INTERNATIONAL and local holiday property owners in Niseko are throwing their homes open this summer to hundreds of survivors of the Earthquake and Tsunami disasters from Fukushima Prefecture.
Niseko Hirafu will welcome around 450 residents from Fukushima as part of relief program which offers disaster victims temporary accommodation in one of the village’s many holiday condominiums.
Most of the program participants are mothers with young children seeking an escape from the ongoing radiation crisis in Fukushima, and a safe, clean environment to spend the summer holidays.
Known as “Niseko Tsunami Relief,” the program was initiated by members of the local and international property owner community in Niseko and is being organized jointly with the Hokkaido Voluntary Evacuation Support Network.
Municipal government offices, local businesses and many local volunteers will also play a role.
Program organizer Keith Rodgers explains “Our community, both local and extended, wanted to help these people who are struggling against so much.
Niseko has an abundance of self-catered accommodation as well as Onsen, fresh local produce and outdoor activities and we felt that we were in a unique position to help.”
Participants will stay in 63 properties – ranging from backpacker to luxury accommodation, for periods of a few days to up to a few months.
They will pay only a minimum fee for running costs, courtesy of the property owners.
While based overseas in Hong Kong, Australia, and elsewhere, most of the owners visit Niseko regularly and have a keen interest in the area and Japan, and wanted to help with relief efforts in a direct way.
Niseko holiday companies will provide the necessary management services for free.
Local businesses and members of the community have also joined forces to offer the participants area orientation, as well as a range of outdoor activities such as rafting, hiking and sports; discounts at restaurants and shops, and various events.
The program commenced in July and runs until the end of August.