Sapporo Lion Ginza

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From the street, it's pretty unremarkable, just another Sapporo Lion beer hall with a display of plastic food in a big, modern building.

But stepping inside this place was a surprise. This beer hall was designed and built by Eizou Sugawara in 1934. It's gorgeous. It's an art deco cavern. At the far end, a tall bar made of German marble and flanked by five foot tall planters (no plants anymore, but the historic photos showed them brimming with foliage) is the hub of action. On the wall behind the bar a mosiaic of glass tiles depcits half-nude women harvesting wheat. Grapes hang above them and in the distance is a brewhouse.

The ceiling of the room is stone. Once white, it's been aged to a patchy, nicotine brown. But the discoloration doesn't diminish its beauty. The stone weeps in intricate layers of angular forms downwards, forming pointed archways and capping the green-tiled columns that support the ceiling.

The walls are covered in brown tile, with large glass mosaic still lifes between each column. It was apparently extremely challenging work to create the glass and the art; the restaurant's own description said it was done through trial and error. The experiment was successful--the mosaics are charming.

The lighting is delightful. Two rows of large, frosted glass globes etched with overlapping circles run down the center of the room. Attached to the angled part of each column, just above where the stone meets the tile, is a light fixture of extreme beauty. Six frosted glass globes--some white, others pale blue, rose or green--hang from a wooden armature that looks like a double cross. The hanging pieces are made of wooden cubes and plum-sized colored glass beads. It's a shining example of Arts & Crafts style.

The floors are tiled in blocks of colors that look like throw rugs. Pale green, bright blue, brick red, black and white dominate and all are pockmarcked and cracked. But considering that this building rode out the war and numerous earthquakes, a cracked floor is almost expected.

I'm kicking myself for not having my camera with me.

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