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The thriving Hokkaido ski resort of Niseko is considered an anomaly among the many rural communities in Japan facing a slow demise from the shrinking and graying population.

But that was not always the case, says Australian Ross Findlay, a pioneer of the area’s outdoor recreation business who first moved to Niseko in the early 1990s when it was still a nondescript, sleepy town whose only attraction was skiing.

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