Japan's shrinking population has weighed on the world's third-biggest economy, alarmed government forecasters and turned some rural communities into veritable ghost towns.
Not so in Niseko, a ski resort community in Hokkaido that is prospering in the face of all the demographic gloom.
The local government has embraced immigration in a way the central government has not. The area's booming economy has spurred investment in luxury hotels, restaurants, and shops — and attracted local and expat workers who have become full-time residents. Niseko's population grew 2.9 percent last year to 4,952 compared with 2010 levels, the highest mark in four decades. Nationwide, the population slid 0.7 percent over the same period.