Sapporo Art Museum Exhibition – April 8 to May 28, 2017

It has been quite a while since I visited an art museum, but on April 8th I headed for the Sapporo Art Museum.  I had a special invitation ticket for the ribbon cutting ceremony from my son Neil Hartmann.  Of course his family was there along with the family and friends of the other artists included in this annual exhibition of local talent in Hokkaido.  It was a cold day with plenty of snow still on the ground, but there was a warmth felt by everyone in attendance at this museum in the Art Park located about a 15 minute drive from my home in Minami-ku.  It was a proud father who stood next to his son that day.

Neil is an independent snowboard cameraman who has worn many hats within that job description and he wanted to share some of his work and tools with the public in his unusual exhibit, which consists of two sections.  The first section you enter will certainly “Wake” you up, as you come upon the vehicle he uses when out on the job.  Yes, this is his van that is actually inside the museum, and you can sit in it and watch his video which illustrates the story behind his work, described in his own words below.

Installation Title: TIME SLIDES BY

Material: Digital Video & Time Lapse Footage / Digital Projection Front and Rear

Car: (Daihatsu WAKE)

Locations: Hokkaido, Tokyo, Akita, Nagano, Niigata, Canada, New Zealand

Time: Filmed Between 2015.December ~ 2017.March

Music:  Artist: O.N.O Album: One Slow Day Over Here

Sound Production: WHITELIGHTS

Thoughts behind the installation:

I have spent more than thirty years traveling around the world in searching for fleeting moments to slide on the snow.  My tool of choice is a snowboard.  A young sport that emerged in the early 70’s when I was still a small child.  It was on a trip to Japan that I first had the chance to encounter a snowboard at Rusutsu resort.  That first moment I stood on the board looked down the mountain and started to move changed my life forever. Walking, running, driving, swimming, flying, there are so many ways to get from point A to point B, but I will always be partial to sliding on the snow with a board under my feet.

Whenever and wherever I travel I am always looking for a way to spend some time sliding around.  Snow is my favorite material to slide on but if not available where I am at, then I will use a skateboard or a bicycle to achieve a similar sensation.  If I am in my car, I gaze up at the mountains imagining the lines they provide.  If I am flying in a plane, I look down on the peaks below and wonder what terrain they hold.  If I am walking through a city, I look for a smooth surface and slight incline.

Life is short and we all have only a finite time to experience and enjoy what the world offers.  For me the sensation of sliding seems to bend the rules of time.  Slowing down the sensation and increasing the enjoyment of the moment.  Packing, preparing, eating, moving, loading, unloading, all fly by at a fast pace, but the moment I step on a sliding device it all seems to slow down.  The sense of time itself changes, as if everything is in slow motion.  Maybe it is the escape from the mundane problems of daily life.  Maybe it is the mental focus created by a demanding balancing activity. Maybe it is the connection felt with the earth and the feeling of speed.  I am not sure of the exact reason, but I know it is a mix between a sport, creating art and a meditative state.

This program’s overall theme is “On a trip” and for me the act of snowboarding, skating and sliding all fit this description perfectly.  The goal of any trip is to return home safely after having gained something, perhaps wisdom, experience, or maybe just a few kilos.  For me it means a deep satisfaction, and a floating sensation that stays around long after the trip is finished.

The second half of his exhibition reveals about half of his snowboard collection mounted on the walls in a colorful display, along with a video screen of snow sliding by, which Neil also describes in his own words below the image.


Material: Personal Snowboard and Yukiita collection

Brands: Burton, REV, Sobut Brand, Gentem Stick, Morrow, Field Earth Design, Pogo SnowSurfer

Production Years: 1977 ~ 2017

As a snow slider I travel in an upward direction, cars, buses, lifts and my own two feet take me high up the mountains so that I can enjoy the return trip by sliding back down as far and as long as possible.  The speed and the technique used to slide down the slope is not important.  The actual feeling of the snow and the earth moving below ones feet is what impresses me the most.  The sensation of balancing, shifting weight from side to side to control the direction of travel.  The sense of floating on soft snow, gravity pulling my weight down the slope is something that has to be experienced to be understood.  Friction between the snow and the board creates a melting effect which allows the board to travel smoothly.

