Higashikawa Arts Exchange Center

As the heart of the Culture Capital of Photography, we promote diverse cultures and cultural exchange.

The center opened in October 2016 and is located in what used to be the Higashikawa Elementary School building. It is a facility that serves as the nexus for cultural exchange, such as international exchanges, Japanese Language School activities, and other locally run activities, and also focuses on sharing Higashikawa’s “photo culture”, “furniture design culture” and “Daisetsuzan culture”. In addition, there is an accommodation facility attached to the center that can be used in the case of natural disasters and other emergency situations.

The center is also a key location for the town’s cultural and art-related activities. There are displays of wooden sculptures and craft works, which Higashikawa is noted for, Asahikawa Furniture, which is well known for its superior design and functionality, and paintings and other works of art.

Local Café

The cafeteria aims to “grow locally for local consumption” by using local produce that is sustained by the pure water of the Daisetsuzan mountains.

It is not only a place to eat, drink, and relax, but also a place to try popular local products, see the local art, and enjoy meeting and exchanging with many diverse people.

Gallery 1

We promote design culture by introducing others to the artwork and refined wooden handicrafts that are unique to our “woodworking town”.

The gallery has two permanent exhibitions: the “Oda Collection” and the “Kimi no Isu” chair exhibition. The Higashikawa craftsman Mr. Noritsugu Oda’s collection of furniture*, is mostly Scandinavian, and is well known for its high historical and artistic value, as well as superior design.

*Works displayed belong to the chair researcher Noritsugu Oda’s private collection.

Gallery 2

The gallery displays photography, paintings and various other art that Higashikawa is noted for, mainly focusing on the paintings of local artist Chizuko Fujino.

Visitors can enjoy the different styles of Chizuko Fujino’s pieces, starting with the emblematic painting series called “Space”, as well as other works from throughout the artist’s career.

Daisetsuzan Library

The library maintains materials related to the culture of the Daisetsuzan mountains. The eminent peaks provide water, essential to agriculture and everyday life, and are a symbol of Higashikawa’s magnificent nature.

Currently there are about 1,500 valuable materials: historical books, photos, and other documents all related to the Daisetsuzan mountains. The library is open to the public and keeps gathering new materials, conducts research, and is involved in presentations and panels on Daisetsuzan culture.

Japanese Language School

The Higashikawa Japanese Language School is the first national Japanese language school in Japan. The second floor of the exchange center is occupied by classrooms, which are usually filled with many foreign exchange students. There are many activities organized at the center where students can learn about Japanese culture and exchange with the local people.

Accommodations within the facility

We provide accommodations to host the many people who visit the town, as well as support activities that allow exchanges with the local people and help deal with everyday challenges. It can also be used in the case of natural disasters and other emergency situations.


The old Elementary School gym now serves as a multifunctional open space.

The Hall can accomodate up to 500 seats and can not only host various events, but as befits an arts and culture center, can also display various expositions using portable exhibition walls.

Room G (The Classroom of Memories)

The second floor of the building still has 7 classrooms, just like when it used to be the old Elementary School. Room G is called “The Classroom of Memories”, and it is the one classroom that has not been changed since the old Elementary School days.

Corridor Gallery

There are many local pieces of art displayed in the hallways, from the paintings of the local artist Chizuko Fujino and the works of the local farmer/sculptor Yoichi Matsuda to various pieces of art depicting Higashikawa, allowing one to naturally interact with culture and art.


The Lounge is freely open to the public for resting, having conversations, and other leisurely activities.

The open space has a firewood stove and beautiful Asahikawa Furniture, which allows one to experience the feel of the calm and relaxed Higashikawa life.

Community Hall

This used to be the old Elementary School lunch room where the children assembled, and it still has the same warm atmosphere with its wood-centric interior. It is now used to serve lunch to those staying in the nearby accommodations, as well as for many other purposes, such as organizing small events, club activities, and meetings.

The Challenge Kitchen

This kitchen has large-scale kettles, professional cooking equipment, and other utensils that can be used to make foods such as miso, tofu, and tomato juice. It is a place to make use of locally grown ingredients, and it can also be used for organizing food-related activities and events.