Where is this ‘Aspen of Asia?’

PUBLISHED ON Mar 17, 2020

Where is the ‘Aspen of Asia?’

Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan’s four main islands, is a skier’s paradise. Its powder runs are so impressive, the practice of skiing them has its own name, “Japow,” and enthusiasts travel from far and wide to experience the season, which sees on average 600 inches of snowfall.

Until the late 1990s, Hokkaido was a well-kept national secret, its slopes populated by domestic tourists and a handful of adventurous Australians. It didn’t stay that way for long. Within a decade the Japanese were joined by affluent individuals across Asia, all of whom desired more luxurious lodgings than their budget-friendly forebears.

Local and international developers saw the potential and began investing in Hokkaido’s ski resorts, in particular those around the resort town of Niseko, which is often called the “Aspen of Asia” on account of its luxury offerings and global appeal.

Individual investors followed, aided by a lack of restrictions on overseas buyers, and this has cultivated a strong property market. A report by Nikkei Asian Review noted that the price of land along a major street had risen 88% compared to the same period last year, making it the fastest-appreciating land in the country.

The region’s proximity to the rest of Asia, meant that those who have already invested in Hokkaido property were already seeing a healthy yield.

According to C9 Hotelworks, factors including freehold ownership, a weaker Japanese yen, and high capital gains have boosted the real estate market in Niseko. C9 Hotelworks stated that the average price for a condo in the Niseko resort had soared 25%, compared to the previous year. Current projects for sale are set to top US$1 billion in transaction value.

Niseko’s connectivity is reflected in Hokkaido’s diverse buyer market. The majority of investors hail from China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and Taiwan, and that these demographics have not changed significantly in the past three to five years.

Buyers in Niseko have the luxury of choice among apartments, villas and houses. Plots of land also present the opportunity to design and build a dream ski home, which is an increasingly popular option.

A number of renowned architects—including Japanese starchitect Kengo Kuma, who champions the use of natural materials and harmony with nature in his projects—have been commissioned to conceive properties in Niseko, both for developers and for private clients.

“Properties benefit from high quality Japanese construction and rapidly increasing yields on investment,” Mr. Lyon, a local real estate representative said. “It is the perfect place for investors to secure a spot for themselves in a world-class resort, and also enjoy strong returns from holiday rentals.”

Source: Mansion Global