Scratches and marks from natural elements like trees and rocks leave their mark on the sole of the board.  The longer the distance traveled the more worn the board becomes.  A mark of time and snow passing along the base of the board.  Fleeting moments to be treasured and saved in the memory banks.

The first board I bought and rode is in this collection, along with my most recent board.  There is a board that has been to Alaska and one which has been ridden in Russia.  There is a handmade wooden board from Canada that I have ridden only once.  Although these boards have been retired from regular duty on the slopes, they are all rideable again with a little maintenance.  I like to keep them around like the small trinkets that people tend to collect while traveling.  Each one contains the memories and sensations from that particular experience.

Snowboards and skis are made of many materials, but the main components are the core, or the center of the board made usually from wood and a top sheet layer to protect the core.  This is the side of the board one sees when standing on top of it, so it is generally printed with a graphic image and brand name.  The bottom of the board is called the Sole and it is made with a material called P-Tex.  There are various types, colors and grades which all affect the speed of travel on the snow.  Although the top sheet tends to receive more attention, I prefer and chose to display the sole.  The story of the board and riders experience is captured in the scratches and wear and tear seen on the base of the board.

So please go ahead and touch and feel these souvenirs from my snow sliding travels around the world.  Enjoy the variety of shapes, see if you can imagine how the design differences will affect the riding sensations.  Which shape do you relate with the most, which one seems to reach out to you?  Can you feel the distance traveled?

Be sure to stop by during this exhibition and do check out the work of all the fine artists on display.  Give yourself plenty of time to enjoy their work and then if the weather is nice explore the Art Park.

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Somatics Presentation – September 24

September 24, 2016
Saturday, 13:30-16:00 (Entrance is free for everyone.)
Hokkaido University, Clark Center, 3F
Sapporo, Hokkaido

Masako Hirasawa, Ph.D. is a certified Hanna Somatic Educator. She has been teaching Somatic Exercises at Non-profit Organizations since 2008. Masako earned a doctorate from Saybrook University in San Francisco. She currently works as a counselor at several schools in Sapporo. Her talk will be conducted in English and summarized in Japanese. Questions and discussion will be bilingual.

The presentation will include a 30-minute bilingual slide show explaining the physiology. This will be followed by a practical session where audience members will learn to do the gentle somatic exercises. These exercises require one to contract and relax various muscles that are chronically tight, perhaps as a result of unconscious tension (caused by post-injury trauma or stress), while focusing the mind on internal changes. If you wish to try doing the somatic exercises please bring an exercise mat or thick towel.

This YouTube video clip shows some examples of Somatic exercises:

Somatics – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Japanese Explanation of Somatics:

Access Map

The main entrance to the Clark Center, located at the south end of the campus, takes you up a short flight of steps so that you actually enter the building on the second floor. Therefore the presentation room is only one flight up or you can use the large elevator just to the right as you enter the building.

We appreciate if you will notify us of your plan to attend:

 Dr. Hirasawa’s website with a full explanation of Hanna-Somatics  in Japanese can be accessed at:

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Understanding Alzheimer’s and Dementia Presentation – May 28th

Understanding Alzheimer's

Next Event May 28, 2016

May 28th, Sat. 13:30-16:30 (includes break)

“Understanding Alzheimer’s and Dementia”
Dr. Hitoshi Sohma, Professor and Director

(Sapporo Medical Univ. Center for Medical Educ.)

English with Japanese Summary Explanation
Sapporo Medical University (S1W17) East Bldg. 1F,

Building #9, South Auditorium-1, (see access map)

Entrance is free for everyone.

