§18. Hirafu became famous for ski

February, 1963, Sapporo city ran for the Winter Olympics site. From
January of the next year through February, inspection team is
dispatched to the Winter Olympics held in Innsbruck, Austria by
Hokkaido and Sapporo-shi, Hokkaido ski league. Town mayor of Seikiti
Takahashi of Kucchan town joined inspection team, too. Inspection team
stayed at famous Swiss Saint Moritz for 4 days as winter resort. We
come into contact with the Mayor of St.Moritz to present by picture
postcard or badge of NISEKO, and town mayor of Takahashi opens on way
to sister city tie-up (December, 1964).

 From the early days of the Showa era, Hirafu was named “Oriental
St.Moritz”. With the opportunity, Prince Chichibu which loved mountain
and ski in 1928 was that it was climbed Niseko An’nupuri with ski.
Because the St.Moritz Winter Olympics were just held in this year,
newspaper published entry called “St.Moritz of the Far East”. The
St.Moritz Winter Olympics were the Winter Olympics that Japan let
player participate for the first time.

 Mr.Katumi Sawada which ran SAWADA sports shop in Otaru city was
born in Kimobetu town in 1945. When lift performed the opening of
business (1961) in Hirafu, he played an active part in Kucchan
agricultural high school skiing club. “Strong player like oneself was
able to go to school thanks to camp and expedition only for around two
days for the skiing season”. to he talked while laughing.

 From junior high student to adult, various skiing club came over to
Yamada hot spring of Hirafu, Koikawa hot spring, Konbu hot spring for
camp. When Kucchan Schanze (60m grade) was completed in Asahigaoka
skiing area southern aspect in summer of 1964, the popularity of
“Hirafu” rose still more.

 We mentioned ski boom that began in the whole country, but, in the
case of Hirafu, the leading role was players of ski competition along
with general skier last time. Sawada found a job in woodwork company of
Sapporo after graduation from high school and, with the goal of Sapporo
Olympics (1972) participation, entered skiing club. From the Niseko
neighborhood, skiing player of four participated in the Sapporo
Olympics, but unfortunately participation of Mr.Sawada did not come
“I left company after the Olympic Games and began sports shop in Otaru
city”. Before and after Sapporo Olympics, ski population increased

bk081.jpg  In March, 1966, Kucchan town assembly decides ski national polity
invitation of 1970. It mentioned before that there were lack of
accommodations and undeveloped traffic access, problem of the snow
removing system at the time of the lift opening of business.
Public-private action that we gave was started for solution to these

§17. The first ski boom

 In the NISEKO outskirts blessed with various nature which mountain
and the sea wove, the value was recognized and was appointed in
prefectural park in 1950. Association of NISEKO outskirts tourism
development starts in September, 1958, and promotion campaign to
quasi-national park begins.

 As a result of earnest action, quasi-national park of NISEKO,
Shakotan, Otaru Beach reported in becoming council for natural park in
April, 1962. Shiribeshi sightseeing communication meeting started led
by Shiribeshi branch in May. Constitution member of Shiribeshi
sightseeing communication meeting was Kucchancho, Rankoshi-cho,
Kaributo-cho( existing NISEKO town), Iwanaicho, Shakotancho,
Furubiracho, Yoichicho, Suttsucho, Kimobetsu-cho, 10 cities, towns and
villages of Otaru-shi. In June, sightseeing section was founded by
Kucchancho government office. And, in July, 1963, the park was promoted
to NISEKO Shakotan Otaru Beach quasi-national park. It may be said that
such history is the history that sightseeing is placed as local key
industry to equal primary industry.


 The first Olympics in Asia were held in Tokyo in October, 1964. In
the world of ski, the first full-scale boom comes in these days.

 In year of the HIRAFU opening of business, magazine “Weekly Heibon”
(Heibon publication) of November, 1961 publication “were there ski
preparations of you?” Article titled to was placed.


 It means that general people came to ski that person and students
whom it climbs that this skis were often found. In monthly magazine
“Taiyo” (Heibon company) of 1965, special feature titled “invitation to
ski” was published. Reportage by Yuichiro Miura who glided in Tateyama
and European skiing area information for Japan Alps were placed in this
special feature. In addition, practical use articles such as “ski
school of mother and child”, “A to Z of ski article” which “shot family
skiing at 8 millimeters” were placed.

 In such a heat over skiing, HIRAFU skiing area gradually raised presence, too.

§16. Early slope maintenance

 Slope maintenance just after the opening of business would be what kind
of thing. By all-Japan ski championship Alpen tournament held in March,
1962, cooperation of the Self-Defense Forces was indispensable for
course maintenance and the snow removing.


