With happiness of skiing and reverence for nature in my heart.

Former Mayor, Kutchan
ITO Hiroshi

ITO Hiroshi served as the mayor of Kutchan for 12 years since 1995. During his term of office, Hirafu had changed dramatically. He talks about his thoughts on skiing and memories during his service.

第46回、元 倶知安町長  伊藤 弘さん

I was born in Muroran, 1942. I love skiing since I could remember. I went to Kutchan high school by train from Nepp (now Kuromatsunai). The lifts of Hirafu were opened in my third year of high school. KIDA Yoshinari under one grade, came aboard the train I was riding in Rankoshi. I was not able to ski down the “Ni-kabe” very well at that time yet. KIDA overtook me often with outstanding skill of skiing. I thought jokingly that KIDA was younger than me but cheeky. He participated in the Innsbruck Olympic Games and the Grenoble Olympic Games Olympics later.

After graduating from high school, while I was going to a night college, I worked in Hokkaido prefectural government. I worked mainly with regard to fisheries. Even though I was out in the world, of course, I did not lose my passion for skiing. When I was a manager, I was encouraged to run for Kutchan mayor by various people. I thought that if I became the mayor of Kutchan, I could ski in Hirafu more frequently than now at the bottom of my heart. I can say now such a trivial reason was one of motives to run for the election.
When I became the mayor, I formed a “JAGATA Ski Team” in the town office. (“JAGA” means potato that is famous produce in Kutchan.) On the Internet was beginning to spread at that time; we sent the information of the ski team. Through it, we were able to interact with people outside of Hokkaido. I was known as the mayor of loving ski, so Kutchan became more famous. I always wore the jacket with the character of the town “JAGATA” on my back on the slopes. My handle name on the net was also “JAGATA”.

第46回、じゃが太君ジャケットを着た伊藤 弘さん(元 倶知安町長  )

No matter how much I build up stress in the office, skiing relieved me from it. I used to ski about 40 times in a year. I was looking forward to skiing with the torch of the new year. I was so crazy about ski that some officer might possibly be bored.

Hokkaido Takushoku Bank went bankrupt in November 1997. Hokuyo Bank was the main bank of St. Moritz Lifts company that was operating Alpen Lifts. However, since loans of Hokkaido Takushoku Bank in Hokkaido were transferred to Hokuyo Bank, Hokuyo Bank evaluated loans more strictly. St. Moritz Lifts company had been suffering from excessive debt through capital investment. I heard that assets of St. Moritz Lifts company might be seized.

The opening of the ski season of the year was just around the corner. If assets of St. Moritz Lifts company would be seized, the lifts could not be operated. And I concluded that cancellation of lift service adversely affect the economy of the town. Immediately I went to the head office of Hokuyo Bank (Sapporo), and I petitioned to continue operation of the lift. Eventually, Hokuyo Bank decided that they would restructure St. Moritz Lifts company. So we avoided difficulty. In the 21st century, the two lift companies, St. Moritz Lifts company and Niseko Kogen Kanko company, merged into the one company as Niseko Grand Hirafu. I think that the form of today is very good as a result.

I met a lot of people through skiing, and they got to know Kutchan. I was called “Mr. JAGATA” often on the slopes. They didn’t know I was the mayor, and I was their fellow who purely loves to ski. I used to guide après-ski, not to speak of the slopes. To increase the tourism from Australia, I visited Australia as part of the Visit Japan Campaign by Japanese government. I promoted actively the attractiveness of Hirafu to travel agencies and travel related companies.

When I got off the lift at 1000m-Daichi, blizzard was blowing. I did not see anything, did not know left from right, all of my sight was just pure white. In such conditions, I had to endure snowstorm alone. Then mountains, snow and nature awed me. I believe that people should always keep the feelings of reverence for nature. I am happy because I met skiing in my life.

The origin of the “town of ski” is inviting the plywood factory.

