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§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.