Pow!!! 2008-10-26 19:57:32
i heard that the police will be enforcing a midnight or possibly 1am curfew on all of the bars in hirafu. guess there will be like 50 drunk blokes fighting in front of lawson's every night. good job kutchan, way to think things through. ps: drunk drivers are the scum of the earth. to all of you scum, i hear that the k-town police are out in force looking for somebody to make an example of so i just thought i should remind you not to drive pissed. even if you really need to get back into kutchan, its much better to curl up in a ball and freeze to death.
legacy (2008-10-27 01:29:58)
I heard about this too.

I have to come out against this as a poorly conceived effort to bring noise and related disturbances under control.

Last minute binge drinking before last call and then dumping all of those people into the street at once sounds like a bad idea. I am not saying, "Abandon the streets to the idiots!" but -10 temperatures at night tend to keep most of them indoors anyway. And didn't the UK recently do away with mandatory pub closing times to reduce problems?

Curious to know whether this is a "rule", a "law", or a "guideline". The differences between those concepts tends to blur in Japan. Are there zoning laws of some type? Kutchan is exempt? Aza-Yamada is zoned as a no party-zone? Is there any difference between upper, middle, and lower village?

This goes for guests, residents, owners, investors, whomever: I really feel that if you want peace and quite you should be in Izumikyo II or Yotei No Sato or something like that, not Hirafu.
Gtrain (2008-10-27 06:15:24)
People will drink harder up to twelve and let everyone loose at the twelve. The hords of drunk Aussies will gravitate towords Seico mart and lawsons like moths to a light and drink out the front.

I think it has the potential to make things worse.

Mind you though I hate hearing d!ckheads screaming and yelling as they walk past my place at 2 in the morning when I want to get up for first lifts. The power pole out the front ofour joint seems a good thing to climb at 2am and jump into the powder on the empty block next store.

Leave the pubs open, just have a couple of security guards driving around. Any drongos yelling and screaming can be told politely go to bed or we'll take you in and put you in one of our beds.
JD (2008-10-27 10:17:22)
Listen up fools!

Time to cede authority to the Feds.

By now it is outstandingly clear that the local potato suckers that administer this village are not up to the task. This arbitrary decision to impose a firework and late night drinking ban is the last straw yo!

The last time I checked the world was heading into a recession, Hokkaido has been in a prolonged recession and Yubari went bankrupt due to incompetence of the local administrative body. The last thing we need is another set of bylaws passed without dialogue long after the horse has bolted.

The local gov't is clearly out of their depth and should stick to making laws related to potato planting and tractor speed limits and leave any decisions about the ski area and tourism to a higher body before this area ends up like Yubari!

Honestly how much longer until those Kutchan Klowns pass a total alcohol ban or impose a tax on luxury accommodation to booster their failing coffers. And because foreigners can't vote here, guess which area will be getting shafted first to make local budgets.

To the foreign dude working for NPB, you had better tell your colleagues to take those potatoes out of their ears and get ready, cos a big ole can of whip @ss is about to be opened!

Moderator, could you please start an online petition or vote to cede.

The petition is calling for authority of the Niseko ski area to be ceded to the prefectural gov't in Sapporo. And a "Special tourist Area" be designated beyond the control of the local gov'ts.

1. 24,000 international visitors visited this area for tourism last year. This brings in a lot of money to not only the local area but also other areas in Hokkaido. This sudden influx has created problems that the local gov't clearly cannot cope with.
2. The Niseko ski area needs to be amalgamated under one authority instead of the current two, Kutchan-cho and Niseko-cho. This will be designated as a special tourism area by the prefectural gov't.
3. A unified masterplan for the area needs to be formulated. Park, commercial space, tax breaks or whatever can then be decided for the whole area.
4. Local residents and business owners both Japanese and long term Foreigners need to be included in a dialogue in both languages before decisions are made.
5. Promotion for this area needs to be unified and directed, the current mish mash is an embarrassment.

If you work for a local business ask your boss to get behind this petition.

If anyone can translate this for the local Japanese and also send it off to the Hokkaido shimbun that would be a great start. The only way to get things done in this country is to make people accountable by going over their heads to their bosses.

If enough people get behind this idea then we might have a case. If you simply blow it off then don't cry and moan when the Kutchan Klowns pass their next wonderful bylaw banning music and dancing.

And Kevin Bacon, if you are reading this, we need you now more than ever!