Former Mayor, Kutchan

MIYASHITA Yuichiro was deeply involved in opening of the lifts in December 1961, as a town official of Kutchan. He served three terms as the mayor since 1983. In the initial plan, the lifts were not for skiing, but for transportation of bamboo grass, raw material for plywood. The details are written in the 11th and 12th installment s in this series.

第45回、元 倶知安町長  宮下 雄一郎さん

In January 1959, TAKAHASHI Seikichi, the former chief of Shiribeshi branch office, was elected mayor of Kutchan for the first time. Mayor Takahashi created the planning office in the general affairs division for inviting companies and promoting tourism. I became the first chief of the planning office at 34 years of age. The mayor went in person for the invitation of Hokkaido fiberboards’ plywood factory. Raw material of the plywood is bamboo grass. I was accompanied to the mayor.

As a result of the effort, we succeeded in inviting the factory. Factory construction headquarters was established in the town office. Mayor Takahashi himself was appointed a chief of the headquarters.

Please read the 11th and 12th installments in this series about the background of changing the purpose of the lifts from the plywood factory to skiing. Miyashita was involved as a management staff of the 40th All Japan Ski Championship Alpine competition. The competition was an opportunity for the ski-lift installation in Hirafu. For more information about the competition, please read the 14th installment in this series.

The 40th All Japan Championship Alpine skiing competition, with honor of the attendance of Takamatsunomiya, was a major event since the beginning of the town. Mayor TAKAHASHI Seikichi became a chief of the competition management headquarters.

Clearing snow (for example, a distance of 4km between Hirafu station and the Hirafu ski area) and development of race courses were carried out in full cooperation of the SDF of Kutchan garrison. Shiribeshi branch officials and employees of Japan National Railways (now JR Hokkaido) served on the staff of competition management. They were playing a major part of Kutchan Ski Federation.

Anyway, even the snow removal of the national highway begun only two years before. Parking lots were only trod down without removing snow. Preparing for snow removal of the road, and arrange for power and telephone construction made me hectic. There was no precedent in all things, and we had no example at all.
That’s when we became able to drive cars easily in Kutchan downtown during the winter finally.

In the spring of the year when the competition was held, movement to realize a quasi-national park of Shakotan Niseko area begun. The movement was lead by town mayors of Kutchan, Kaributo (now Niseko) and Rankoshi. Shiribeshi branch office played a central part to set up Shiribeshi tourism liaison committee. Kutchan, Rankoshi, Kaributo, Iwanai, Shakotan, Furubira, Yoichi, Suttsu, Kimobetsu and Otaru were member towns of the committees. Then, Niseko-Shakotan-Otaru Kaigan Quasi-National Park was designated in July 1963. In Kutchan town office, the tourism section was promoted to the tourism division. I became the first chief of the tourism division.
In retrospect, in this time, tourism started to grow to be the key industry, along with the primary industries, in Kutchan.

Other memorable events are the National Sports Festival of skiing held in 1970 and 1986. I am particularly impressed with the event in 1986. Because I just became the mayor, and served as the vice chairman of the executive committee.

The town with only 20,000 populations held the National Sports Festival twice. That brought a lot of confidence and pride in residents and concerned persons.

§44 People makes Hirafu colorful (7)

From Hirafu to the Olympics!

Leader TERADA Masanori

OKOSHI Ryunosuke was born in Hirafu, is a leading alpine skier (slalom and giant slalom) aiming to take part in the next Winter Olympics in Sochi (2014). His family home is Pension Locomotion (1 Niseko Hirafu Izumikyo, 179 Yamada, Kutchan). TERADA Masanori who head “Niseko Hanazono ski racing team” has pulled out of his talent.

In the past, local junior high school, and high school had played a role in fostering competition skiers. However, in recent years, even in Kutchan, schools can’t train racing skier as well as other regions. So, he established the team in order to foster junior skiers with high goals in 1992.

第44回 ニセコ花園スキーレーシングチーム 寺田 政憲さん

I come from Aomori Prefecture, loved skiing since I was a child. I entered Nihon University, and I was a member of the Ski Club of the university. I experienced some jobs after my graduation from the university. And, I came to Hirafu in the 1980s, opened “Pension New White Bear” along the prefectural road No. 343.

