Getting Around in Niseko

  • By Tsuyuki

Niseko is a wonderful location to visit, with many attractions in the local area, including onsens, ski resorts, temples and eateries.

With so much to see and explore, you may be wondering how to travel around the local area. Thankfully, there are lots of transportation options to help you see the best of what Niseko has to offer. The best method of transport will vary depending on your circumstances, such as your budget, area of Niseko you plan to stay in and physical mobility. 

If you are staying in Hirafu, you will be within easy reach of a multitude of bars, restaurants and activities. If you wish to explore other areas such as Niseko Village, Annupuri or Kutchan, you will need to consider a suitable method of transportation.

Transport options in the Niseko region include:

  • Buses
  • Taxis
  • Rental Cars
  • Setsu Shuttle

Bus: The main tourist transport method in Niseko

The primary method of transport for tourists to the Niseko area is buses. There are a number of bus networks connecting each village surrounding Mt. Niseko-Annupuri. In total, there are four bus companies providing access between Annupuri and Kutchan. 

  • Niseko United Shuttle 

The Niseko United Shuttle is a year-round bus service that services twenty-one bus stops between Ikoino Yuyado Iroha (near Annupuri) and Hanazono. The bus fare is included in the Niseko United Lift Pass, or alternatively you may pay per stop. 

The Niseko United Bus is great for people looking to visit other resorts like Annupuri, Niseko Village or Hanazono.

  • Hirafu Free Shuttle Bus

The Hirafu Free Shuttle Bus is ideal for guests staying in Hirafu who want to catch a shuttle to the Grand Hirafu ski lifts or around town.

During the 2022/23 winter season, these free buses are operating from 15th December, 2022 to 28 February, 2023. Dates of operation may vary from year to year, so please visit their website for updated information. 

Starting from the 2022/23 winter season, the Hirafu Free Bus is operating a GPS tracking system so you can view the location of the bus from within the comfort of your home or accommodation without standing outside in the cold. 

More information about the free bus service in Grand Hirafu can be located on the Hirafu Free Bus website

  • Niseko - Kutchan Go Local Bus

Those staying in Hirafu may wish to venture beyond the village and head into the larger town of Kutchan a few kilometres down the road. With a wide range of restaurants, stores, bars, and other entertainment, the town of Kutchan is worth a visit.

Operating in the evening between 15th December and 28th February (during the 2022/23 winter season) the Kutchan Night GO Bus stops at eighteen stops between Kabayama Elementary School and JR Kutchan Station. 

The bus departs once per hour, four times each night, for a fare of ¥200-¥500 each way, depending on how far your journey is. 

Visit the website for more information about the schedule.

  • Hanazono Shuttle Bus

During the winter months, it is easy to access Hanazono Ski Resort from Hirafu Village by bus. Hanazono Ski Resort operates a free shuttle service between Upper Hirafu village and Hanazono from 8:00 to 19:00, from early December through to early April (during the 2022/2023 winter season).

  • Donan Bus

Niseko is connected to Sapporo, Rusutsu, New Chitose Airport and a variety of other destinations by the Donan bus network. Guests looking to visit other regions of Hokkaido should head to Kutchan before connecting to the relevant Donan line. More information about the Donan Bus Network in Hokkaido can be found at their website.

For those wishing to visit the nearby resort of Rusutsu, the Donman bus from JR Kutchan Station to Rusutsu is a great option.

Image owned by Hachiriki Taxi

Taxi: A convenient option for those with less mobility

There are a number of Taxi companies operating in the Niseko and Kutchan region. Taxis may be a great option for those with less mobility, with young children, or for those seeking to reach destinations outside of public transportation operation hours. 

Taxi services may need to be booked in advance and can involve lengthier wait times during the peak winter season. It is beneficial to plan ahead if you plan to catch a taxi.

As many of the taxi drivers do not speak English, if you are unable to speak basic Japanese it is worth showing the name of the destination you wish to travel to in Japanese.

  • IBS Taxis +81 (0)136-55-8602
  • Hachiriki Taxi  +81 (0)136-44-2800
  • Niseko INT Transport Taxi +81 (0)136-22-1171

Rental Cars: A great option for those wanting to drive themselves

For guests looking to travel beyond the Niseko region or seeking the ability to travel without any limitations, renting a car can be a great option. There are many options available for rental cars if you plan to rent a vehicle upon arrival in Sapporo. 

Alternatively, there are several options available from the Niseko and Kutchan local area:

  • Toyota Rent-a-car Kutchan +81 (0) 136-25-1010
  • Toyota Rent-a-car Niseko Hirafu +81 (0) 136-21-2005
  • Niseko Auto Rentals +81 (0)136-55-5991

Before deciding to rent a vehicle during the winter months, consider your skills and experience driving in snowy and icy conditions. The roads during the wintertime can be dangerous with varied conditions. Experience driving in similar conditions is advised.

Setsu Shuttles: A great option for those visiting Setsu

Hotel or restaurant guests at Setsu can enjoy easy access to and from the ski lifts and Kutchan with the Setsu Shuttle Services.

  • Setsu Ski Shuttle Services

We understand how important it is to easily access the ski mountain each day. Setsu Niseko will be providing a shuttle service to and from the Grand Hirafu ski slopes of the Welcome Centre and the Grand Hirafu Gondola for Setsu Niseko guests to ensure you get to the ski slope conveniently.

The shuttle departs from Setsu every 20 minutes from 8:00 until 40 minutes after the lifts close, from the first opening day of Grand Hirafu Ski Resort until the end of March (2022/23 winter season).

  • Kutchan Shuttle Services

Setsu Niseko offers a shuttle service to and from Kutchan for guests travelling by train or looking to experience the local charm and food Kutchan has to offer. The shuttle service makes one stop in Kutchan at the Kutchan Train Station. 

For guests wishing to visit a supermarket in Kutchan, the CO-OP supermarket is located right next to Kutchan Station.

The shuttle service departs from the main entrance at Setsu Niseko and drops off at the main bus stop at the Kutchan Train Station.

During the winter season the shuttle operates at regular intervals throughout the day from 11:00 to 20:00.

  • Private shuttle services

The Setsu Concierge team may be able to arrange private transfers for Setsu guests wishing to visit attractions beyond the Niseko area without driving themselves.

If you are staying at Setsu and would like some advice on how to get somewhere, please feel free to consult our concierge team via email or visit the front desk to arrange transfers or some advice on the best way to get around town.

You May Also Like

The Heroes Who Brings the Freshest Produce to Town

The Heroes Who Brings the Freshest Produce to Town

Get to know more about our local heroes, what they do and the story behind all their hard work producing and delivering the town's best quality vegetables for our locals and guests to enjoy. 

September 08, 2021
Read More
The Winter Legends

The Winter Legends

While we appreciate living in a town renowned for the best powder snow in the world, we also want to recognize the legends behind the beautiful snowscapes; the snow-clearing team who work incredibly hard throughout the whole snowy season, ensuring every guest has an amazing winter experience.

March 29, 2022
Read More
Travel Freely in Japan this Winter

Travel Freely in Japan this Winter

Setsu Niseko as a licenced Japanese travel agent can help you travel to Japan this winter. Japan is open to International tourist with a few extra steps required to enter.

September 14, 2022
Read More