5月28日(土) 13:30-16:30 (途中休憩、茶菓あり)
演者:相馬 仁(札幌医科大学,医療人育成センター)


南1講義室(添付図, #9のビルディング,1階南側)


Alzheimer’s disease (AD), everybody knows this disease name, which is the most prevalent of dementia types.  The main symptoms involve developing cognitive decline due to neuronal cell death that is an irreversible event.  Worldwide, the number of dementia patients increases with aging, and currently more than 30% of elderly over 85 years old are reported to be diagnosed as dementia.  In 2014, the average life expectancy for Japanese men reached 80.5 years of age, while for women it is 86.8.  These values are the highest reported in the world and accordingly the number of dementia patients is growing faster in Japan.  Trials of treatment for dementia have not been successful so far.  Under the current situation, preventive action for avoiding dementia and early diagnosis are particularly emphasized.  Through this meeting, participants’ deeper understanding of dementia, especially Alzheimer’s disease, and awareness of preventive action are to be addressed.  This meeting consists of three parts: 1) watching a DVD video clip on dementia by a distinguished US psychiatrist; 2) bilingual PowerPoint presentation about dementia including the speaker’s diagnostic testing AD research; 3) bilingual question-and-answer, and discussion.

アルツハイマー病、誰でも知っているこの病気は認知症の中で最も多い認知症のタイプです。主な症状は、非可逆的に起こる神経細胞死によるところの進行性の認知機能低下です。認知症患者数は年齢とともに増え、現在85歳以上の30%を超える高齢者が認知症と診断されていることが世界的にわかっています。2014年の日本人の平均寿命は、男性が80.5歳、女性が86.8歳で、この数字は世界一です。したがって、日本では認知症患者が急速に増えていきます。認知症の治療の試みはあるものの、上手くいっているといえるものはありません。この状況において、認知症の予防と早期発見が殊に強調されています。今回のMSCの会では、認知症、特にアルツハイマー病のより深い理解と予防活動の認識を、参加される方が持っていただくことを考えています。この会は次の3部構成にしています:1) アメリカの著名な精神科医の講演から抜粋したDVDビデオを皆さんで観た後、2) アルツハイマー病診断研究を行っている演者による、パワーポイントスライドを用いた認知症に関する短い講演、そして3) 質疑応答と全体討論を行います。日本語と英語と両方を入れる予定です。

Access Map to Sapporo Medical University Campus

Free parking is available on weekends, but remember that many guests come to visit patients in the hospital in the afternoon.  It is recommended that most people take the subway (Tozai Line) to Odori 18-chome.

*To register for the event, please “Contact” them and let them know the names of those planning to attend.  They need to prepare sufficient copies of handout materials.

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Introducing NaNoWriMo Hokkaido / ナノライモ北海道へのご招待

Write-in Concentration

NaNoWriMo Write-in Event

NaNoWriMo (ナノライモ) is short for National Novel Writing Month (全国小説執筆月間), an international NPO based in San Francisco that encourages writing as a social experience.  The name is somewhat misleading at this point: 1) it’s gone international, 2) you can write anything – not just novels, and 3) though we cluster events during the months of November and July, we also aim for monthly gatherings year-round.

Put simply, we gather together to write at the same time in the same place (called a “write-in”) and encourage one another, organize social events where we share our cultures, and enjoy opportunities to interact with writers in other prefectures and countries through video chat and social media.

  • Intercultural events in Sapporo and Asahikawa
  • All ages welcome, including kids and babies
  • Write in any language (Japanese, English, French, the sky’s the limit)
  • Write in any genre (though novels are the most popular, anything is fine, such as poetry, script-writing, non-fiction, blog posts, song lyrics, academic papers, etc.)
  • Come and go as you please
  • No need to show your writing to anyone (though some members invite feedback from others)

The reason it’s called NaNoWriMo is that most people around the world who do it challenge themselves to write 50,000 words – or 50,000 characters (字) – of a novel in one month (November, April, and/or July). Some of us do that, while others among us set personal word count goals, punch out first drafts of writing projects we need a motivation boost for, enjoy company while editing assignments, and/or use the free teachers’ curriculum and writing resources.  We do write-ins wherever group members are interested in meeting up around town (such as a community center, family restaurant, café, college campus, or members’ homes). Bring your laptop, tablet, smartphone, and/or notebook & writing instrument.