"I pity the fool"
legacy (2008-10-28 01:19:33)
Provocative post. I've been meaning to respond since I saw it earlier today. You've obviously given this some thought. Let me get the main points of your proposal straight (partly by peeling away some of the invective):

Petition the prefectural government for a "Special Tourist Area" to be designated that will remove control of the resort from the locals for the five reasons you provided, which are essentially that 1) they can't cope with managing the resort 2) the area needs to be administered by one governmental body, not two 3) a unified plan can be created for the entire area 4) local residents need to be included in a multilingual conversation and 5) promotion needs to be unified and directed.

I do think that the current situation is, in many ways, not acceptable, and that the Kutchan/Niseko area could possibly benefit by turning to a higher authority to come in and help sort out priorities and balance the interests of all the stakeholders.

Whether the prefectural government is up to the task, I can't say. Whether they'd give foreign residents and investors more of a say then they now receive, I can't say. What I can say is that I'm highly skeptical that there is any real solution for the issues you outlined. But your proposal seems worthy of discussion.

Let's see what the other users have to say...
JD (2008-10-28 09:40:57)
[b]christopher wrote:[/b]

Petition the prefectural government for a "Special Tourist Area" to be designated that will remove control of the resort from the locals for the five reasons you provided, which are essentially that 1) they can't cope with managing the resort 2) the area needs to be administered by one governmental body, not two 3) a unified plan can be created for the entire area 4) local residents need to be included in a multilingual conversation and 5) promotion needs to be unified and directed.


You have hit the nail on the head my brother from another mother.

While I don't expect the prefectual gov't to be the A-team on steroids, an authority with more coin and power, be it the prefectual or national gov't has to step in.

Leaving the future of this area up to the developers and the Kutchan Klowns is about as smart as letting US banks act in a self-regulatory role. The niseko area will go down faster than a thai chickboy.

The Hirafu Village area needs proper zoning, dedicated green space and subsidised commercial space to encourage retailers to come here and stay open year round. Land prices are now out of the reach for the local gov't to step in and do something, and developers are not charity organisations the last time I looked, they are simply developers.

If you are a visitor here in winter and have a day off from the slopes, what are your alternatives? Shopping? well err where to start? visit any of the local tour operators for advice and their suggestions are all based on getting the hell out of dodge for the day. " How about a daytrip to Otaru or Sapporo, go spend your money there"

HELLO McFLY am I the only person who thinks this is retarded!?

My income relies on tourism to this area, I want people to come back and keep me employed. Tourists wont come back if they feel their holiday was like a trip to cold war East Germany.

Quick Comparison.

East Germany 1974
Fun: Strictly Forbadden,
Architecture:Bunkers, Air-raid shelters, Gloomy apartment blocks and houses that all look the same, with the odd party memember's grand Dacha.
Shopping: Long lines waiting at 1-2 local shops for alcohol and sowerkrat. Consumer shopping non-exisitent
Alternatives: Getting shot while trying to cross the wall
Actual Cold war slogan: "Two states, two plans",

Niseko 2008
Fun: Chotto Dame, no drinking after midnight
Architecture:Bunkers, Air-raid shelters, Gloomy apartment blocks and houses that all look the same, with the odd millionaires grand vacation home.
Shopping: Long lines waiting at the only 2 shops for alcohol and fireworks. Consumer shopping non-exisitent
Alternatives: Day trips to Otaru. (getting shot is actually more preferable)
Actual planning: Two local gov'ts, two plans
Fetyukov (2008-10-28 12:43:32)
The problem is, where is the evidence that the prefectural or the central government would do any better? A look around at Hokkaido tourism doesn't suggest they're doing an amazing job at attracting visitors or planning for the future. In fact, what I see are tetrapods and lots of spending on concrete.

Also, at least to my understanding, the police don't report/take instructions from the chos anyway. Probably centralised all the way back to Tokyo.

While zoning, green spaces, etc would be great, to my knowledge (and glad to be proved wrong), these tools don't exist at all in town planning at any level of government, anywhere in Japan. So what you're suggesting requires some wholesale reform of Japanese urban planning - going up against the entire establishment. Not sure that's going to happen without armed revolt ;)

Won't deny what the local governments are doing is absurd. The recent colour regulation in Niseko-cho means that new developments are supposed to be painted pastel pinks, yellows and blues. The colours were chosen by a Hokkaido University academic, wait for it, based on the buildings hues in San Francisco.? When asked if they had considered the needs of tourism, they reportedly said "..err no, should we have?"

