This minimalist Japanese sake brewery conceals a zen secret garden

Yamaguchi Syuzou, designed by Koichi Futatusmata and Koichi Shimohira of Case real
Yamaguchi Syuzou, designed by Koichi Futatusmata and Koichi Shimohira of Case real. Photography: Hiroshi Mizusaki
(Image credit: Hiroshi Mizusaki)

Case Real has long been a front runner in designing functional workspaces, placing emphasis on the employees’ freedom to create. Recall its Japanese storehouse live-work conversion back in 2016, and its minimalist creations for similarly-minded brands like Aesop.

Now, the Fukuoka prefecture-based design and architecture firm has partially renovated the Yamaguchi Sake Brewery based in Kurume city. The traditional, cedar-beam property was constructed on the site in the early 1800s by Yamaguchi family ancestors, and it required the contemporary architectural thought of designers Koichi Futatusmata and Koichi Shimohira to bring it up to date.

Case Real sake brewery restoration, Japan


(Image credit: TBC)

‘The client wished to effectively use the courtyard between the aged main house and warehouse on the same premise, while maintaining the continuity of the two structures,’ the studio explains. ‘As a solution, we connected the two with a washed finished cement floor and stair, and by re-arranging the large opening of the lounge space in the main house, we created a closer connection between the buildings.’

Rice milling must be handled gently, and rooms must be kept at precise humidity levels. The new connective courtyard allows the delicate sake brewing process to flow more comfortably. The secret garden is sparsely ornamented by slim native trees, anchored by off-white pebbles. It offers a distinct, meditative area for brewers to unwind mid-shift.

Likewise, the new, dedicated lounge space is a zen environment, that recalls the structures history, while looking to its future. Walls are rendered in contemporary sweet-chestnut shades and vast windows fill the space with light. A characterful, polished stone flow recalls the structures early days, and original beams stand sturdy overhead; a reminder of the family’s longstanding sake brewing heritage.

Zen room overlooking courtyard with two trees

(Image credit: TBC)

Outside area of Yamaguchi Sake Brewery based in Kurume city with a row of trees

(Image credit: TBC)

Exterior of Yamaguchi Sake Brewery based in Kurume city with trees

(Image credit: TBC)

Exterior of Yamaguchi Sake Brewery based in Kurume city

(Image credit: TBC)

Yamaguchi Sake Brewery based in Kurume city

(Image credit: TBC)

Yamaguchi Sake Brewery based in Kurume city

(Image credit: TBC)

Yamaguchi Sake Brewery based in Kurume city

(Image credit: TBC)

Yamaguchi Sake Brewery based in Kurume city

(Image credit: TBC)

Yamaguchi Sake Brewery based in Kurume city

(Image credit: TBC)

Zen room in Yamaguchi Sake Brewery based in Kurume city with large windows overlooking a courtyard

(Image credit: TBC)

Concrete floors in Yamaguchi Sake Brewery based in Kurume city.

(Image credit: TBC)

Room with view of courtyard in the Yamaguchi Sake Brewery based in Kurume city

(Image credit: TBC)

Yamaguchi Sake Brewery based in Kurume city

(Image credit: TBC)

Exterior at dusk with lights on at the Yamaguchi Sake Brewery based in Kurume city

(Image credit: TBC)

Street view of Yamaguchi Sake Brewery based in Kurume city

(Image credit: TBC)

INFORMATION

For more information, visit the Case Real website (opens in new tab)

Elly Parsons is the Digital Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees Wallpaper.com and its social platforms. She has been with the brand since 2015 in various roles, spending time as digital writer – specialising in art, technology and contemporary culture – and as deputy digital editor. She was shortlisted for a PPA Award in 2017, has written extensively for many publications, and has contributed to three books. She is a guest lecturer in digital journalism at Goldsmiths University, London, where she also holds a masters degree in creative writing. Now, her main areas of expertise include content strategy, audience engagement, and social media.