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Honoring Niseko's Ainu Heritage: Embracing Sustainable Hospitality Investments

By Jo Lodder:


Niseko's flourishing tourism industry owes much to its breathtaking landscapes and world-class hospitality. However, amidst the rush for profits, there's a growing recognition of the need for a different kind of investment—one that respects the land, honours its indigenous heritage, and nurtures sustainable practices. This is where the wisdom of the Ainu people, the original stewards of these lands, holds invaluable lessons for modern developers and hospitality businesses.


Shinrit Eoripak Ainu Kawamura, right, holds a cup filled with sake during a blessing ceremony at a camp site in Date, Japan, on July 6, 2008.
Traditional Ainu Blessing Ceremony

The Ainu Way:

For centuries, the Ainu lived in harmony with the land, drawing sustenance from its bounty while respecting its rhythms and cycles. Their deep connection to nature serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of sustainability—a principle that must go beyond mere buzzwords and be deeply ingrained in every aspect of development and hospitality in Niseko.


An Ainu person teaching tourists their sustainable practises
An Ainu guide teaching their sustainable practices

Integrating Ainu Culture:

Investing in Niseko's hospitality sector provides an opportunity to not only embrace sustainable practices but also to celebrate and preserve Ainu culture. By incorporating elements of Ainu heritage into hospitality offerings—such as traditional craftsmanship, storytelling, and cuisine—property owners can enrich the visitor experience while honouring the indigenous roots of the land.


The river snaking through the Hokkaido countryside surrounded by beautiful trees
Hokkaido's Natural Beauty

Respect for the Land:

The Ainu revered the land as a sacred gift, understanding the delicate balance between human activity and the natural environment. In Niseko, developers and hospitality businesses must adopt a similar mindset, prioritizing sustainable practices that minimize environmental impact, conserve natural resources, and protect the region's pristine beauty for future generations.


Ita are a kind of flat carved wooden platter that is a part of inherited Ainu culture.
Nibutani Ita - A world of magnificent patterns

Community Empowerment:

Just as the Ainu lived in close-knit communities, modern hospitality investments in Niseko should prioritize community engagement and empowerment. This means forging partnerships with local stakeholders, supporting initiatives that benefit the broader community, and ensuring that economic prosperity is shared equitably among all residents.


Attus is fabric woven with fibers from the inner bark of trees like the lobed elm. Nibutani Attus, woven with traditional techniques passed down in the Nibutani region of Biratori, is a designated Traditional Craft Product of Japan.
Attus is fabric woven with fibers from the inner bark of trees like the lobed elm.

Legacy of Stewardship:

Ultimately, investing in Niseko's hospitality sector is about more than just financial gain—it's about building a legacy of stewardship and responsibility. By following the principles of sustainability, embracing Ainu culture, and fostering community connections, property owners can leave a positive impact that extends far beyond their own lifetimes, echoing the timeless wisdom of the Ainu people.


People watching traditional dance performed at the opening of the Ainu cultural facility "Ethnic Coexistence Symbol Space (Upopoi)"
The National Symbolic Space, the country's first national museum dedicated to the Ainu people

As Niseko's tourism industry continues to thrive, there's an urgent need to shift towards a more sustainable and culturally respectful approach to development and hospitality. By drawing inspiration from the Ainu's deep reverence for the land and integrating their rich cultural heritage into modern investments, property owners can create a legacy that honours the past, enriches the present, and ensures a vibrant and sustainable future for Niseko and its communities.



 


Jo Lodder enjoying the countryside with his dog Simba

Jo Lodder is a leading figure in the property industry, serving as the co-founder of JNW Properties Ltd, a dynamic property marketing firm specializing in Niseko projects. His entrepreneurial drive is underscored by notable accomplishments, notably becoming the first individual to conquer the challenging HK5Trails. Complementing his business acumen, Jo is also an avid sustainability practitioner, leveraging his expertise to champion eco-conscious practices within the property sector. Additionally, through his philanthropic endeavours with Action Asia Foundation, he demonstrates a commitment to making a tangible impact, particularly in enhancing the lives of individuals with disabilities in Hong Kong.


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JNW specializes in marketing and selling exceptional properties in Niseko, Japan, and Koh Samui, Thailand. We handpick and passionately represent properties we know and love, ensuring our clients receive the best possible experience.
Experience Excellence with JNW Properties Ltd - Your Trusted Property Partner.

JNW specializes in marketing and selling exceptional properties in Niseko, Japan, and Koh Samui, Thailand. We handpick and passionately represent properties we know and love, ensuring our clients receive the best possible experience.


Our services go beyond sales. We offer comprehensive property management solutions, from finding skilled managers to overseeing day-to-day operations. Trust us to handle every detail.


Whether you're looking to buy or manage a property, JNW is here to help.


Contact us today and discover the difference we can make for you.


Our Businesses

SnowDog Village: www.snowdogniseko.com

Raku Ichi Residences: www.rakuichiniseko.com


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