Ahhh 2021 - where do we start?
Like many others, the year was a mixed bag - as we keenly forgot about 2020, we looked towards 2021 for a glimpse of brighter days and started adjusting to the 'new normal'. We certainly had some downs as international borders remained closed and we once again had to send 'wish you were here's to our beloved guests from afar. But with that said, we were lucky enough to have a lot of 'ups' throughout the year as well, which reminded us of everyday things that we can be grateful for, and what exciting things we have to look forward to in the future.
Come with us as we reflect on 2021 and all the events that made us smile during the year.
2021 marked a big milestone for EdVenture - 10 years in the making!
It was a great year, with a busy summer of new and returning faces joining camp. New activities like tree planting and chocolate making were added, and a new campsite at Shiraoi formed the backdrop for some of our overnight camping trips. The EdVenture team were sad to once again miss out on hosting some of our long-term families who visit each year, but enjoyed a busier summer than 2020 thanks the support of Japanese families, both local and from around the country. We successful ran another Autumn camp, also thanks to the domestic community. 2021's Autumn camp allowed families to see, smell, touch and taste all the beauty Hokkaido has to offer in the colorful months.
With the 10 year anniversary, we took the opportunity to speak with some old friends to reflect on the years-gone-by, and reminisce on the humble beginnings of the programs. We had the pleasure of catching up with a few families who've been with us since the very beginning and talk about how much their children have grown with EdVenture. We got to hear some great memories and stories of friendship, and of EdVenture's lasting impact on their lives. Sitting down with EdVenture staff was also a highlight, as we discussed the 'behind the scenes' action from the last 10 years, how the activities were developed and what the staff are looking forward to seeing EdVenture become in the next 10 years.
TOMO Restaurant reopened in 2021 with a new concept - soul food inspired by Niseko's international community. The reopening was very successful, with the unique dishes and great quality attracting a great base of local regulars and in house guests. With more variety in the menu, TOMO Restaurant quickly became a go-to spot for many in the summer. The vegetarian and vegan items were also a big hit, and we welcomed new customers of all diets through the doors in 2021!
TOMO Restaurant also hosted its first Summer Sessions, a sunset event with a beer garden & live music. The event was a great success, and a great summer highlight for the local community. Striving to be a restaurant that's friendly to visitors from near and far, TOMO attracted many guests who brought their little ones to play at The Orchards play area, or customers who have dogs to sit out on the outdoor seating area. It is always heartwarming to see the restaurant with guests and customers, especially when those people become regulars and keep on visiting. TOMO has continued the new concept but brought back dinner service for winter, and has been welcoming locals and visitors regularly, including for special festive meals during the Christmas and New Year period.
International borders remained closed in 2021, so we couldn't welcome our overseas friends, especially our regular EdVenture families from Hong Kong, Australia, Singapore and the US. But that didn't mean we couldn't share the magic of Niseko - in summer we welcomed many new families and friends from around Japan, who fell in love with the community vibe of Niseko and its incomparable natural beauty. We are so grateful for the love and support we experienced this summer and throughout 2021 from all of our new guests - we can't wait to welcome you back soon!
We were grateful to have had some special guests join us at MnK Niseko this year! We hosted band THREE1989, famous skater Rita Ishizuka, the contestants of The Niseko Adventure Race, and Tokyo-based celebrity chef Katy Cole during their visits to Niseko.
We had the pleasure of welcoming the members of band THREE1989 at The Orchards for their summer music camp. The band chose Niseko for a change of scenery compared to their usual busy city life. With the natural beauty of Niseko, the band was able to create some wonderful music inspired by the Niseko lifestyle. All three of them truly enjoyed their stay and mentioned they could not wait to come back soon.
Superstar 4 year old skateboarder Rita visited us this summer for a fun filled weekend. He joined EdVenture for a day where he built his very own skateboard (and showed us his a-mazing tricks) and experienced all the goodness summers in Niseko had to offer. His family stayed with us at The Orchards, and numerous times Rita and his family visited our very own TOMO Restaurant where he enjoyed the famous TOMO burger! We are so excited to welcome him again very soon and be able to witness him grow both as a child and as a skateboard rockstar.
This year's Niseko Adventure Race began at The Orchards! The racers undertook a grueling 24 hour journey into the Niseko wilderness that tested their ultimate orienteering, fitness and teamwork skills. It was truly exciting to see all contestants start and finish on our grounds. The contestants also stayed at The Orchards throughout the race. The event ended with lots of happy (and tired!) racers, and a summer BBQ party on the green in front of The Orchards.
We had the pleasure of hosting celebrity chef Katy Cole at Country Resort for the festive season. Katy is known in Japan (and her home state of California) for her farm-to-table restaurant Locale in Meguro, Tokyo, where the relationship between farmers and chefs is a key part of the dining experience.
After hearing about her love for Hokkaido's powder snow, we invited her up to stay at Country Resort, and some of our guests were lucky enough to experience her culinary prowess firsthand. On New Years Day, Katy cooked up a feast using locally sourced and specialty ingredients, and served a delectable menu including Yellowtail Crudo with Beet, Celery, Kumquat and White Soy Vinaigrette, Sunchoke Soup with Piment d'Espelette and Roast Kagoshima Pork Shoulder with Braised Beans, Roast Turnips & Salsa Verde.
If you would like to experience a farm-to-table inhouse dining experience with Katy during your stay in Niseko, be sure to contact our guest services team.
As everyone knows and experienced, 2020 and 2021 were difficult for many. As we mentioned at the beginning, we were very fortunate to have support from Japanese guests visiting in 2021, and some who even became instant repeaters in our accommodation and kids camp programs.
With that in mind, in 2021 we continued giving back to the community who supports us both locally and internationally. By giving back to our community near and far, we also felt the importance of sharing the gratitude as well.
For the local community, EdVenture collaborated with Takahashi Milk Kobo on an event for local children with fun Halloween activities. We had so much fun seeing new and familiar faces enjoying the activities like pumpkin carving, chocolate apple making and mask decoration. In Winter, EdVenture also offered an affordable locals' program and ski school schedule during school holidays for kids in the region to improve their skiing and snowboarding skills in a fun, international environment.
We shared our gratitude and sponsored a charity ball for the ACCJ (American Chamber of Commerce in Japan) who support local charities throughout Japan, where we offered a stay in our chalets as one of the prizes for the auction.
In addition to the ACCJ Charity Ball, we donated a holiday to the Habitat for Humanity Charity Auction alongside other notable sponsors such as: Amazon and Johnson + Johnson.
Our newest development project, Takeo Drive progressed in leaps and bounds in 2021. The primary site was subdivided and a road was built early in the year, and its 9 plots are now on sale. Plot A has already been sold and signed, and we are receiving more interest every day - we are very excited to see how this project unfolds in the coming months!
Located in Arishima, Niseko Town, Takeo Drive sits in between Mt. Yotei and Takeo Arishima Memorial Museum. With its location comes stunning views of both Mt. Yotei and Mt. Annupuri.
For more information and inquiries on Takeo Drive, please visit here.
And that's a wrap on our favorite moments of 2021! We cannot express our gratitude enough for the love, the support and to all the guests and opportunities that we had in 2021. We're looking towards 2022 with a warm heart filled with excitement for what's to come.