeki Farm for the first time was “it does not look like a dairy farm.” If I didn’t have to choose words, I’d describe it like that.
I could not see any cows and cowsheds. (There are at the back of the property) There is a stream called Arakawa. The artistic monument built with woods and stained glass and beautiful seasonal plants and flowers welcomes visitors. People would not notice it is a dairy farm if they didn’t know anything.
Raise cows and milk cows. In 2001, Masashi Saeki built a small museum called “Arakawa Woodcut Museum” in the dairy farm where he lives and works.
▲“Arakawa Woodcut Museum” was named because it was on the side of Arakawa. The building is an idle silo.
“I want to pass the culture built in the region to the next generation,” Saeki says like that. He displays various woodcut works, mainly those made by artists related to Nakashibetsu-Cho, in the museum.
The main hall displays Miho Tomita’s work using cows as a motif. I was attracted to fantastic drawing skills that made me feel temperatures and breaths of cows.
▲Tomita and her works became to be known because the museum exhibited her works.
“I always loved the pastoral landscape with silos,” Saeki said.
Many people noticed the woodcut work of silos that were displayed in “Restaurant Bokusha.” He wished for people to have opportunities to see many other works. That made him mix art and agriculture.
▲The signature menu of “Restaurant Bokusha” is “Bokusha Curry” with the deep-fried milk tofu topping.
“Kinokan” reconstructed the building, which used to be a milk collection area. He displays pictures of children during the development ear of Hokkaido and books/resources about agriculture.
▲I found many photogenic spots.
“Gallery Souko” uses the building that used to be agricultural machine storage during the Showa era. Now it’s a vast space to exhibit various artworks.
Saeki provides ateliers for artists for free. “I support artists that I like. That’s all I am concerned about.” Saeki tells with a smile.
▲A modern art sculptor Yoshikiyo Miyajima’s work. He was on Saeki Farm on the day we visited. He told us that he visited here from Tokyo to do some artwork.
Saeki loves creation, and he does involve in wood sculpture as well.
▲These are Saeki’s art pieces. He has won publicly sponsored exhibitions.
▲This work’s theme is “a walking man.”
A walking journey: trying to spread the value created by agricultureHe created a trail “Kitanemuro Ranchiway” with local dairy farmers to propose “a walking journey” in 2005.
The 71.4 kilometers long trail passes vast grasslands from Nakashibetsu to Kitanemuro then goes arozund Lake Mashu. The nickname is “KIRAWAY.” 3,000 people visit here nationally and internationally to walk the trail every year. It’s one of the trails that hikers dream of visiting one day.
▲It must feel nice to walk in the middle of grasslands like this! Saeki Farm is the branch between the second stage and the third stage of KIRAWAY.
Feel the art. Walk in the grasslands. What if people could spend the time here as they like and it could make the distance between the city and agricultural village closer?
Saeki has spent years to achieve that. He made a gallery of agricultural buildings and tools that had been used in the area. He has been supporting local artists and modern art artists. He has connected art and agriculture carefully and aimed to be an open farm.
Saeki Farm allows people to discover not only the aspect of a production field. People can also discover cultures that agriculture had developed, the attraction of a life with agriculture, the beauty of agricultural village’s landscapes, and values that agriculture creates.
Why don’t you take some time to visit Saeki Farm?
▲Each gallery in the property is free entry, opens from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM, closed on every Thursdays. However, not that they are closed in winter. (Saeki Farm can open the galleries with a prior contact)
Related Websites- Saeki Farm
- Kitanemuro Ranchway
Text / Hokkaido Likers writer Yuki Konishi
Photo / Hokkaido Likers photo writer Minako Takada