Urban grind or mountain chalet? In truth, most of us want the best of both worlds. Yet while many Japan residents dream of finding a quiet place to live surrounded by nature, would they trade their city conveniences to have a home with foxes scampering by and a ski slope as a backyard? One family has done just that.
Following their first ski holiday in Hokkaido nearly eight years ago, Christopher and Chigusa Peck returned to Niseko frequently to enjoy the light, fluffy powder. After staying for three weeks in December of 2006, they decided to make it their home. The health of their daughter Kylie was another big reason for the move. She suffered from respiratory problems in Tokyo, and they found the condition quickly went away once they got to Niseko.
Today Niseko, known as the "Whistler of the Far East", is being compared to other world-class winter sports destinations. People are drawn to the area for the consistent powder which falls at an annual average of 15 meters, as well as the vast and growing, choices for summer recreation.
Development, spurred by a large amount of foreign investment, has transformed the area over the last 10 years. The Pecks chose the Annupuri region to work and live, as it is the least developed of the three main areas encompassing Niseko.
They have capitalized on the popularity of the area by developing properties and offering property management through Annupuri Village, a company they started in 2006. Their dream was to make homes close to Niseko’s wonderful ski slopes while offering seclusion in a friendly community.
Their home, designed and built by Lindal Homes, a Seattle-based company with offices in Japan, was designed to blend in with the natural environment, and this same concept is followed with new homes they develop. Large, double-glazed windows help heat and cool, while high ceilings translate into rooflines that aid snow dispersal. Although not totally off the grid, they've incorporated many features to lessen the impact.
But, do they miss the city? Only slightly, they say. "We still manage to see most of our good friends regularly during the winter, as they come up to Niseko for holidays quite often."
Since leaving Tokyo with Kylie, local residents have gone out of their way to help the family adjust. When they have cravings, they send for things over the Internet, and they usually arrive overnight. When they need some urban excitement, they head into Sapporo, a two-hour drive away.
For the Pecks, Niseko is great place to live and raise a family, and they've moved right in. "We helped build green houses for pumpkin farmers so we can plan a community Halloween party to attract more tourists to Niseko," Chigusa adds. "This is the life we wanted for our children and, hopefully, they can pass on this lifestyle to the next generation. I hope others can share the great experience we are having."
Annupuri Village (www.annupurivillage.com)
Lindal Homes (www.lindaljapan.com)