Tag Archives: Sapporo

Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto station guide. How to change Hokkaido Shinkansen to/from train to Sapporo and Hakodate

Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto station exterior (C) Rsa GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0

Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto is the hub to Hakodate and Sapporo when you get Hokkaido. This station is connected with Sapporo and Hakodate by conventional train, and Tokyo, Sendai and Aomori by Hokkaido Shinkansen.

I would like to show you how to change the trains in Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto station with many photos. Continue reading

Trip to Hokkaido in 2017 winter – Part 6, Takikawa to Noboribetsu Onsen

Limited Express Okhotsk by KIHA 183 series

This post is continued from Trip to Hokkaido in 2017 winter – Part 5, Asahikawa to Takikawa via Biei.

On day 3, I dropped by three places, Biei, Noboribetsu and Lake Toya. In this post, I show you the second place, Noboribetsu. Continue reading

Sample itinerary Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Hokkaido 10 days by Japan Rail Pass 7 days

Clock Tower is Sapporo’s icon.

I have posted the sample itinerary that includes Kyoto, Osaka and Hokkaido before. But at that time, Hokkaido Shinkansen was not open. Current train schedule and operation are completely different from that time. At this time, I revise all train schedule and update the information. And I add many more detailed information and help you to build your plan much more.

In this post, I would like to share this new itinerary. It is 10 days trip plan but I used 7 days JR pass. Local deals are added at the beginning and the end of the trip to shrink the total cost. But mostly JR pass covers the trip. Actually JR Pass 7 days gives you super saving! Continue reading

Schedule of 2016 fall seasonal trains of Japan Railways

Fall foliage light up at Ninose station of Eizan Railway in Kyoto (C) Nkensei GFDL  or CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Fall foliage light up at Ninose station of Eizan Railway in Kyoto (C) Nkensei GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Autumn is the best season to travel in Japan. The climate is very mild and the scenery of fall foliage is breathtaking. JR will operate many seasonal trains for autumn high volume demand.

It is too many to introduce all seasonal trains. So I pick up the trains that run in the popular spots only. Continue reading

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

Night view form Mt.Hakodate ©Hokkaido Tourism Organization/© JNTO
Night view form Mt.Hakodate. Hakodate is one of the popular places in Hokkaido. ©Hokkaido Tourism Organization/© JNTO

This brand new pass will be released in April, 2016. This pass covers Narita airport, Greater Tokyo, Gala Yuzawa, Nikko, whole part of Tohoku region, Hakodate, Otaru, Noboribetsu, Lake Toya and Sapporo. You also may use this pass to get Lake Kawaguchi and Hakone even though this pass covers these trips partially. You cannot use this pass to get central, northern and eastern Hokkaido, such as Furano, Asahikawa, Shiretoko, Kushiro. Japan Rail Pass (a.k.a. JR Pass) is better choice if you intend to visit these places.

In this post, I would like to show you the detail of this pass. And I show you some sample rate and compare the pass value and single fares. You may find this suits your plan or not. Continue reading

Schedule of 2015 fall seasonal trains of Japan Railways

Setouchi Marine View runs between Hiroshima and Mihara via Kure line along the shore of Setonaikai sea.
Setouchi Marine View runs between Hiroshima and Mihara via Kure line along the shore of Setonaikai sea.

Autumn is the best season to travel in Japan. The climate is very mild and fall foliage is amazing. JR will operate many seasonal trains and introduce some new trains.

It is too many to introduce all seasonal trains. So I pick up the trains that run in the popular spots only. Continue reading

Schedule of 2015 summer seasonal trains of Japan Railways

Overnight train Hokutosei will be done in this summer. The last departure is August 22 from Sapporo.
Overnight train Hokutosei will be done in this summer. The last departure is August 22 from Sapporo.

In Japan, the peak period during summer time is mid August that is called “Obon”. Most of Japanese go back to hometown and stay with family. All transportation will be busy from major cities at the beginning and back to major cities at the end. In 2015, the following dates will be busy.

Outgoing (from major cities) — August 12 and 13. Maybe August 7, 8 and 9
Incoming (to major cities( — August 15 and 16

If you travel during this period, I recommend you to avoid to make a trip to same direction as local tourist. It will be super busy.

And also, the public school is closed from July 20 to August 31 for summer break. This period is busier than usual too.

JR Group operate lots of seasonal trains during summer season. Especially JR Group add lots of extra trains. It is too many to introduce all seasonal trains. So I pick up the popular trains and are operated in the popular spot. Continue reading

Alternatives of Overnight train Twilight Express, in case that you cannot make a reservation.