 Because there was not yet slope maintenance car, person carried out
course maintenance of all-Japan ski championship Alpen tournament.
Group of around 20 people who put on ski trod down on wall of the
second lift. Tool to use for competition was carried in horse sleigh
from Hirafu Station to venue. In addition, communication between start
and goals used electric wire not radio.

 Then how would about everyday slope maintenance. “Slope was hardened
naturally by skier”. Shinichiro Satake in charge of vehicle at the time
of to, the opening of business recollects. Because “there were many
good skiers, in Hirafu, lump of similar form was formed naturally”. 」

 It was 1968 seven years after the opening of business that slope
maintenance was mechanized. The domestic first slope maintenance car
which Ohara ironworks of Niigata joined in a technical tie-up with Swiss
maker and developed was deployed in Hirafu.
“Person in charge of slope maintenance got up at 2:00 a.m. or 3:00
before lift worked and maintained by slope maintenance car”. Because
there was not slope maintenance in the 1960s, work increased in
comparison with that time. 」

02ラトラックニセコ高原 008.jpg

 Let’s correct talk at the time of the opening of business. Satake
talks. Because “there was not night service of lift, service of lift
was finished at 5:00 in the evening”. During season, office work
director and most staff stayed overnight at office. Staff played a game
exclusively and spent night. Many people visited office for game. 」

§15. Lift which was cultural shock

“deficit for opening of business around three years”, about business
results in the first year of NISEKO KOGEN KANKO company which installed
real ski lift in NISEKO for the first time, Okawa Shusaku says. “Anyway
there are only some people buying daily ticket”. Because at first
person of then Hokkaido climbed ski by oneself, we learned. There were
few ideas that we paid money and climbed in lift

 In Yamamoto Yukio which was local eighth grader (is HIRAFU now
snowy mountains mountain cottage owner, association of Telemark skiing
honor director in Japan) “the first lift was 60 yen, and, about lift
once ride, the second lift was 40 yen”. Because they were more
expensive than one cup of ramen (approximately 40 yen), all junior high
student and the high school students climbed by oneself. We say only
the last if we glide with another three times of skis when it was
feeling to say to step on lift.


 ”There is lift, and Machihata Morisada which successively held
Director sightseeing section manager and inhabitants of Kucchancho
later (now care old man protective institution “ROKKAEN” office
manager) says when at first we were surprised more that then townsman
is pleased”. Lift was very unusually epoch-making advanced facilities.
It is the next month of the lift opening of business that there was
Rope Tow in ASAHIGAOKA skiing area where local children got close to
ski every day. In other words to climb mountain by power of machine was
novel event.
 It was skier from the town outside to play a key role of the lift
use, but traffic access was inconvenient with undevelopment as having
mentioned this before. The main force of traffic at that time was
railroad. Motorization of Hokkaido advanced later, and car visitors
increased rapidly. However, it is October, 1962 that INAHO Tunneler of
National highway No. 5 was inaugurated. What was paved from Jozankei of
Sapporo of National highway No. 230 to Nakayama Pass had to wait until



changes name of skiing area to “NISEKO HIRAFU skiing area” at the
time.) that started service of lift on Sunday, December 17 Japanese
National Railways (existing Hokkaido Railway) started service of
semi-express train NISEKO as train for skier on Saturday and Sunday a

 The 40th all-Japan ski championship Alpen competition that was a
chance to have lift on March 9, 1962 finally began. It was the memorable
first national convention that we did on the stage of HIRAFU which
occupied position that was important to history of Japanese ski till

 For short run-up, skiing area of HIRAFU served as heavy
responsibility of championship holding. However, after the championship
end, some problems were pointed out. The one was lack of the
accommodations in HIRAFU district. Most a great number of people of
hotel guest of HIRAFU district at that time did not reach 200 people.
For championship, seven farmhouses formed private home providing meals
and lodging hastily, but were not lodged championship all concerned.
Therefore many people stay at Kutchan city and will go to championship
meeting place.


 Furthermore, traffic access to skiing area was undeveloped, too.
Maintenance and the snow removing of road of steep slope are
insufficient, and operated bus often stacks in those days. Scene that
passenger pushed bus with all the members was seen. Tomio Okawa who is
the eldest son of Manager Niseko Kogen Kanko Jinkichi Okawa Co., Ltd.
recollects such times when it lasted several years since the opening of
business with nostalgia.
At the time of “Snowstorm, bus cannot move just before skiing area”.
Passenger gets off bus with practiced state and overwhelms bus. When
bus begins to finally work, we leave passenger and go earlier.
(laughter) that handed ski which driver looked very sorry when
passenger caught up with bus which arrived, and was loaded onto bus to

February, 1961, Hokkaido fiberboard Co., Ltd. was established in
Kutchan. Parent company of the company was Nitto merchant ship Co.,
Ltd. of major shipping line. Takenaka Osamu acting as the president of
the two companies investigates the Niseko Weisshorn(1046m) outskirts
with engineer for resources investigation into CHISHIMAZASA in March.


