Ishii Architect Office is one of the most renowned architectural companies in Asia, specialised in traditional Japanese lodging facilities (ryokan). The company has made major contributions to renovation and interior design of hotels and ryokans, not only in Japan but also in China. The business was established in 1963 and since then it has been realising around 300 projects. The firm’s purpose of designing Cafe and Bar 334 in Kitakobushi Shiretoko Hotel & Resort is to create a place where both hotel guests and local people can enjoy tea and meals at the Shiretoko World Natural Heritage Site.
The owner of the hotel, Daisuke Kuwashima, had been wondering not simply about how to manage the hotel, but what they can do for a local community because the growing number of the younger generation has moved out to find rewarding work in cities and there are few vibrant places in Shiretoko. In designing the cafe and bar, the firm was inspired by ban-ya, which is a small wooden hut where local fishermen in Shiretoko used to devout themselves to handiwork. Therefore, the company called the design concept: “ban-ya luxe”, in order to harmonise luxurious taste with the simple atmosphere of a fishing village.
In Shiretoko, fishermen do not go fishing in a harsh winter and have a long spare time. The firm created a persona as the host of the cafe and bar, who was a fisherman with good sense and love for travelling. He collected wonderful and unique items every time he enjoyed travelling overseas in winter. His house was filled with foreign stuff he bought during his journey. His friends and fishermen fellows, attracted by his sense and unique personality, got together every night and had a long chat, by drinking sake and imagining exotic culture in their minds. Cafe and Bar 334 was designed based on this concept.
Now that Kitakobushi Shiretoko Hotel & Resort opened the cafe and bar in 2018, it is successful in realising our initial vision and became a local centre, where people spend a special time.