An outset to establish “Niseko Hanazono ski racing team”, targeting from elementary school pupils to high school students, was my hope that my daughter grow together with local children. I wanted to appeal to children that you should have a goal as high as you compete in the Olympic Games, so you can be better and faster.

There had been a motion to train world-class skiers mainly by schools in Hirafu. However, in the early 1990s, the movement about to disappear. I, as people living in the region blessed with great mountain and snow, thought that I wanted to revive the movement. My wife, who was a member of the ski club of Nihon University, also thought the same.

As soon as I establish the team, about 40 children got together. My motto of coaching is “Act first, think later”. Children good at skiing may be arrogant. But true good skiers must have the gratitude to anyone and be humble. And parents’ meddling interferes with the progress of children’s skiing. While we are predicting the progress of a few years ahead of each child, we intend that the children acquire the basic skills. Short-term result, such as a winning of the next tournament, is not important.

第44回 ニセコ花園スキーレーシングチーム 寺田雪華 選手


Kutchan Ski Federation held the JOC Junior Olympic Cup in Hirafu three years in a row since 2001. Kutchan team was overall winner for two consecutive years.

In 2003 of the third year, the winner of men’s giant slalom was OKOSHI Ryunosuke and the winner of women’s giant slalom was TERADA Yuka. TERADA Masanori is her father. She entered the second place in slalom was awarded the Best Junior Olympic Cup for two consecutive years. She proceeded to Kutchan high school. She was awarded second place in the women’s slalom of alpine skiing national high school tournament in 2005.

Less strong winds, snow quality and diversity of slopes are major advantages of Hanazono ski area. This is the best environment to nurture the young talents. Because we are blessed with the cooperation of the ski resorts, and a lot of talented skiers come here. Because there are a lot of visitors from abroad, not only from Japan, the children are seen from many angles. Tension and motivation come from that make the children steadily stronger.

Niseko Hanazono Ski Racing Team

Pension New White Bear
170-43, Yamada, Kutchan
Tel.: 0136-23-2683

§43 People makes Hirafu colorful (6)

I met a completely new skiing in Whistler and my view of skiing was changed significantly.

President ODAJIMA Katsuhiko

In addition to snowboarding, there was another important movement in the 1990s in Hirafu. It was freestyle mogul skiing. ODAJIMA Katsuhiko run NISEKO 343 outdoor shop is a person of the people in its beginning.

第43回、NISEKO 343、小田島勝彦さん夫妻

I was born in Sapporo in 1951. I, the time of from junior high school to college student, had been devoted to alpine skiing. I had been a member of a ski club of Hokkai Gakuen University for four years. Sapporo Olympics (1972) was held during that time. A training camp at Sakae Ryokan at Hirafu Zaka in every skiing season was our annual event. Also other inns were crowded in camps of well-known companies and universities across Japan.

There was a practice worth, I won a prize in the competition in Hokkaido. Hokkaido student championship was held in Asahikawa and I came across a woman later become my wife. Even when I graduated from college, I was not satisfied with my skiing yet. I did not become a permanent employee that is hard to take a long vacation after graduation from college. So, I worked part-time to earn money for a trip. And, in order to obtain the conclusion of my own way to the skiing, I went to Whistler (Canada) alone. I met a completely new skiing there. Those experiences have significantly changed my view of skiing.

I saw people enjoying freestyle skiing on powder snow in Whistler. These styles are skiing that was called “hot dog” from the title of the movie with the theme of that kind of skiing later and skiing on fresh powder snow. Those skiing styles that were totally different from Japanese style had been opened my eyes. At that time in Japan, competing for time and accuracy of form were main style of skiing.

I was surprised that there was so free skiing. And I noticed that freestyle skiing was what I wanted to do. A few years after returning home, I bought a building of pension of Hirafu in 1979, opened Lodge Ronde.

YAMAZAKI Osamu became the representative of Japan’s first mogul skier for the 1992 Olympics in Albertville (France). He had been driven into the skiing while working at my lodge for a few seasons.

