Light of snow. Yezo deer. Development commissioner. Believe it or not, these are all names of colors.

The city of Sapporo has its own palette of 70 colors that suit its climate and landscape. Builders are encouraged to refer to the colors when painting new buildings to maintain the coherence of the scenery.

Hiromi Miyauchi, a Sapporo native and professor emeritus at Shizuoka University of Art and Culture, chose the 70 colors together with residents, including house painters. In 2000, at the request of the municipal government, the group studied a total of 10 areas in the city to establish a standard for building colors.

According to Miyauchi, each city has different colors that best suit its landscape. In Sapporo, which is situated at a high latitude, light is more blue-tinged and the air is more transparent compared with places at lower latitudes.

After years of research and analysis, Miyauchi found out that under Sapporo conditions, white and other bright colors as well as cold colors are perceived by many as beautiful. The group chose 70 colors based on the research results, and they were designated as the standard colors for the walls of large buildings in 2004.

The group gave each color a unique name that evokes a visual scene.

For example, one called beer brown reminds people of the color of beer just poured into a jug, while yukigemizu is a dusky beige color associated with snow that has just started to melt in the warmth of early spring.

“(The economy of) Sapporo grew rapidly and there was a time when the city’s landscape lacked coherence,” said Masahiko Ito, 61, senior managing director at a painting company who took part in choosing the 70 colors.

“It will help revitalize the region” if people pay more attention to colors and preserve its landscape, he said.

Miyauchi said it’s important to keep an eye on the big picture.

“You can’t make the landscape beautiful by controlling the colors of each building. What matters is the balance of colors in the whole city. I believe that we can improve the landscape if everyone takes into account the features peculiar to the region,” he said.


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