Date : August 30 - 31, 2007
August 30-31 【Press Tour to Hokkaido (Toyako-Niseko)】
post date : 2013.08.23
Hokkaido, preparing for the next G8 Summit in 2008
- Toyako, people living with an active volcano -
- Niseko, striving and changing with foreign tourists -
The Hokkaido Toyako Summit will be held in July next year. With less than a year to go before the summit, preparations have already started. This press tour presents an opportunity to have an interview with the prefectural governor of Hokkaido, Ms. Harumi Takahashi, about their efforts to host the coming major event. The tour will also visit the main venue of the summit, The Windsor Hotel Toya Resort & Spa.
In the next summit, it is said that the main subject will be climate change issues[/url], following the 2007 G8 Summit in Heiligendamm, Germany. As well as the subject of the leaders’ session, the overall conference is expected to focus on urging the importance of environmental preservation. The Japanese government regards the summit as “a showcase to present Japan’s environmental technology to the world” and is working on preparations. The tour will provide you with some ideas about the next summit in Toyako, visiting and gathering information on site.
Following the “environment” theme of the summit, the tour will cover the spectacular scenery around Toyako (Lake Toya), the active volcano Usu-zan (Mt. Usu), and the life of the people who live with the volcano. Usu-zan erupts every 30 years or so and 2000’s eruption is still fresh in the people’s memory. Though the eruption in 2000 was of large scale and caused serious damage to buildings and roads, it did not cause any deaths or injuries. This is because approximately 10,000 people living in the area had completed evacuation the day before the eruption, following a prediction based on seismography. It was a great success as a case of disaster evacuation. The key factors of this success were the knowledge of local researchers who studied Usu-zan over the ages and the strong awareness of local residents.
The volcano brings not only disaster but also the benefits of hot springs and volcanic ash which turns into well drained soil, suitable for cash crops such as melons.
“Thanks to the volcanic activities of Usu-zan, we have hot springs which bring tourists and exquisite views. We have to accept the eruptions as long as we enjoy the benefits of the volcanic activities”, said Mr. Saburo Mimatsu, who has been working on disaster education.
On the second day, the tour will visit Niseko, an area which attracts foreign tourists with the world’s finest powder snow, and has been enjoying a boom in recent years. A number of high-end condominiums have been newly constructed and rapid development of the area is under way. A new movement to publicize “Niseko Brand” is close to launching, with collaboration between local companies and foreign immigrants who are developing businesses in Niseko. The participants of the tour will explore the current state of Niseko which poses the question: is it a positive example in the context of hope for recovery of the local economy in Hokkaido?
This press tour will visit Toyako and Niseko, two places that have the wonderful scenery of Hokkaido as attractions, and explore the themes “Hokkaido Toyako G8 Summit”, “Toyako, living with a volcano”, and “local economy in Niseko".
*The Foreign Press Center Japan has organized this press tour in cooperation with the Hokkaido governmentthe Hokkaido government and local governments in Hokkaido.
Toyako (Lake Toya)
～Vision of Hokkaido Toyako G8 Summit/ Aspirations of the area～
1. Interview with Governor of Hokkaido, Ms. Harumi Takahashi
Toyako, Hokkaido, was selected in April this year from other competitors in the country as the site for the G8 summit. At the end on the second day, the tour will visit Sapporo and have an interview with the Hokkaido governor, Ms. Harumi Takahashi, about Hokkaido’s efforts as a host. “We would like to take advantage of the summit as a great opportunity to show through the media outside and inside the country, the different attractions of our scenic sites, and safe food produced in the cool climate of Hokkaido. As a region with great natural scenery, Hokkaido will urge the importance of environmental preservation,” she commented.
2. Main venue of the summit: The Windsor Hotel Toya Resort & Spa
The main venue of the summit, The Windsor Hotel Toya Resort & Spa, is located on the top of 625-meter Mt. Poromoi, surrounded by exquisite scenery and sees Toyako (Lake Toya) below. The hotel has a high reputation inside and outside the country for its exclusive location and its quality, and has regular guests from the international wealthy. The building with 11 above-ground floors and one underground floor has 63,806 square meters of floor area. The hotel has 386 guest rooms and 13 quality restaurants and bars. The Windsor Hotel Toya Resort & Spa is a top-class resort style hotel with spa, pool, fitness gym, golf course, ski ground and tennis courts. The participants of the tour will have an interview with the general manager of the hotel about the preparations for next year’s summit.
3. Reception (dinner) hosted by Hokkaido Toyako Summit Preparation Council, and Shiribeshi Sub Government Summit Promotion Committee Office
In the evening of the first day, the tour will move to Niseko and attend a dinner reception.
～Nature around Toyako, people living together with an active volcano～
The Toyako Visitor Center and the Volcano Science Museum opened in April this year to give an outline of Toyako (Lake Toya) and the surrounding volcanic area through visual presentation. With the main attraction of large scale air photography, the Toyako Visitor Center shows the geography of the Toya caldera including Usu-zan (Mt. Usu), and the animals and plants in the area. The Volcano Science Museum presents through videos and pictures the natural history of Usu-zan, the mechanisms of eruptions, and the damage and disaster evacuations in past eruptions.