Many freestyle mogul skiers have stayed in my lodge. Because there was a reputation that many mogul skiers gathered to my lodge. I assembled a freestyle mogul team called “Niseko B & J” *1.

Freestyle mogul competition started almost from scratch in Japan. I became very obsessed that expand a new style of ski in Japan from Hirafu. Nearly 10 of my staff, was chosen a member of the national team, including my wife.

*1 YOSHIKAWA Sora, a member of Japanese national ski team, is an ex-member of the team. Currently, five skiers certified by Hokkaido Ski Federation are member of the team.

In April 1991, Odajima and colleagues held a “Super Bumps Niseko Cup”, the first mogul skiing tournament in Hirafu. The women’s winner of the first tournament is SATOYA Tae who was junior high school first-year student. Later, she won the gold medal at the 1998 Nagano Olympics. The men’s winner is ITO Atsushi, the manager of Niseko 343, is ex-coach of National Mogul Team. The tournament brings other remarkable skiers into the world. NAKAMOTO Katsuya, the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics contestant, is one of them.

Absolutely not now, in the 1980s, there was a struggle because the ski resorts did not understand freestyle mogul. Slopes became suitable for mogul skiing at last. However, as soon as the ski patrols found moguls, they removed it. This had been repeated many times. Now ski resorts and us are getting together, that is a nostalgic story.

170, Yamada, Kutchan
Tel.: 0136-23-0343

§42 People makes Hirafu colorful (5)

You can enjoy the charm of the snowboard by fine powder snow of Hirafu.

Japan Snowboarding Association authorized MOTHER GOOSE
Director KIMURA Seiko

In the mid-1990s, the boom of snowboarding had come rapidly.
On weekends, a lot of tourists from the mainland and a lot of young snowboarders with brand new snowboard from Sapporo and its surroundings came to Hirafu. Adoption of snowboard as official events (giant slalom, half pipe) for Nagano Winter Olympic Games (1998) had become a powerful tailwind to spread snowboard. KIMURA Seiko was born in Kutchan. In 1998, she opened a snowboard school authorized by Japan Snowboarding Association (JSBA) in Hirafu.

第42回、マザーグース、木村 聖子さん

KIMURA Seiko(Front Left) and Members of Junior Team

Of course the winter play was skiing in the days of a child. For children were born and raised in Kutchan, in winter there is no play other than skiing. When snowboard began to attract attention, I wanted to do things other than skiing and I tried snowboard. I became crazy about snowboarding immediately.
I learned the basics of snowboarding at SEKI Noriaki’s authorized snowboard school in Rusutsu Resort (Rusutsu, Abuta).
I became more addicted to snowboarding; I took a certification of authorized instructor soon. And I became a snowboard instructor. Before long, replacing Mr. Seki, I became a director of the school.
After about seven years, I opened the snowboard school “Mother Goose” authorized by Japan Snowboarding Association (JSBA) back in Hirafu.

First, I was intended to set snowboarding solidly in place in my hometown by teaching the basics of snowboard as well as the basics of human being. So, I am also focusing on the following three attitudes. You must take good care of your equipment. Even a child must carry one’s baggage by oneself. You must say hello in a good manner. The better you improve your snowboarding, the more you can enjoy the charm of the snowboard by fine powder snow of Hirafu.

I have been committed to snowboarding for beginners have a good time anyway. So, I called the school “Mother Goose” without a sporty image. We are instructing beginners to be able to turn as soon as possible, without regard to small things. Even if beginners can turn, they can enjoy snowboarding. Anyone should want to improve naturally by feeling pleasure of snowboarding.

Children of Kutchan shape the future of Hirafu. So I established a junior team named “Jaga Borders” in the school. (“Jaga” means potato that is Kutchan’s famous produce.) The junior team brought up WATANABE Daisuke who is trying to participate for Sochi Olympic Games (2014, Russia).

Shortly after the school has opened, I noticed that running the school is not merely business in slope of my hometown, but also I have duty to contribute to Hirafu and Kutchan. And I am discussing about Hirafu and Kutchan with people of lodging and lift companies; I also took part to Junior Chamber. I think I am participating more deeply in the town where I was born and raised.

