“The Ainus worship nature and believe a spirit resides in every single tree.”
If there’s one area of Japan that’s booming it’s the Niseko region of Hokkaido. Their world-class powdery snow, which continuously lands them on top ski resort lists like this one, has generated a flurry (get it?) of tourism and investment activity. So it comes as no surprise that last year One Niseko hired world-class architect Kengo Kuma to give them a much-needed facelift.
But with major companies like Hilton and West Paces pouring money into the region and rebranding hotels and villages with their name, Kengo Kuma decided it was important to maintain local identity.
Paying homage to the indigenous Ainu tradition of using the entire body of wood for their homes, Kuma used hundreds of large slabs of wood, paneling them throughout the interior and exterior of the hotel. In the lobby area the slits even act as magazine racks. “We wanted a space that is deeply related to the history of this place – the culture of Ainu,” says Kuma. “The Ainus worship nature and believe a spirit resides in every single tree.”