Otaru Glass - Kitaichi Venetian Art Museum
Otaru had a thriving herring fishing trade. Glass buoys were used to light up fishing boats at night to attract herrings. A glass industry flourished in Otaru to support the herring trade. When the herring fishing industry declined in the 1950s, the makers of glass buoys diverted their business to produce refined glassware, as the demand for buoys plunged. The result today are numerous glass shops, which now carter mainly to souvenir hungry tourists. If you think that blown glassware is only made in Venice, then you are wrong. There is a vast array of blown glassware in the same style as Venetian Murano glassware at the Kitaichi Venetian Art Museum in Otaru.
"IT OFTEN BEGINS AT NIGHT:"
A whisper of invisible flakes among pines, falling muffled through dark forest shadow. It begins in the middle of a midnight dream of winter finally arriving on time, just this once. It starts to snow and no one is watching. Hour after hour, invisible accumulations pile up, falling on tiptoe through the sleeping forest; disembodied drifts slowly reassembling themselves while the world sleeps. Winter’s deaf and dumb construction crew laboring toward dawn.
"IT BEGINS IN THE SKY"
IT BEGINS IN THE SKY, falls to earth. Sometimes it really falls, blind and straight, heavy flakes laminating into heavier drifts, the dead white weight of the dead of winter— and sometimes it dances, dances downward out of clouds that have swallowed the whole of the winter sky, dances a hundred detours, white-on-white quilting in mid-air, arabesques in the arms of the wind: snowflakes out for a stroll, giddy with gravity, unwilling to settle down, blowing loose and low and forever out of control across the winter landscape, a swirling anarchy of windborn flakes.
"IT'S ABOUT SNOWY PEAKS"
IT'S ABOUT SNOWY PEAKS on fire against a painted backdrop of charcoal gray storm clouds. It’s about the diamond sparkles of early-morning surface hoar; frost-feather jewels scattered among aspens, waiting for snow miners with skis on their feet. About the lacy scallops of cornice shadow slanting deep blue across white bowls above timberline. About the raking sidelight that exposes every wind-etched contour in in the whipped-cream sastrugi formations left behind by careless storms. Light that seems to pour out of, as well as onto, winter mountains. White mountains, lit for a play with no script, a wild, pure improvisation on the high register of non-stop motion, the low register of primal beauty. It’s about light, about winter, about skiing.
"IT AMBUSHES YOU"
IT AMBUSHES YOU in tiny towns, nestled like tabletop toys under giant peaks. Walking down snowy streets in search of the perfect apres-ski hideaway, you stumble on the notion that its all a hideaway, that skiing has taken you away from the evening news and commodities prices, from office politics and global politics, from profit and loss and pressure - and given you instead something like poetry.
The perfect hideaway from the twentieth century. Reality has suddenly become just another option. It pulls you around the world like a magnet. It’s filled with siren voices saying, singing: ski me next, ski us next, ski us now, and though life is too short, and you know you can’t possibly, you try to anyway, to ski them all
"IT THRIVES ON MOVEMENT"
IT THRIVES ON MOVEMENT, and still more movement, endless nearly effortless movement, skiers flowing downhill like water, skiers pretending to be dancers and suddenly realizing they are dancers. Movement in the third person, skier as actor and observer, feeling yourself ski, watching yourself ski, applauding a great turn, catching your breath at sudden acceleration, waltzing into a double helix of interlocked curves; weaving three-dimensional patterns through four-dimensional time: right, left, up, down, right, left. Syncopating the rhythm: right, right, left, pause, rightleft, rightleft. Jazzing the run, romancing the snow. Listening to the different rhythms of each slope, giving in to them one by one, finally moving with the mountain. But always moving. Dancing the mountain’s dance. But always dancing.
"IT ALTERS THE CURVATURE of space and time:"
IT ALTERS THE CURVATURE of space and time: the clock slows, almost stops. In deep snow turns last forever (almost), skiers are weightless (almost), the mountain infinite (almost), and life for a suspended instant is perfect (almost).
You tell yourself nothing is perfect, but skiing comes close enough. It takes you into a hyperspace of strange geometry: the dreamlike arcs of perfect carved turns, the non-euclidean straight lines between two points, schusses that are straight only in the mind, flowing up and down over myriad bumps, both macro- and microscopic, white discontinuities in a skier’s universe.
Tracks through trees, tracks playing hide and seek, tracks in formation for no special reason. It tempts you deeper into the forest, tempts you off bigger cornices, tempts you onto new slopes in search of new emotions.
It leads you up and up, further and farther, and then some. Inexplicably you always think that the snow on the top of the topmost lift will be better; it seldom is, but the views, the feeling, the spirit of high places never disappoints.
"IT SURPRISES YOU when you least expect it"
IT SURPRISES YOU when you least expect it, the strange beauty of this marriage of mountains and skis. You discover new Images of an old passion. It catches you daydreaming in the chairlift as the rollercoaster slopes roll backwards beneath you, ridgelines sliding in and out of view, dots of color below your skis braiding together in slow-motion choreography, then resolving into skiers shredding the last powder at Mach 1. The muscle fibers in your own legs subtly twitching to join them. From across the valley distant slopes are telegraphing you VIP invitations, the snow is always whiter.... It's crazy, but in the middle of a day of skiing you take time out to day-dream about skiing.
"IT'S MADE OF MEMORIES:"
IT'S MADE OF MEMORIES: white memories.
My first run in waist deep-powder.
How I make it all the way down without falling?
How I leave such a beautiful set of tracks when I’ve never done anything like that before?
Myr first trip to the Kiroro.
My first crash into the woods, My first red run.
A love affair that started with light powder, survived an interlude of ice, that moved on to frozen corn, that finally got beyond fear and anxiety, that’s still going strong.