Through sports and tourism, we vitalize local economies and create employment to serve our community

The birth of sports and tourism business through the restoration of ski resorts and utilization of empty space.

During the bubble, Japan experienced a ski boom. Afterward, the number of skiers at peak times, amounting to 20 million, decreased to approximately seven million, and Japanese ski resort market was headed onto a path of shrinking. In 2005, Nippon Ski Resort Development was founded to do away with the devastating situation. Ski resorts are a regional industry, and we have continued to move forward based on the belief that revitalizing ski resorts would lead to the return of enthusiasm of different regions of Japan. In 2015, we were listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange Mother’s Market, and became the first listed company in which its main business is in ski resorts. Currently, we operate eight different ski resorts. On the other hand, Nippon Theme Park Development is working to revitalize the entire area. In 2016, we took over "Nasu Highland Park" and have been trying to rebuild our business. In 2020, we also grouped “Nasu Kogen Rindo-ko Family Bokujyo”, are discovering tourism resources for the entire area centered on the symbolic theme parks of the area, and working on branding and value enhancement of the area. The mission of the tourism business ifs to further enhance the attractiveness of 5,000 villa lots on 8 million square meters of land and to revitalize the area together with the locals.

Regarding Our Work in Sports Business

Management outside of ski season is the key to restoration of ski resorts

Suzuki: A large issue regarding ski resorts would be the fact that there was no business outside of winter. However, once you live in that region, you start to realize that even during the green season, there are a lot of attractions in every region. For example, in Kashimayari in Nagano, there were several hundred skiers’ beds. Utilizing this, we started the planning of increasingly popular kids’ camp events and sales as a training camp facility for triathlon athletes. In Ryuo, we started the “Sora Terrace” business, in which we utilized the strength of Japan’s largest ropeway as well as the nature specific to the peak area of the mountain with its great scenery and view. At the terrace set up in the peak area, at an elevation of 1800m, one can enjoy the sea of clouds and the beautiful sunset while relaxing. Also, a big renewal of the restaurant next door to the Sora Terrace, along with its new menu, has led to an increase in customers, especially women, who enjoy the great cuisine and coffee. In addition, Hakuba Iwatake has maintained its popularity with its vast lily garden, with approximately 2 million flowers blooming in the green season, and has also opened a new mountain bike field, where we have attracted more customers with new courses every year. Through these activities, we have been putting effort into green season business, by maximizing the utilization of existing hardware and every mountain’s attractions. Not only do our profits increase, but we have also been able to hire more employees, from winter-only part-time to full-time employees.

Suzuki: A large number of the founding members of Nippon Ski Development are ski enthusiasts. They often say, “I can’t understand how it is possible not to go skiing every year”. But, I also understand how those who don’t go skiing feel. Because of this, I think I have been able to objectively judge the service of ski resorts, and work on the improvement. At the same time, I was very interested in regional revitalization. By discovering something special that can only be found in that particular region and spreading it to the larger society, I hope that we can contribute to the heightened worth of that region. In Gifu prefecture’s local area surrounding a ski resort known as Meiho, we discovered that other than the very famous Meiho ham, they make delicious rice. Also, in Gunma prefecture’s Kawaba-mura, where Kawaba Ski Resort is located, “Yuki Hotaka”, a multiple award-winning rice, is a specialty crop. Alongside the roads of both Meiho and Kawaba’s station, we operate rice ball shops that utilize these foods. Rather than Nippon Ski Development, we find importance in making the people of the ski resorts and the local area the key players. Already at Kashimayari, Kawaba Ski Resort, and Meiho Ski Resort, we are relying on local individuals as representatives of the respective resorts. Through collaborative efforts in ski resort management, we have the locals absorb management skills; we look forward to the day when they eventually take on the management role.
For people in the region, it is something to be happy about, and I believe the birth of new human capital, locally, that can take on management will lead to a more energized region. By firmly holding onto a long-term vision, and innovating both “hardware” and“software” sides of regional support and the ski resort as a core business, I would like to see cooperation with the regions in creating a better future, 20, 20 years down the line.

Regarding Our Work in Tourism Business

Record high number of visitors achieved during the coronavirus pandemic
City - Revitalizing rural tourist areas, starting with a theme park.

