Local business, local knowledge

Chokai-san (Mt. Chokai)

In the middle of the rice fields on the edge of Tsuruoka City in the Shonai region of Yamagata, Japan, lies Suiden Terrasse, a newly built hotel designed to blend into the surrounding rice paddies. It was designed by world-renown architect, Shigeru Ban, who also designed Christchurch’s Cardboard Cathedral, and was won numerous awards for his architecture around the world, including the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize.

The thing is, Shigeru Ban is not a local. No matter how great an architect is, no matter how prestigious or how well-known around the world, local knowledge is a necessity when it comes to great design. Don’t get me wrong, Suiden Terrrasse is a great building. It is mainly wooden, has a great design features all throughout, and is designed to appear to float above the rice paddies. Functionally, the interior is great, with the paths of the patrons well thought out, and a wooden aesthetic that I just can’t get enough of.

I was shocked when the other day I went to Suiden Terrasse and saw these giant icicles hanging right above the main entrance. At that time I also heard that since the structure is built on the edge of the rice fields, there’s no way to get outside to clean the windows.

But hey, he certainly did a better job than I could ever do. It’s also led to some work for me, I translated their website, and all the times I’ve been there, I’ve had an enjoyable time. Next time, more consideration of local knowledge may be necessary to make the ultimate location.



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Sakata City, Yamagata, Japan 


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