She has a unique dress style, from her head to her toes, which stands out even inside this vast garden park. She’s wearing one of her beloved hats, flower-patterned clothes, and her green, froggy, long rubber boots. Underneath her hat, her hair is short and it isn’t permed. She’s reluctant to spend time at the hairdressers as she’d rather spend it welcoming visitors who have come from far away.

 

In Hokkaido the flowers begin blooming all at once in the late spring, as if they couldn’t wait for the long winter to be over. During the season there is an incessant stream of buses and cars. The visitors’ goal is to take a commemorative photo with her. One after another, she responds to their requests all with a smile. There are married couples, as well as parents and children, and she talks with them all, varying her conversation to suit the particular guest. She also has picked up various regional dialects and folk songs, something she devised as part of her own unique way of entertaining people.

 

Halfway through her fifties she lost her beloved husband, and what got her through those days of despair and lit a fire in her heart were her memories of Obihiro’s beautiful fields. She resolved to dedicate herself to creating a flower garden where those scenes would reappear. She acquired a very large plot of land, but it was classified as agricultural land and there were mountains of regulations standing between her and her dream. There were instructions and warnings, and a seemingly endless number of application procedures. She overcame it all without any worries, and opened the park with her own hands.

 

Her family and the staff are all overpowered by her enthusiasm, and have rallied round in making the garden a success. She was born and raised in Hokkaido, and with that pioneering spirit, surely it’s just a matter of time until her ideal of opening a senior citizen’s home in her dream flower garden becomes a reality.

Akiyo Shichiku

Born in Obihiro City in 1927. A construction business was run from the house where she was born. After graduating from a girl’s school she went to the Saiki Nutrition School in Tokyo. After the war, she married Isamu Shichiku when she was 19, and they were blessed with three daughters. Her husband passed away when he was 60. The Shichiku Garden opened in 1992.

Cooperation: Toshio Itakura, Advisor at Obihiro RINRI Hojinkai

Spirit and Spine
‘Kitohone’

created by
THE SPIRIT AND SPINE
CREATIVE FORCE,Tokyo

project direction
Gaku Okubo (ISUKE INC.)
photography
Yoshitomo Tanaka (Vivot)
site design
ISUKE INC. and ICA
title calligraphy
Kenryo Hara (Kikkokai)