ナノライモという執筆の活動をやってます。小説だけではなく、内容は自由(漫画のネーム、台本、ノンフィクション、エッセイ、論文、詩、歌 詞、ブログなど)。誰でも参加できるので、執筆や会話する国際交流の目的があります。世界中に関して、ナノライモの一番人気な時間は11月で す。そのため、11月にパーティーやライト・イン(write-in、つまり、執筆するための集まり)を行いたいと思います。全年齢向け。書 く言語が自由(日本語、英語、フランス語など)。自由に出入りする。パソコン、タブレット、または、ノートとペンをご持参の上。お友達などと 是非一緒にいらしてください。

November Events / 11月のイベント

RSVP much appreciated! 出欠を教えてください


WHAT: Sapporo Kick-Off Party + Nijikai: “What is NaNoWrimo?” explanation, games, write-in, and your free official NaNoWriMo sticker! 11月1日は「All Saints’Day」(諸聖人の日)の祝日ためハロウィンのテーマで「ナノライモとは何か」についての説明、ゲーム、執筆、サンフランシスコから送った オフィシャルシールををお渡しする予定です。
WHEN: Sunday, November 1st @ 18:00~20:00
WHERE: L・PLAZA (札幌エルプラザ), 2nd Floor, Room: “Kaigi Corner” (会議コーナー).

Followed by nijikai (2nd party) at Yama Wasabi (山わさび 北8条店) izakaya pub in the basement of L・PLAZA.
Address: 3 Chome Kita 8 Jonishi, Kita Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido 060-0808 (〒060-0808 北海道札幌市北区北8条西3丁目札幌エルプラザ内)
Map: INFO:
Kick-Off Party is free. Nijikai is optional and costs however much you order of drinks/food.
L・PLAZA is located directly north of the Sapporo Station Bus Terminal, and is connected to Sapporo Station through exit #12 of the Sapporo Station North Exit Underground Walkway (Sapporo Eki Kitaguchi Chika Hodou, 札幌駅北口地下歩道12番出口) which starts from the north edge of the train station’s Paseo shopping center.
If you take the elevator to the 2nd floor, turn left and you will see a short wall with rows of brochures about many types of NPOs ( Turn left and walk around this, and on the back side of it is the “Kaigi Corner” room (

WHAT: L・PLAZA Write-In + Dinner
WHEN: Thursday, November 12th @ 15:00~19:00
WHERE: L・PLAZA (札幌エルプラザ), 2nd Floor, “Uchiawase Corner” (打合せコーナー) space ( Address & map above. Followed by dinner at a restaurant (location TBA [未定], depending on # of people and their preference. Possible choices include Saizeriya (, Café Milano (カフェ ミラノ:, and Sainte Rose (サンローゼ)

Write-in is free. Dinner is optional and costs however much you order of drinks/food.WHAT: L・PLAZA Write-Ins
WHEN: Thursdays, November 19th, 26th @ 15:00~18:00
WHERE: L・PLAZA (札幌エルプラザ), 2nd Floor, Uchiawase Corner (打合せコーナー) space. Address & map above.

Asahikawa:WHAT: Asahikawa Kick-Off Party: “What is NaNoWrimo?” explanation, games, write-in, and your free official NaNoWriMo sticker! 「ナノライモとは何か」についての説明、ゲーム、執筆、サンフランシスコから送ったオフィシャルシールをお渡しする予定です。
WHEN: Tuesday, November 3rd @ 13:00~17:00
WHERE: Feeeal department store, 7th Floor, Asahikawa International Center (旭川市国際交流センター), Room: “Kaigi Kyoushitsu 1” (会議室 1)
Address: Feeeal, 1-joutsuu 8-chome 108-banchi, Asahikawa, Hokkaido 070-0031 (〒070-0031 北海道旭川市1条通8丁目108番地Feeeal旭川7階)


