The first pioneers arrived in Kutchan from Honshu in 1891. While it may seem that Kutchan’s beginnings can be traced back to that year, there is actually a long history of people inhabiting the area.
Close to the Niseko-Higashiyama ski area is a stone circle built around 4,000 years ago in the latter part of the Jomon period, revealing that this area has been inhabited for thousands of years. The early inhabitants lived off the bounteous land and they, like us, would have taken pleasure in the beauty of Mt Yotei and the surrounding scenery.
Shinto Shrines and Buddhist Temples
Around the turn of the twentieth century, settlers in the Niseko region started to establish temples and shrines to watch over their lives. The main shrines were Kutchan-jinja (476, Aza Yahata, Kutchan) and Kaributo-jinja (218, Aza Hondori, Niseko Town). There are around twenty Buddhist temples in total, notably Daifutsu-ji (100, Aza Asahi, Kutchan) which is renowned for its ceiling paintings, and Konpira-ji (Kita 7-jo, Nishi 1-chome, Kutchan) which holds an Autumn festival.
The Niseko area hosts many different festivals throughout the year. The main festivals to look out for are:Kutchan Yukitopia Festival (Mid February) Blessed with tremendous snowfalls, Kutchan hosts a ‘snow-utopia’ festival that is packed with events.
Kutchan-jinja Festival (End July) Town’s designated intangible folklore cultural assets ‘Akasaka-yakko’ and the ‘Mikoshi’ portable shrine are paraded through the streets of Kutchan in this annual festival.
Kutchan Jaga Matsuri (Beginning August) The potato festival is one of the short summer’s most colourful events. It features street stalls run by local residents, and local performing arts such as taiko drums and dancing.
Kaributo-jinja Festival (End August) Keeping tradition alive, the ‘Mikoshi’ portable shrine and festival floats are paraded through the streets of Niseko in this annual festival.
Konpira-ji Autumn Festival (Beginning October) Bustling stalls are the main feature of this annual autumn festival, which is held to mark the transition from autumn to winter.