How to melt all that Niseko snow
Many of the local farmers and old timers in Niseko will tell you that the same volume of snow will fall during the season. We hit 14 meters of the white stuff at village level early in March 2012, which has left many people saying “is the season over?” Maybe with the exception of a few more storms..?
Over the last week I have noticed the guy who farms the rice paddies at the bottom of Hirafu village getting ready for spring, he spent two days clearing the snow from his farm yard before moving onto stage two.
Cover it in dark stuff
Niseko is the potato capital of Japan and the farmers need all that pesky snow gone as soon as possible so they can start farming; they have a simple solution. Cover the two meter thick base of snow in ash from the winter fires or other dark organic matter that is normally rice husks from the previous year.
This serves two purposes. One, the ash or other organic matter is a fertiliser for the soil. Two, by making the snow dark it does not reflect the sun light and that in turn melts the snow faster. By late April or early May all the snow will be gone and crops can flourish.