The Loaf Lounge is so cool. The Japanese are known for being at the cutting edge of innovation, and most often it surfaces in the form of the high tech gadgets that, for a long time now, have been standard features in homes around the world. But with the innovation comes inbuilt style.
Yo Amagai, former pro ‘boarder cross’ racer, and business partner Nobu Ooe, came across an old rice storage shed (formerly a supermarket and movie cinema) in the back streets of Kutchan a few years ago and envisioned a place they could eat, drink, and hang with friends. They went on to create one of the most interesting little spaces Niseko has seen.
The Loaf Lounge’s defining feature is its full size inbuilt skateboard bowl. Especially in summer, local skaters – Japanese and increasingly foreign – head to the Lounge for their daily or weekly fix. Throw in a small retail shop stocking nothing but the hippest, underground Japanese fashion around, and a simple but spacious little restaurant/bar, and you’ve got the ultimate hangout that also pays the bills.
But it’s not the ammenities that really make it. The whole place is an ever-evolving work of art. Random, retro paraphernalia adorns the walls and floors and ceilings wherever you look. It’s obvious they’re not trained interior designers – nothing they’ve done could be learned from a text book. For one of 100 examples, two rows of 80s style truckers caps sit on top of each other in the top corner of one wall. Beside it there’s a clock that looks like it’s come out of the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie. They’ve even got an old 70s style camper home beside the bowl that they rent for ¥1000 to friends and acquaintances visiting Niseko.
Yo, Nobu and their mates now spend their days skating, snowboarding, surfing, and catering to their range of regular customers of all ages, who want to eat, drink, skate and live life like it should be – full of friends, movement and good times.
If you manage to spare a half a day to check out Kutchan, spare a good few moments to hang out in the Loaf Lounge. It really is very, very cool!