***Twilight Express was discontinued in 12 March, 2015. There is no overnight train option between Osaka and Hokkaido any more.***

Twilight Express is one of the most popular train in Japan. (C) Sonic Rail Garden
Twilight Express is one of the most popular train in Japan. (C) Sonic Rail Garden

Twilight Express is very popular. Many tourists might think about taking this luxury overnight train. But you have a problem. Twilight Express cannot be reserved online. The only way to reserve it from outside of Japan is calling Odekake net 078-341-7903 in Japanese and you have to pick up your ticket in JR West, Shikoku or Kyushu stations. You cannot pick up it in other areas, like Tokyo. Otherwise You need to go to a reservation window at the station in Japan. Ticket is started to sell one month prior to the departure date. That means it may be sold out when you arrive in Japan. So you need to think about alternatives if you have a plan to take this train. I tell you several options for the case that you cannot make Twilight Express.

Twilight Express departs from Osaka at 11:50am and arrive in Sapporo at 09:52am, and depart from Sappro at 12:52pm and arrive in Osaka at 14:05pm. I try to make an alternatives as same schedule as possible. Continue reading

Overnight Express Train Twilight Express, most popular overnight train between Osaka and Sapporo

***Twilight Express was discontinued in 12 March, 2015. There is no overnight train option between Osaka and Hokkaido any more.***
Overnight Express train Twilight Express
Overnight Express train Twilight Express

Twilight Express is operated between Osaka and Sapporo. This is the longest service operation train in Japan. It takes more than 22 hours to reach Sapporo from Osaka. (If you take other way, it takes 22 hours 45 minutes.)

When you use a berth or a bedroom, Japan Rail Pass does not cover any accommodation charges and even Limited Express surcharge either. Even though you have to pay lots of the extra on Japan Rail Pass, the experience on board will be worthy. First class hospitality, the beautiful scenery and the sunset on the Sea of Japan, will be very memorable moment in your trip.

Anyway I tell you that the extra cost, timetable, checking the availability and the types of accommodations. Continue reading

Schedule of 2014 summer seasonal trains of Japan Railways

Moonlight Nagara is operated by 183 series.
Moonlight Nagara is very popular overnight train because it can be taken without limited express surcharge. (but reserved seat fee applicable)

Summer is not the best season to visit Japan except Hokkaido because of climate. It is very hot and humid. But local demand is quite high. Especially Obon season is one of three busiest period in Japan. Obon period is usually from August 13 to 16. In this year 2014, August 17 is Sunday. So the last day of Obon period is 17 of August. The trains to major cities will be very crowded. On the other hand, trains from major cities will be very crowded on August 13. Some of Japanese will start Obon vacation on August 10, Saturday. Anyway please keep that mid August will be very busy in your mind. You must reserve a seat if you travel in this period. Otherwise you have to stand up on the isle or passengers deck in very crowded train.

JR Group operate lots of seasonal trains during all spring season. Especially JR Group add lots of the extra trains on those above holidays. It is too many to introduce all seasonal trains. So I pick up the popular trains and are operated in the popular spot. Continue reading

Schedule of 2013 summer seasonal trains of Japan Railways

Furano Biei Norokko train goes on Furano line. (C) 800px-Norokkogou-furano-biei / Birdman
Furano Biei Norokko train takes you one of most popular spot, Furano and Biei. (C) 800px-Norokkogou-furano-biei / Birdman

In Japan, summer school break start from mid July and until end of August. And Obon period in mid August is one of two busiest period in Japan. (Other one is New Years day break) Most of train will be packed. There are so many standing passengers on isle and passenger’s deck.

JR Group operate lots of seasonal trains in this summer season too. Especially in Obon period, so many additional trains will run. It is too many to introduce all seasonal trains. So I pick up the popular trains and are operated in the popular spot. Continue reading

Hokkaido Unlimitd Train Ticket and Southern Hokkaido Unlimited Train Ticket for resident in Japan

Clock tower is the icon of Sapporo.
Clock tower is the icon of Sapporo.

JR East and JR Hokkaido have just announced that they will two types of unlimited ride ticket for trip to Hokkaido from Tokyo. If you go to Japan from outside of Japan, you have lots of choices, like Japan Rail Pass, JR East Pass or Hokkaido Area Pass. But if you are in Japan as resident, you cannot purchase these tickets for overseas travellers. So if you want to go to Hokkaido by train, this ticket may be your choice. Only Japanese information will be provided by JR East (JR東日本). So I would like to share the information about this ticket with you here in English. Continue reading

Hokkaido Rail Pass. The best deal for rail trip in Hokkaido for oversea visitors.

