Archives: 2012年2月

§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.

第39回、Bang-Bang、齊藤正信さん、敏子さん夫妻

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
http://www.niseko.or.jp/bangbang/

§38 People makes Hirafu colorful (1)

After all, I returned to my hometown.

Owner of GRAUBUNDEN, shop of snack and sandwiches
WATANABE Junko

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.

第38回、グラウビュンデン、渡辺淳子さん

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.

GRAUBUNDEN
132-26, Yamada, Kutchan
Tel: 0136-23-3771
http://graubunden.jp/wp/