BEAUTIFULLY constructed iron and wood structures meet you as you walk into local hammer artist Masafumi Sawada’s gallery Niseko Ram.
MOVING to Niseko 16 years ago, after living in Sapporo and establishing Atelier Ram, Sawada-san can attribute luck and fate to finding his current gallery location. If he arrived one week later, this old house would have been knocked down, but Sawada-san instinctively knew this position would be perfect for his life in Niseko and asked if he could take up residence in the soon-to-be-demolished building.
The gallery is located under the Niseko Town Bridge next to the flowing river. Looking out from the gallery you can see bare trees covered in white snow and various iron animals residing outside submerged in white. A quick glance up above and you can see the big yellow bridge from a far-less viewed angle. This isolated location is the perfect place for Sawada-san; as a hammer artist, Sawada-san makes a lot of noise when he practices his art. Here, he doesn’t distract anyone and can make as much noise as he wants.
This local artist has been making wood and iron furniture for more than 20 years with his hammer tools. His custom tables are sought after because of their natural aesthetic that can complement many styles of home design, from modern to more traditional alpine houses. Lately he has been experimenting with making stylised animals out of his trademark combination of wood and iron.
His works can be as large as they are small. Some are bold and curvy and others are intricately detailed. What they share is his love for raw materials, which perfectly complement the Niseko area.
Sawada-san’s stand-out works have seen him become quite renowned in Hokkaido. He has had countless exhibitions all over the prefecture and has works on display permanently at Hokkaido’s Windsor Hotel, New Chitose Airport and closer by at The Hilton Niseko Village. However, a trip to his gallery in Niseko Town is the best way to experience Sawada-san’s works.