《Hokkaido: the migrants’ choice – from Niseko》

From the town of Niseko in the Shiribeshi sub-prefecture, where many migrants gather, we introduce stories surrounding the ‘choices’ of people who decided to relocate.

Special feature

《Hokkaido: the migrants’ choice – from Niseko》 ⑤ Every day is “more than expected” after relocating due to headquarter move

On July 15 last year, Lupicia, a major enterprise with a chain of tea shops in Japan and abroad, moved its headquarters from Daikanyama, Tokyo to Niseko.

 Nakashita Yuka (48) was consulted about her own transfer immediately after – a sudden appointment from Tokyo to Niseko. The decision to relocate was not her own choice but a choice made as a company employee.

 In Tokyo, between her home and the nearest station there were five convenience stores. “I used to think about where to buy my lunch while I was walking, but in Niseko you can’t get to the convenience store unless you have a car. There are many things I didn’t realize when I was eating convenience store bentos (boxed lunches) in Tokyo, including how delicious vegetables are”.

 Like Nakashita, Nozawa Mayumi (43) also relocated to Niseko from Tokyo in September. She was consulted about her move at around the same time as the transfer of the headquarters. “To be honest, it was just unimaginable!” By the time she finishes work it’s dark, cold and there’s maybe a snowstorm outside. Even the foodstuffs were “more than expected”.

 While driving her car in mid-December, Nozawa was caught up in a blizzard. It was the first time in her life she had experienced a white-out. She is now facing up to the severity of Niseko’s climate.

Nakashita (left) and Nozawa, who both relocated after their company headquarters moved, in front of the Lupicia headquarters in Niseko with Mt. Yotei in the background, Oct. 28, 2020.

The transfer of Lupicia’s headquarters from Tokyo to Niseko is attracting attention as a new enterprise movement, as the flow to date as tended to be from regions to central areas.

With regard to the purpose of Lupicia’s move, company chairman and C. E. O. Mizuguchi Hiroki says, “As a company that uses natural ingredients, it’s necessary to lead a lifestyle while sensing symbiosis with nature”.
It’s not as if anywhere would have been good. The reason Mizuguchi chose Niseko was that “many foreigners come to Niseko and it’s become a fashionable rural area.”

Changes in lifestyle also bring about changes in work. Every week, Nakashita Yuka is surprised by the fish section of the supermarket in which she does her food shopping. “It’s delicious, fresh and cheap”. There are always new discoveries in everyday life that can lead to product development.

When working in Tokyo, the work partners with whom they cooperated throughout Japan were all linked online. This is the same in Niseko, as is the proposal of ingredients and the thinking involved in new products; the workplace has changed but the way of working hasn’t.

More than 10 Lupicia employees have started working in Niseko. Work to create the new headquarters on a 16-hectare plot of land that also includes a microbrewery that began operating last year, will began this year.

The enterprise that grew in the city is building a new base in the regions. Will the new style of business relocation succeed? Maybe this will trigger questions about the existence of enterprises concentrated in the city.



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