I know the people at the Kanronomori are keen to try and get the colours revised. But as for petitions, I've never heard of non-native organisations successfully petitioning the government. To achieve change, probably need to use Japanese methods which generally involve teaming up with some back-room powerbrokers.
JD (2008-10-28 14:29:07)
What was I thinking? I really have to stop sniffing paint thinner before work.

I apologise.

I got carried away for a moment thinking that the Kutchan Klowns might actually have the "L" word in their vocabulary.

I should really know better considering how long I've lived here. Change the rules!? make people do their jobs!? make people responsible for their actions!? Mobilise the press!

What was I sniffing? I'm so embarrassed right now.

Moderator close the thread and file it away in the "But that's not logical..." trash can along with "but hey I pay taxes and don't get representation" threads.

Peace out
JD (2008-10-28 16:42:41)
What was I sniffing? [/quote]

4pm and watsed on toilet air fresher, it's a really good buzz btw, so good it's got me motivated again.

Now listen up suckas, I don't ask for much but when you start cutting off my access to the drink at some dibadob hour I gets a real mad and you wouldn't like it when I'm mad! For those who haven't read the actual heads up here it is.

"Proposed local rules for maintaining the living environment in Niseko Hirafu area Recently, as the Hirafu area has seen considerable development growth and internationalisation of the area, the local living environment has changed. Recently, complaints have been received from local residents and businesses in regards to late trading operations, rubbish problems and fireworks. The local rules have been decided. NPB will send you the details of the local rule soon.

Well thanks for asking for our contribution! Apparently this new law is for Hirafu only not kutchan.

If someone can be bothered to write up a form letter saying "suck my potatoes I wanna get off this train and cede from these klowns before they completely kill tourism in this town" , then please go ahead. Once done the correct email address for the Hokkaido Prefectual gov't international affairs division is somu.kokusai1@pref.hokkaido.lg.jp English is o.k.

Also draft one to NPB to ask WTF? are you free basing potatoes in that town hall? The proposal will kill any nightlife in this town. (or maybe I've missed the point and that's the idea) TOURISM is the industry we are in and TOURISM means that sometimes we have to make sacrifices!! Closing bars at midnight is not the right direction. (implementing commercial space bylaws is a better direction, my secret project)

Moderator I vote that you draft up the form letters for those who want to stop the kutchan klown rot. So lazy people can copy and paste and send to the appropriate people.

Not asking to change Japan, just wanna be able to drink my strawberry daiquiris at 3am like any other red-blooded man.
allriot (2008-10-28 17:06:03)
From a reliable source RE 12 closing:

- the rule/law is applicable nationally.
- it is not new.
- as long as you are NOT running a FUZOKU establishment (hostess bar etc) then
you simply go to the cops and fill out the paperwork and get permission to
keep your bar open later....it doesn't cost anything
- the bar owners themselves are responsible for this and not the town office or the cops
JD (2008-10-28 17:22:00)
Great, but before I start pulling down the barricades, can you ask your reliable source if the police can refuse to issue the permit and on what grounds?

If the police can and do refuse then we are back at square one of lameness.

If the police couldn't care less then, great back to 3am strawberry daiquiris, my shout.

Any test takers? Splash? Redbar? Northern Fox?
nudist (2008-10-29 12:00:20)
You have to remember, we are in a foreign country that has graciously accepted us and plenty of others in to its society, given us employment, the opportunity to to do business and hell of a lot of rights. In a perfect society we should demand more, but at the end of the day Japan hasn't done a bad job so who is to say our way of doing things is better? My way of seeing things, which I can imagine others may not agree with, is that if you feel you're being unfairly treated, perhaps you should be living in your own society or try and find somewhere else that gives you the rights you want?

I reckon overall the place is pretty good... bloody frustrating sometimes. But I leave my house unlocked everyday and have never been robbed. I can walk home at night without being worried I'll be mugged. I live in my own rented house and can walk around it nude. I'm pretty happy to be here and reckon my society can learn a lot from this one...

We do have the right to express our opinions so lets do that in a civilised manner. I think it's great that people want to start interacting with the local govt and I think that should be encouraged. But I think maybe there has to be better ways of going about it than aggression. I don't know that criticising and ridiculing the government and other local bodies in a local public forum will achieve much. I think it's great that it's being discussed though and I think that's the first step towards change...

