October 4, 2013

Morning light

[photos: © angelus novus]

September 16, 2013

Beautiful nature - Fukidashi Spring Water Park, Kyogoku

Situated off Route 276 in Kyogoku, and just 15 minutes from Kutchan Town, Fukidashi Park is a gem of a find even in a country with an abundance of natural beauty. Famous for its fresh spring water from Mt Yotei, Fukidashi Park is also widely known to locals and visitors as the most beautiful park in Hokkaido.

[photos: © angelus novus]

September 15, 2013

Sensuous sophistication - Bourou Noguchi, Noboribetsu

Bourou Noguchi, Noboribetsu is a stylish boutique hotel in the little town of Noboribetsu, in the southwestern part of Hokkaido that is famous for its hot spring baths.

A collaboration between sculptor Igarashi Takenobu, architect Makoto Nakayama, and under the management of Noguchi Hideo, Bourou Noguchi is an exquisite retreat that offers private onsens in every suite and a delectable kaseiki menu that features the best local seasonal ingredients.

While the exterior is dignified yet simple, the hotel's interior is strikingly modern and beautiful that marries the visual with the sublime. The  emphasis is not about the materials used, but the textural and spatial experience that have been created from them. The spaces are masterfully crafted with every detail delicately sculpted and every movement choreographed to offer an unforgettable architectural experience that completely engages the body and the senses. The ambience exudes a semi-meditative state of calm with dim, indirect lighting that cast deep shadows, and low strips of windows that reveal the beauty of art and nature beyond that invite the guest to soften and lower the gaze, and to reflect the external world onto the world within.

[photos: © angelus novus]

August 19, 2013


[Suttsu Bay and Otaru Bay, Hokkaido]
[photos: © angelus novus]

Modernist encounter - Wakasaimo, Rusutsu

I got to know about Wakasaimo from a friend who brought me this box of the most delicious steamed bun with sweet bean paste one afternoon. "A little treat from Hokkaido," she said. I later learnt that the little fragrant brown bun is made of specially selected wheat from Hokkaido that is flavoured with rich brown sugar and soy sauce and filled with Tokachi red beans. That was my introduction to this well-known sweets shop that was originally from a little town, Toyako in southern Hokkaido.

This afternoon, we found the Rusutsu branch of Wakasaimo by chance. Driving through Rusutsu, we noticed a brown, modernist building. "わかさいも" (Wakasaimo), the sign read. Amongst its more rustic neighbours, it would be hard to miss.

The architecture is a curious mix of Mario Botta and Tadao Ando – its expression resembles an institution more than a sweets shop. However, the formally extravagant yet spatially intriguing building could perhaps be described as a elaborate prelude to the sophistication and complexity behind the making of its sweets and the Wakasa buns. Or, to some, it is a gesture in celebration of a simple croquette/katsu meal, or a cup of coffee and a piece of cake one could have there. 

[photo: © angelus novus]

August 13, 2013

Art of Composition

From top to bottom: "The Oval" by Tadao Ando at Benesse House Art Museum, Naoshima; Sculpture courtyard at Lee Ufan Museum, Naoshima by Tadao Ando and Lee U-Fan; "Relatum – a signal" by Lee Ufan at Lee Ufan Museum, Naoshima.

August 10, 2013

Thoughts on "Cloudscapes" – If these clouds became floors

Entitled "Cloudscapes", this recent installation by Tetsuo Kondo Architects and Transsolar is seemingly sleek and quiet as an architectural object, but yet, it is within itself a potent architectural gesture, capable to containing and opening up questions between the relationship of man/architecture and nature. The two-storey steel and glass structure on show at the Sunken Garden of the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo is achingly beautiful on one hand, but is, at the same time, obsessively annihilating on the other.

Copernicus had, in the 16th century, shown that the heavens were no longer a mysterious presence, but now, we are demonstrating that we are able to contain it. Disturbing or delightful, perhaps the beauty lies in this dichotomy that urges the viewer to read and decipher it on his own grounds.

[photos by Ken’ichi Suzuki]

July 31, 2013

We see time in colours

Niseko with lovely Sakura trees and Mount Yotei.

[photo: © angelus novus]

July 30, 2013

traditional mud onsen - textures and details

There's something so beautiful, raw and earthy here at Akahane Onsen (紅葉音) in Niseko. Here we get to the experience the smells, textures and visual qualities - and of course, the wonderful healing properties of this traditional Japanese mud bath.

[photos: © angelus novus]

July 23, 2013

Savour the love at Picnic restaurant, Niseko

Picnic is perhaps one of the best kept secrets in Niseko. It is almost impossible to find, hardly publicised, and it is not on Niseko's best restaurants list... yet – we think. But it is one of the most special places we have been to since arriving at Niseko.

Picnic is located in the midst of a sprawling, well-tended garden, filled with beautiful flowers and herbs. A decagonal-shaped cottage with a double-storey entrance way that connects the garden into a immaculate, well-lit, homely space, where one is greeted warmly by an elegant lady, who is the owner and chef of the restaurant. Rather than being the customer at a restaurant, one would feel like a special guest in this charming space. Anywhere one is seated – in a private dining room upstairs or at a communal table at the lower level – one is able to savour a gourmet 8-course entreé with a salmon pate or Philly steak sandwich in a basket with a spectacular view of the landscape beyond. At the entrance, one would find in a basket 2 pairs of scissors and some ribbon ties for one to take home some flowers and herbs as mementoes of one's meal at Picnic.

There's an overwhelming feeling of love and joviality at this place – everything is super fresh, home-made and delicious. If the idea of a picnic is manifested into space, this could probably be it. 

[photos: © angelus novus]

July 16, 2013

Just released: PETER TAY ピ−ター テイ [Limited-edition monograph]

ピ−ター テイ

Peter Tay of Peter Tay Studio is the Singapore-based celebrity interior designer to stars, such as Zhang Ziyi, Zoe Tay and Stephanie Sun. His portfolio comprises high-profiled residential and commercial projects. He has worked on boutiques and showrooms for Richard Mille, Manolo Blahnik, Armani Casa and Poliform (Space Showroom), numerous high-end showflats for SC Global and Hotel Properties Limited (HPL) in Singapore and the region. Peter Tay is best known for his sleek, minimalist approach to design. His designs are at once contemporary, exquisite and timeless, appropriate to their contexts and able to encapsulate the pure essence of space that delicately accentuate the lifestyles of his clientele. He also works on the art of tailoring timeless beauty through the surface. The surface serves to guide design invention and outlines the way in which forms transform over time to envelope life.

In this limited-edition monograph, Peter Tay will share with us his personal selection of photographs and images, as well as thoughts behind his works.

© 2013 Sanctuary Niseko (Japan)

www.sanctuaryniseko.com  hello@sanctuaryniseko.com    

ISBN: 978-4-9907133-1-1

Published by: Sanctuary Niseko
Publishers: Michi Kiyomoto and Jacinta Sonja Neoh
Editorial Advisor and Editor: Erwin Viray
Photography: John Heng
Text and Design: Jacinta Sonja Neoh
Printed by: Okamura Printing Industries., ltd (Osaka)

[Limited copies are now available at Media Shop, Kyoto, and in Singapore from September 2013]
[photos: © John Heng]