HAPPENINGText: Ayumi Yakura

In February when Japan welcomed its coldest period, the Ice Hills Hotel opened up on a hill covered with snow in Hokkaido. The hotel has been surprising visitors from all over the world with its elements, including a building built with ice and snow, the Royce Ice Bar reception building, and a fun experience below freezing with art, restaurants with locally-grown ingredients, a snowmobile and a sleigh.

Photo: Hiroki Onishi

The Ice Hills Hotel opened up in the Sweden Hills in Toubetsu town, Ishikari, a district near Sapporo with a sister city, Leksand, in North Sweden. In this district, people have recreated a town in Sweden, protecting the natural landscape by burying electric wires under the ground. Every year, a traditional Swedish event is held, the summer solstice festival. However, this year, the Ice hotel, a Swedish winter tradition, was included as an event held to help enjoy the long winter.


The creative direction of the hotel has been overseen by the Clark Gallery + SHIFT as a part of “Creative Hokkaido” projects, a platform for spreading Hokkaido’s awesome culture nationally and internationally. Three groups of local artists in Hokkaido were invited to design guest rooms for the three hotel buildings where people can experience their stay. Their rich ideas were brought to life by ice builders from Itofuyu Kougeisha who have built the experiences of building ice hotel in Sweden.

The common theme for all of the projects is nature and humanity. This theme hints at and recalls the beautiful way one makes a life in the northern provinces with nature with art. In the future, the goal will be to continue to create regional attractions while expanding attractive content focusing on art and sharing it with the public.

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