Archive | In Focus

In Focus with Brian and Wayne Parfitt

BROTHERS in business Brian and Wayne Parfitt own restaurants and bars all over the world, and moved into Niseko in a big way this season with The Vale Bar and Grill, The Bunker nightclub and Lars Longcox Mexican bar…

How did you come to be in Asia and Niseko?
Wayne went on a holiday to Hong Kong 20 years ago, saw potential, and decided to open a small pizza restaurant in Sai Kung (Pepperonis). Through many expats living in HK, we heard about the potential in Niseko and came up for a look. Asia offers unlimited potential for a range of opportunities, and Niseko is no different.

In Focus with Glenn and Dale Goulding

BROTHERS Glenn and Dale Goulding are believed to be the first to bring tourists to Niseko with their company Deep Powder Tours. Powderlife tied down co-director Glenn for a few quick questions…

When and why did you come to Niseko?

I first came to Niseko in February of 1992 with my wife Fumiko, and have returned every winter since.

What was Niseko like when you first arrived here?
Niseko-Hirafu was much quieter then, with most visitors dining at the pensions or hotels. You rarely saw a foreigner, that’s for sure. Most people only skied the groomed runs. Hanazono chairlifts opened the following winter season, and we skied Strawberry Fields every day and never saw any other people in there – it was always untracked and bottomless!

In Focus with Tomoko Kazama

WHEN Tomoko Kazama isn’t working in marketing for Niseko Village at Higashiyama, she loves hitting the mountain and going big. We get to know the poster girl for Niseko Village a little bit better…

When and why did you come to Niseko?
I came to Niseko in the 05-06 season. I wanted to work somewhere I could use English, and I was looking for a mogul team I could join and sent several emails to the teams and found a team here in Niseko.

What was Niseko like when you first arrived here?
So much snow! The year I arrived had the most snow in 50 years as far as I know. Niseko has changed so much since when I was little. It seemed like I wasn’t in Japan. There were foreign signs around the town and lots of Australians. There was still perfect fresh powder snow, and it’s the terrain and the night skiing that I love.

In Focus with Shukin Moderski

LOCAL Kutchan character Shukin, an American former Buddhist monk who now lives in Japan and is a skilled swordsman. An interesting background worthy of getting to know him a little better, we thought…

When and why did you come to Niseko?
I first came to the area about nine years ago from Osaka for a 10-day trip.

In Focus with Toki-san from Niseko 343

IF you’re talking skiing and Niseko, they don’t come much better than Toki-san. He’s been coming here for over 20 years, coached Olympic skiers, skis with a snowboard on each foot, and now runs Hirafu retail and hire shop, Niseko 343…

When and why did you come to Niseko?
For over 20 years I came here every winter, and moved here three years ago to be closer to my work.

What was Niseko like when you first arrived here?
There were no foreigners in Niseko 20 years ago, and although snowboarding was getting popular in Japan, skiing was still preferred. Rather than going out at night, people preferred to stay in their lodges or guest houses and drink sake with the lodge staff. The seasons were much longer, with powder snow from the end of November to early April. There was also two times more snow than there is now – in one season we had 1m of fresh snow in a single night.

In Focus with Dennis Van Den Brink

DENNIS Van Den Brink is one of those great guys everyone in town seems to know. It may be the dreadlocks and tattoos that make him stick out, but Powderlife got to know this local Dutchman a little bit better…

When and why did you come to Niseko?

I came to Niseko to stay in the spring of 2008. There was a 100ha organic farm and vineyard project we were going to set up in Konbu Village, about 20 minutes from Kutchan and Hirafu.

What was Niseko like when you first arrived here?
In the past two years, besides some highrises, not a lot has changed. But compared to six years ago it’s quite different because it was still a backpacker destination .

What have you done for work in Niseko?
This winter I’m working in the kitchen of J-Sekka Dining. Last year I ran the Powderlife Café and had the difficult task of feeding the hungry Powderlife staff every day.

In Focus with Yukihiro ‘The Hero’ Takahashi

WHETHER it’s for his ski guiding, management of hotels, restaurants and festivals, or promoting and marketing Niseko to the world, everyone seems to know family man, businessman and downright nice guy, Yukihiro-san.

You are known around town as ‘The Hero’ and ‘The Snow Doctor’? Please explain…

‘Yuki’ means snow in Japanese, ‘hiro’ means ‘doctor’. Because of this name, I thought my parents knew my future when I was born. I am ‘The Doctor’ or ‘The Hero’ because I help ski guests who stack it in deep powder snow! Many guests have already said ‘you are a hero at powder snow!

How long have you been involved with Niseko?
I’ve lived in Kutchan for six years. I moved from Sapporo with my wife Midori after my baby Rio-chan was born.

Lars Longcox a Clever Dick

JUDGING by Lars Longcox’s mammoth opening party last night, many party-goers will surely be season-long ‘members’ .

Hirafu’s new nachos bar, on the corner of the 343 and Sasayaki-Zaka Street, was wall-to-wall with revellers who turned out to welcome the mysterious Austrian newcomer, Lars Longcox, to Niseko.

<<Check out the video here>>

It’s easy to see the brains behind Lars Longcox (apparently a successful chain overseas, too) know what they’re doing when throwing down a ripping good party.

Niseko’s Unofficial Tourism Body Paul Haggart In Focus

PAUL Haggart came to Niseko from New Zealand three years ago, and has quickly become a respected ambassador for the foreign community here. He has got involved with all levels of the local community, and volunteers at every opportunity to help organise events, and help out wherever he can. He has become an unofficial tourism representative for Niseko.
What brought you to Niseko?
I have been living in Niseko now for three years. My wife is from Tokyo originally, and it was a combination of an opportunity to live a little closer to her family, and an exciting opportunity to work for Hokkaido Tracks, one of the area’s most well-known developers, that brought me to Niseko, and back to Japan.
Can you tell us about your new role at the Green Leaf Hotel?

The Welcome Centre’s Takanori Tachibana In Focus

WELL-GROOMED long hair, his trademark beret and a big, welcoming smile. Almost all of Niseko’s tourists know who he is, or have seen him at least once. The face of Hirafu Village, Takanori Tachibana, is a famous concierge at the Welcome Centre. Powderlife talked with him about tourism and the future for the new Niseko.

How long have you been in Niseko?
I was born in the Mashu Lake area, and moved to Kutchan when I was one-year-old. I left Kutchan for a few years in the middle, but I could never forget how fun skiing was and how great it was to live right next to the ski slopes. I followed my dream back to this area and started working at the Welcome Centre when I was 23 years old. I can say that my incredible passion for skiing has led to the job I have now.

What do you see as the main function of the Welcome Centre?