Saga Hirakawaya Tofu Takeo Onsen is a cozy restaurant and shop located in Saga, Japan, designed in 2022 by Keiji Ashizawa Design.

About Saga Hirakawaya Tofu Takeo Onsen

The flagship store of Saga Hirakawaya is a shop and restaurant located in front of the historical tower gate of Takeo Onsen, a long-established hot spring resort in Saga prefecture. Priorly the client had already been operating two restaurants, but when they came across this specific site in Takeo Onsen where they were born and raised, they decided to open a new restaurant in the hope that it would contribute to the revitalization of the local area, which had lost its former liveliness and been unpopulated.

The building was designed to appear as a wooden house structure with a gently arched exterior, which was devel- oped in harmony with the surrounding environment and the adjacent tower gate. The curved building creates a unified environment and an open and rich space leading to the gate, with a courtyard created on the inside by the architecture and landscape. A foot bath with hot spring water is located in the courtyard to encourage visitors to eat right outside and stay for a longer period of time.

The interior consists of a retail store that promotes the tofu culture and a cozy restaurant where visitors can sit down to enjoy the cuisine. The two spaces are loosely connected by the gentle curvatures of the volumes, along with an open atrium.

The light in the interior space is dynamic. The daylight shining through the windows that open to view the gate dramatically changes the feel of the space depending on the time of day, with the atrium skylight, which also serves as ventilation, creating a beautiful gradation of light on the soft curves of the ceiling and walls. In addition, the first and second floors, and the other three rooms on the second floor, share the same details and materials yet appear to be different with the changing tones of the lighting – where customers are able to enjoy the meal together with the change of space.

The custom-made pendant lamps above the tables use washi shades crafted by Nao Washi, a Saga-based Japanese paper manufacturer. The light through the washi softly illuminates the tofu pots, while reflecting light into the domed ceiling. All of the furniture is made by Ariake, a brand that produces in Morodomi, Saga Prefecture, who we have also designed products for.

Photography by Ben Richards

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