Japan Snowboarding Association authorized MOTHER GOOSE
5, Minami 4, Kutchan
Tel.: 0136-23-3173

§41 People makes Hirafu colorful (4)

I love skiing so much; at last I married into a guest house in Hirafu.



I was born and raised in Hakodate. I loved sports and nature from childhood. After getting employed, I began in earnest to ski. Some skiers competed in National Sports Festival, because a ski club of a company was very active. I was invited to ski from my friend of the ski club for the first time. I had been thinking that skiing is not so difficult. Contrary to my expectations, I couldn’t ski well. So I felt a little frustrated.

At the time, Niseko had become a mecca for skiers, because lifts had been just installed. Members of the ski club went to ski in Niseko every year. At first, I was not allowed to go to Niseko, because I was still a beginner of skiing. I was finally allowed to accompany three years later.
We left Hakodate by a night train, got off at Hirafu station early in the morning. We arrived at the station more than two hours before departure of bus to Hirafu ski area. Because we wanted to ski as soon as possible, without waiting for the departure of the bus, we walked toward the ski area from the station. At that time, we including women had to carry our own tools of skiing by ourselves. On the way back from the ski area to the station, we moved on foot and ski.

I was a repeat guest of Yamada Onsen and Boyoso. Through interaction with local people, I met Urano whom I would marry later. Urano family was farmer in Hirafu. And his family had been managing one guest house of seven guest houses that were opened at the same time as opening the ski lifts. The guest house was opened as “Minshuku Urano” and that was renamed to “Hakuunso” in 1964. I married him more than 10 years after I met him. In the meantime, I traveled around the world because I wanted to know about skiing and ski areas much more. I joined the tour of Europe and Canada In 1971. At that time, travel abroad for skiing was not yet common in Japan. I discovered that all skiers enjoy skiing freely in oversea ski areas. I felt that textbook skiing is more important than enjoying ski freely in Japan.

In 1973, I had a heli-skiing in Canada. I was refused to get on a helicopter by ski patrol, because fresh snow made it too difficult to ski for women. She said with a laugh that as a result of my negotiation with the patrol, finally I succeeded to get on the helicopter. Resolute attitude of the ski patrol remains in my memory even now. Reasonable access to lodges impressed me too.

Compared with the various ski resorts, I noticed the advantages and disadvantages of Hirafu. In the early 1970s, there was not after-ski leisure in Hirafu. As soon as I married and became a resident of Hirafu, we opened a Japanese style pub. I was thinking we would make facility not enough little by little in this area and would become a pioneer. Because at that time there was almost no pastime in summer, we made tennis courts. I think that our efforts became an opportunity of opening various shops after that.

30 years later, Hirafu have become the town with skiing as well as various amusements. Many people are coming all the way to Hirafu to enjoy the après-ski from other ski resorts of Niseko.

My husband passed away, but now our son has inherited his wishes. I feel that a bright future awaits my son’s generation, just like when I began to live in Hirafu. Because Hirafu is rapidly evolving again in the last 10 years.

§40 People makes Hirafu colorful (3)

I have been enjoying every minutes of my life in Hirafu.

Izakaya SAKAE
SAKAI Masayuki

第40回 居酒屋さかえ・阪井 正行さん

SAKAI Masayuki, his grandchild, his wife: Sada (R to L)

From 1968 until 2007 I had owned “Sakae Ryokan”, a Japanese inn. We, my wife and me, are running “Izakaya” Sakae”, a Japanese style pub now.

I launched myself into a chef of Japanese food at 18-year-old time in Sapporo. I took a cooking license. And worked as a chef in various parts of Hokkaido. When I had been working in Hakodate, was invited as a chef in the “Taisetsukaku” of Hirafu. I decided to work in “Taisetsukaku” in 1965.

