| Blog Home |

§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.