Direct access to Hokkaido from Tokyo, Hokkaido Shinkansen (bullet train)

H5 series will run on Hokkaido Shinkansen as Hayabusa and Hayate. This fleet is same series as Tohoku Shinkansen E5 series. (C) By 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
H5 series will run on Hokkaido Shinkansen as Hayabusa and Hayate. This fleet is same series as Tohoku Shinkansen E5 series. (C) By 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 will be opened on March 26, 2016 between Shin-Aomori and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto. This will be the newest Shinkansen (Bullet Train) line technically. However this line is connected with Tohoku Shinkansen at Shin-Aomori. Many of trains run through Tohoku Shinkansen to Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto from Tokyo. You will be able to get Hokkaido from Tokyo directly by this Shinkansen train.

However Hokkaido Shinkansen will be partial open. You can get southern Hokkaido only. You still need to transfer to get most of Hokkaido. such as Sapporo. And also Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto station is not located in downtown of Hakodate. You need to transfer to get Hakodate.

I mentioned many negative things at the beginning. But it will be much more convenient and faster than current trains. There are a few things that you need to know before taking Hokkaido Shinkansen. I would like to show you the detail of Hokkaido Shinkansen and will also give you some tips to use this Shinkansen line in this post.

*Additional info
JR Group has announced that Hokkaido Shinkansen is fully covered by Japan Rail Pass, a.k.a. JR pass.

Route, schedule and trip time

The route is shown in the map below:

Map of Hokkaido Shinkansen (C) Hisagi - CC BY-SA 3.0  or GFDL, via Wikimedia Commons
Map of Hokkaido Shinkansen (C) Hisagi – CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL, via Wikimedia Commons

There will be 13 round trips in the following segment.

Tokyo to/from Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto
Run as Hayabusa
10 round trips
Sendai to/from Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto
Run as Hayabusa
1 round trip
Morioka to/from Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto
Run as Hayate
1 round trip
Shin-Aomori to/from Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto
Run as Hayate
1 round trip

As you see above, most of trains run between Tokyo and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto. Technically this train runs on two different Shinkansen lines, Tohoku and Hokkaido. But it goes directly and you cannot find the difference between these two Shinkansen lines. Hokkaido Shinkansen is like extension of Tohoku Shinkansen. You may think one Shinkansen line between Tokyo and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto.

The fastest train connects Tokyo and Shin-Hakondate-Hokuto in 4 hours and 2 minutes. The average trip time is around 4 hours 15 minutes.

Timetable

Unfortunately there is no timetable in English available yet. But I show you the link of timetable in Japanese.

You can find the timetable at JR Hokkaido official website.

Hokkaido Shinkansen and limited express train to/from Sapporo timetable

It’s Japanese but don’t worry and see Page 3 (but shown page 2 in the PDF) of this PDF.
You will find two tables there. The first one is bound for Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto and second one is bound for Tokyo.
In the first table, from left to right, the station names are shown, Tokyo (東京発), Omiya(大宮発), Sendai(仙台発), Morioka(盛岡発), Shin-Aomori(新青森発), Okutsugaru-Imabetsu(奥津軽いまべつ発), Kikonai(木古内発) and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto(新函館北斗着).
In the second table, it’s just reverse order.

Stations

The stations are same as Tohoku Shinkanse between Tokyo and Morioka. Please refer to Tohoku Shikansen.

Shin-Aomori x
Okutsugaru-Imabetsu *
Kikonai *
Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto x

x:All trains stop *:some trains stop

All trains that run between Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto and Shin-Aomori, Morioka make stops at both Okutsugaru-Imabetsu and Kikonai. Trip between Sendai and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto skips both stations. Five of ten trips between Tokyo and Shin-Hakodatre-Hokuto make a stop at Okutsugaru-Imabetsu. And six of ten trips between Tokyo and Shin-Hakodatre-Hokuto make a stop at Kikonai.

Shin-Aomori station is one station away from Aomori station by local and express trains. Please see the link below to find the info about Shin-Aomori. Currently this page shows you how to change the train to Hakodate. But once Hokkaido Shinkansen opens, transfer is not required to Hokkaido at Shin-Aomori.

Shin-Aomori station guide. How to change the train, Shinkansen, Super Hakucho and other local trains.

Location of Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto station

Hakodate Liner will be operated by commute train fleet 733 series.
Hakodate Liner will be operated by commute train fleet 733 series.

Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto is currently existed as Oshima-Ono station. This station is under construction now and will be opened as Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto on opening day. It is five stations away from Hakodate and it is not located in downtown Hakodate.

Access train “Hakodate Liner” will run between Shin-Hakondate-Hokuto and Hakodate. You have to change this train to Hakodate. It will take 15 to 20 minutes to get Hakodate from Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto. All Shinkansen trains will connect Hakodate Liner. You do not need to wait the trains to Hakodate for a long time.

Train formation and accommodation

All Hokkaido Shinkansen trains are same as Tohoku Shinkansen’s trains, “Hayabusa” and “Hayate”. Please refer the following page to get the details of Hayabusa and Hayate.

Tohoku Shinkansen (bullet train), the fastest train to Tohoku area from Tokyo.

195 thoughts on “Direct access to Hokkaido from Tokyo, Hokkaido Shinkansen (bullet train)”

  1. Hi, I’m staying in Ebsiu Tokyo, and was going to catch a Shinkansen to Hokkaido. I know I have to catch 2 trains, but was wondering how long total would it take?

    Arigato

  2. I will be travelling to Nikko and staying ther 1 night. Can I take any train( the next day)from Nikko to Aomori or Hakodate without having to return to Tokyo or Ueno stations? My destination is Hakodate where I wlll later return to Tokyo after a few days visit.

    Arigato, Leti C. in Texas, USA

    1. Hi Leti,

      You can need to change the trains at least twice.

      First of all, taking Nikko line to get Utsunomiya. And then you can catch Tohoku-Hokkaido Shinkansen. But all trains to Shin-Aomori and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto do not stop at Utsunomiya. You have to take other Shinkansen train to Sendai and then take another train to Shin-Aomori and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto.

      There is no hard copy of timetable from Nikko to Utsunomiya. Pleas check it at Hyperdia.
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/basic-informations/timetable-and-reservation/hyperdia-perfect-guide-train-timetable-and-route-search-engine.html

      You can find the timetable to Shin-Aomori and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto at the link below:
      http://www.eki-net.com/pc/jreast-shinkansen-reservation/english/wb/common/timetable/e_tohoku_d/index.html
      http://www2.jrhokkaido.co.jp/global/english/ttable/08.pdf

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      Cheers,

      Takeshi

  3. Takeshi san, I wanna go to hokkaido (my dest is wakkanai) but sadly from KIX Osaka 🙁 it will take all day long. if I use JR Pass. is there any additional cost?

    1. Hi noviabopi san,

      All part of the trip to Wakkanai is covered by JR pass fully. You don’t need to pay any extra.
      Actually you cannot get Wakkanai from KIX in one day. You have to stay somewhere on the way to Wakkanai. If you start from Osaka (not KIX), it’s possible by JR pass. You have to get the earliest Hikari to complete the trip to Wakkanai in one day. Please see the link below:
      http://english.jr-central.co.jp/info/timetable/_pdf/eastbound.pdf
      http://www2.jrhokkaido.co.jp/global/english/ttable/08.pdf
      http://www2.jrhokkaido.co.jp/global/english/ttable/01.pdf

      But only 7 minutes to change the trains at Sapporo. As long as train arrive in on time, 7 minutes is enough. But train in Hokkaido is sometimes behind the schedule. If you miss it in Sapporo, there is no way to get Wakkanai. If I were you, I don’t take this plan. I will start the trip from KIX and stay somewhere on the way, may be Tokyo or Hakodate.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  4. Hi takeshi san, I plan to travel from Tokyo to Hakodate via the new shinkansen, leaving Tokyo on 1 Jan 2017 and returning on 3 Jan. These dates fall within the New Year Holidays. In order to make sure I can travel, I plan to book the tickets online. However, the JR East online reservation only allows online reservation for JR pass holders up to Shin Aomori. From Shin Aomori to Shin Hakodate-Hokuto, no online reservation fro JR Pass holders are allowed. What should I do, should I secure my seats on the Tokyo to Shin-Aomori trips first, then book the Shin- Aomori to Shin-Hakodate leg when I arrive in Japan?

  5. Hi Takeshi san, i am going to sapporo next oct for 4 days. i plan to depart from narita straight to tokyo by NEX then taking hayabusa to shin hakodate hokute. does i need to change train there? please guide me how to reach sapporo i.e. how many route/transfer of train, which platform to start/exit.

    thank you for your kindness.

