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  • Writer's pictureAdam German

The Ghost Resorts Chapter 3 on abandoned ski areas in Japan

Updated: 4 days ago

On January 9th, French independent ski and snowboard manufacturer blackcrows (small “b” on purpose) released the third chapter of their YouTube series “The Ghost Ski Resorts” focusing on Japan’s ski scene following the collapse of the bubble.

According to co-founder Camille Jaccoux on the company’s website, “For blackcrows the ghost resorts series is an exploration of the ski culture, of a heritage, a golden age, those places where there was life, that have closed, but where skiing still remains.”

The chapter interviews locals born in the Nozawa Onsen area who vividly remember the boom of the eighties but also watched as what was once considered ski havens turned to ruin amongst the backdrop of economic recession and subsequent abandonment following the burst of Japan’s bubble in the nineties.

The story underlines a theme amongst Japan’s regional areas; the opportunity to buy cheap land with great transport access.  These two ingredients provide investment opportunities for those with longer term views.

In October of 2023, Bloomberg reported that Patience Capital Group is leading investment into the Myoko Kogen area to the tune of JPY 200 billion (approx. US$1.37 billion at time of this writing) to revitalize the area based on the example set by Niseko in Hokkaido.

Disclaimer - Patience Capital Group is part owner of Patience Realty.

Ken Chan, founder of Patience Capital Group, outlined in the Bloomberg article that while it took 19 years for Niseko to be what it is today, Myoko can reach the same level in less time. 

Reasons given included a much greater upfront investment than Niseko had as well as Myoko more convenient proximity to Tokyo. 

Outside of the ski realm, other regional areas offer different avenues of revitalization such as the Naoshima and Settouchi region in west Japan. 

Instead of ski resorts, what used to be a copper smelter town has turned into Japan’s premiere art and wellness destination.  While Japan’s ski areas compete to be mentioned in the same breath as Whistler or Vail, the Naoshima and Settouchi area aims for a reputation on par with The Louvre.

Be it snow or art, the idea of Japan’s regional revitalization would not be this hot a topic were it not for the burgeoning inbound tourism numbers.

Since 2012, Japan’s inbound tourism market has seen unprecedented growth, interrupted only by the pandemic. 

Since October of 2023 however, inbound tourists have not only exceeded monthly 2019 figures but also hotel average daily rates from all nationalities have risen too. 

Japan’s long sought-after method of bringing regional areas back to the world stage is cautiously, yet optimistically, slowly becoming a reality.

Patience Realty can arrange onshore financing for large offshore investors looking to develop large projects in Japan.  Terms and conditions apply.  Inquire to quoting this article for more details.

Further Reading:

So you think you know IKIGAI? (presentation given by Patience Realty president Soichi Suzuki at the 2023 Global Wellness Summit)


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