I worked for about three years in “Taisetsukaku”. I got married at the age of 29. At the same time, I raised the money somehow and opened “Sakae Ryokan” with 8 rooms in Hirafu. It was in 1968, and seven years had passed since lifts had been established in Hirafu. However, the infrastructure such as electricity and roads were not almost ready yet. The number of accommodation was small. Hirafu at that time was far from a ski resort.

Lift and lodging companies established “Society for the Promotion of Hirafu ski area.” We paid our dues. In this society, we talked a lot of things to improve Hirafu. We not only talked, but also took actions. We inspected the other ski resorts. We created brochures for Hirafu.

I was a professional of Japanese cuisine. So, I aimed to serve the best Japanese cuisine in Hirafu at my inn. On the other hand, staffs of other inns and me had authentic Japanese cuisine tasting events.
In Hirafu, we needed to make everything from scratch. So, in order to give prosperity to our business in Hirafu, it was necessary to work together with local inn owners.
But since opening my inn, the management was severe for five or six years.

National Sports Festival was held in 1970, athletes of Aomori Prefecture, stayed in my inn. So, Aomori people knew my inn, and a lot of guests came from Aomori. A few years later, airlines began selling the package for ski touring. And ski boom came. Business finally began to take off.

The mid-1980s, the ski package tour seemed to be sold best. Like every year, Kogen lift company and Alpen lift company had been competing to adding lifts. There was a really lively.
I think that inns must have person-to-person relations to guests. After the ski boom, inns without such relations had hard times. Our repeat guests are friendly with each other. They organized the Hirafu ski club. The club is working even now.

At the time I came to Hirafu, I had only a little experience of skiing. No matter how busy I was, I decided to ski once a day. As a result, I became enthusiastic about skiing more and more. I had a lot of good models of skiers in Hirafu. I took the ski official approval first grade before long.

I had managed my inn for 40 years. When buildings of my inn must be fully renewed, I decided to close my inn. Because, I thought that it is time to live a slower-paced life. When we were young, we worked hard together. Then I sold the land of my inn. I built a Japanese style pub and residential building near the land of the inn. In the winter, We open daily except shop holidays. However, in the summer, we open only when there is reservation or order.

We have 4 children and 5 grandchildren. All are living in Kutchan. So we are lucky. The third son is running a soup curry shop in Hirafu.

§39 People makes Hirafu colorful (2)

At last I has reached Hirafu.

Owners of Izakaya Bang-Bang and Bang2
SAITO Masanobu, Toshiko

There are so many people who come over in Hirafu. SAITO Masanobu has come in the 1970s. He is an owner of popular Izakaya Bang-Bang and Bang2.


I am from Kyushu in southern Japan. I continued the journey to the north to the north, at last, has reached Hirafu.

In 1976, I came to Hirafu for the first time. YAMAMOTO Yukio opened “Yukiyama Sanso” in the same year. I came to Hirafu to learn ski. For me, improve of my skiing was the most interesting. Because people gathered from various areas, I was feeling fresh every day.

I hoped that I would continue to live in Hirafu, but I decided to travel to Europe at last. My purpose of going to Europe was to learn foreign languages and food, wine. I studied in Birmingham (UK), Paris and Burgundy etc.

After about four years, I went back to Hirafu. I lived in England and France in those four years. Immediately after my return to Hirafu, I was thinking trying to open a pension in Hirafu. However, due to the increase in pensions at a rate of more than my expectations, oversupply of pensions was expected. On the other hand, there weren’t many drinking spots in Hirafu as before. So I came up to begin the Bang-Bang tavern.

He married with Toshiko whom had been acquainted with in Hirafu before heading out to Europe. “We were as busy as bees at the time of opening Bang-Bang.” Toshiko recalls. “Skiers came in the evening and employees of hotels and pensions came in the night. However, we were troubled with their having stayed until the midnight. But it was good for our business” she says with a smile.

People who live in Hirafu only for business are increasing. We are not so, but we opened Bang-Bang to live and to ski in Hirafu.
Because I love skiing, ski-loving employees get together naturally. Some employees, such as a telemark skier Takanashi Yutaka who is running his own shop now, have decided to live in Hirafu.

