The city of Asahikawa is located on the west side of Mount Asahidake and lies within the Kamikawa basin in the central part of Hokkaido. With a population of 335,323, Asahikawa is both a transportation and distribution hub, and has the largest concentration of industries in northern Hokkaido. Blessed with an abundance of resources, Asahikawa is a major distributor of wooden furniture and crafts. The city especially puts focus on designing furniture that suits people’s everyday needs. Asahikawa aspires to be a creative city of design that encourages interaction between domestic and overseas designers, supports a conducive environment for raising the next generation of artisans and works towards sustainable urban development.
Through competitions, international exchange and innovation in furniture design, Asahikawa has advanced its capabilities in technique and design. Every three years, the city holds the International Design Forum Asahikawa, welcoming designers from around the world to produce innovative wooden furniture designs, some of which are commercialized.
Preserving traditional crafts and strengthening modern design is managed through a variety of institutions and local initiatives. The city has adopted the IFI Interior Declaration in 2017, establishing its long-term commitment to promoting and creating a design industry whose practices support the environment and their local communities. Traditional wood carving designs of the Ainu people displayed at the Kawamura Kaneto Ainu Memorial Hall continue to hold great significance within the region due to their influence upon modern art and crafts. In order to support contemporary designers, the city has implemented two projects: a programme to pass on craft skills to successors, and a human resource development project to sustain the craft industry. To broaden opportunities and promote interaction between designers, Asahikawa will also host the Asahikawa artist in residence programme as a part of the International Furniture Design Fair Asahikawa.
As a Creative City of Design, Asahikawa envisages:
- developing a global hub where design is incorporated into various industries;
- fostering creative tourism by using a combination of design and the city’s various cultural assets;
- introducing design education to young people so that the city will be able to maintain sustainable development;
- encouraging collaboration with creative cities to strengthen international cooperation through the power of design and the city’s aesthetic appeal;
- organizing training programmes to create opportunities for designers, especially those from Asia and developing countries; and
- hosting an international conference centered on Asia to discuss the potential of design and creativity.