Yoshiaki Imai was working in Kyoto as a director for TV when his job sent him to Kawayu Onsen for the first time.

It was the early 1990s and the town, located in eastern Hokkaido’s Akan Mashu National Park, was to be the subject of a program focusing on the area’s natural onsen (hot springs).

Imai, a native of Shiga Prefecture, found himself deeply attracted to the region’s raw nature and subsequently decided to build a second home nearby Lake Kussharo, where he began spending his holidays. He had briefly considered relocating to Kyushu’s Yakushima Island, but realizing he needed a more permanent change, he finally opted to move to his Lake Kussharo home in 2000. In addition to the region’s low cost of living, Imai was attracted to the artistic possibilities offered by its dramatic scenery.