Clean air, blue sky, majestic mountains and snow covering the ground as far as eye can see. This is Hokkaido or as it is called by the local people “The Winter Wonderland”. Hokkaido in winter is blanketed in powder, light snow giving the island natural beauty that has a lot to offer to its visitors. The ski resorts in Niseko attracts a lot of tourists from different parts of the world giving the town more liveliness and diversity. Apart from having a natural beauty and being home to amazing ski resorts, Hokkaido is also called as the ‘breadbasket of Japan’. This is due to the wide popularity of farming, fishing, as well as producing high quality and fresh products.
Niseko is a home to several dairy farms, Takahashi, being as one of the most popular among the locals and visitors producing high quality and organic products including cheese, yogurt, milk and ice cream. During our study trip, we had a chance to visit the Takahashi farm located on the road leading to Niseko town. Apart from the dairy farm, across the territory there are restaurants, ice cream and milk shops serving clients.
At the Takahashi farm we were welcomed by Mrs. Yuko Takai, the oldest daughter and the manager of the ranch. She introduced us with the history of the Takahashi farm and why the dairy farm was expanded to restaurants and shops. According to Mrs. Yuko Takai, the main idea behind initiation of cheese, ice cream and sweets production was the overabundance of milk during certain period of time. Since there was very less demand for milk during that period in Japan, dairy farmers were searching for an alternative to make milk more consumable. The dairy products trading started from small bottle of yogurts, cheese tarts and tiny ice-cream shops and milky tarts to a large business becoming one of the most preferred visiting place in Niseko for tourists and local people. Nowadays, the Takahashi dairy products have 130 distributors across Japan but still the demand for milk only, is less since Japanese people do not drink milk a lot. Mrs. Yuko Takai mentioned that for the purpose of not wasting the high quality milk, the Takahashi ranch is continuously working to increase the demand for dairy products.
Driven by the strong will of producing new product, the Takahashi farm decided to produce cheese that would be unique in its taste suiting to what Japanese people are looking for. Mastering the art of cheese making, the Takahashi farm offers a wide range of cheese assortment mouthwatering in taste and excellent in quality. Trying dairy products from Takahashi farm, we were truly satisfied with the delectable and unique tastes of the products. These kind of deliciously fresh cream puffs, cheese tarts and yogurt can be found only in Niseko at Takahashi farm where the work is done with huge diligence and dedication to produce high quality products to meet the needs of clients.
Moreover, I was astonished by the cozy restaurants built across the territory of the farm. There are two restaurants “Prativo” and “Mandriano” both built on the idea of offering dairy and farming fresh products that are unique in Hokkaido to its visitors. “Prativo” is an Italian inspired restaurant owned by Mrs. Yuko Takai and her family located at the edge of the Takahashi farm uses the dairy that comes from Milk Kobo and the food offered in the restaurant is cooked solely from the local vegetables, meat and seafood. “Mandriano” restaurant is the other restaurant annexed to the cheese factory offering freshly baked, delighted pizza with the cheese made in the factory nearby. Not only the delicious food in “Mandriano” but also the snug atmosphere created by relaxing music and the astonishing view of Mt. Yotei through the large windows in the restaurant made our lunch the most pleasant and enjoyable.
Furthermore, I found several fascinating facts about daily activities of Takahashi farm that make the operation of the business more successful. The employees at the ranch including those providing services in shops and restaurants are provided with best employees’ care. Mrs. Yuko Takai mentioned that since seventy percent of the employees at the farm are women, they are trying to create a favorable environment for them to combine their job with other household duties. Plus, employees working at the restaurants are sent to Italy to raise their qualification in food industry. The created job environment is a step toward providing gender equality at local level. Additionally, the Takahashi farm is planning to create its own biogas power plant for the sustainable development of the business in a long run.
To sum up, Niseko is a winter wonderland with breathtaking natural views, high mountains and most delicious and fresh food. It reminded me of my homeland Pamir, having the same high mountains with the most stunning view. Exploring Niseko and its successful tourism management one will try to have a positive contribution to the development of tourism sector in my country.