Dear friends and business partners of Niseko,
We appreciate the outpouring of support that Japan and we here in Niseko have received in response to the disaster that struck Japan’s east coast one month ago. As you surely know, the earthquake and tsunami that followed have left entire towns missing in northern sections of Honshu, Japan’s main island. These areas continue to struggle to provide shelter, food, services, and other supplies to residents who have been uprooted, but the displays of support in the form of donations, kind words, and volunteers has been truly inspiring.
In this difficult time, we are writing keep you updated on Niseko’s status with regards to the effects of the earthquake on the area, its residents, and, of course, current and future development.
Limited Impact. Niseko is more than 500 kilometers from the epicenter of the earthquake and inland, so we dealt with almost no direct impacts from the event. Despite concerns about food shortages in affected areas, Niseko neither expected nor experienced supply issues. Additionally, our power grid is completely separate from Tokyo Electric, so the rolling blackouts affecting large chunks of the main island do not extend toward Niseko.
Foreign Travel. Although many countries have issued travel advisories against Tokyo and the areas most severely damaged by the earthquake, Hokkaido and therefore Niseko were not included in many such advisories. Further, Great Britain, Canada, and New Zealand have already rescinded their travel warnings for Tokyo.
This Past Winter. Niseko has had a great winter. Although we set off to a slow start in December, January sent us record snowfalls which continued into parts of February; March blessed us with both powder and days of beautiful, spring weather. Though we haven’t seen any official snowfall tallies for the mountain yet, Kutchan Town received over ten meters of snow, and the base of Mt. Niseko Annupuri probably received over fourteen. We’ve now transitioned into spring season, and the mountain sees plenty of skiers and snowboarders riding every day.
Situation with the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant
We know many people are concerned about the impact of the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant on Niseko’s developments and operations, so we’d like to quell as many fears as possible.
•Radiation levels in Hokkaido have remained at typical background levels for the last month.
•Radiation at sites across Japan has been dropping steadily.
More information can be found online at sites such as http://fleep.com/earthquake/ (daily updated graphs) or http://www.mlit.go.jp/koku/flyjapan_en/airport_sokutei.html.
The following data should help place these measurements in context. The graph compares normal background radiation internationally with radiation levels in Kutchan Town (10 kilometers from the ski lifts), New Chitose Airport near Sapporo, and Narita Airport just outside of Tokyo. The sources for the data points are attached. Hopefully, this information will help quell any fears you may have.
Lately, food contamination has become another concern in lieu of measurements taken at various locations around Japan. No concerns have been raised about Hokkaido, and shortly after the earthquake, Japan’s prime minister re-issued guidelines on radiation that outline how Japan’s foods are to be tested and the acceptable levels. This amounts to an order to test food for radiation and prevent the sale, export, and shipment of contaminated goods. In addition to governmental monitoring and monitoring by NGOs, private food production and distribution organizations in Japan have begun testing radiation levels as well to insure that no contaminated food makes its way into the supplies.
Continued Development in Niseko
In light of the continued stability of Niseko, many development projects in the area are scheduled to proceed from this spring as planned.
Construction on Shiki, next to the Mountain Side Palace, has already begun.
The Hotel Scot demolition is on schedule to make space for The Rocks development.
Construction on the M Hotel on Momiji-zaka Street has begun.
Further, in preparation for Grand Hirafu’s 50th anniversary, a number of exciting projects are slated to begin around upgrading the Hirafu gondola. Upgrades include:
An 8-person cabin
Speed boost – the whole trip will now be only five minutes
Additionally, a new ski center will be built next door, complete with restaurant, ski school, rentals, and ski shop. A new kid’s space will be constructed, as well. When the first ski guests arrive late this year, there will certainly be new and exciting changes to see.
Donations and Support
We have received many inquiries about how people may assist those affected by the earthquake and tsunami disaster. Currently, a number of NGOs and non-profits are working in the affected areas, and other organizations are making similar plans. A selection of organizations is below.
Second Harvest Japan has been delivering food to affected communities. Since shortly after the earthquake, they have been bringing supplies directly to people who need them.
The Japanese Red Cross distributes money to the governments or groups that manage areas that have been affected by the earthquake. Donation information is here:
Within Niseko, we have raised over 2,000,000 JPY that has been donated to various projects already underway in Fukushima and Sendai. Other locals have personally driven to the areas to deliver supplies.
As always, we appreciate your continued support developing Niseko and making it one of the world’s premier resort destinations. If you have any questions or would like to update us on your ongoing projects, please send an email to [email protected].
The Niseko Promotion Board