Crazy? But not impossible. Sample plan of day trip to Hakodate from Tokyo

Night view form Mt.Hakodate ©Hokkaido Tourism Organization/© JNTO
Night view form Mount Hakodate (C) Hokkaido Tourism Organization / JNTO

Hokkaido is very popular spot among foreign travelers. Hokkaido has nice yummy food, very attractive sightseeing spots and very different culture from mainland Japan. But some of you have short stay in Japan. You may not have enough time to visit Hokkaido. If you want to visit Hokkaido, I usually recommend you to spend 3 days minimum. However if you are okay to visit just the edge of Hokkaido, that is Hakodate, and okay with the short stay, you can visit Hakodate as day trip from Tokyo.

In this post, I will show you how to manage the day trip to Hakodate from Tokyo.

*The information in this article is current at the time of writing.

Recommended sample itinerary

Hokkaido Shinkansen is the way to get Hakodate in your trip. (C) Sukhoi37 (Own work),  JR Hokkaido H5 series shinkansen set H1 approaching Sendai Station on a test run,CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
Hokkaido Shinkansen is the way to get Hakodate in your trip. (C) Sukhoi37 (Own work), JR Hokkaido H5 series shinkansen set H1 approaching Sendai Station on a test run,CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

If you want to maximize your time in Hakodate, you must take the earliest train to Hakondate and the last train to Tokyo. The sample schedule is the following:

On the way to Hakodate
06:32 Tokyo
(Hokkaido Shinkansen, Hayabusa 1)
10:58 Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto
11:09 Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto
(Rapid Hakodate Liner)
11:25 Hakodate

On the way back to Tokyo
18:01 Hakodate
(Rapid Hakodate Liner)
18:23 Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto
18:38 Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto
(Hokkaido Shinkansen, Hayabusa 38)
23:04 Tokyo

Please check the updated timetable before you go. You can find the timetable at JR Hokkaido website. You can find “Tokyo – Sapporo” in the following link. It will show you all trains schedule between Tokyo and Hakodate:

JR Hokkaido official site, timetable (English site)

What you can do in Hakodate

Station building of Hakodate station. You will start Hakodate city sightseeing from this station.
Station building of Hakodate station. You will start Hakodate city sightseeing from this station.

As you see the sample itinerary above, you have 6.5 hours in Hakodate. It is enough time to visit a few places in Hakodate.

Mount Hakodate

It takes about 30 to 40 minutes to get the summit by streetcar, walk and ropeway from Hakodate station. This mountain is very well known as one of the best night view. However you have to leave Hakodate by 18:00. That means you have leave Mount Hakodate around 17:00. If you travel Hakodate from early November to early February, blue hours is 17:00 or earlier. Blue hours is 15 minutes after sunset. This is the best time to see the view. So you can enjoy gorgeous view during this period.

If you travel from late winter to fall, please do not expect to see the night view.

Please check the link below to find the detailed information about Mount Hakodate:

Japan Guide, Mount Hakodate

Red Brick Warehouse

Christmas light up at Red Brick Warehouse District (C) Hokkaido Tourism Organization / JNTO
Christmas light up at Red Brick Warehouse District (C) Hokkaido Tourism Organization / JNTO

This is located at the port of Hakodate. It is 15 minutes away from Hakodate station by walk. If you visit there in winter holiday season, you can enjoy a brilliant light up.
There are many restaurants around this area. You can visit this place in the last part of your trip to eat very early dinner. But if you travel in winter season and want to go up Mount Hakodate to see the night view, you cannot drop by port area just before departure.

Please check the link below to find the detailed information about Red Brick Warehouse:

Japan Guide, Red Brick Warehouse

Fort Goryokaku

Aerial view of Fort Goryokaku (C) JNTO
Aerial view of Fort Goryokaku (C) JNTO

It takes 20 minutes by streetcar and walk from Hakodate station. This is one of very few western style castles in Japan. If you travel Hakodate in early May, this place is Must-See because this place is very well known cherry blossom spot in early May.

Please check the link below to find the detailed information about Fort Goryokaku:

Japan Guide, Fort Goryokaku

Onuma Park

This is outside city of Hakodate. But if you travel Hakodate in late October, you may consider to visit this park because of fall foliage. This is one of very accessible place to see gorgeous fall foliage.

Onuma Park in the post of Let’s take the train! Easily accessible places to see fall foliage!

It takes 30 minutes from Hakodate station and 10 minutes from Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto station by limited express trains. You can find the timetable at JR Hokkaido website. You can find “Sapporo – Higashi – Muroran – Hakodate” in the following link. It will show you all trains schedule between Onuma Koen and Hakodate:

JR Hokkaido official site, timetable (English site)

If you visit this place, your time in Hakodate is very limited.

Please check the link below to find the detailed information about Onuma Park:

Japan Guide, Onuma Park

Suggested deal

You may use these deals for this long day trip.

For Tokyo – Hakodate round trip

If you intend to use JR pass and look for one day trip from Tokyo, this trip may be considerable. Actually the round trip fare and Hokkaido Shinkansen surcharge are more than 40,000 yen. JR Pass 7 days (29,100 yen) is way cheaper than this amount! JR Pass gives you a huge saving.

