• Hokkaido Shimbun

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English-language media outlets are stepping up their presence in Hokkaido’s renowned ski resort of Niseko, benefiting from growing global interest from skiers and snowboarders lured by the region’s fine powder snow.

In an attempt to reach out to the influx of foreign visitors, local publishers collectively put out at least 10 free magazines each year — mostly in English — filled with local news. Others have been publishing online videos showcasing Niseko’s appeal as a travel destination in a bid to draw more tourists. The active media sector is seen boosting the region’s overall growth.

“When I first came to Japan 12 years ago, we could hardly get any information in English, although it was in high demand given the number of foreign travelers (in the area),” recalled Kristian Lund, editor of the Niseko-based English-language magazine Powderlife.

Lund launched the free magazine in 2007. Since 2012, it has been issued quarterly, with 32,000 copies in the winter and 14,000 copies in the summer. Beyond Niseko, it has also been distributed in other areas in Japan and abroad, including Tokyo and Hong Kong.

The magazine covers information about local eateries, landscapes and even real estate, among other topics. The firm prides itself on publishing unbiased content thanks to revenue generated from advertising.

The latest edition issued this winter can route readers to Japanese translations online through QR codes printed on each page.

“I want to keep sharing what Japan and Niseko have to offer by publishing stories focusing on the local area and its people,” Lund said. He isn’t alone in his effort to reach out to travelers.

Experience Niseko, a free English-language community magazine issued by Hokkaido Tourism Management, — a real estate agency based in the town of Kutchan — is another outlet enjoying growing popularity.

In addition to distributing 10,000 copies of its English edition in the summer and 20,000 copies in the winter, the company has also been issuing 30,000 copies of its Japanese-language edition for domestic travelers since 2017. Among other topics, the magazine publishes stories about local lifestyles based on interviews with people who work in the area. The company’s efforts have paid off. In November, it was recognized as last year’s top free town magazine in a national contest.

“We’re hoping to spark travelers’ interest in Niseko by sharing information they may want to re-read even after their journey to the area to learn more about this town,” said Yuko Miyake, editor-in-chief of the magazine’s Japanese edition. As the interest in Niseko is growing, last year also saw the rise of new media platforms.

In November, Anthony Trovatello, a 40-year-old Australian director, launched an internet channel branded TV Niseko. Trovatello releases new episodes about three times a week, with English-language videos of up to 10 minutes introducing an aspect of Japanese culture or featuring interviews with tourists or residents. For example, past episodes feature information on Japanese methods of sorting trash or traveling by bus, which could be useful for seasonal workers from overseas who come for the winter.

Trovatello said he hopes to formally establish a business soon with hopes of generating income from advertising to finance further production.

“Powder snow isn’t the only thing I am focusing on,” he said. “I also want to share information about Niseko’s culture and daily information from the region.”

This section features topics and issues from Hokkaido covered by the Hokkaido Shimbun, the largest newspaper in the prefecture. The original article was published on Jan. 11.

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