Yukimoto: Revitalizing the entire Nasu area by revamping the symbolic “Nasu Highland Park” is exactly what Nippon Theme Park Development is working on. Since taking over in 2016, we have invested in attractions and accommodation facilities that will be one of the largest in Japan and the first appearance in Japan, and we are promoting the creation of a pet-friendly amusement park. Before coronavirus, there were more than 500,000 visitors a year. However, from April to May 2020, business was suspended due to the declaration of the state of emergency. Sales of 50 million yen a day were lost. The first thing I worked on was an interview with each employee. Through dialogue, we started to think about what we could do and put it into shape. This is an attempt to deliver fun even if the profits are small, such as the distribution of video content "Ouchi De Nasuhai" that allows you to enjoy the feeling of an amusement park while staying at home, and the Bento box delivery service "Nasu Delivery". In addition, since many schools canceled their school trips and accommodation classes to the Tokyo area, after the declaration of the state of emergency, we have been marketing to elementary and junior high schools and travel agencies in the Tohoku and northern Kanto regions to attract new group visitors. As a result, we had 50,000 new visitors in 2021, and especially from October to December, we were able to reach the highest number of visitors in the last 10 years. Also, we are giving away an annual pass for the following year with the hope that they will come again even after graduating from school. If they remember, they will surely come back when you have a family in the future. On the other hand, “Nasu Kogen Rindo-ko Family Bokujyo”, which was grouped during the state of emergency, is a theme park with a ranch targeting local preschoolers. It was a start from the deficit due to the coronavirus pandemic but we were able to turn a profit in the following year due to the major renewal of the facilities while the park was closed and the strengthening of sales of all-you-can-ride passes.
I've heard many stories about amusement parks all over Japan that had to be closed due to the coronavirus. In order to rejuvenate the amusement park industry, we would like to improve operations and utilize DX (digital transformation) through business alliances and eliminate even one amusement park from being closed.

Yukimoto: For the theme parks that overcame the coronavirus pandemic with steady efforts, the accommodation business and the villa business also devoted resources to the coronavirus pandemic and did not hesitate to make new investments. The theme park business personnel have been shifted to the villa division, and all new employees in April 2020 have also been assigned to the villa division. We accumulated profits by calling each owner of the villa and calling for care such as mowing and thinning. In addition, we prepared heavy machinery by ourselves and proceeded with thinning of the forest, expanded the camp site where demand was growing due to the coronavirus pandemic. We used our internal resources to do the work, so we were able to increase the number of sites from 22 to 55 with an investment of several million yen. In addition, although the number of guests staying at the cottage decreased temporarily, there were some long-term guests from Tokyo who stayed for 50 to 60 nights in a row. After the state of emergency was declared, we also decided to build a new villa. Demand for cottage-type accommodations that allow you to spend time away from other guests has increased, so the first investment is to increase the use as a rental villa. Eventually, it will be sold as a villa, but since it will be profitable enough to operate as an accommodation facility, it will be used as a rental villa until it is sold. In the accommodation business, buffet-style dinners became difficult in coronavirus, so we switched to outdoor barbecue-based dinners. A service to cater barbecue sets to the villa has also started, and in October 2021a pet-friendly semi-private room type barbecue site was newly opened. We have steadily improved our business performance by working to meet the new needs of coronavirus pandemic. Regional revitalization is often talked about in the order of town, people, and work, but we think that it starts with work. Because people have jobs, the number of people is increasing in a city, and the city can be created there. We are currently increasing the number of hires in Nippon Theme Park Development, by increasing the number of hires, we would like to increase the number of people who live in the city alone, prevent the outflow of population in rural areas, and further enhance the attractiveness of the city.

*Information on this webpage is as of the time of the interview.


Nippon Ski Resort Development
President and CEO
Shuhei Suzuki

Joined Nippon Parking Development in 2006, after experience in an audit corporation and a golf course revitalization fund. In the following year, became the chief financial director at age 30. Afterward, in 2012, became the president of Nippon Ski Resort Development, and achieved listing on the Mother’s market of the Tokyo Stock Exchange in 2015.

Nippon Theme Park Development
President and CEO
Satoshi Yukimoto

In 2003, joined Nippon Parking Development as a new graduate. In 2007 joined Nippon Ski Resort Development, in 2010, became president of Kita Shiga Ryuoo Co. (Ryuoo Ski Park). In 2016, became president of Nippon Theme Park Kaihatsu with the launch of the theme park business.

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