The six ski resorts in Niseko (Hirafu, Niseko Village, Annupuri, Hanazono, Moiwa and Weiss) are scattered over a fairly large area spanning the towns of Niseko and Kutchan. If your timing is right, it’s fairly easy to get around by local bus and taxi.
By Shuttle Bus
From December through March, the Niseko United Shuttle Bus runs between Kutchan Station, Hirafu Welcom Center, Hilton Niseko Village and Northern Resort Annupuri. Services going all the way to Kutchan Station are more frequent in the late afternoon and evening.
The Hanazono Shuttle Bus runs from Hirafu Welcome Center to the Hanazono ski resort area. Buses depart every 30 minutes from 7.50 am to 5.10 pm. Large items such as suitcases are not allowed on board.
The shuttle buses above are free for holders of a valid Niseko All Mountain Lift Pass. Passengers can also use 12 Point Tickets or pay city bus fares (see below). For details, see niseko.ne.jp/en/access.
The Grand Shuttle Bus is a free service stopping at points around Hirafu Village every 15 to 20 minutes. It operates from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm from December 1 to April 7, with hours extended to 8.30 pm from December 11 to March 20. Large items such as suitcases are not allowed on board.
By City Bus
Donan Bus and Niseko Bus operate city buses year-round between Kutchan Station and Hirafu Welcome Center. Some services continue to Hilton Niseko Village. Passengers can load their ski or snowboard gear on the buses.
From December through March, there are one or two departures per hour from Kutchan Station, with the first at 7.50 am and the last at 11.10 pm. Fares vary according to distance. During the 2018-2019 winter season, the fare from Kutchan Station to Niseko Hirafu was 390 yen.
Check the bus schedule when you arrive at Kutchan Station or at NisekoTourism.com. You’ll find the Donan Bus stop on the right and the Niseko Bus stop on the left as you exist Kutchan Station.
Taxis are available in the parking area directly outside Kutchan Station, and can be hailed in Kutchan or Hirafu or ordered throughout the Niseko area.
Most drivers do not speak English, so show the name of your hotel or the address in Japanese. A 10-minute taxi ride will cost about 2,500 yen, and typical starting rates for the first 1.4 km are 560 yen for four-passenger taxis and 670 yen for nine-passenger taxis.
In winter, it’s best to book taxis in advance by calling one of the following.
Sprint Taxi (0136-55-5400; app available in English)
Niseko Hire (0136-44-2635)
Smile Taxi (0136-44-2700)
Sprint Taxi (0136-55-5400)
Niseko International Transport Taxi (0136-22-1171)
Hachiriki Taxi (0136-21-2508)
By Rental Car
There are a limited number of car rental companies around Niseko. Driving in Hokkaido in winter can be hazardous, especially for drivers who are not used to driving on icy roads or in blizzards and whiteout conditions. See our detailed article on car rentals in Japan for more information. The following are rental companies around Niseko.
Toyota Rent a Car: Located in Hirafu Village (0136-21-2005)
Niseko Car Rental: Located in Hirafu Village (080-3503-6230)
Washida Rent a Car: Located in Kutchan (0120-1155-39)
Article by Tim Hornyak. Photos by Tim Hornyak, Mayumi.K.Photography/pixta (1). All rights reserved.