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.
Why did you come to Niseko?
At first I was interested in a new ski resort project in Niseko. My motivation changed from an engineering job to customer service for international ski guests. I thought I could learn many things from tourism and international customers, and maybe pick up some investment projects.
What is it that you think makes Niseko special?
It is an amazing experience! Snow, beautiful nature and friendly local people will always make a great experience for winter holidays.
You recently received a government grant to promote the area, can you please tell me what will you do with the money?
We are making an Animation Promotion Video (www.youtube.com/watch?v=kW8E8lph4To). We made a cute character 'Chelsea-chan' as the main character. We are talking about Niseko with very interesting people, such as university professors, government and tourism staff, and also locals.
What do you think Niseko will be like in 10 years ?
Niseko will be more like big international ski resorts. There will be a world cup competition and winter olympics. Niseko summer also will be popular for mountain and road biking, golfing, fly fishing and also trekking in the beautiful mountains. Our colourful four seasons – spring's pink, summer's green, autumn's red and winter's white – will offer more impact to international tourists.
What was your first job in Niseko?
Ski instructor for Ski Association of Japan for Tokyu ski school.
What was Niseko like when you first arrived here?
I could see only a few hundred foreign skiers in total. There were more Japanese ski tourists than foreign tourists. There were not many international restaurants either. But one thing was the same – the powder snow that was there when I first arrived in Niseko!
What are your top three tips for visitors?
1. Go to an onsen after a big day of skiing or boarding.
2. Try local Japanese food.
3. Sample less popular forms of Japanese culture such as wearing a kimono, cooking tofu and playing some taiko drums.
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