Hokkaido Snow Shop


Performance, Installations, Photography


“Winter Program”, Tenjinyama Art Studio, Sapporo, Japan 2016


Last year, I passed by Sapporo only for 3 days without any plan. Ryotaro sensei told me he was shocked at that time to see I was wearing sport cloths only. I doubt it though. But hey, it was the beginning of April, Spring time! I saw Sakura blooming in Tokyo before I came. I did not expect snow at all, even it is Sapporo. I was surprised again by those remained snow when I reached the entrance of Tenjinyama park. I took many photos of melting snow and didn’t know how to deal with it. Another impression was there were so many Chinese tourists and so many shopping encouragements in Sapporo city. When I back to Shanghai I had a try to sell Sapporo Snow on Taobao shop (Chinese e-bay) for 2 RMB (40 yen) as a joke. Two person brought Sapporo (melting) Snow. But I never know what or how could I send.


For this winter residency program, I tried to sell Hokkaido snow for Chinese tourists in famous Tenuki Koji shopping street on Valentine’s day and the day after. Snow and Hokkaido are typical romantic images for Chinese, especially young people. But I was not very sure if Chinese would buy snow as it seems useless and transience. Realistic Chinese people love to buy useful products made in Japan such as whitening mask, Washlet toilet seat, magical medicine, rice cooker, safe rice... I prepared 100 bottles for sell, 100 yen per each. Even more, in order to imitate the real commercial marketing I created some special limited offers such as: happy snow, sad snow, peaceful snow, new year eve snow, “revenge of snow”… to diverse my production lines. Of course they are much more expensive than basic one.


I carried the products “Hokkaido Snow” and advertisement on my body, walking through the Tenuki Koji from block1 to block 7 for twice. The audio advertisement I made was broadcasting loudly and repeated endlessly from my moving body, however I felt that the sound sometimes passed into silence as the whole street was so crowed with shopping people and advertising music. The audio has three languages, Chinese, Japanese and English, as convenient as for international tourists/shoppers. It was translated and read by Google San! The lost meaning from machine translator and the slightly strange and indifferent robot voice were both related to the communication ways of our globalized high-tech daily life nowadays. But the content of the advertisement was very traditional, funny and overstated style from old-time in China, my childhood. And snow, I claimed that they were collected by me from all over the Hokkaido - 札幌、小樽、登別、洞爺、函館、木古内、富良野、美瑛、旭川、稚内、北見、網走、斜里、知床半島、摩周、根室、釧路、えりも、帯広。And I protected them by secret high-technology. Actually, as you know, as every commercial product, it was a lie. They were all collected in Tenjinyama on the day!


But, in the other hand, I did go to all these 19 places within 8 days during the Chinese spring festival holiday. I also collected one bottle of snow from each place. But snow melted very soon without doubt. Some unexpected stuffs such as leaves, insect bodies, stones, dusts, sands, soils, cigarette butt, small part of artificial plastic, and even a small piece of animal feather…all came out after melting. The snow collecting trip was also a part of performance. It was tough, useless and mean to be failed, but, at the same time, unpredictable, fearless and amazing as snow, as life. I tried hard and seriously, even did hitch-hike and hiking on the mountain road with snow to try my best to reach the every south, north, middle and east point of Hokkaido as planed, and collected snow there. Is it truly different snow from there or here? By mixed real and fake together, I want to question.


Eventually, I sold 11 bottles in total. Half buyers were truly strangers. And three of them are Chinese. Some people told me that they really believed its from the certain place as claimed. But as an old Japanese lady said “actually snow is just snow!” Yes, that’s true. There is no difference, always. People create so many difference and specialties for trapping themselves.


These places, mostly are tourist attractions. It was also interesting to observe the form of tourism as well as the form of snow. There were boundaries of time and space between busy and quiet. And there were boundaries between snow (natural) and city(artificial). Therefore, I also made a series of photography work about closing time for popular shops and JR stations as well as a series of different shapes/forms of snow.


After exhibition in Sapporo, I made a book “A Manual for Owning Hokkaido Snow” for Chinese custom in Shanghai. It’s a manual or catalogue which dedicate to realistic Chinese. Oversea buying service is becoming more and more popular nowadays. Again, this products catalogue imitate the style of real one. This book is also a part of the whole project.