Is this really Japan!? “NISEKO SUPERMARKET & DELI”

About 10km from the center of Kutchan-Cho, with variety of products, “NISEKO SUPERMARKET & DELI” opened in December of 2013 in the resort area Hirafu, which is called “mountain” from locals. This supermarket is apparently became very popular for foreigners staying in Niseko area. The sales clerk speaks English perfectly and most of the customers are people from outside of Japan. 

The first Deli in Kutchan for people from outside of Japan

The sales manager Ms. Naoko Tokunaga and staff Ms. Fue Kobayashi welcomed me at NISEKO SUPERMARKET & DELI. As I took a look around inside, displays of cheese, bread, fresh meat and vegetables reminded me of those in foreign countries. 
“I try to fill the shelves with variety of products to make customers feel comfortable as they are in their own country when they are staying in Hirafu”, says Ms. Tokunaga. Niseko is actually a huge resort area of about 10km around Niseko Annupuri, which includes hot springs of Hanazono, Hirafu, Higashiyama, Goshiki, Konbu, and ski mountains, and numerous accommodations. “Even the district is different, to people who visit here they are all NISEKO”, says Ms. Kobayashi.
NISEKO SUPERMARKET & DELI’s shelf is filled with foods, deli, and other goods that are thought to be necessary during the stay in Niseko. Things that are not on the shelves are available for custom orders, which is delivered tot he store within 72 hours. On the ski season in 2013, when NISEKO SUPERMARKET & DELI opened, it instantly became so popular that there were long lines to the casher. The store was still popular after the ski season. You’ll be able to interact with staffs who speaks English fluently.
As I took a look around the shelves, I was surprised by the size of products. For instance, I found a 400g block of Australian beef! There were many products that are not available in usual Japanese supermarket, such as a whole turkey in a bag.

Many stay for a month. What are attractions of staying at Hirafu?

“Many of the visitors to Hirafu come in every winter for snow, or come in summer. Those who come in summer came to Niseko at first in winter, and be attracted to Niseko, come back again in summer. Nationalities are various, some examples are Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, and other parts of Asia. In last 1-2 years, the number of visitors from North America and Europe is rising.” says Ms. Tokunaga.
Recently, the number of Chinese visitors who are from Hong Kong and Singapore is rising, it now consists the 2nd largest number of visitors, following those from Australia. In addition, visitors from other Asian countries such as Malaysia and Thailand is rising as well, and is predicted to rise more and more. Most of them speak English so in Niseko, English is more necessary than Chinese. By the way, average length of stay is about a month, but some of them stay for 3 month! 
Let me introduce the brief history of Hirafu area. From 1970’s, 4 ski resorts opened in Niseko Annupuri. This resort became to be known as a huge ski resort both in Japan and abroad. Visitors within Japan seems to be decreasing due to economy situation and the popularity of skiing itself, however, Niseko resort continues its growth as long as it gets visitors from all over the world. 

Let’s ask the visitors!

Let’s get back to the supermarket. Ms. Kobayashi asked how the stay in Niseko is like to Chris and Jay who where staying at a rental apartment and getting 2kg of lamb, vegetables, beers, and wines.
“I came from Australia and staying here for 2 weeks. I’m with 4 friends and staying at a rental apartment in Hirafu. I’m planning to enjoy golfing, cycling, and climbing during the stay. Today we are going to do BBQ with this beer, and with the view of Mount Yotei!”. 
Next I asked to a female visitor how the stay in Hirafu is like. “I came here as a family trip and staying for 1 week. I came to NISEKO because I wanted to get away from the city and relax in nature. This supermarket has enough variety of fresh herbs and cereals, and lots of familiar products. It’s really cool here and I’m loving it!” (Fiona says)
Like this, NISEKO SUPERMARKET & DELI respects everybody’s own style to get comfortable, and try to answer the needs during the stay in NISEKO.

Summer to Autumn is another attraction of NISEKO

Not only winter but there are lots of attractions from summer to autumn. Such as canoeing, rafting, camping, riding on a bike, trekking etc. 
Recently the number people from abroad who are living in NISEKO is growing, as there are lots of sports and real estate business going on around NISEKO.  As the number of facilities owned by foreigners increased, there are unique places named like “Kabuki” or “Tamashii” around here. (Which sounds pretty interesting to us Japanese)
This is Japan, but not Japan.
Come visit NISEKO SUPERMARKET & DELI if you have a chance to stay at this international resort Hirafu area in Kutchan-Cho.