By the way, Austrian Lerch major finally appears here. Austrian = Hungary empire is officer, and Theodor von Lerch Edora(1869 -1945) is one of person said to that we told skiing to Japan first. Ski was unknown tool for most Japanese before visit to Japan of Lerch.

 Against expectation of the world, the Japanese military won for Russo-Japanese War. He visits Japan as exchange officer in November, 1910 to study the Japanese military.

 At first Lerch starts for its new post in the thirteenth the 58th division foot soldier regiment of Takada, Niigata (existing Joetsu-shi) where snow is deep. He let gunner arsenal of Tokyo produce ski. In January, 1911, he lectured on ski in Taniyama Kim for officer and junior high school teachers of the prefecture using the ski for approximately one month.

 His ski was one of them Staff-type ski which was mainstream in his mother country in those days. Metal butt end was attached to the tip of about 2 meter-long Staff.


 In September of the year, Lerch was promoted to lieutenant colonel. He was assigned to the seventh the seventh division field gun regiment and, in February, 1912, the following day, started for our new post to Asahikawa of Hokkaido. Class of approximately three weeks was carried out in SHUNKODAI to learn ski technology from Lerch in Asahikawa. Production of ski has already begun in Takada of post before him. Therefore, division of Asahikawa asked Takada for production of ski.

 Then ski technology was classified roughly into Austrian style and Norway type. Lerch did not teach only Austrian style technique and taught about the history of ski and Norway-style technique.

 In 1854 of the late Tokugawa period, MATSUURA TAKESHIRO in response to command of the Shogunate investigates the “HIRAFU” whole area from Iwanai.

 The beginning of Meiji, ground of Kutchan were parts of ABUTA MURA in the wilderness.


 Big event happened for the history of for step of Kutchan and mountains skiing of NISEKO among other things in autumn of 1904. Hokkaido railroad (private.) Existing Hakodate Main Line) was inaugurated, and Kutchan Station and HIRAFU Station (as for the station name at the time of the opening to traffic “OOMAGARI Station “) started a business. Significance that Otaru (Otaru was merchant town much bigger than Sapporo) was linked to Kutchan by rail is big, and cityscape is created before long around Kutchan Station.

 It is succeeded by invitation to Kutchan of SHIRIBESHI branch which unified Otaru Subprefectural Office, Iwanai Subprefectural Office, Suttsu Subprefectural Office in 1907. In addition, it was nationalized, and this age Hokkaido railroad became Japanese National Railways Hakodate Main Line. Kyogoku handy line starts a business between Kutchan – Kyogoku in 1919. As a result of having continued extending, the flight developed in Iburi line which linked Kutchan to Datemombetsu in 1941.


 In history of HIRAFU ski, railroad which linked Otaru, Sapporo played a very big role. We describe the process from now on.


 Hokkaido (called “Ezo chi” at that time) was concerned with the working of the Japanese Islands by trade with people from Honshu and to the south deeply in corner of East Asia including northern continent.


It is reprinted by National Diet Library homepage

 In “Japanese Chronicle of Japan (Nihon Shoki)” edited as first Japanese history book in the eighth century, ABENO HIRAFU of country (Hokuriku) of etsu does as three times in Ezo place with large fleet at the mid-seventh century, and there is description that fought against other ethnic group.

 It is said that this legend becomes the cause as for the place name called “HIRAFU”. Furthermore, what think that “SHIRIBESHI YAMA” which is former name of a certain Mount Yotei is quoted in the front of GRAND HIRAFU by this “Japanese Chronicle of Japan” seems to be natural.

 In 1904, ship having our country’s first turbine-type engine went into service as the’s first ferry of route that bound Aomori and Hakodate together. The ship was named “HIRAFU MARU”. It may be said that the name called “HIRAFU” has a special meaning for Hokkaido.


Chuo, Hakodate-shi library storehouse


 It was about 1892 that full-scale reclamation of place that became current Kutchan city began. Prior to it, people of Tokushima have already started reclamation of Yoichi riverside from 1879.

 We cut down big tree, and the cleaning began in place to cut bamboo grass which was beyond height. When the ground finally appeared, we built Thatched-roof bamboo hut. And at first seeds such as potato and bean, foxtail millet, corn, pumpkin were sowed in a little land. Soba or Japanese radish were planted soon, too.


 Following people of Tokushima who cut open farmland in severe nature, people emigrate from each place of Japan; Kutchan as village took shape. Kutchan village town office is set up independently in 1896 by Abuta village.