World famous Sapporo Snow Festival (C) Yasufumi Nishi / (C) JNTO
World famous Sapporo Snow Festival (C) Yasufumi Nishi / (C) JNTO

If you will travel in Hokkaido only, Hokkaido Rail Pass is the best choice for you. But if you travel in other cities and areas, even just staying in Tokyo, you may consider about other passes. You should compare and find which one is more suitable for you.

In this post, I show you the details about Hokkaido Rail Pass. And I will compare Hokkaido Rail Pass and Japan Rail Pass Continue reading

My trip from Sapporo to Otaru and Hakodate on March 20, 2012 by Rapid Airport and Limited Express Hokuto

Odori koen (Odori Park) is one of the popular spot in Sapporo. (C) JP Rail
Odori koen (Odori Park) is one of the popular spot in Sapporo. (C) JP Rail

I had a trip from Aomori to Sapporo by Overnight Express Hamanasu on March 19, 2012. After arrival in Sapporo, I continued my trip in southern part of Hokkaido in just one day. I knew this was very busy trip. But I wanted to visit as many as possible.

Even though my itinerary was too busy to recommend you, my experience may give you some ideas to plan your trip. Continue reading

How to access from New Chitose airport to Sapporo, Otaru, Asahikawa and other cities in Hokkaido.

New Chitose airport station is located at the underground of the terminal building. (C) JP Rail
New Chitose airport station is located at the underground of the terminal building. (C) JP Rail

Hokkaido is one of the best destination in Japan. New Chitose airport (新千歳空港) is the biggest airport in Hokkaido. Some of you may be start your trip from this airport. I would like to show you how to get the train to Sapporo, Otaru and Asahikawa from New Chitose airport. And also I will show you how to transfer other trains to most of major cities in Hokkaido. Continue reading

Schedule of 2012 summer seasonal trains of Japan Railways

Some of Furano Lavender Express are operated by Kiha183 Crystal Express train.
Some of Furano Lavender Express are operated by Kiha183 Crystal Express train.

In summer season, the busiest period is mid August. This period is called “Obon (お盆)”. Everybody try to go back to hometown in this period. In this year 2012, August 10 to 19 will be Obon period. Especially the direction to go out from major cities on Aug 10-12 and the direction to go into major cities on Aug 17-19 will be much busier. These dates are weekend days. Everybody will try to move on these dates. If you travel in this period, try to go opposite direction. It makes you to travel much easier.

JR Group operate lots of seasonal trains during all summer season and increase the number of trains in Obon period. It is too many to introduce all seasonal trains. So I pick up the popular trains and are operated in the popular spot. Continue reading

My trip from Aomori to Sapporo on March 19, 2012 by Hamanasu Carpet car.

Hamanasu just arrived at Aomori station (C) JP Rail.com
Hamanasu just arrived at Aomori station (C) JP Rail.com

In my site, JPRail.com, the post that is written about Overnight Express Hamanasu is very popular. I got on Carpet car of Hamanasu on March 19, 2012 from Aomori to Sapporo. I would like to share this experience with you. And I tell you what I did before I got on the train. Continue reading

My trip to Kyushu, Tohoku and Hokkaido in 5 days.

Thank you for supporting Japan!
Thank you for supporting Japan!

Dear readers,
I will leave Japan today and head back to Vancouver, Canada. I stayed in Japan for 9 nights and spend 5 days for my trip. It was crazy busy trip. I tried to take a train as many as I could. Continue reading

Another idea of overnight transfer to Hokkaido, using ferry service between Aomori and Hakodate

Tsugaru Kaikyo Ferry
Tsugaru Kaikyo Ferry

In this website, the pages of overnight trains, such as Twilight Express, Cassiopeia, Hokutosei and Hamansu, are very popular. You can save time and money to take an overnight train. I understand why it is so popular. However as I explained you about reservation in the post “How to reserve seat”, we do not have any online reservation to get a seat or berth before departure. I already explained about the alternatives of several overnight trains in the following links:

Alternatives of Overnight train Twilight Express
Alternatives of Overnight train Cassiopeia and Hokutosei

But these alternatives on the above links are not enough. I think most of travellers are very stressful because they cannot reserve a seat before departure. Now I would like to share the information about another option to get Hokkaido by overnight transfer. It is the ferry services between Aomori and Hakodate. It is not covered by Japan Rail Pass. But the fare starts from 1710 yen and they have a midnight ferry service too. It may be considerable for some of the travellers. Let’s see the details. Continue reading

