中富良野の人

Connecting residents and visitors through innovative volunteer work

Shinji Kitaura

Shinji Kitaura

Born in Osaka. He is the current head of the Nakafurano Tourism Volunteer Club. He also runs a cafe called “beberui”, located in the Beberui district of the town.

A series of coincidences that led to life in Nakafurano

Shinji Kitaura came to live in Nakafurano through serendipitous circumstances. He first came to the town when he was asked by relatives to locate a tract of land they had supposedly purchased. He decided to stay for a while to sort out problems in identifying the land. It was during this time that he became close with an old man who lived in the mountains. This friendship led him to build his own lodge in the woods and live like a hermit, with no need for waterworks or electricity. He then met Kazumi, the woman who would become his wife and life partner. 10 years later in 2006, they moved house into a farm, taking over the reins from a retiring farmer. They renovated the house and turned it into a cafe with the help of volunteers.

 

A life of meeting and interacting with people

Shinji Kitaura likes to live a down-to-earth lifestyle, which means getting to know the local people and contributing to the community. He has built a water well, a farmer’s market, and a cafe in the town, with the aim of making people gather and meet each other. At his cafe, he welcomes every visitor with a smile. The cafe menu includes a popular lunch plate and great-tasting coffee brewed with spring water.

 

Offering visitors a deeper experience of Nakafurano

Another way Shinji Kitaura contributes to the community is through volunteer tour guide activities, which he has been doing for almost 10 years. He currently helps in guiding tourists at Nakafurano Station and visitors at local events. Whether he’s running the cafe or out volunteering, he makes it a point to provide more than just simple directions. As a friendly gesture, he likes to offer deep local information, such as the best places in town to see the night sky.

 

Making every townsperson a Nakafurano tour guide

Shinji Kitaura likes to redefine the image of volunteer work. He often holds study groups for the volunteer club, helping members refresh their knowledge and find new ways of guiding visitors. These study groups always have a fun, casual atmosphere. Shinji believes that tourists are more likely to have fun when the tour guides themselves enjoy their work. His goal is to raise the town’s awareness and make every resident become part of its tourism. Elderly residents can share their knowledge of the town’s history, and local children who interact with foreign visitors can broaden their own worldview. When everyone in the town works toward a common goal, the possibilities become endless.

 

Nakafurano Tourism Association