Take A Sneak Peak Inside Niseko's Newest Cultural Hub

Exuding an atmosphere of old Japan, Somoza is a space where you can explore Japan's rich art and cultural traditions.

Somoza Tea Room 1

Preparing a cup of traditionally brewed Macha green tea in an authentic tea room.

Designed by Shouya Grigg, the mind behind the Sekka series and Hanozono area's Zaborin ryokan hotel, Somoza seeks to fill a niche for art and culture spaces here in Niseko.

The building is a marriage between traditional Japanese designs and those of the modern day. The building's core and supports are massive tree beams from a traditional Japanese farmhouse. Built over 150 years ago, it was dismantled and transported here from Tochigi prefecture. Still using all of the original wooden beams and supports, Somoza has been revitalized with floor-to-ceiling glass windows in place of many of the shoji walls that had divided up the home.

Somoza Dining Hall Shouya Grigg Speaking

Standing before the dining hall's great table, Shouya Grigg explains the history behind Somoza.

These floor-to-ceiling glass windows run along where the engawa or traditional porch walkway would have been and provide a stunning view of the escarpment that the building sits atop. The gallery space has replaced where the family would have lived and is currently housing a number of ceramic items collected by Shouya and his wife. Next to the gallery is a large and open dining space that is centered around a round table with seating for twelve. The space will be used to offer a limited dinner seating during the winter and is set to offer lunch during the summer and autumn.

Above the gallery, a small second floor contains a chashitsu (traditional Japanese tea room). The small tatami mat space is enclosed by a series of artistic walls which amplify the atmosphere and provide partial privacy. Guests enter the chashitsu through a traditional tea room doorway called a nijiriguchi. This type of entrance way was designed so that everyone who entered the tea room would have to bow down as they entered the space.

Below the traditional building, is a vast basement that has been designed as an event and conference space. With the same floor-to-ceiling windows, the space overlooks the escarpment with the same great view as the floor above.

The room is capable of seating large groups for meetings or it can be opened up for activities that require lots of floor space. While there have not been any official announcements specifying what kinds of activities Somoza will be hosting, it is an exciting addition to those seeking that which is geared toward art and culture. We at Experience Niseko will be watching to see what kinds of programs are unveiled in the coming months.