Guest Blog from Ben and Nick
Halfway through our stay in Japan, our childhood dreams of this place still have yet to fully solidify into something believable. It is both a reality and a dream. The images we have created in our minds, manifested over the years after watching dozens of ski movie segments set in Japan, are right outside the front door. Gentle mountains casually crawling up and away from a snowy sea. Steep hillsides held together by living masses of perfectly spaced silver beech trees. A silent shrine standing stoic on top of a windswept peak. The necessitated union of man and nature, visible everywhere.
And powder. We have seen powder that would instantly destroy all other aspirations for other, lesser miracles. All of these things exist, as if carbon-copied from our fantasies and stamped upon this lonely Pacific island.
Having lived here in Kutchan | Niseko | Hokkaido | Japan for the past three months, with two more yet to come, we have captured all of these things on our cameras. But what we are slowly beginning to realize is that there is much more to this place than what our imaginations had borrowed from those ski segments—for once, our dreams are less grandiose than reality. Because there are so many things that a film crew, just passing through for two weeks to catch the storm before leaving to another far-away country, is sure to miss. Things that we have had the privilege to see. The ups and downs of a season; the snow and rain, the best and the worst; the fall, the winter, the spring. The monthly rent bill. The subtle joys and tensions of a community in the center of change. The ever-growing trust of once-skeptical locals. Individual reactions to a community and a natural world, both in constant motion. Voices: of professional athletes, photographers, local businessmen, convenience store employees, farmers, fishermen, laborers, woodworkers. Of people, and the dreams they have held.
Over time our original ideas of what this place is and what it means to its people has slowly evolved into something much more than a simple “powder Mecca”. It exists as something outside of its annual snowfall in centimeters. It comes down to something unquantifiable—it is community, living month by month. A collection of people, all here for different reasons, many of whom have never set foot on a pair of skis, yet remain an essential part of the experience. It is the richness of this experience that we have set out to understand, here on Hokkaido. Don’t worry, we’ll bring back plenty of powder, as evidenced by the teasers below. But what Sweetgrass Productions really hopes to give you, come September 2009, is a snapshot of people in a place, a place on a distant and wintry island, above which dreams drift about like snow—the inspiration for all who call this place home. Here’s an appetizer of the place. The entrée comes this September with a return to the Wheeler Opera House. For more info and pictures from the project, check out Sweetgrass Productions.