The facts will emerge soon so when they do, perhaps individual and and group letters to several key places is a good place to start? Maybe we could put our suggestions to the NPB and suggest they also shoot off some letters?
JD (2008-10-29 16:02:25)
[b]nudist wrote:[/b]
[quote] My way of seeing things, which I can imagine others may not agree with, is that if you feel you're being unfairly treated, perhaps you should be living in your own society or try and find somewhere else that gives you the rights you want?

Thanks for your input, but I guess my main point got lost in my jibba jabbaring. My rant is not about being fairly treated. My rant is,

"I don't want to lose my job due to a bunch of re-actionary bylaws and lack of vision or planning which inturn eventually ruin the main industry in this town".

If tourism dies in this area because it's overdeveloped yet lacking most basic ammenities, bland and boring, no late night partying ,strict laws, no shops, nothing to do here when the mountain is shut, the restuarants are crowded and nigh impossible to get into cos there are only 6 left, then everyone loses out. And at the current pace it will only take 1-2 bad seasons of little snowfall to kill this town. (And believe it or not this is possible)

To save further speculation on my behalf I have contacted the NPB and asked them to clarify a bunch of points over the promotion of this area, who makes the tokubetsu rules for this area, who is actually involved in the decision making process and what exactly the new rules will be.

In the meantime I do however what to stimulate thoughts on making Niseko a "special" area, a somewhat test case for Japan. There are several valid reasons for this.

1. Unified promotion
2. A masterplan for sustainable growth (total long shot this one)
3. Tax incentives (no chance)
4. Add your own here.
nudist (2008-10-29 16:51:14)
Good ideas and looking forward to hearing more about what they're actually proposing...
Gtrain (2008-10-29 20:25:38)
Admin: whats going on with the new colour regulations? I hadn't heard that one.
allriot (2008-10-30 12:14:20)
RE extended licenses; acording to the K Town Police:

- in general they won't refuse the extended license as long as all the paper work is filled in (the paper work is rather detailed).
- they are concerned about noise on the premises, but once a patron leaves that is not the establishment`s responsibility.
- this law is NOT just a Kutchan or even Hokkaido law. it is the same nationally. everyone must do it.

According to the Kutchan police they have been "turning a blind eye" to those who claim "I didn't know", but with the complaints they are getting they must start cracking down on those who haven't bothered to come in and fill out the appropriate paper work.
if some bars are refused the extended trading hours permit then there would have to be a good reason for it. as mentoioned above:the law is the same EVERYWHERE throughout Japan.
legacy (2008-10-30 14:30:20)
My source confirms what allriot is saying regarding the late night license.
NPB (2008-10-30 17:01:49)
Just to add some facts to this thread, the NPB are assisting the Hirafu Shibu (Kutchan branch of the Tourism Association) in distributing this information to the NPB members.
These laws are not new and all the Hirafu Shibu are doing is reminding locals that they need to abide by the guidelines already in place.
I understand the Hirafu Shibu sent the draft letter to its 180 members for comments.
I have attached the letter that was sent. Please note the English version is for reference only and if you would like the full Japanese version, please contact the NPB office. You can email the NPB office at office@niseko.ne.jp or contact the Hirafu Shibu directly (Japanese only). [file name=Local_rules_for_maintaining_the_living_environment_in_Niseko_Hirafu_area_311008.doc size=44544]http://kutchannel.net/next/images/fbfiles/files/Local_rules_for_maintaining_the_living_environment_in_Niseko_Hirafu_area_311008.doc[/file]
JD (2008-10-30 20:02:25)

Thank-you for clearing up the matter. And apologies if I upset anyone with my wild speculations.

I do however hope that the seeds for a bigger vision for this area in terms of town planning/zoning, promotion and open dialogue have been planted.

Maybe NPB can take the leading role in changing the current situation.

Unless someone steps in soon, a great opportunity will be lost to make this place a legitimate "world class" destination.

Currently about 5 separate companies run the ski hills, the area is governed between two town offices, promotion is done by a mix of gov't and private businesses. This summer 2 events clashed cos of no unified promotion. There are no requirements for the big developers to provide commercial space (that I am aware of.)Transportation within the village and to outlying areas is inadequate. The list does go on and on...

To just simply say "this is Japan, don't upset the wa" at this stage is a total cop-out. Too much money has been invested in this area, the number of foreign land and business owners must be the highest outside of the 5 big cities in Japan. Billions and billions of yen has been generated for the local and prefectual economies because of international tourism to this area.

