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20 Mar

Getting to Kutchan

Kutchan has many things to offer, the restaurants and bars are somewhat cheaper than in Hirafu and a range of stores including the huge Mega Value supermarket which is practically a day trip in itself. Although it may seem a bit daunting when you arrive, getting to Kutchan from Niseko and Hirafu is easy. Follow our tips below for a hassle-free journey so you can step out from Niseko and enjoy shopping, eating, drinking and even a spot of karaoke in Kutchan. 

Option 1. By bus

During the day time Ki Niseko provides on-demand shuttle service within the Hirafu Village and to downtown Kutchan. The shuttle goes to downtown Kutchan, stopping at Lucky Supermarket and Kutchan Station (JR Train) before returning to Ki Niseko. The shuttle accommodates a limited number of guests per trip and you will need to be at the shuttle stop five minutes prior to the shuttle departure time. The trip takes around 15 minutes but the timings of the shuttle may vary due to road or traffic conditions. So, make sure you allow time to get to your destination or arrange alternate transportation if necessary.

Winter – operating schedule

Depart Ki Niseko to Lucky Supermarket   Depart Lucky Supermarket to Kutchan Station     Depart Kutchan Station to Ki Niseko
12:00   12:20   12:30
14:00   14:20   14:30
16:00   16:20   16:30
18:00   18:20   18:30
20:00   20:20   20:30


Spring – operating schedule

Depart Ki Niseko to Lucky Supermarket   Depart Lucky Supermarket to Kutchan Station     Depart Kutchan Station to Ki Niseko
12:00   12:20   12:30
14:00   14:20   14:30
16:00   16:20   16:30
18:00   18:20   18:30


Option 2. By train
Train services operate between Sapporo Station and Kutchan Station, with many requiring a transfer at Otaru Station on the way. This journey is around 93km. With good connections, this can be done in as little as around 100 minutes – but sometimes waiting for connections at Otaru can be fairly lengthy and greatly increase that time. If you’re travelling between Niseko and Kutchan, catch the Hakodate Line from Niseko Station towards Otaru. The trains run regularly and the journey takes around 15 minutes costing 260 yen.

Option 3. By car
Driving in Niseko can be difficult due to the amount of snow and ice on the roads so please be careful! It takes between 15 and 20 minutes to drive from Hirafu station to Kutchan. You’ll need to head East from the station for 1.8km, then stick to the main highway. You will pass by the Hirafu Golf Centre on your left. Turn right at Kita 4 Nishi 1 towards Kimobetsu then turn left at Kita 4 Higashi onto Magpie-Jairo towards Akaigawa.

Option 4. Taking a taxi
Although taxis can be hard to come by in Niseko it is possible to hail on every once in a while. You will usually be able to hail a taxi from one of the major streets in Hirafu. Taxis cost about ¥2,500 for a ten-minute trip and the drivers probably won’t speak English so make sure you have a business/place name and map on hand to show them. Often, if you just have the address, they may not be able to find your destination. For the best chance of success, take the directions and street names in Japanese if possible. Many taxis have roof racks for skis, snowboards and heavy luggage but drivers may have difficulty fitting in numerous large ski or board bags onto the racks.

Option 5. Hitchhiking 
Hitchhiking is very common in Niseko, particularly for many seasonal workers who do not have access to a car. Many mini buses owned by hotels, guesthouses and ski schools pass between Kutchan and Niseko each day, with a number of empty seats. Hitchhiking is a great way to meet new people. It’s best to hitchhike from a main road to increase your chances of getting picked up and choose a place where cars are likely to be slowing down and can stop safely. Writing out a sign to hold up will help encourage drivers to stop and a big smile always goes a long way too. 

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