    1. Hi mealiellaomar san,

      You can find all trains timetable that you need to get Sapporo in the link below:

      Narita Express
      http://www.eki-net.com/pc/jreast-shinkansen-reservation/english/wb/common/timetable/e_nex_u/index.html

      Hokkaido Shikansen and Limited express
      http://www2.jrhokkaido.co.jp/global/english/ttable/08.pdf

      You have to catch Limited Express Hokuto from Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto to Sapporo. Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto station is small and there are only a few platforms. There are lots of signage and easy to find the direction.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  6. Hi Takeshi san

    Given that some trains which include “Liner” in their name are not covered in the JR pass do you know if the Hakodate Liner is?

    Regards

    Simon
    Auckland, New Zealand

    P.S So sad to see almost all the night trains discontinued since I left Japan a few years ago.

      1. Thanks Takeshi. At least the Liner is covered. Looks like I’m going to be staying in Hakodate for one night.

        FYI for yourself and all readers – there is at least one hotel now open near Shin Hakodate Hokuto Stn – the Hotel La’gent Plaza. unfortunately it’s already full the night I need it!

        It also begs the question given that the last Hokkaido Shinkansen leaves Tokyo at the still early hour of 19.20, it would be good if one could use a later Tohoku Shinkansen departure from Tokyo to connect with a midnight/1am sleeper train at Aomori (yes I know that means a transfer from Shin-Aomori) and allowing an arrival in Sapporo the next morning.

        Another thing JR east and Hokkaido could trial is a midnight /early morning shinkansen. Last year Ukrainian Railways started trialling running one of its high speed Hyundai (ok it’s nowhere the same speed as a shinkansen but) trains departing Dnipropetrovsk to Kyiv at midnight allowing customers to get to Kyiv at about 6am. I took this and it was an excellent option. JR might be surprised that quite a few people are happy to take an early morning train to meet up with an onward one to Sapporo etc from 6-7am etc.

        1. Hi Simon,

          I have just visited Hokkaido and I saw the hotel from the station. I think Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto station area will be developed more.

          JR Hokkaido does not want to operate night train now. They are trying to cut more services in these days because of financial issues. JR Hokkaido want to close many part of lines, like Asahikawa-Abashiri, Abashiri-Kushiro, Kushiro-Nemuro, Nayoro-Wakkanai. These include major cities but JR Hokkaido cannot make any profits from these lines. Now JR negotiating with local municipality government and national government. The situation is very very serious.

          So JR Hokkaido does not want to do any new services at this point. If they operate night train, they need to have new carriage because the carriage which they used for Hamanasu was too old and those are already scrapped and some of those were transferred to other local railways.

          Regarding Shinkansen, I don’t think they can increase trains in late or early because of Seikan tunnel and maintenance. Shinkansen shares the train in the tunnel with freight train. This is only Shinkansen tracks to share with other trains. They need plenty time for freight trains and they also need plenty time for maintenance. Overnight Shinkansen trains were discussed previously but not. Because night time is very important for maintenance.

          I hope night train runs again but I cannot expect it.

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

  7. Hi Takashi San,

    My name is Sing Yoong from Singapore.

    I will be travelling Japan for 25 days. Hakkaido will be part of my journey (9 days). I was busy looking for the accurate information about Tokyo to Hakkodate direct train.

    Is there any direct bullet train or we need to transfer to another train?

    Is the train run under the sea ? From google map, I found there is a sea separate mainland and hakkaido. I am not too sure about this?

    During the journey, any scenery can we enjoy during the train journey?

    Do you have the timetable for the bullet train and price? I’m looking forward to bring my mother to try out bullet train . Please advise me. Thanks

    1. Hi Sing Yoong san,

      Hokkaido Shinkansen connects Tokyo and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto directly. You can find the timetable at the link below. Click “Tokyo – Sapporo” in the link below:
      http://www2.jrhokkaido.co.jp/global/english/ttable/index.html

      Hokkaido and Honshu (mainland of Japan) are connected by Seikan Tunnel. That runs under the sea. Shinkansen runs on the shortest route. There are many tunnels and scenery is not very good actually.

      You can find the fare at hyperdia. Please find the link below to get more info:
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/basic-informations/timetable-and-reservation/hyperdia-perfect-guide-train-timetable-and-route-search-engine.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  8. Hi takeshi san, i am going to Japan next Oct, but i have very limited time there. So i just wondering is it possible to explore hakodate for just one day? Like leaving Tokyo early in the morning to Hakodate and come back toTokyo at same day by last Train? Thankyou for yor help

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