Throughout Hokkaidō, Kutchan is known for its proximity to the world famous Niseko powder snow, and is most likely the arrival point for those travelling via the JR railway. The Kutchan JR station is also the last stop on the "Kutchan Night Go Bus" route, an extremely cost effective way to travel between Grand Hirafu and Kutchan. The cost to ride the bus is ¥200 for one week unlimited or ¥500 for unlimited use for a season (Dec 1st - Mar 31st). Passes can be purchased when you board the bus or at the Kutchan Tourism Association & Hirafu Safety Information Center.
The starting point for the coach is the Hirafu Welcome Center, just a few steps away from the King Pair lift on grand Hirafu. There is plenty of room for all your snow gear in the under-cabin storage. The bus makes nine stops between the Welcome Center and Kutchan Jr station, making the total trip time approximately twenty minutes. Prior to each stop a detailed over-head announcement is made in Japanese followed by English, stating the name of the stop as well as attractions in the area. If you have any questions as to what stop to get off at and can speak Japanese, ask the driver’s assistant, who is more than happy to assist. However, if you do not speak Japanese there are many knowledgeable English speaking Hirafu "locals" en route to Max Value to do their grocery shopping, and in true Japanese style, they are always willing to help.
The Night Bus is called so for an obvious reason; it only operates at night. The first coach leaves from the Hirafu Welcome center at 17:00 and the last coach departs Kutchan station at 23:00.
Hirafu has many shops and restaurants to choose from, but why not step out from Hirafu village and enjoy Kutchan’s shopping, eating, drinking and karaoke. Kutchan has a great range of restaurants, most of which are more cost effective then dining in the convenience of Hirafu. Here you will also find a great selection of the trendiest snow gear, delicious local sake, and the famous gosetsu-udon, a Japanese noodle made from potato flour.
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