But if you are not JR pass user, you can use more affordable deal. That is JR East South Hokkaido Pass.

JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass user guide. Perfect deal for the travelers who visit Tokyo and Sapporo by train

If you do not intend to visit western part of Japan, this deal is better than JR Pass. The price is 26,000 yen (online price) is about 3,000 yen cheaper than JR pass. It covers the trip to Hakodate by Hokkaido Shinkansen fully.

For sightseeing in Hakodate

You can catch a streetcar easily in front of Hakodate station. (C) JP Rail
You can catch a streetcar easily in front of Hakodate station. (C) JP Rail

Both JR pass and JR East South Hokkaido Rail Pass do not cover streetcar and city bus. Most recommended choice is streetcar 1 day pass. It is sold at 600 yen and you can get unlimited travel by streetcar. Base fare of streetcar is around 200 to 300 yen. If you take streetcar more than three times, it is paid off.

This day trip plan is not recommended for everybody honestly. As long as you have a time and budget, I would like you to stay in Hakodate at least one night. But if you do not care about busy and tight trip and want to go to Hokkaido anyway, or if your budget want to stick one place to stay and make a day trip as many as you can, this plan suits your trip.

Hope you have a great moment in Hakondate by this trip plan.

22 thoughts on “Crazy? But not impossible. Sample plan of day trip to Hakodate from Tokyo”

  1. Hi Takeshi,

    I am planning to go to Hakodate from Shinjuku station on 19th April 2017 using my JR Pass.
    I had entered Shinjuku(JR) from and To Hakodate in hyperdia for departing 5:00am or 6:00am.
    and somehow I got the result to depart from Shinjuku at 14:51pm arriving Hakodate 8:09am.
    or Route 2 departing 9:53am and arriving 8:09am.

    http://www.hyperdia.com/en/cgi/en/search.html?dep_node=SHINJUKU(JR)&arv_node=HAKODATE&via_node01=&via_node02=&via_node03=&year=2017&month=04&day=19&hour=06&minute=30&search_type=0&search_way=&transtime=undefined&sort=0&max_route=5&faretype=0&airplane=off&ship=off&sprnozomi=off&bus=off&privately=off&lmlimit=null&search_target=route&facility=reserved&sum_target=7

    what did I do wrong in my search? last time I checked, there are trains departing early morning to arrive in Hakodate by midday or 11ish am.

    thank you

    1. Hi Feny,

      Because you did not check “NOZOMI / MIZUHO / HAYABUSA (SHINKANSEN)”. JR pass does not cover Nozomi and Mizuho but you can take Hayabusa by JR pass. Most of trains go to Hakodate is Hayabusa. That is why you had this result. Just check it and search again. You will find the result which you want.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. OMG…how dumb I was!
        many thanks Takeshi..i thought there are no more trains available.

        just another questions, which probably has been asked hundreds of times here. sorry!

        if the “Seat Fee” in hyperdia stating: Reserved seat, Green Seat and Grand Class…this means I have to book the reserved seat (I only have ordinary JR pass) few days prior to my travel, right?

        thank you

  2. Hi Takeshi

    We will be travelling in group from Hakodate to Tokyo during 25th Dec by using either JR pass or JR East South hokkaido Pass, but we worry we cant get a seat during the peak season. Is there anyway we can reserve our seat in advance before we depart to Hokkaido (we will reach Sapporo & leave to Tokyo from Hakodate) by using our JR pass or JR East South Hokkaido Pass.

    Regards
    Lai

      1. Hi Takeshi

        thank you.

        If my trip is Dec , i can only buy my JR pass or JR East South pass around Oct (3 mth before its expire), then when is the time i can make online reservation ?

        I m not very understand on the procedure, the online seat reservation need to pay or whether we can book by using our JR exchange order which we only able to exchange to JR pass on arrival at Japan.

        Once we select day & time, are we still allow to change or once book we must stick on it ?

        beside Hakodate to Tokyo, can we also do online seat reservation for Sapporo to Hakodate or Sapporo to noboribetsu ?

        1. Hi Lai Poh Wun,

          You can start booking one month prior to departure date. For example, if you travel from Sapporo to Hakodate on Dec 25, you can book after 10:00 am, Nov 25 in Japan time.
          You need to put your credit card info when you book for guarantee. It will not be charged at the time of booking. After you arrive in Japan, you can exchange your pass and collect ticket. For other info, you can find it at the link below:
          https://www.eki-net.com/pc/jreast-shinkansen-reservation/English/wb/common/faq/index.html

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

          1. Hi Takeshi

            Once we arrive Japan & exchange our JR Pass and collecting ticket, any fee will be charged to our credit card ? I thought seat reservation is foc for JR pass holder, but why it stated fee will be charged when collecting ticket ?

            The place where we exchange our JR exchange order & collect all ticket reserve throughout the 7 days can be the same, ie both do it at Sapporo Station ?

            Seat online reservation also applicable to Hakkoido Rail Pass holder ?

            regards

          2. Hi Lai Poh Wun,

            No, it won’t be charged. JR Pass covers reserved seat fee.
            I have used this site a few times and I have never been charged before.