Kick-Off Party is free.
Feeeal department store is located directly north of Asahikawa Station on Kaimono Kouen street.WHAT: Home Party Write-Ins
WHEN: Monday, November 16th & Tuesday, November 17th @ 17:00~21:00
WHERE: member’s apartment (contact to RSVP and get the address)
The apartment is near Hokkaido University of Education, Asahikawa. It is accessible by Asahikawa Denkikidou bus company #5 bus to “Asahimachi 2-jo 6-chome” (旭町2条6丁目) bus stop (7 minute ride from Asahikawa JR station), #14 bus to “Asahimachi 2-jo 6-chome” (旭町2条10丁目) bus stop from “1 no 8” (1の8) bus stop. Alternately, it is a 30-minute walk from Asahikawa JR station.

WHAT: Write-In
WHEN: Sunday, November 22nd @ 13:00~17:00
WHERE: TBA (未定): at Feeeal department store, OR Machi Naka Bunkagoya (まちなかぶんか小屋, on Kaimono Kouen, OR at a member’s apartment.

Currently ironing out the details, but this might include strategy board games in the morning and writing in the afternoon… stay tuned.

LINE Group:

If you can’t make it to an event but want to participate, join the ナノライモ北海道 LINE group for word wars (writing at the same time) and chatting with us.  If you add me, I can add you to the NaNoWriMo LINE group. The QR Code is here: more info and updates:

RSVP to: seijitsunajosei at gmail dot com
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MSC Presentation on Hospitalization in Japan

MSC Presentation Meeting at the Sapporo International Communication Plaza

MSC Presentation Meeting at the Sapporo International Communication Plaza

Presentation: Hospital Procedures and Experiences

Speakers: Naomi Shimizu a nurse and Former JICA Volunteer, (Japan International Cooperation Agency) will explain the procedures related to hospitalization and non-Japanese members will share their hospital experiences.
Date & Time: June 27th, Saturday 10:00-12:00 (free)
Place: Conference room, Sapporo International Communication Plaza 3F
Sponsor: Neighbors (
Co-sponsor: Sapporo International Communication Plaza
Contact: Ken Hartmann

The Multinational Senior Community support group welcomes anyone interested in understanding issues of concern for multinational seniors. The primary language of discussion is in English, but it is recognized that most non-Japanese members of the group are able to communicate in Japanese, so local meetings tend to be bilingual. In April, the group held a meeting to learn more about the Pension System in Japan. At the June meeting, the theme will focus on Hospital Procedures and Experiences of those who have been hospitalized. In most hospitals communication and the completion of forms is conducted in Japanese, so it can be quite a challenge for multinationals. There will be care providers represented at this presentation providing information that will hopefully alleviate the fear of having to enter a hospital for surgery and long term hospitalization.

Those who are interested in sharing in the understanding of such issues concerning seniors are cordially invited to join the meeting which is free and open to anyone. There is also time for socializing and light refreshments will be provided. In order to prepare sufficient copies of materials and refreshments, it would be nice to know how many people plan to come to the presentation. Therefore, if you plan to attend, please contact indicating the names of those planning to attend.

Further details will be added to this blog as they become known, so please check from time to time. The most recent update was June 16, 2015.

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Sapporo NAGARE: Sakura Walk and Picnic in Makomanai Park

Enjoy Makomanai Park  and Friendship

Cherry Blossoms and Sunshine on May 2, 2015

Hello Wonderful People of Sapporo,

This is Sapporo NAGARE a volunteer group headed up by multinational residents who are excited to announce our first event.  First, we are in operation since last year and have been meeting to decide this year’s events in Sapporo.  Our aim is to make Sapporo a happier, brighter place by welcoming everyone out to our fun, multicultural community events.  If you would like to know more about our group you can see our Facebook Page and join to receive updates and announcements, or on Sapporo International Plaza’s Meikan system under Sapporo NAGARE.

