#1 The purchase


Welcome to our blog and thanks for taking the time to read our first post! The first post of a series where we take you through our adventure of purchasing a ski lodge and starting a company in Japan. For the ones who haven’t met us somewhere in the snow yet: who are we?

Nice to meet you! We are Annemiek (Annie) and Merijn (Dutchie), a couple from The Netherlands. Regardless of the flat character of our home country, together we have 19 years of experience teaching skiing and snowboarding.




While following the snow, Annie works remotely as a ‘digital snowmad’, developing e-learning courses for companies all over the world. Dutchie has been teaching in lots of different outdoor sports since 2000 and passionate about teaching. He is always searching for new ways to make your turns feel better. His off snow career is located in the kitchen working as a chef for several restaurants in Amsterdam. Read more at the ‘About us’ page.

After having ‘lived the live’ in the ski industry all around the world, we had reached that age that you feel you have to decide what to do with your grown-up life. Since the snow is our happy place, it was clear that we wanted to stay in the industry. To be able to survive in the ski industry for longer than 1 gap year you have a few options:

  1. You are good enough to become a trainer/examiner for the ski association.
  2. You have to start your own business.

It was obvious for us we had to go for the second option. Another clear fact was that Japan was part of the long term plan. Japan Snowsports was born!

Part of the dream was to have our own place in Japan. Especially, since purchasing real estate in Japan was a better shot for us than buying a house in Amsterdam (yes, it’s ridiculously affordable but don’t spread the word please). The place would be a place to live in for ourselves, big enough to host friends and family visiting, and maybe some of our own customers. Wait a minute, what went wrong there? We fell in love with a lodge…

Sooner than expected an opportunity came up. It wasn’t just a house though but a lodge, with 11 rooms, in Madarao ski resort. We didn’t particularly focus on Madarao however when we started looking into the location we realized it is ideally located, centred in between the resorts where we like to take our customers. On top of that, the walking distance to the slopes of Madarao ski resort was a big plus. We decided to do an offer. Meanwhile, we set up a crowdfunding initiative amongst close friends and family. This went better as expected (for which we are incredibly thankful!!!) and before we realised we gathered enough to be able to buy the lodge! After having seen it in real life, the decision was easy. LET’S DO IT.

On the 20th of June 2019, the previous owner handed us the key and we could enter our new home in Japan. The adventure began! Although, and most probably because we are coming to Japan for several years now, we knew this journey was going to become a challenging one for sure. Starting up a company and renovating a lodge in a country where you don’t speak the language, and where running from desk to desk to authorize some paperwork still provides many people full-time jobs. This is the journey we would like to take you on during these blog posts. Next to writing about the progress of the renovations, we will add in other information, like outdoor activities, culture and food we discovered in our little free time during our first summer here in Japan.

Hiking Madarao Peak

We have found out summer in Japan can be wet, hot and humid. Especially June and July. And then out of nothing, when August hits, it turns hot and dry. This is also when the Japanese schools have their holiday (Obon), the time of festivals (Matsuri) and the time to enjoy the outdoors.

Having the mountains in our back yard we had to enjoy those few sunny days in July. You can climb Madarao Peak from different angles. It’s an easy short hike and your effort gets well rewarded with awesome views over Lake Nojiriko.

El Bosco, Nojiriko

This week we highlight Hotel Restaurant El Bosco in Nojiriko. Surrounded by the forest and located right on the lakeside of lake Nojiri this hotel is a peaceful getaway from the city. The big windows all over the building allow you to fully absorb the beauty of the nature around it. The kitchen of the restaurant is lead by a Japanese chef who serves good quality French-style cuisine food, with a touch of Japan by using local seasonal ingredients. A perfect location to celebrate Annie’s birthday!

During the coming months while we are waiting for the snow to fall we will keep you updated of the progress on a regular base. The next post will be about: Demolition. We would love to hear a word from you in the comments below. Do you have a question about the renovation, the lodge, the snowsports school, or anything else? Post a comment, send us an e-mail or contact us via one of our social media channels.


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