Vital Elements at Somoza
In a world where we seem to have it all, creator, artist and Niseko entrepreneur Shouya Grigg, is reminding us what it is we really need.
Technology has given us the ability to do more than we ever have before. Much time spent on hand-held devices has given us more connections, more options and more decisions. It’s a world of choice. Though as these possibilities have multiplied, as our screens have become smaller, the clutter has become far bigger.
Narrowing the focus on our busy world, is local design and creative legend, Shouya Grigg, and his passion project, Somoza. Nestled quietly in the birch tree wilderness of Niseko, Somoza is many-a-thing, and altogether, a breath of fresh Hokkaido air. A scenic café and lunch house by day, an exquisite dinner venue by night, an art gallery, and a destination for inspiration and clarity, always.
The connection between food, design and art is at the heart of the experience. “I want to give people a full satisfaction, not just through the stomach but through the mind. I think people have a hunger, that’s why they travel and ﬁll their body and soul,” Grigg explains.
The visionary behind some of Niseko’s most stylish architectural designs including SekkaStyle properties, restaurant Sekka Lab and high-end luxury accommodation, Zaborin, Grigg has now created his own space through Somoza, to curate and channel his inspirations, ideas and history of Hokkaido. “[With Somoza] we actually started on the gallery space with the collection of art and artifacts; the oldest piece of stone is over 10,000 years old, some are 4,000 years old. For me, it’s not about art and artifacts though, it’s about Hokkaido history and where it originated from,” Grigg explains.
“Over the years, I grew to wanting to introduce people to its [the history], not just overseas guests, but to guests from Hokkaido and other Japanese guests.”
The repurposed traditional Japanese “kominka” homestead that is the home of Somoza, is a place that is always in a state of transition, much like nature. “To perfect something, it’s ‘ﬁnished’ but with what I like to do, a lot of the inspiration comes from nature because that’s never ﬁnished. It’s always changing and evolving and we have to embrace that change rather than be afraid of it,” Grigg says. This free-ﬂowing philosophy is something Grigg, originally from the UK, keeps fueled by not only the outdoors, but also from books, travel and people, to name but a few.
Before moving to Hokkaido 25 years ago, Grigg studied cinema, which has in turn become an undercurrent to his creative work at Somoza today.
“Filmmaking is very much about storytelling. I am not a writer as such, I really speak through my images, through visuals, and now it’s very interesting because it’s grown into spaces as well,” Grigg explains. “Say you want to make a ﬁlm, you ﬁnd the location, you build sets, you style them, light them and create atmosphere and then you bring in the crew. In come the cast, and lights, camera, action, you create the ﬁlm.” “Then the ﬁlmmaker will hope that the audience will come on the journey with them during the 90 or 120 minutes. And hopefully, if the ﬁlmmaker is successful, maybe the audience will see things in a diﬀerent way, or they are moved by something,” Grigg elaborates.
Centred on experiential dining, Somoza’s summer menu is naturally inspired by the seasons: locally grown produce, smoked oils and nuts, preserved foods from a season ago due to long winters, as well as earth-fresh ingredients from Somoza’s very own garden–new in 2019.
And while the cuisine at Somoza is celebrated, for Grigg, it is more than a place to eat, but a place that feeds the appetite for more. “A lot of people talk about food and produce in Niseko in summer. What I like to try and oﬀer is a place you can experience and feel full in your stomach at the end of the meal, but it’s more for the mind, body and spirit. A place where your appetite will become more, for living, for life.”