In conversation with founder, artist and traveler Hideotomo Kimura


As the owner of Suigian, what was your inspiration behind the venue?

It was anticipated that the Tokyo Olympics would draw a large number of people from all over the world to Japan. With the concept of inbound tourism gaining momentum, there was a collective focus on attracting attention in that direction. The Olympic Village was built in Nihonbashi, where Suigian is also located, and corporate sponsors were working to bring in more people and industry.

This is how Suigian found its place in the heart of Nihonbashi. Even before deciding to open this establishment, the question was, “What can we convey to the people who come here from all over the world?” In the lead-up to the Olympics itself, there were numerous attempts to highlight elements of Japanese culture, but often they ended up reflecting a more modernized view of Japan, creating a trend wherein it was challenging to find and experience authentic traditional aspects.

That’s when the idea struck me: “I want to show them the real Japan.” If someone simply wants to have a meal, there are plenty of delicious Japanese restaurants in Nihonbashi, so opening just another place to eat wouldn’t have made much of a difference. What I wanted at that time was to provide something unique and enjoyable, even if it couldn’t be fully experienced in that particular moment. From that perspective, I believed that experiences held more value than material objects. At Suigian, guests can dine while watching traditional performing arts, but the truth is, there wasn’t a single place in Japan where you could see genuine “traditional performing arts” every day like this.


In that sense, Suigian can be seen as a live house for traditional performing arts. In order to appreciate traditional Japanese performing arts, there are specific periods of time designated for performances, and once those weeks are over, you can no longer see them. The performances are only accessible to those who can attend during that next period.

Moreover, attending such performances can be time consuming and come with strict performance schedules that may not align well with the limited time frame visitors have in Japan—especially those who are only staying for a few days. Understanding these time constraints, at Suigian, we condensed the climactic scenes of these lengthy traditional performances into digestible acts of approximately 15 to 20 minutes performed by genuine actors.

By creating such immersive experiences and providing a place where Japan’s intangible cultural heritage of traditional performing arts can be witnessed daily, Suigian becomes a venue where various pleasures converge. We pay meticulous attention to every detail, from the food, drinks and tea to the tableware and interior decor. Through this, we introduce our guests to Japan by crafting a holistic experience for them.


Moreover, as an artist myself, Suigian itself is one of my own works of art. The meals we offer daily, which are presented as part of our artistic activities, can be seen as creations in and of themselves—not merely food and drink. I possess a deep desire and sentiment to conduct the restaurant business as an extension of my creativity and technical skills. I believe that everything, from the thoughtfulness given to tableware, the specially-curated background music I produced, the intricately designed chairs, and the overall ambiance of the restaurant are all forms of art. Thus, the daily operation of the restaurant, the culinary process, and everything related thereto are imbued with the spirit of creating new artistic pieces each day.

Can you give us an overview of the restaurant? 

Ultimately, my goal is for people to see, know and experience the “true Japan.” Every day, a diverse range of individuals visit Suigian. As they come to our establishment, many naturally feel inclined to wear traditional Japanese clothing, thereby immerse themselves in the essence of Japanese culture amidst the bustling metropolis of Tokyo.


Suigian offers a variety of plans and services tailored to meet the needs of international visitors. From our multilingual staff to accommodating cultural differences, we strive to provide a welcoming environment where guests can feel at ease. Through these efforts, we hope to create unforgettable memories for our guests, and to become a place that promotes cultural exchange and understanding.

Moreover, Suigian is often referred to as “Tokyo-esque” by cultural figures and individuals from the world of tradition. This means that it’s a blend of various elements, not purely traditional or purely modern, and attracts a diverse range of visitors, including those coming from overseas. It’s like a melting pot of cultures. Within this context, having daily performances of traditional Japanese performing arts is something unique to Tokyo. However, Suigian embraces new elements while giving utmost respect to the old.

What are the concepts and features of the cuisine?

The concept of Suigian revolves around the seasons. While it is common for other restaurants to have seasonal (spring, summer, autumn, winter) concepts as well, the significant difference between Suigian and other establishments lies in our incorporation of the concept of the 24 solar terms and 72 microseasons into the food and beverages menus. We closely follow the intricate mirco-seasonal changes in Japan, which occur every five days. In terms of duration, it may be shortlived or ephemeral, but there are few other places that actively pursue and make this a clear thematic focus.


Another unique feature that sets Suigian apart from other restaurants is our commitment to having our staff provide a detailed explanation of the seasonal menu to our customers. Our staff take great care in providing guests with detailed suggestions and explanations.

When hosting special lectures or performances as part of our events, we might incorporate ingredients related to those performances or collaborate with sake breweries using locally-sourced products. We constantly generate ideas and develop offerings based on the performances and their themes.

We believe it is the key for our customers to embrace and enjoy the presentation of the dishes we offer, which are tailored to the specific season. It is through this presentation that we hope to provide the utmost enjoyment and satisfaction.

You mentioned your collaboration with sake breweries, could you tell us more about the drinks at Suigian?

In my personal time, I lead a lifestyle akin to that of a traveler, and I strive to incorporate into Suigan the things I have encountered and been moved by. In Japan I visit sake breweries, and when I am abroad, I explore wineries. Since there are so many excellent alcoholic beverages in the world, I try to feature those that have left a lasting impression on me, while also nurturing the connections I have established during my visits. I personally take care of the procurement process, and we assemble our selection with the input and perspectives of our bartenders. Since I often acquire unique items during my travels, I have thought about creating an “Owner’s Souvenir Corner” in the restaurant someday.


What is Suigian’s message? 

Here at Suigian, almost every day we feature an essence of “traditional culture” that even Japanese people rarely encounter in their daily lives. That’s why this place is truly unique and offers numerous experiences that can only be found here. We want to convey that this is a place in Japan where unforgettable, special experiences can be had, and where there are many things that can only be seen by visiting Suigian.