            Cheers,

            Takeshi / JPRail.com

  3. Takeshi,

    My family and I will be flying into Sapporo and departing from Hakodate. We would like to catch the train back to Tokyo (Kawasaki) in the Gran class. What rail pass would we need and how much would it be per ticket?

    Thank you,
    Shayne

  4. Dear Takeshi,
    After read this article I interest to do this one day tour to Hakodate, I will bring my family (2 childs-3&7 years old) on 20 Mar 17.
    My plan is to follow your guide and to add one more stop to see monkey hot bath in Tropical Botanical garden, is it possible to do all of this activities in one day tour.

    Afif H
    Indonesia

    1. Hi Afif,

      You can do but if you visit there, you don’t have a time to visit Onuma park. And also Goryokaku may be tight. As long as you visit monkey park, Mt. Hakodate and brick house, it will be okay.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Hi Takeshi-san,
        I just want to reconfirm is the below sightseeing place in hakodate is accessible by tram or I need to buy one day pass for tram&bus.
        – Botanical Garden to see hot bath monkey
        – Fort Goryokaku
        – Mt Hakodate
        – Red Brick
        – Motomachi area

  5. Hi, I would like to visit Cherry Blossom festival in Aomori and then go to Hakodate and Sapporo in Hokkaido, do you recommend buying the JR pass? How often is the JR train going between Aomori and Hakodate? I am worried about not able to purchase tickets in advance.
    Also, I remember only hand-carry bags are allowed on the train, is that still the case? My trip is 7 days long and am flying international to Tokyo then domestic JAL flight to Aomori, how can I solve the luggage problem?
    Thank you in advance for your advice.
    Sara

    1. Hi Sara,

      Please see the link below about train schedule among Shin-Aomori, Hakodate and Sapporo.
      http://www2.jrhokkaido.co.jp/global/english/ttable/01.pdf

      You will be able to make a reservation in the link below.
      https://www.eki-net.com/pc/jreast-shinkansen-reservation/English/wb/common/Menu/Menu.aspx?_ga=1.44802660.1325107855.1421419524
      http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/pdf/torase_area_press_e.pdf?_ga=1.255411144.1325107855.1421419524#page=3

      There is no restriction to bring your luggage on the train. You can board with suitcase if you want. But there is no spaces to store the luggage. As long as you keep your luggage in your seat, it’s okay. Please see the link below:
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/travel-tips/baggage/managing-luggage-how-to-carry-your-baggage-on-board-and-how-to-store-your-baggage-at-the-station.html

      If you travel in Aomori and Hokkaido only, only Hokkaido rail pass is considerable. But you have to pay single fare for Aomori to Hakodate.
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/hokkaido-rail-pass-the-best-deal-for-rail-trip-in-hokkaido-for-oversea-visitors.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  6. Dear Takeshi

    I have 5 days and 4 nights (3-7 May) to travel from Kamogawa to Hokkaido & Sapporo, then back to Kamogawa. I want to use JR Pass. Is that possible? Any other interesting nearby places that I can go to? I will be travelling alone & packing light. Hoping that you can help me. Thank you.

  7. Dear Takeshi,

    I’m Iwan from Indonesia, I have plan to Hokkaido with my children 8 years from January 2 – 12, 2017 ( 9 days) and would like to going to: Sapporo, Asahikawa, Abashiri, Lake Akan, Furano, Noboribetsu, Lake Toya, Hakodate, Sapporo.

    Could you inform is it possible for us to going to all places and is it better for us to buy JR pass for efficiency budget and what is the best route for all the places.

    Regards

    Iwan

    1. Hi Iwan,

      The order to visit the places makes almost sense. But I suggest you to change one thing. You should visit Furano on the way to Asahikawa from Sapporo. There are some closure in Hokkaido due to the damage by storm in this past summer. You cannot access to Furano from south side by train. And also the segment between Tomamu and Obihiro is closed now. This segment may be back to normal by the end of this year. When you travel there, it will be okay but not confirmed now.
      http://jprail.com/destinations/hokkaido-area/hokkaido-train-operation-status-in-fall-2016-guide-for-substitute-train-and-bus-service.html

      When you move from Lake Akan to Noboribetsu (Furano supposed to visit before Asahikawa), you will take a train from Kushiro. But you have to change trains and bus several times as you see the link above.

      You may use Hokkaido Rail Pass 7 days.
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/hokkaido-rail-pass-the-best-deal-for-rail-trip-in-hokkaido-for-oversea-visitors.html

      If you stay in Sapporo at the beginning and the end of the trip, you will spend 7 days for other places. You can stay in Asahikawa, Abashiri, Lake Akan, Noboribetsu and Hakodate. You can visit Furano on the way to Asahikawa. Lake Toya can be squeezed between Noboribetsu and Hakodate. You still have one more night to stay some where. You can stay in Sapporo or you can pick up either Furano or Lake Toya.

      You can use single fare ticket between Sapporo and New Chitose airport. You can find the timetable in the link below.
      http://www2.jrhokkaido.co.jp/global/english/ttable/index.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

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