Direct transfer to Abashiri for Drift ice in Shiretoko by Ryuhyo Limited Express Okhotsk no Kaze

KIHA183 North Rainbow Express is one of the trains to be used for Furano Express trains. But this fleet is sometimes used for other seasonal trains.(C) Sonic Rail Garden
KIHA183 North Rainbow Express is one of the trains to be used for Furano Express trains. (C) Sonic Rail Garden

This is a seasonal operation of Limited Express Okhotsk that connect Sapporo (札幌) and Abashiri (網走) in Hokkaido. This train is operated from late January to early March for Ryuhyo (流氷=Drift ice) viewing. The operation, like time required and route, is completely same as Limited Express Okhotsk. But this seasonal train is operated by specialized car. The accommodation is much better than regular train of Limited Express Okhotsk.

You can take this train by Japan Rail Pass with no restriction. Let’s see the details. Continue reading

Throughout Japan 14 days sample itinerary by Japan Rail Pass 14 days pass

Light-up at Kiyomizu-dera temple
Light-up at Kiyomizu-dera temple

This itinerary includes many popular spots throughout Japan in 14 days. This itinerary starts from Tokyo. But if you want to start from Osaka, you can start from Day 11 to Day 14, and then start from Day 1 to Day10. Actually 14 days in not enough to see all popular spots in Japan. I include Hokkaido in this itinerary. But it does not include Shiretoko because of not enough time. I could not include south part of Kyushu, Hakone and Mt. Fuji either. If you can give up Tohoku part, you can get more time in Hokkaido. Of course you can go to Shiretoko.

Anyway this is a sample. I hope this sample itinerary help you When you make your own plan. Continue reading

Schedule of 2011 fall seasonal trains of Japan Railway

KIHA183 Niseko Express is used for Furano Koyo Express (C) Sonic Rail Garden
KIHA183 Niseko Express is used for Furano Koyo Express (C) Sonic Rail Garden

Fall is good season to travel in Japan. JR Group operate lots of seasonal trains during this season. But it is too many to introduce all seasonal trains. So I pick up the popular trains and are operated in the popular spot.

JR Hokkaido (Hokkaido area)

Kushiro Shitsugen Norokko train

This train is operated by “Torokko” (open air type passenger’s car). This is a cruising train that goes through Kushiro marsh. Please refer the detail about this train at Kushiro Shitsugen Norokko train. This train is extended to operate to Kawayu Onsen (Kawayu hot springs) in October. Continue reading

Alternatives of Overnight train Cassiopeia and Hokutosei, in case that you cannot make a reservation.

Overnight Limited Express train Cassiopeia (C) Sonic Rail Garden
Overnight Limited Express train Cassiopeia (C) Sonic Rail Garden
***Hokutosei was discontinued as scheduled train in 14 March, 2015. Now Hokutosei runs as seasonal train until end of summer. It will be discontinued after it. Please find operation date at the post, Schedule of 2015 spring seasonal trains of Japan Railways.***

Both Cassiopeia and Hokutosei very popular. Many tourists have a plan to take one of these trains. However these overnight trains cannot be reserved online. The only way to reserve it from outside of Japan is calling Odekake net 078-341-7903 in Japanese and you have to pick up your ticket in JR West, Shikoku or Kyushu stations. You cannot pick up it in other areas, like Tokyo. Otherwise You need to be the reservation window at the station in Japan. Ticket is started to sell one month prior to the departure date. That means it may be sold out when you arrive in Japan. So you must have a back up plan when you try to make a reservation after arrival.

I tell you several options for the case that you cannot make Cassiopeia or Hokutosei. Continue reading

Furano Biei Norokko train, Easy rail trip around Furano area for everyone.

Furano Biei Norokko train goes on Furano line. (C) 800px-Norokkogou-furano-biei / Birdman
Furano Biei Norokko train takes you one of most popular spot, Furano and Biei. (C) 800px-Norokkogou-furano-biei / Birdman

Furano (富良野) is one of most popular spot in Hokkaido. Especially July is the busiest season because the bloom of Lavender. You can enjoy Furano in not only summer season but also autumn. You may see the fall color leaves in September. The scenery in autumn is breathtaking too. Furano can be accessed directly from Sapporo (札幌) by Limited Express Furano Lavender Express / Furano Koyo Express from July to mid October. There are three round trips in the peak season. But if you want to have a nice rail excursion and enjoy the scenery from the train, I recommend you to take this train “Furano Biei Norokko train” (富良野・美瑛ノロッコ号). Of course you can take this train by Japan Rail Pass with no extra charge. Let’s see the details about this train. Continue reading