The city of Hirosaki, Aomori prefecture, located in the northern part of the Tohoku area, is known for it’s  symbolic cherry blossoms and apples. The city started the project “Hirosaki Design Week” this year under the theme of a designed community building.  In fall, there are trees heavy with apples and Japanese maples. This fall, We visited the Hirosaki Design Week that was held in October.

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Even though the project started only this year, the city still enjoyed a focus in nature and design. On the background of rich farm products, Tsugaru area, which has Hirosaki city, has done trade with Kyoto and China regardless of its location. Traditional crafts of high quality have always supported the northern life and the culture integrating the tradition with the advanced technology of each era that has taken root in this city.

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A to Z” a Japanese art project founded by modern artist Yoshitomo Nara, a native of Hirosaki, was able to participate in a collaboration with an old cider factory of Nikka Whisky made in Hokkaido prefecture. Nara’s dog sculpture, which recorded the project, is still displayed at the old factory and now it’s a symbol for citizens and tourists.

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During Hirosaki Design Week, “Community Building School for Kids” are girls and boys living in the city that discuss the design of the park and the factory on the culturally central area of Hirosaki. In this school, an international architect, Toyo Ito and his students, teach them about basics of city planning and raising their civic pride in order to benefit the next generation for them to aggressively join in on city activity. Members from “the Ito Architecture School” which only selected students can learn architecture also supported the kid school. Elementary school students to high school students were able to make an actual city model with local college students.

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Hirosaki is also a city where many young craftspeople live. Rich nature known as over ten kinds of various wood brought by Shirakami-Sanchi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site is able to supports their creative lifestyles.

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Especially, “Tsugaru-Nuri” traditional Japan ware, “Kogin-Zashi” known as fashion embroidery, and “Tsugaru-Uchihamono” which has its origin in sword forging for Samurai keep developing today and there are many fans in Japan.

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Tsugaru-Nuri

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Kogin-Zashi

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Tsugaru-Uchihamono

A forum is held in an old house at the Ringo Park where people can enjoy flowers and the fruits of apple trees. A product designer Shunnosuke Kita, who internationally has released hit products inspired by Italian and Japanese crafts, lectured young craftspeople. He talked about skills and expansion of products collaborated with tradition.

Hirosaki Design Week  further develops the creative sense in which the city already had. Music is also an important part of the Hirasaki creative sense. During this time, the “Hirosaki Music Festival” is was held. Local girls organize a group, “RINGO Musume” for the promotion of “RINGO.” Also, a mascot character “Nyangostar” plays drums and people enjoy his unique performances which have become popular on video-sharing websites.

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RINGO Musume

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Nyangostar on Drums

In Hirosaki, local people cultivate local creative scenes and there are many old buildings because it didn’t have damage during the war. Regardless of the season, people can enjoy the city, such as cafes which serve sweets using ingredients from the local farms and Japanese bars where you can taste food from the ocean and mountains with sake. Hirosaki Design Week helps to develop such rich resources for the future.

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Hirosaki Design Week 2016 -RINGO
Date: October 9th & 10th, 2016
Place: Hirosaki city, Aomori prefecture (The Ringo Park, Brick House of Yoshino Town, the Hirosaki Park and more)
Organized by Hirosaki Design Week Consortium
Tel: +81 0172-40-0494
Cooperation: Tokyo Design Week
via Hirosaki Design Week

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