Our spring event is called “Makomanai Park Sakura Walk & Picnic”.  We are welcoming all individuals and families to make this a wonderful cultural exchange and interactive event.  At the event, we will play games, practice some new easy English and Japanese, go for a walk to view the cherry blossoms and finally have a picnic.

The event date is on Saturday, May 2nd as the forecast is for No Rain!!  The rest of Golden Week is predicted to be rainy so please come out and enjoy Sakura while you can together with us!!!

We will meet at the Makomanai subway station and walk together to the park.  So please wear comfortable shoes and clothing.  The picnic will include onigiri (rice balls), yakitori (shish kabobs), and vegetable shish kabobs for vegetarians.  Some drinks will also be included, and the kids will get a small present to show our appreciation.

The details are as follows:

Date:  Saturday, May 2, 2015


12:00 – Meet Up – meeting point is Makomanai Station of Namboku Subway Line
(or at Makomanai Park, if you come by car, please see map on the event flyer).

12:30 – 13:00 – Intro and Games – starting time of our event at Makomanai Park

13:00 – Group Sakura Walk – enjoy fun time together

13:45 – Picnic Start – relax, eat and drink together

14:15 – Play & Social Time – relaxed play and socializing / cultural exchange

15:00 – Clean up

15:15 – Head home

Food and Drink Fees:

– ¥500 an adult that includes 4 shish kabobs (chicken/vegetable or vegetable only) and drinks

– ¥400 for university student that includes 4 shish kabobs (chicken/vegetable or vegetable only) and drinks

– ¥300 a student of any age (elementary to high school) that includes 3 pieces and drinks and a small toy gift for children

– Free for adults who volunteer to help out with activities (limited, please contact first) or for those who do not want food or drink

We welcome anyone who would like to participate.

Please note an RSVP is required so that we can prepare the right amount of food and drink. You can use the Japanese online registration form that is available at the following link.

Otherwise reply by email to let us know how many are coming.  Send the details to: (Thomas)

If there are any problems, such as finding the meeting point or suddenly will be late or for some reason must cancel, please contact us.  *TEL – 090-9143-7895 (Thomas)

We are waiting to hear from you. : )

To view the English poster with a map of the location, please click on the link below.


Sapporo NAGARE

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Presentation on the Pension System in Japan

Presentation April 18 at the Sapporo International Communication Plaza opposite Tokeidai

Presentation April 18 at the Sapporo International Communication Plaza opposite Tokeidai

Presentation: The Pension System in Japan (in English)
Speaker: Ms. Kaori Okuda (Health & Sciences University of Hokkaido)
Date & Time: April 18, Saturday 14:00-16:30 (free admission)
Place: Conference room, Sapporo International Communication Plaza 3F
Group Meeting: “Aging in Place” Presentation and Discussion
Sponsor: Neighbors (
Co-sponsor: Sapporo International Communication Plaza

This recently formed group welcomes anyone interested in understanding issues of concern for international seniors. One of those issues is the understanding of the pension systems available to those who are working here. We are fortunate to have Ms. Kaori Okuda to share her knowledge of this topic with us in English. She will present on the legal requirements, upcoming changes, along with the pros and cons of joining various systems.

Following the lecture and discussion there will be a meeting to discuss the development of the international senior support group and the issues that they would like to consider at future meetings. Those who are interested in sharing in the understanding of the issues concerning seniors are cordially invited to join the meeting discussion. There will also be some light refreshments provided.

Due to the preparation of materials required and refreshments, it would be nice to know how many people plan to come to the presentation. Therefore, if you plan to attend, please reply to Ken Hartmann indicating the number of people.

Whether you are able to attend or not, we would like to offer you the chance to inform the speaker of any questions you may have concerning the Pension System in Japan. We hope to provide a summary or recording of the event online, but most importantly would like to give the speaker an idea as to the types of questions she will encounter at the event.

All inquiries should be sent to by April 10, 2015, if possible.

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