The Niseko Tsunami Relief Summer Program brought over 420 refugees and displaced people from Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures to Niseko in the summer of 2011. Over half of these program participants were children. Some of these people had lost their homes in the tsunami or lived within the evacuation area around Fukushima nuclear plant. Most were residents of Fukushima who live outside of the evacuation areas. All were concerned about the impact the elevated radiation would have on their children.
We teamed up with the NPO Hokkaido Network for the Acceptance of Disaster Survivors, who chose Niseko to be the focal point of their Atarimae-no Natsuyasumi Hokkaido summer program. They did a great job of reaching out to the affected people, and arranging free travel (courtesy of the Hokkaido Government), and became our main pipeline for participants. Kutchan Town helped coordinate arrangements for those people with evacuation certificates.
Ours was a total community effort, which wouldn't have been possible without the combined efforts of all of our sponsors. Niseko's foreign property owners generously gave free accommodation in their apartments and houses, and local management companies donated staff time to coordinate the participant's stay. Niseko Town was also an active sponsor of the program, and donated free bus transit to some events and also tents for the main BBQ event. We were also very fortunate to have the help of many volunteers from Hirafu, Kutchan, and Niseko town.
The activity program was a key part of making people feel welcome, and over 6 weeks we had 121 events, spread amongst 32 different kinds of activities. In addition to our own original activity program, many local adventure companies offered free rafting, climbing, taiko drumming and other activities. Participants enjoyed the freedom of being able to pick and choose their events, and said this really helped them to feel at home and make new friends. You can see the complete program summary and also comments from the participants by clicking here.
Program planning began immediately after the tsunami on March 11, 2011, and the following management companies arranged for the free accommodation:
Niseko Discovery Holiday
North Star Management
The coordinating team was comprised of:
Keith Rodgers (Taiga Projects) - Program Coordinator for the Niseko Tsunami Relief Summer Program
Eiichi Takahashi - Niseko coordinator for the Hokkaido Network for the Acceptance of Disaster Survivors, our pipeline for participants through the broader Atarimae-no Natsuyasumi Hokkaido summer program.
Hisashi Wakatabe (Owashi Lodge) - events and volunteer coordinator
Yoko Kounoike (Niseko Promotion Board) - domestic media coordinator, events and sponsors coordinator