PLATE: a magical marketplace for local fair

Chisan chisho (地産地消) is a concept that took root in Japan in the early 80s and translates to “local production for local consumption.” Similar to the notion of buying local, the movement, which was intended to deliver ultra-fresh, in-season food, fell out of favor in the 90s as trade barriers came down and imported foods became more and more cheaper.

But over the last couple of years several food scandals involving imported food, as well as domestically-produced food, has refocused people’s attention on the food they consume and where it comes from. And several restaurants have popped up around Japan, promoting this very concept.


Located in Niigata, Japan, PLATE is an idyllic, arcade-like structure that houses various enterprises under a single roof. One of these is A alla Z, a restaurant serving dishes using only locally grown ingredients. This Spring it plans to welcome Pollo Nello, a market selling locally farmed produce and goods. There’s additional space the will be utilized for events as well and the structure was intentionally designed to “retain a sense of ordered chaos.”

The concept was inspired by local shopping streets with elongated roofs called gangi-zukuri, which helps unite the commercial district but also serves the practical purpose of dispersing heavy snow. “The same roof links the respective spaces: the market, kitchen and event space,” explains Takuya Hosokai, the lead architect behind the project.


“The building is orientated to appear as if it is submerged in the forest,” says Hosokai, “in order to help visitors detach from their everyday lives and experience the forest from the inside.” The dreamlike backdrop encourages visitors to be aware of the trees and nature around them, a reminder of where our nourishment comes from.

Here’s a map that shows the exact location of PLATE. If you plan on visiting, consider also stopping by this gorgeous knife shop we recently profiled. It’s only 45 min away by car.