 Ahead of this investigation, Okawa Shusaku which was development
study engineer of fiberboard plant repeated original survey in the
Niseko An’nupuri(1308m) whole area from Niseko Weisshorn. Okawa Shusaku
is younger brother of office work director Okawa Jinkichi of NISEKO

 Okawa Risaku which was father of Okawa brothers was famous in field
of paper manufacture technology and pulp production technology. He
presided over OKAWA research institute after the war and acted as
technology consultant of paper mill of each place. All the brothers
were the paper manufacture, engineers of pulp who worked with this
father. Okawa family was noble family of the field that produced many
talented people in Meiji, the Taisho era, Showa and Japanese paper
manufacture, pulp world. Extension of the paper manufacture technology
included development of fiberboard production technology with
CHISHIMAZASA as raw materials.

 Okawa Shusaku which investigated NISEKO mountain range for
exploitation of resources of CHISHIMAZASA throughout was vested in the
mountaineering club during attendance at school in Chuo University
university graduates of old system. He was young man in his 30s who
loved mountain and ski very much. Hokkaido fiberboard company assumed
the collection ground of raw materials Niseko Weisshorn at first and
planned that we installed ropeway there. In contrast, we accuse that we
install lift in the HIRAFU side person concerned with skiing of
federation of Hokkaido ski and Kutchan aims at holding of held
all-Japan ski championship Alpen competition in March in the next year,
and to make ski course for competitions. Okawa Shusaku understood their
thought enough, too.

 Shusaku affected the establishment and business development of
NISEKO KOGEN KANKO Co., Ltd. which was lift operator deeply and
investigated the mountain range whole area with own ski to every
corner. Three places of lift business plans were announced in NISEKO
mountain range from NISEKO KOGEN KANKO Co., Ltd. at the time of the
establishment by such an investigation. HIRAFU lift that the one became
the NISEKO’s first ski lift. Two more were CHISE lift, NISEKO lifts
(Japan National Railways mountain lodge course).


 This business plan that Hokkaido fiberboard company to prepare
fiberboard appointed CHISHIMAZASA which grew wild as raw materials was
forced to cancellation by NISEKO mountain range by rise of import goods
which conflicted.

 On the other hand, another plan to change area greatly was pushed
forward at the same time in HIRAFU. It is holding of all-Japan ski

 It was arranged informally that the 40th all-Japan ski championship
Alpen competition was held in HIRAFU in March, 1962. In the all-Japan
ski league technology governing board which performed field work in
May, 1961, course of ski was perfect, but did holding with reservation
for the reason of there not being lift for skis. HIRAFU was famous in
Japan as skiing area from the Taisho era, but it was natural in those
days that there was not lift because it climbed mountain by oneself,
and it skied. Without lift, we were not able to hold long-awaited great

 Federation of Hokkaido ski and Kucchancho requested that they
converted cableway for CHISHIMAZASA export that the company planned to
President Takenaka Osamu of Nitto merchant ship Co., Ltd. which was
parent company of Hokkaido fiberboard company into lift for skis
immediately. The Takenaka president is wise decision by construction of
lift for this demand on acceptance, June 8 for skis. On June 24, we
started NISEKO KOGEN KANKO Co., Ltd. which was operator of lift. To
local person in charge, Ookawa Jinkichi of OOKAWA Institute which we
investigated for fiberboard factory construction started for its new
post. This is the origin of today’s GRAND HIRAFU. As for the lift,
design was changed to carry person, and setting construction was
started immediately. (December 17, 1961), two lifts were completed six
months later.

ニセコ高原観光大川仁吉氏.jpg By the way, we were why, and Takenaka Osamu, president of Nitto
merchant ship Co., Ltd. decided advance to skiing area management that
was different type of industry of field at all with both marine
transportation and fiberboard production, and it would be possible that
we could complete lift for skis in period when there was a few. Story
hidden HIRAFU in lies there.


 NISEKO KOGEN HIRAFU skiing area (in existing GRAND HIRAFU), two lift (extension 1,020m) was completed for the first time, and, on December 17, 1961, opening ceremony was practiced.) However, in fact, lift of HIRAFU was not thing planned as institution of skiing area at first. Then it would be lift for what.