I have talked to many customers as possible. A little conversation may give a good impression to our customers. “I have been thinking of going elsewhere, but I came back again,” some customers said to me the next year. Such an episode makes me very happy.

Now I am late 50s, I can be more myself than when I was young in both the business way and my life. A variety of experience and a number of travels may have brought a positive effect on me now. Two of us are looking forward to futures of our life and Hirafu.

Niseko Bang-Bang
188-24, Yamada, Kutchan
TEL: 0136-22-4292

§38 People makes Hirafu colorful (1)

After all, I returned to my hometown.

Owner of GRAUBUNDEN, shop of snack and sandwiches

Watanabe Junko runs GURAUBUNDEN in Hirafu. Her father is Okawa Jinkichi. He was the first director of Hirafu lift office that opened by Niseko Kogen Kanko in 1961.


When I was 1 year old, our family of five, moved to Hirafu from Kanagawa Prefecture in autumn 1961. So, my hometown is Hirafu.

From childhood, I was playing with skiing in the winter. When I was a junior high school, airlines began to sell ski tour packages. These TV ads and magazine ads were being deployed spectacularly every year. Third year of junior high school, I appeared as one of the skiers in ads for the first time in life. Then I appeared in many ads. With such experience in advertising field, I was interested in making ads. I loved fashion, so I aimed to become a stylist.

After graduating from high school, I went to Tokyo. I attended vocational school to become the stylist. When there is no lesson, I worked in the office of stylists who had come to work in Hirafu. After graduating from vocational school, I joined a company. 5 years experience in the company, I became independent.

Eventually, I came to meet the request of a very exciting new advertising production. At last I was asked a stylist for advertising ski tour packages. When I was a teenager has appeared in advertising as a skier, now joined as a stylist behind the scenes. I was not only a skier but also a stylist.

I met my husband as a work colleague. My teenage dream was to create a major corporate advertising, together with excellent photographers and art directors. The dream came true, and I had a satisfying working life. But I thought in the mind that someday I married and produce children, quit this glamorous job, and will return to the Hirafu,

I married at age 24, and I declared to my husband that I want to go back to Hokkaido someday! However, my husband moved to Hokkaido before me. He was employed as opening stuff of Annupuri Nikko Hotel (now Niseko Northern Resort Annupuri) opened in 1985.

In late 1990, we opened Graubunden in Izumikyo. At that time, in Hirafu, opening of a new pension began to increase. However, there were very little casual fashionable shops. So I thought we open a cozy shop for skiers. The name of the shop comes from the state name of St. Moritz (Graubünden, Switzerland) that is a sister city of Kutchan. My father contributed the sister city partnership in 1964. Because I love my father was anxious to give the store a name associated with St. Moritz.

Even after I opened the shop, if requested by the company in Tokyo, I went to Tokyo as before. I have concentrated on the management of the shop from February 1994. Thereafter, I increased the menu of sweets and products little by little.

Now, a lot of skiers and snowboarders visit to our shop from the world including Japan. Two children of ours are living freely and easily in this town. Our eldest son, Daisuke, is competing in the snowboard cross world competition.

I wish my father had seen our family and our town of the present.

132-26, Yamada, Kutchan
Tel: 0136-23-3771

Comments on the 50th anniversary

I thanks to people who have cooperated in the publications of “A History of Powder Skiing in Niseko”.


Climbing a mountain with minimal tools, gliding with only the force of gravity are sports that make people be creative. I have interviewed dozens of people for “A History of Powder Skiing in Niseko”. In those days, I was realizing such a definition of skiing and snowboarding again.

I have covered the local history dating back to the sulfur mine and Colonel Lerch. And I have been thinking that skiing makes Hirafu remarkable place.

Having a theme of skiing, this history of Hirafu is not just relics of the past but link the past to the future organically. I think the story is almost like a living thing to breath and grow.
Writing this book will be worth a lot to me forever.

I give a special thanks to everyone on the publication committee gave me this opportunity and to all people for their cooperation.

December 17, 2011
Nonfiction Writer