As a cultural and educational exhibit, buildings damaged by the eruption of 2000 have been preserved. Visitors can feel the terror of the disaster by observing such sites as buried private residences.
Participants of the tour will go near the top of Usu-zan (Mt. Usu) by aerial cableway and have a close look at Showa-shinzan (mountain newly formed in the Showa era) and a geothermal field venting steam. The local area, with generations who have experienced eruptions twice or even more, prepares a hazard map and evacuation guidance. Local people call Usu-zan “the mountain that never lies”, since the mountain has always had precursive earthquakes before the eruptions. The tour will have an interview with Mr. Saburo Mimatsu who is a leader of the volunteer education group,Sobetsu Eco Museum. “Thanks to the volcanic activities of Usu-zan, we have hot springs which bring tourists, and exquisite views. We have to accept eruptions as long as we enjoy the benefits of volcanic activities”, he commented. (Mr. Saburo Mimatsu is the director of the Masao Mimatsu Memorial Museun (the Showa Shinzan Museum).)
The tour will participate in a luncheon hosted by the local governments and the tourist associations around Toyako at “Manseikaku” located on the lakefront, and will cover the preparations and expectations of the host towns. After lunch, the participants will have a short walk around the lakefront and will enjoy the mysterious beauty of Toyako (Lake Toya) whose waters are among the clearest in Japan. Around the 43 km. perimeter of the lake, 58 sculptures are exhibited in harmony with nature.
～Rapid increase of foreign tourists, property boom with Australian capital～
1. Hirafu area
Real estate dealers and newly developed classy condominiums are lined up in tranquil scenery surrounded by mountains---this picture suddenly appears when you visited Hirafu in Niseko. Since around 2003, a great number of foreign tourists especially from Australia visit Nikeko in winter. This phenomenon has not been brought about by local government promotions but by word of mouth of the visitors enchanted by the world’s finest powder snow in Niseko. Today, Niseko welcomes about 10,000 foreign tourists annually. The boom is not only in tourism but also in the real estate industry. Foreign entrepreneurs mainly from Australia are developing real estate and building high-end condominiums and lodges targeting the wealthy from overseas.
Niseko seems to be enjoying prosperity. But in fact, most of the services for foreign tourists are provided by businesses from overseas. It is pointed out that local people have little to do with them, and the local economy has not received much economic benefit. Actually the boom is only in the limited area of Hirafu in Kutchan-cho (Kutchan Town). According to a report of September last year by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, Hirafu recorded the highest percentage of rise of land prices in Japan (for residential purposes), while the local shopping street in Kutchan-cho was among the ten which had most declined. How can this gap be remedied? The tour will explore the current situation of Niseko’s efforts.
2. Experience canoeing: Outdoor sports as summer attraction of Niseko
Niseko attracts tourists not only in winter but also in summer with outdoor activities such as rafting, canoeing and horse riding. Participants of the tour will either experience or observe canoeing at Shiribetsu River to understand Niseko’s summer attractions which bring both domestic and international tourists.
*The participants will be asked to choose canoeing or watching beforehand.
～Promotion of “Niseko Brand”, collaboration between local companies and immigrant entrepreneurs～
3. Niseko Promotion Board
Mr. Ross Findlay from Melbourne emigrated to Niseko and started the Niseko Adventure Center in 1995 which arranges sports such as rafting and kayaking, aiming to popularize Niseko not only as a winter ski resort, but also as a summer resort with attractive outdoor activities. To establish Niseko as worldwide resort, he has keenly felt the importance of promotion and infrastructure construction to create a greater Niseko area without barriers between local towns. Mr. Ian MacKenzie, who runs a tour agency, has sometimes been told by his customers, “We want more opportunities to experience Japanese culture and to communicate with local people in Niseko, since we came all the way to Japan”. Thus Mr. MacKenzie has felt that he needs more links with the local community. So there is a new movement of collaboration between immigrant entrepreneurs like Mr. Findlay or Mr. MacKenzie and local companies. They are going to start a new project ‘Niseko Promotion Board’ to publicize the “Niseko Brand” worldwide. The tour will have interview with participants of the new project and cover their plans and activities.
4. Hotel Kanronomori (dinner /accommodation)
In Hotel Kanronomori surrounded by green forests, guests can enjoy an open-air hot spring and beautiful scenery. The hotel with a multinational staff from such countries as New Zealand and China provides warm service to foreign guests. The hotel introduces Niseko’s local specialties and exhibits works by local artists in the lobby.
“We hope the guests who come all the way to Niseko can eat something only from Niseko and enjoy buying something unique to this area”, said Ms. Kyoko Matsuhashi, the manager. The manager is one of the founders of the newly started ‘Niseko Promotion Board’ and is going to promote the project as a board member (venue of the dinner reception hosted by Hokkaido government/accommodation).
