Two most popular spots in 7 days! Sample itinerary Kyoto and Hokkaido 7 days by Japan Rail Pass 7 days pass

Kinkakuji temple in Kyoto ©Akira Okada/©JNTO
Kiyomizu-dera temple in Kyoto ©Akira Okada/©JNTO

I received some questions about possibility visiting Kyoto and Hokkaido in only 7 days. So I show you itinerary about Kyoto and Hokkaido.
We don’t use Japan Rail Pass for the transfer to downtown Tokyo from Narita airport because most of tourists stay in Tokyo for the first several days. You will start to use your pass from Tokyo station.

Day 1
06:23am Depart from Tokyo station by Tokaido Shinkansen Hikari 501.
09:15am Arrive at Kyoto station. After arrival, enjoy exploring in Kyoto.
*Hikari departs at Tokyo station every 30 minutes. If you want to depart a bit later, you can take later Hikari. If you arrive at Narita or Haneda early morning, you can transfer to Kyoto on the arrival day.
*You can start this itinerary from Osaka / Kansai airport

Day 2
Full day free in Kyoto

Dotonbori(道頓堀) is most popular spot in downtown Osaka.
Dotonbori(道頓堀) is most popular spot in downtown Osaka.

Day 3
Transfer to Osaka station. You can take a local train to Osaka. Shin-Kaisoku (新快速=Rapid urban service) will take you to Osaka from Kyoto in 30 minutes. Shin-Kaisoku departs at Kyoto every 15 minutes. After arrival, exploring in downtown Osaka.
24:34(00:34 in Day 4) Take Sunrise Seto/Izumo at Osaka station. Overnight in the train.

Day 4
07:08am Arrive at Tokyo station
07:32am Depart from Tokyo station for Shin-Aomori by Tohoku Shinkansen Hayate 15.
11:09am Arrive at Shin-Aomori station.
11:35am Depart from Shin-Aomori station for Hakodate by Limited Express Super Hakucho 15.
13:44pm Arrive at Hakodate station.
14:00pm Depart from Hakodate station by Limited Express Hokuto 11.
15:55pm Arrive at Date-Monbetsu. Catch a local bus to Toyako Onsen (洞爺湖温泉=Lake Toya Hot Springs Resort). Additional fare is 580 yen for one way.
Enjoy Japanese Onsen!

Day 5
Take a local bus to Date-Monbetsu station.
10:15am Depart from Date-Monbetsu station for Sapporo by Limited Express Super Hokuto 3.
11:47am Arrive at Sapporo. After arrival, enjoy sightseeing Sapporo or short trip to Otaru.

Downtown Sapporo  © Y.Shimizu/© JNTO
Downtown Sapporo © Y.Shimizu/© JNTO

Day 6
10:37am Depart from Sapporo station for Hakodate by Limited Express Super Hokuto 10.
13:52pm Arrive at Hakodate station. After arrival, enjoy exploring in Hakodate.

Day 7
11:19am Depart from Hakodate for Shin-Aomori by Limited Express Hakucho 29.
13:28pm Arrive at Shin-Aomori station
13:42pm Depart from Shin-Aomori by a href=””>Tohoku Shinkansen Hayate 28.
17:08pm Arrive at Tokyo.
*If you start this itinerary, take Tokaido Shinkansen Hikari from Tokyo to Shin-Osaka. We still have lots of Hikari bound for Shin-Osaka.

34 thoughts on “Two most popular spots in 7 days! Sample itinerary Kyoto and Hokkaido 7 days by Japan Rail Pass 7 days pass”

  1. Hi (again) Takeshi…

    Need your opinion of my itinerary, please…
    We’ll be in Japan 3 – 16 Januari 2015
    3 – 4 Jan : Kyoto (Nara)
    5 Jan : Hiroshima
    6 -7 Jan : Osaka (Kobe, Himeji, USJ)
    8 Jan : Kanazawa
    9 Jan : Shirakawago – Takayama
    10 Jan : Nagoya
    11- 16 Jan : Tokyo (Gala Yuzawa, Hakone, Disney Resort, Yokohama, Odaiba, etc) as planned before.
    Recently, it cross my mind to see Hakodate/Sapporo too…so, the itinerary in Tokyo should be adjusted. Is it possible to visit those to cities in between 11-15 Jan ?
    For the train, we plan to buy 7 day JR pass for 5 – 11 Jan… If Hakodate/Sapporo include in this itinerary can you suggest the alternative transportation plan?

    Thanks a lot…

    1. Hi Linda,

      Yes, you can. But it’s a long way to get Sapporo. You will spend at least 2.5 days for Hakodate and Sapporo. Please find more info at the link below:

      I showed the way to use overnight train to Sapporo. But in these days, this train is super busy because it will be discontinued in March and many local tourists want to take this train. So don’t use this way. Only daytime train is your choice.

      If you add Sapporo and Hakodate, you can use 14 days JR pass.


      Takeshi /

  2. Dear Takashi,

    Reading your articles has been enlightening. However, now, I find my mind all tied up in knots. Here are a few ques I wonder if you can clarify about the trains:

    1) How early does the train stations open? Can I reach the station by bus or subway if the train arrives as early as 5am?

    2) If I miss my train, can I stay until the next train comes? How do I find out about the next train from the station?

    3) Are the names of the trains you mentioned generic? “Hokucho” goes to Hakodate, “Hokuto” goes to Sapporo, “Hikari” goes to Tyoko, etc.? So, all I need to do is to look for these words on the signage at the station? I am all confused.

