This post is intended to provide information around the effects on Niseko and Hokkaido from Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami that occurred in March 2011.
The 2011 Tohoku earthquake and subsequent tsunami devastated a large stretch of the east coast of Honshu (Japan’s main island). The initial focus was to assist the survivors with food, shelter and medical assistance. The current relief efforts are in providing accommodation and basic infrastructure to the affected areas. Rebuilding those communities will take considerable time and resources but given the manner in which the whole country has rallied around, coupled with generous support from overseas, the future is positive.
As if to add insult to injury the tsunami also affected the cooling systems at the Fukushima Nuclear power station resulting in the widely publicized reactor meltdowns and release of radiation. In many ways the resultant media frenzy overshadowed the humanitarian disaster that was unfolding in the coastal areas of Eastern Honshu.
The initial emergency responses were to cool the reactors in any way possible to prevent core meltdowns. This turned out to be unsuccessful with a resultant escape of nuclear radiation. The situation has stabilized with efforts now focused on preparation to decommission the reactors.
There are a number of options for those wishing to provide support including the Red Cross.
Visitors to Japan and Hokkaido
What can you expect?
Visitors to Hokkaido and Niseko can expect exactly the same as it would be every winter season… a beautiful and safe environment with the same amazing snow!
All of the main Hubs into mainland Japan (Narita, Handa and Osaka) are operating as normal. Transportation services around Japan are operating as normal accept in the immediate area of the Fukushima Daiichi power station and the coastal areas hit by the tsunami.
Direct transfers are also available to Chitose Sapproro (Hokkaido’s main gateway), from Seoul, Hong Kong and mainland China. If for any reason visitors to Hokkaido wish to avoid transferring through Tokyo, flying through Hong Kong is highly recommended.
Is it safe to visit Japan?
With the exception of the immediate area around the Fukushima Nuclear power station, the rest of Japan is perfectly safe. Regular updates on radiation levels in Japanese cities are available here.
For more updates aimed specifically at tourists coming to Japan, visit the Japanese National Tourism Organisation’s site here.
Is the food safe to eat?
All the food supplies in Japan are being continuously checked and are perfectly safe…. and just as delicious as before the earthquake.
The events in March 2011 were incredibly saddening and the following weeks were heart-breaking for anyone in Japan at the time. We were about 99% unaffected physically up here in Hokkaido, with the exception of our somewhat more empty slopes in springtime.
Of course, tourism throughout Japan has seen a downturn as a result, but we sincerely hope the recent events don’t affect people’s decision on visiting Hokkaido next winter. We will be operating as normal… the same great trips, finding the same amazing powder. Come and join us in winter 2012!