To assume the tourists will keep coming here purely for the mythical "15m" of snow a season is arrogant, short sighted and doomed for failure. (How many tourists who came here last March got any of that powder?) Tourists are a fickle bunch.

Dream time.....dream deep time

I know a lot of domestic tour companies are a closed shop but Japanese consumer tastes are changing and maybe this is where NPB can step in to bridge the cultural divide.

125 million people live in this country, most who love to shop.

Foreign businesses struggle to attract this market, even in summer. Give the Japanese a better reason to stay, not just fly through. Build a giant outlet mall, with some green space and hey presto instant crowds.

Luxury accommodation, outdoor activities and hen na gaijin to stare at. Hell if I was 65 living in Osaka I'd love to come up here for the cool summer, wander around a beautifully planned town, shop at the mall, eat at a restaurant serving weird foreign food, practise my highschool english on random big noses, it would be unlike anything else in Japan, it would be S for Subarashii yo!

Still dreaming...

What a great place, the mountain, local towns and businesses put aside their short sighted self-interest,personal grudges, greed and even their egos.

They actually talked to each other about something other than how big their bank accounts were, how many new developments they have sold, how many houses they are building, how many customers they have staying, how great their new car is, where they are going heliskiing next, and how terrible the exchange rates are.

Dream dream, dream,

They all got together and said "hey, we actually don't have a long term vision, we thought if we just kept building "luxury" apartments and selling them the people would keep coming. We didn't realise that the snow might not always be great and winter is only 1 of four seasons. We didn't think we had a moral obligation to our customers, employees and local residents to provide a sustainable future. We didn't think that maybe we should susidise commercial space or protect green space, offer tax breaks. Implement zoning so bars are not next to someones accommodation. After all we thought the 15m of snow was the only thing people wanted. We didn't realise that we had no clue about alpine resorts, and really we should have employed private and government consultants from other world ski resorts who have been through the same processes, survived and made the transition from a singluar season destination to a four season destination.

So they all got together, the mountain, local towns business leaders, petitioned the prefectual govt to designate Niseko as a special tourist area, not unlike other world resorts. This generated unprecedented domestic public interest in the area. Niseko was suddenly a buzz word for 125 million people, domestic summer bookings and applications for new luxury apartments went through the roof. The tax breaks enabled retailers to set up shops and provide alternatives to skiing. The new zoning laws moved the bars, nightclubs restuarants to a centralised area, and it was a pumping party time "Booty on steroids". It became a matter of prestige for the big Japanese retailer to have a shop in the new "special tourist zone". The mountain opened up all previously forbidden areas, because they started doing proper avalanche control work, money coming into the area was distributed to the mountain to put in new lifts, open up new areas, even a highspeed monorail from moiwa to hanazono to kutchan was put in. Money flowed into the area and was parceled out to both Niseko-cho and Kutchan-cho. No cleaning public toilets for the locals like in Yubari. International visitors raved about the services and amenties, shopping, Niseko had it all, and the skiing was alright as well if you bothered to come in winter, which most people didn't anymore because this was one hellva summer town, rooftop beer gardens, late night dance clubs and discounted retail shopping cos of the no consumption tax, tax breaks the retailers got. The world recession that killed most other international tourist destinations passed totally unnoticed in Niseko as 90% of visitors were domestic.
Everyone was a winner, The Hokkaido prefectual govt had once again shown its pioneering spirit and other prefectures looked on in envy. the Kutchan and Niseko local town coffers were overflowing, the local business leaders were richer than ever. Niseko was an even more awesome place to live and I kept my job........what a dream.

"There is nothing like a dream to create the future." Victor Hugo

"No employer today is independent of those about him. He cannot succeed alone, no matter how great his ability or capital. Business today is more than ever a question of cooperation.” Orison Swett Marden
Fetyukov (2008-11-01 14:29:57)
To sum up what you're saying:

1. Ski-resort
2. Dream
3. ?????
4. Profit
JD (2008-11-01 20:48:14)
To sum up

1. Ski resort
2. Dream (Vision)
3. Master Plan
4. Profits

However in reality it will go something like this

1. Ski resort
2. Wet dream
3. Sticky sheets of bureaucracy
4. Status quo
5. Repeat steps 3 & 4

Anyhow now that the facts are in and the closing down of the bars is not going to happen, it might be time to close this thread or shift the debate to something more pressing like "Employers, stop the salami fest, hire some females, please!"