By Tim Hornyak
RUSUTSU, Japan — As a Japanese couple teed off on a sweltering summer morning here in Rusutsu, a mountainous village in northern Japan, construction workers were building a new luxury condominium complex overlooking the fairways and ski slopes in the distance.
When it opens in December 2020, the 10-story complex, the Vale Rusutsu, will have 156 units at prices from $656,050 for single bedrooms to about $5.2 million for elaborate penthouses. That’s an eye-popping amount for Hokkaido, Japan’s sparsely populated northernmost main island, but the developer, Kamori Kanko, is banking on a growing crop of investors, as well as ski and golf enthusiasts, from Asia to make the $131 million project profitable. So far, it has sold 83 units, the company said.
“We have one of the largest golf courses in Japan, with mild summer temperatures averaging about 19 degrees Celsius (66 degrees Fahrenheit),” said Toshimune Suto, a real estate sales manager at Kamori Kanko. Its Rusutsu Resort was designed as an all-season playground near the slopes of Mount Yotei, a 6,225-foot volcano dominating this part of Hokkaido, about 800 kilometers, or 500 miles, from Tokyo.
In addition to 37 ski runs with more than 40 feet, or 12 meters, of snowfall per season, the resort has an amusement park, pools, rafting, hot air balloons and four 18-hole golf courses, including one designed by Masashi Ozaki, known as Jumbo, one of Japan’s most famous golfers.
Kamori Kanko began in the 1950s as the operator of a zoo. After acquiring the Rusutsu property in 1981, it continued to add facilities and develop the surrounding hills. In 1993, it built a hotel tower, now the Westin Rusutsu, and earlier this year it opened a Japanese-style onsen hot spring spa with sweeping views of the valley. When the adjacent Vale Rusutsu is finished, the resort will have a capacity of 3,634 beds.
Although Kamori Kanko owns most of the land in this part of the valley, others are vying for a piece of the local action, since large investments have gone into Niseko, a nearby ski resort.
Riverhill Growth, a Hong Kong development company, has acquired a plot abutting the resort’s Izumikawa golf course where it is building 10 four-bedroom, 3,200- to 4,300-square-foot, or 300- to 400-square-meter, chalets. The units, which will have big decks for barbecuing, heated patios and cedar cladding, will be priced at more than $2.5 million and will be maintained and rented out by an outside company.
“Holidaymakers from Asia come here and fall in love with the place and start looking at real estate,” said Anthony Hand, the managing director of developer Riverhill Growth. “Having a house on a golf course,’’ he added, “means buyers should be able to get rental revenue from it in summer as well as the skiing in winter.”
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