Posted on August 29th, 2009 1 comment
In winter many international guests often ask us what we do over the summer months. “Do we remain open?” and “Who visits Niseko in summer?” are also common questions. Yes, we do stay open, and we are kept relatively busy providing accommodation for the domestic market.
A study by the Japan External Trade Organization estimated the annual number of tourists in Hokkaido is around 50 million. Of which 87% are from within Hokkaido while the remaining 13% (6.5 million) come from outside Hokkaido. Summer is by far the most popular season for tourists from outside Hokkaido with roughly 2 and a half times as many visitors than winter.
The majority of tourists visiting Hokkaido in summer typically stay for 2 or 3 nights. Family tours account for 60% of the visitors and 80% of visitors in summer used private cars for transportation. Hokkaido is well known in Japan for its wide uncrowded roads and fast speeds at which the locals drive. On the flip-side Hokkaido sadly has one of the highest road fatality rates in Japan.
The Niseko area is very popular with school trips and college sports teams during the summer months. Over 190 schools visit the area, with rafting high on the priority list of things to do. In Hirafu it is not uncommon to see sports teams jogging around the streets as part of their summer sports camp.
Holiday Niseko remains open over summer with the Yukon apartments being a popular place to stay as the guests have free use of the outdoor barbecue area. Although we do get some foreign guests over the summer, most are unsurprisingly Japanese family groups traveling by private car.
What is the most common question we get asked in summer?
“Where can I find Kabutomushi?” (Japanese rhinoceros beetle and the most popular insect in Japan. Many Japanese children will buy or catch these and stag beetles to keep as pets.)
Posted on August 24th, 2009 No comments
The fastest way to the Rusutsu ski area from the Niseko resort area will take you through the small village of Makkari. The Makkari area gained some exposure recently when the wives of the G8 leaders visited the village and had lunch at the French influenced Restaurant Maccarina.
On the outskirts of the village is the Makkari Snowmobile Land. Set on a sprawling farm the snowmobile tours are definitely worth trying during the winter. I have done these several times and thoroughly recommend the experience. In summer however, there isn’t much here except a Mt Yotei viewing platform and a couple of stalls selling local produce.
Heading back to Makkari the other main attraction is the Flower Center. The Flower center was recently converted into a Michi no eki (road station) It consists of a large glass house where flowers are grown and sold. There is also a center building selling local souvenirs and interestingly it also houses a mini museum dedicated to Makkari’s most famous offspring, Takashi Hosokawa.
Takashi Hosokawa is one of the most popular enka singers in Japan. Modern enka are Japanese ballads that typically deal with themes of love and loss, loneliness, hardships and death. A Japanese blues almost. On a historical note, enka were originally political speeches set to music spread by political activists and dissidents during the late 19th century. Enka were sung as a legal loophole during a crackdown by the government on public speeches of dissent.
Takashi Hosokawa hit it big in 1975 and has won numerous awards for his crooning. Takashi has always promoted his hometown and as a token of their gratitude local Makkari residents built a bronze statue of Takashi. A collection of Takashi’s awards, costumes and memorabilia are on display in the main building.