Ryozo Kuze, the founder and president of St. Cousair, was born in 1950 and raised in Tokyo.
Growing up in a big city, Ryozo started going to Shinshu (Nagano) for sking. Since he was a young boy, Ryozo often visited the Shiga Kogen area to ski, and even became a competitive skier in his college days.
After graduating from Keio University, Ryozo started working at a major supermarket, where he was in charge of the grocery section for one year. Looking back on those days, he says, “I learned product management by listening to customers’ complaints.”
He then spent three years helping his father’s foreign food production company as a salesman. Tokyo in the 1970s was in the midst of rapid economic growth, and with the rush of commuting on trains, air pollution, and the exhaustion of daily sales work, Ryozo gradually began to think of the great natural setting of Shinshu. He convinced to his father, who was the president of the family business, to let him take charge of business development in resort areas, such as ski areas, believing that they had great potential for market growth. Ryozo went to Shiga Kogen and the Hakuba ski resort hotels, resort restaurants, and ski lodges, which were becoming very popular at the time. As he visited hotels and lodges, he came to admire the lifestyle of lodge owners.
Ryozo’s dream of running a ski lodge in Nagano’s Madarao Kogen gradually developed, and it took him a year to convince his father. Finally, in 1975, he was able to pursue his dream and open a lodge for skiers in Madarao Kogen. He named it “Pension Kuze.”
Ryozo’s culinary training began as an apprentice cook at the Toyo restaurant in Nihonbashi for six months. He worked in the kitchen, served customers, and cleaned up all by himself, and it was a dizzying experience. (Continue to Chapter 1)