5. Aspiring small businesses in the local shopping street
・Asaoka Furniture Shop Co., Ltd. (Gallery 901 by Asaoka)
Even in the local shopping street, which has an economic gap with Hirafu, some new movements are going on. Asaoka Furniture Shop (Gallery 901), established in 1918, was renovated this June. They started dealing in modern imported furniture, vintage items and interior goods to respond to demands from foreign tourists and condominium owners. The third-generation manager Mr. Takashi Asaoka positively said, “We want to find the way to get a positive impact on our business from Niseko’s boom.”
・Sushi Restaurant Niseko Nihonbashi (lunch)
A Sushi restaurant in the local shopping street, Niseko Nihonbashi, is popular among foreign tourists with English services and menus by Mr. Mikihiko Asano the owner, who has traveled in many countries. He encouraged his son and daughter-in-law to study abroad to develop their English skills. Mr. Asano is eager to go all-out to take advantage of Niseko’s boom.
1) Tour itinerary (tentative):
Day 1: Thursday, August 30
07:40 Meet at Tokyo Haneda Airport
08:30 Leave Haneda by JAL Flight 511
10:00 Arrive at New Chitose Airport
10:30 Move by chartered bus (on-board briefing on the Toyako area)
12:00-12:45 Visit Toyako Visitor Center/ Volcano Science Museum
12:45-13:00 Visit Kompira Crater Remains
13:00 (Move to Manseikaku)
13:10-14:10 Lunch (hosted by the local governments and the tourist associations in the
Toyako area, at Manseikaku)
14:10-14:25 Walk around Toyako lakefront
14:25 (Move to Usu-zan aerial cableway station)
14:40-16:00 Visit the top of Usu-zan (Mt. Usu), move by aerial cableway
- Briefing by Mr. Saburo Mimatsu, director, Sobetsu Eco Museum
- Briefing by D.Sc. Hiromu Okada, Professor Emeritus, Hokkaido University
- Observe Showa-shinzan (mountain newly formed in Showa era) and a geothermal field
16:00 (Move to Windsor Hotel)
16:35-17:35 Visit The Windsor Hotel Toya Resort & Spa
- Interview with Ms. Miho Tsutsumida, general manager
- Observe and photograph the hotel
17:35 Move to Niseko by chartered bus
18:45 Arrive at Hotel Kanronomori
19:30-21:00 Dinner hosted by Government of Hokkaido
address 415 Niseko, Niseko, Abuta, Hokkaido, 048-1511 Japan
phone (+81)136-58-3800 (main switchboard)
facsimile (+81)136-58-3107 (main switchboard)
Day 2: Friday, August 31
08:30 Leave hotel
Experience or Observe canoeing
10:15-11:45 Visit Hirafu area
- Briefing on the trend of tourism and the real estate industry in the area, by the town officials of Kutchan Town and Niseko Town
-Interview with board members of ‘Niseko Promotion Board’（at Hotel Niseko Alpen）
-- Mr. Ross Findlay, managing director, Niseko Adventure Center
-- Mr. Kensaku Kuno, executive officer, Kiseko Mt. Resort Grand Hirafu
-- Ms. Kyoto Matsuhashi, manager, Hotel Kanronomori and Mr. Paul Haggart, marketing manager, Hotel Kanronomori
11:45 (Move to the local shopping street, Kutchan town center)
12:00 Visit local shopping street of Kutchan-cho (Kutchan Town)
12:00-12:20 - Visit Asaoka Furniture Shop (Gallery 901 by Asaoka)
12:20-13:40 - Visit Sushi Restaurant Niseko Nihonbashi (Lunch)
13:40 Move to Sapporo by chartered bus
16:00 Arrive at Hokkaido prefectural office in Sapporo
16:00-17:00 Interview with Hokkaido governor, Ms. Harumi Takahashi
17:15 (Move to New Chitose Airport)
18:30 Arrive at New Chitose Airport
19:25 Leave by JAL Flight 538
21:00 Arrive at Tokyo Haneda Airport
2) Qualification: Bearer of Gaimusho Press ID card
3) Expenses: 15,000 yen per person including transportation, meals and accommodation
*FPCJ will inform the participants of payment methods, cancellation fee etc. later on.
4) Participants: Limited to the first 17 applicants on a first-come first-served basis.
(Only one reporter and one photographer from each company, but two participants from each TV team will be acceptable.) If the number of applicants exceeds 15, an upper limit may be set on the number of participants from each country.
5) FPCJ Contact: Mr. Yano and Ms. Yoshida (Tel: 03-3501-5070)
(1) There are some restrictions on photographing and filming at the tour sites. Please follow the instructions of the officials on duty.
(2) Hokkaido Prefecture, other local governments in Hokkaido, and FPCJ will not be liable for any inconvenience, trouble or accident that might occur in the course of the tour.
(You have to be careful if you go canoeing in Niseko!)