let it be in kutchan

By 1st March 2008 August 27th, 2013 Uncategorized

It’s a well known fact that Japan’s population is ageing at a rapid rate, and nowhere else is it more apparent than rural Hokkaido. Young people in areas like Kutchan not keen on taking over their family’s farms or small businesses are heading for the city. If not Sapporo, Tokyo and other major metropolitan centres where work is plentiful and the benefits of modern life are close at hand.

It’s a well known fact that Japan’s population is ageing at a rapid rate, and nowhere else is it more apparent than rural Hokkaido. Young people in areas like Kutchan not keen on taking over their family’s farms or small businesses are heading for the city. If not Sapporo, Tokyo and other major metropolitan centres where work is plentiful and the benefits of modern life are close at hand.

Conscious of this fact, lounge bar Be’s owner Toshikazu Akita wanted to create a space where young people could come in and communicate the old fashioned way. When he says old fashioned, he means just 10 years ago before the age of the ‘keitai’ (mobile phone) and internet.

“These days there are a lot of young people who never socialise away from work or home,” he says. “Some people at my work I never see outside. People can communicate by mobile phone and computer so there’s no need to go outside.”

The Kutchan local got a job as a ‘salary man’ with a building maintenance company for a few years before getting a job with the Kutchan post office. After a few years doing the rounds of his local neighbourhood he came across an opportunity to take over a small Kutchan bar. Recognising most Kutchan bars were either izakayas (casual Japanese dining pubs) or karaoke bars, he set out to do something a little bit different.

With the help of manager Jun-kun they brought in a pool table, a darts board and set out a few lounges and tables. With a small budget and creative flare they’ve brilliantly decorated the place with retro paraphenalia.

One of the deciding factors in Toshikazu-kun’s decision to take over the pub was his love of music. He installed a set of decks and brought along his music collection. Adorning the walls are CDs left behind from visiting DJs and stacked behind the stage is a solid collection of vinyl records. Adding to the already spacious, relaxed space there’s always some unique and cruisy hip hop, RnB, jazz or blues tunes playing.

The meaning behind the name Be is that it’s a pub not specialising in anything. Toshikazu-kun didn’t want it to be associated with any particular image. It’s not a karaoke bar, it’s not a pool bar or a darts bar, it’s not a nightclub. It’s just a place where people can roll on in, relax and… be.

If you’re looking for a night out, outside of the well-known Hirafu haunts and experience somewhere with a bit of real local Japanese character, Be is a great option.

The back streets of Kutchan can be a bit disorientating but to find Be head up Eki Mae Dori from the train station until you find the Kutchan Tourist Information centre on a street corner on the left, about half way up the street. Be is two blocks down in a building on the left. A vertical light box sign on the side of the building advertises all the tenants. Be is on the ground floor, just near Bagus Bar.

If you’ve got a group of five or more they’ll do a deal for all you can drink for two hours for ¥3000 (negotiable)… ie, if you can drink more than five or six drinks in two hours it’s paid for itself.

 

Buses to Kutchan leave from the main street near Seicomart. The bus stop is a few small signs on the roadside opposite PowPow. Buses leave every half hour or so during the day and cost ¥380. The night bus is free and leaves every hour or so from 5pm. Timetable on the back of the resort’s course map.

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