 At the end of 1950s, fiberboard manufacturing facility of Japanese fiber Angle Kogyo Corporation was in Iwanaicho, Hokkaido. With fiberboard, we mixed fiber of wood with adhesive, and heat was synthetic board to mold, and there were various uses from thing that it was homogeneous, and was easy for processing. The company had advanced technology to produce fiberboards to raw materials in CHISHIMAZASA where it grew so as to be said to be inexhaustible in this area.

 Hokkaido fiberboard Co., Ltd. was established for capital 10 million yen in 6, Kucchancho volost (plot with Kutchan climate building), and, in February, 1961, construction of new factory began to plan increase in production of fiberboard. And large-scale lift will be set up to carry out CHISHIMAZASA growing wild in NISEKO mountain range into the foot of a mountain.

 However, overseas cheap competitive products came to be imported during factory construction in large quantities, and construction of factory was canceled. However, setting of lift planned for the purpose of raw materials transportation will be realized for different purposes.

 By the way, will imagination point out what kind of thing fiberboard was used for? It will be that memory includes person knowing TV of about 1960. In fact, it is ceiling of TV. Board which some small holes opened was made by fiberboard.


 April 17, 1912. Lerch and others party left hotel at 6:00 a.m. Fall wind is strong, and some snow which fell at midnight are piled up. We arrived at office of Ezo Fuji mountain climbing society through in front of fourth elementary school (existing HIRAFU Elementary School). Member is 11 people including guide of mountain climbing society or reporter of Otaru newspaper. Weather did not improve, and sleet was mixed in StormWind.


 Party climbs slow slope with one line zigzag. They arrive at the third stage (550m above sea level) smoothly at 10:00 a.m. However, at the fourth stage, they take off ski and will trail them because snow is firm, and slope became steep. They arrived for fifth stage and a half at 11:00 a.m. However, we judged that further skiing was impossible because point became steep slope more from there. We left ski there and decided to climb with one Staff. When we finally reached the sixth stage, it was noon.

 In the top, slope such as precipice stood in the way more from the seventh stage, and Snowstorm as we could not open eyes attacked. In that way reporter Okuya and others of Otaru newspaper gave voice when we appeared in flat place at last when “it was top”. Party was pleased with success of the climbing. However, staying long is impossible by this bad weather. We ordered that lieutenant colonel descended a mountain immediately to them.


 It is 5:40 p.m. that we put on ski again at spot of fifth stage and a half leaving ski, and exhausted party arrived at mountain climbing fair office. This is the first-ever Mount Yotei ski mountaineering.


 For history of ski of NISEKO, mountaineering of Lerch and others was event with extremely important value.


 Katsumi Sanbe first lieutenant of the 25th TSUKISAMU regiment, Matsukura Gisuke first lieutenant, Nakazawa Jihei second lieutenants participated in ski class in Asahikawa (Hokkaido) by Lerch lieutenant colonel from Sapporo. In March, 1912 when they came back from Asahikawa, they hold class in TSUKISAMU parade grounds in order to spread ski technology of Lerch art handed down directly in Sapporo. Student and teacher of northeastern empire University agricultural college (existing Hokkaido University), general people participated in this in addition to regiment officers, too. This is the source of history of full-scale skiing of Sapporo. Step of Hokkaido University BUNBU society skiing club which became the whole country’s first student skiing club began from here.

 We mention this later history of Hokkaido University skiing club with the other article. At first let’s introduce episode of Kutchan visit of Lerch here.

 Time is 1912 (Meiji 45) four a year 15 days a month.

 Seven people of the seventh the seventh division field gun regiment of Asahikawa led in Lerch left Asahikawa Station for Mount Yotei (1,898m) in morning of the day to do ski mountaineering. They added Okuya Jinkichi reporter of Otaru newspaper in Otaru and aimed at Kutchan.

 It was ex-serviceman chapter and Ezo Fuji mountain climbing society of Kutchan to have met them.


 For 16 days of the next day, ski corps got up at 4:00 a.m. After getting ready, we had sudden rain, and their departure has been called off. Lieutenant colonel gave a lecture about danger and preparations for ski mountaineering on theme about “Alpine danger” after break. They practiced ski in heap of OGURO (existing Asahigaoka Park) in the afternoon because rain turned into snow. The staff of SHIRIBESHI branch and village office, many villagers including child and teacher of elementary school watched this. We are told that everybody stared wide-eyed at straight descent, traverse that Lerch and others show. History of HIRAFU ski reached full-scale start here.