Niseko farmers’ winter forecast

It’s always a bit of fun before winter to try to predict whether it’s going to be a big-snowfall season.

We thought we’d ask a handful of local farmers – who have a stronger connection to the weather and seasons than us townfolk – if they had any predictions. Turns out their guesses are as varied as everyone else’s!

One thing we’re sure of – there will be more snow here this winter than almost every other ski resort on earth… just another average Niseko winter.

89-year-old Tamura Fumitoshi has been growing pumpkins, rice and sweetcorn since he was 17. He says when the crows nest high in the trees we can expect a big winter, and if the migratory birds come early, we’ll see early snow. The warm start to autumn might mean the mountain will get a lot of snow, but the farmlands less.

PREDICTION: Below average

93-year-old Tomiji Kimura’s family has been growing rice and vegetables on their land for 150 years. He says the weather patterns have changed over the years and predicting what is to come is harder than ever. But the warm summer means heat will be trapped in the earth, causing a faster spring melt.

PREDICTION: Average

Yayoi Matsuoka has been growing rice on her family’s farm for 15 years. She says the effects of El Ninõ and a warm, dry summer could mean a snap cold and some early snow, but expects heavy snow through winter. A slow December, followed by big dumps in January and February is her call.

PREDICTION: Above average

Yasukatsu Matsuda has been farming asparagus, broccoli and other vegetables in Higashiyama since his family settled here at the end of WWII. The 72-year old says bird watchers used to have a good idea of what was to come, but in recent years the weather is so variable it’s just too hard to predict.

PREDICTION: Anyone’s guess

This article appears in Powderlife 2020 – Issue 54

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