Sundry shops and cafés that create Sapporo’s living
Ayako Tsukeshiba, owner of Siesta Labo.

It’s an interesting adventure walking around the small-scale sundry shops and cafés in Sapporo; you will certainly take notice of the local culture, its living, and the connection among its people. In recent years, markets where stores and artisans come together have become popular. We asked Ayako Tsukeshiba, owner of the hand-made soap store “Siesta Labo.”, about Sapporo’s craftsmanship and lifestyle.

Craftsmanship imbued with a sense of the seasons

“Had I remained in Honshu, I would probably never have started making soaps” says Ms. Tsukeshiba, who makes soaps based on the various landscapes she encounters during her excursions around Sapporo city and its suburb. Sapporo’s proximity to nature affords plenty of discoveries in nature not be found in the city, and this according to her is ideal for her line of work.

Each month, I create particular soaps inspired by the season. In order to get the right idea it’s no good sitting around a desk. That’s why I would record the landscapes and impressions of the places I visit each season, and start making the soaps after one year of planning and experiments. I use a lot of ingredients from Hokkaido, since I wish people who use my soaps to learn about the undertakings at the various locations in Hokkaido as well as those who are involved. In August, I would make soaps using the coal produced in Shimokawa-cho. 90% of Shimokawa-cho is covered by forests and the town is currently carrying out sustainable forest management. After using up every bit of each tree that has been chopped down, they go back and plant new trees. I will be more than happy if those who use my soaps can learn about such anecdotes.

Spend time to understand the local culture

At the store, the staff try to understand the happenings, excitement, and expectations of the city from their conversations with the customers, and bring these into their services. Ms. Tsukeshiba, who has been thinking about what the customers need and answering them with her own ideas, feels that the environment surrounding craftsmanship in Sapporo is also undergoing changes.

“It seems shops and events that give people the opportunity to purchase locally produced goods are increasing in number. People now get to directly converse with local producers, whose presence was previously felt to be remote but now, with the passing of time, have become something familiar. The artists can also learn a great deal from the customers and be inspired by the various types of information they provide and their expectations, and from that point create more appealing works.”

A part of living born from the gathering of sundry shops and cafés

In recent years, with the increasing number of markets in Sapporo and elsewhere in Hokkaido featuring sundry shops and cafés as well as various shops, people now have more opportunity to discover new shops.

“The “Forest Café Festival” held each year in early summer is an event abundant in Hokkaido’s nature and I would be impatient to participate each time. Since the event is organized by people in Tokyo, shops are selected from a different perspective than ours. Local markets such as Loppis, Jingu Market, and Marché de Grenier are also popular and my sense is that they have become an integral part of the local living. In either case, I go there not as an organizer but as a participant, and I greatly enjoy the chance of talking directly with the customers.”

In addition to selling its own soaps, Siesta Labo. also holds special exhibitions of Hokkaido artists in order to further convey the appeal of Hokkaido. In this way, local traditions have become deeply rooted in the everyday living of its people. The store also publishes a monthly magazine “Siesta Correspondence” which introduces sundry shops and cafés that goes beyond the store’s own undertakings and recommends other shops from the staff’s perspective. Why not walk around Sapporo with a map in your hand to discover the life of the Sapporo people.

Ayako Tsukeshiba

Representative Director & President, Savon de Siesta

Born in Chiba Prefecture in 1978 and raised in Ibaraki Prefecture. Graduated in 2003 from the School of Science at Hokkaido University Graduate School of Science. After working at a pharmaceutical company, she established “Savon de Siesta., hand-made soaps that relax your mind” and started sales online. In 2008, a physical shop “Sieta Labo., lifestyle with hand-made soaps” was opened in Sapporo. In 2014, the shop was relocated to its new address, which also features a workshop, where visitors will be able to purchase soaps while looking at how the soaps are made.