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§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