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The northern island of Hokkaido is not only famous for its cows, rolling hills, excellent seafood and ice festival. It is also home to a burgeoning community of artists and artisans who get their inspiration from the aforementioned elements. Take Kouta Fukunaga for example. He creates carved vessels out of birch tree trunks and fashions them into exquisite wine chillers and sake bottles. The birch sake bottle recently won first place in the 2008 Takaoka Craft Competition.


Fukunaga first came on the radar screen in 2006 with an honorable mention nod in the Sapporo Design Competition for “logos.” Fashioned out of spruce,  “logos” is a series of smaller plates that can be combined into a larger dish for entertaining groups at parties. It has yet to be commercialized but his line of birch products are available (7,000 – 9,000 yen) through a few shops specializing in Hokkaido-based arts and crafts such as Snowwood.