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Each and Every Light: New Garden Exhibitions Showcase the Beauty of Sapporo and Hokkaido

Breathtaking river scene with cherry blossom and bare trees, showcasing 'Vision of Place' text.

In an effort to heal the lingering division of World War II, Portland, Oregon and Sapporo, Hokkaido reached across the Pacific to become sister cities 65 years ago this year. To commemorate this longtime friendship, Portland Japanese Garden presents Vision of Place, two photography exhibitions sharing different perspectives of Hokkaido and its capital city of Sapporo. This treasured relationship sheds light on what connects us: celebrating arts and culture, a love of the outdoors, as well as a renewed appreciation for the indigenous communities that continue to teach us about protecting our local biodiversity and honoring heritage. The sister city partnership also inspired the foundation of Portland Japanese Garden and resulted in a gift of the Sapporo Pagoda Lantern, one of the garden’s iconic landmarks.

Shashin: Photographic Frontiers of Hokkaido

An image of Sapporo at night as seen from a park with buildings with lit windows in the background.
“Lights of My City,” 2023. Photo by Yūki Uryu.

In the Pavilion Gallery, Shashin: Photographic Frontiers of Hokkaido is a collaboration with The North Finder, a Sapporo-based group of photographers, that aims to share the natural beauty of our sister city and its surrounding prefecture. Kenta Nakamura, Chairman of The North Finder and one of the exhibiting artists, commented that unlike other artistic mediums, photography requires a subject in the real world. This is not a limitation, however, as it gives the group the opportunity to share what they love about Hokkaido with international viewers. Through the eyes of The North Finder, enticing scenery reveals the beauty of all four seasons across a range of landscapes from urban to remote and showcases the importance of humankind living in harmony with their natural surroundings. Participating photographer Yūki Uryu shared his insight on why he wanted to present his photograph of a frozen Tokachi River, and the city glimmering in the distance with visitors to Portland Japanese Garden:

“Each and every light shapes Sapporo. The people who live here, the people who come here, and the people who pass through create the scenery of Sapporo.”

While natural splendor and similar latitudes constitute much of our common ground, it is ultimately the people of Sapporo and Portland and their ability to share, protect and promote the place they call home that make our sister-city relationship so meaningful.

Quiet Reflections of Hokkaido Winter: Photography by Sandra Chandler

A photograph of Hokkaido in winter by Sandra Chandler.
“Winterview” February 2023. Lake Kussharo, Teshikaga, Kawakami-Gun-Koshimizu. Photo by Sandra Chandler.

Vision of Place continues in the Calvin and Mayho Tanabe Gallery and Jordan Schnitzer Japanese Arts Learning Center with Quiet Reflections of Hokkaido Winter: Photography by Sandra Chandler. Winter snow covers Hokkaido for five months of the year. This clean and elegant coating over the landscape appealed to Chandler, who comes from a long career in interior design, and values the ability to distill the essence of an environment into its simplest form. Originally, photography was a way for her to record what she was seeing as she traveled, but as she continued to journey abroad and study the potential of photography, capturing the impression of a place over the factual details became a bigger priority. Chandler comments:

“When I have the opportunity to see an exhibition it expands my curiosity. It expands my knowledge base and exposes me to different parts of the world or different concepts. I come away feeling fuller than when I went in. And if I can share some of my work, share my experience and my voice just a little bit to enrich somebody else’s experience, that’s huge. That’s really a joyful concept.”

Since photography’s invention, it has been a medium for capturing unique moments experienced solely by the photographer yet preserved for others to see. As we celebrate the 65th anniversary of Portland and Sapporo’s Sister City relationship, we hope these photography exhibitions aid in fostering a sense of wonder and deeper respect between our cultures.