    4) How do I tell which track is the train arriving? Is it indicated in English at all the stations? Can anybody help me at the platform next to the tracks?

    5) If the route requires transfers at certain stations, how much time do I need as buffer so that I won’t be late to hop onto the next train with luggage in toll?

    Takashi sen, I hope these are not too tedious for you to answer.


    1. Hi Elaine,

      1) It depends on the station. Most of stations open from 5:00 to midnight. And you cannot stay in the station after midnight. But some stations open late. Can you tell me which station and the detailed plan?

      2) As long as the station open, you can stay. But as I mentioned above, you cannot stay in late night to early morning in most of cases.

      3) There are lots of signage at the ticket gate, platform and beside the door of trains in both Japanese and English. Don’t worry. You cannot miss it. Please watch the movies below. You can find the signage in Tokyo station.

      4) Signage shows you the platform where you need to go. No worries!

      5) It depends on which station and what kinds of train. I can say 20 minutes is okay for any cases. But even 5 minutes is okay is some small stations.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

      1. Wow, Takashi Sen,

        Awesome! The trains are like the Transformer Ride at Universal Studios.

        I can read Chinese so I am reassured about getting on the right train now. I will confirm with the uniformed staff at the platforms.

        The signage seems to show the next few trains coming into the tracks but what happens when the train I want comes hours later. Is it possible to check at the station? Must I go online to check?

        If the train coming onto the track has no Non-Reserved Seats and I haven’t reserved any, can I still get on and pay any extra above the JR Pass that I hold? So, I should reserve my seats always just to be save?

        Sorry to trouble you.

        1. Hi Elaine,

          In case of train delayed, it will be shown on signage too. Actually even 3 minutes delayed is shown. Most of trains run very punctual.
          You can take non reserved seat even if there is no seats available. Sometimes passengers are on non reserved seat car as standee. But if you use JR Pass, you can reserve a seat any time, even 5 minuted before departure time. In case of train delayed, you can change earlier or later train if you want. I recommend you to book your seat always. I usually complete all bookings and getting seat ticket upon arrival.


          Takeshi / JP Rail

      2. Dear Takeshi Sen,

        Thanks so much. Will remember to reserve my seats on the trains. Fingers crossed!


  3. Hi there,
    I’m interested in the itinerary that you plan up there. Is all the train connectivity and fare cover by jr passes? I heard that Aomori line to Hokkaido need to pay additional, is it true? I’m planning to go to Hokkaido from Tokyo with jr pass, would you be able to suggest a line that I can skip the additional fare? Thanks!

    1. Hi Florence,

      All trains in my itinerary are covered by JR Pass fully. But I used overnight train Sunrise Seto on day 3. Only “Nobi Nobi seat” is covered by JR pass fully. But if you use other classes, extra charge is required. Please see the link below to get more info:

      And also there is no online book available. So you need to book after you arrive in Japan. If you cannot book this train, you have to find an accommodation after you arrive in Japan. If you don’t want to take any risks, avoid to use this train and stay Osaka or Tokyo.

      Train to Hokkaido from Aomori is covered by JR pass fully too.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

  4. Hi takeshi san ,
    Just like to check with you for my trip from Tokyo-Osaka-kobe-osaka-Nara-Kyoto-Nagoya-Tokyo-Hakodate. I am on 14 days JR green pass ( fyi )
    1) tokyo to Shin Osaka – Tokaido Shinkansen Hikari
    2) Shin-Osaka to Kobe – Shinkansen or rapid service ? as my hotel is in Shin-Osaka
    — ( I might take Tokyo to Kobe for 1/2 day then from kobe back to hotel in Shin Osaka instead but i understand that shin-kobe and Sannomiya is a distance away , what would you recommend , rapid service to Osaka station then to shin-osaka by subway or Sannomiya to shin-kobe then shinkansen to shin-osaka ?)
    3)Shin-Osaka to Nara – using Yamatoji rapid to Nara from Osaka Station
    4)Nara to Kyoto – take nara line to kyoto ( stop at the fushimi inari stn then back to kyoto )
    5) Kyoto to Nagoya – shinkansen ? ( cos going to nabana no sato , think this is the nearest station )
    6)Nagoya to Tokyo – shinkansen ( should I take to tokyo or shinagawa if i sans to transfer to shin-amoric – hakodate )
    7) Tokyo to Shin Amori
    8) Shin Amori to Hakodate – niseko-hakodate-tokyo-haneda.
    * can i take train and stop at lake Onuma area before going kuchan?
    All reverse train back to same area after that.

    thanks you very much

    1. Hi Kolaxiong,

      1. If you go straight to Kobe and can catch Hikari that takes you Shin-Kobe directly, Shin-Kobe by Hikari is easier and better. If you need to change the train at Shin-Osaka, Special Rapid is more convenient. I think you need to store your luggage somewhere. If you store it at Shin-Osaka, you should change Special Rapid at Shin-Osaka.

      2. Nagoya is the nearest station to get Nabana-no-sato as you think, Shinkansen is the best choice.

      3. Tokyo station is better to get Tohoku Shinkansen. Shinagawa is away from the departure point of Tohoku Shinkansen.

      4. You can stop at Onuma area on the way to Kucchan. But train is limited to stop at Onuma koen. Please check the timetable.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

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  • If you want to ask me which pass suits your plan, please tell me your detailed itinerary and location to stay. I cannot choose any deals without the detailed itinerary because I have to compare the total single fare and deals

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