 The following episode is conveyed. Then house was plain bamboo grass hut. When heavy snowfall falls, hut is buried among snow immediately. When man comes home in the evening, his hut is not found because of the snow. Therefore he called his wife in loud voice. His wife who heard the voice raised tree which burnt at entrance of hut and told about position of hut.



 This Aria having come to be known next to sulfur by hot spring. In 1885, Geyser of the CHISE NUPURI south foot was discovered and we built hut of bamboo grass credit in the side and made bathhouse.

 In 1894, Yamada Kunikichi which was one of the first settlers to Kutchan found hot spring in east base of a mountain of NISEKO AN’NUPURI. He opened it as Yamada Onsen in 1897. This event became beginning of “Kucchancho character Yamada” with GRAND HIRAFU today.

 Hot spring was discovered one after another, and NISEKO gradually became eminent mountains hot-spring village afterwards in Hokkaido. When Hokkaido railroad (existing JR Hakodate Main Line) was inaugurated between Otaru – Hakodate in 1904, picturesque scenery of NISEKO and interest in hot spring rose still more.

Goshiki Onsen (the early days of the Showa era)

 It was piled up unexpectedly that ski popularity rose among thing and students of Hokkaido empire university (existing Hokkaido University) and Otaru high grade commercial school (existing Otaru University of Commerce) whom we spent from the Taisho era on Showa, and hot spring of NISEKO gathered popularity. People were awakened to great charm of backcountry skiing.


 Let’s describe the former history from 1960 when HIRAFU skiing area started a business.

 In the Edo era, sulfur is mined by IWAO NUPURI in the northwest neighbor of NISEKO AN’NUPURI with GRAND HIRAFU, and it is left for record to have been carried out into Iwanai..


 When it was the Meiji era, there was official guarantee of foreign employee Lyman (geologist) of Hokkaido Bureau of Development, and full-scale dig started. The Mitsui interest was Japan in 1886 and extended production by the first steam refinement method. Sulfur was raw materials which were indispensable to production of match which was then Japanese important export.

 At first prehistory of NISEKO HIRAFU begins in Iwanai side in this way

§2. We will look back on 1961.

 Lift of length NISEKO’s first and eminent Japan was created in HIRAFU in 1961. What would be taking place in those days in the world? We want to look back on it now daringly.


 Japan accomplished revival after World War II and was highly economic time when it developed.

 JOHN F KENNEDY took office as the President at 43 years old abroad in U.S.A. in January and launched manned satellite VOSTOK1 where the human was the first among the Soviet Union in spring, and Gagarin pilot succeeded in earth one round. In August, we blockaded border of East Germany east and west Berlin. This becomes Berlin Wall later.


 By the way, the world was in frame of new growth and political system from postwar revival when we looked back in this way, and science accomplished rapid progress for the space age. We received force of growing economy in Japan, and culture and sports reached big turning point.

 ”NISEKO skiing area grandly lift opening ceremony.” — – this is entry of Hokkaido Shimbun telling opening of NISEKO KOGEN HIRAFU skiing area on Sunday, December 17, 1961.


 Scale of 1,070 meters (forerunner of KING PAIR LIFT #1 A&B and KING QUAD LIFT #2) of the first lift and the second lift in total was epoch-making lift eminent Japan for those days. HIRAFU skiing area (the history of existing NISEKO GRAND HIRAFU) began in here.)

 At first, in Japan, lift for exclusive use of occupation army was installed in Mount Moiwa (Sapporo-shi, Hokkaido) or Shiga Kogen Maruike (Nagano) immediately after the war. Several years later, lift for private enterprise was installed in Kusatsu Onsen (Gunma), Nozawa Onsen (Nagano). In Hokkaido of 1961, lift of small and medium size scale has already existed. As for the large-scale lift installed in HIRAFU then, it was with entrance of ski boom in this Hokkaido which came later.

 December 17. Train carried skier who waited impatiently for birth of lift in NISEKO to HIRAFU Station. From HIRAFU Station to skiing area, nine buses performed shuttling of invited guest and general visitor.


§0. Prologue


 Officer Theodor von Lerch Edora(1869-1945) of Austrian = Hungary empire is one of the important people who told skiing to Japan. He visited Japan for study of the Japanese military in November, 1910. The Japanese military paid attention to technique of ski which he had and asked him for instruction of the technique. He came over to Asahikawa-shi, Hokkaido for instruction of ski in February, 1912. And he visited Kutchan on April 15, the same year to climb Mount Yotei.


 2012 is the 100th year since Lerch visits Kutchan. We reach the 50th anniversary after HIRAFU skiing area opened in 2011 of the last year. Match with the milestone, and we want to review “the history of ski of NISEKO HIRAFU” some other time.