Hokkaido train operation status in fall 2016. Guide for substitute train and bus service.

Limited Express Okhotsk is suspended currently.
Limited Express Okhotsk is suspended currently.

Tomamu – Obihiro segment will open on 22nd December.

Hokkaido was hit by very severe typhoon in late August. Many train lines are closed by this storm and many trains are suspended currently. Substitute bus service and tentative train are operated but trip time is much longer than original schedule. And also the accommodation of some trains are totally different from Limited Express train interior. It offers just commute train accommodation. It is obviously inconvenient. If you cannot accept this situation, I recommend you to change your trip plan. It may not be a right time to visit there.

Anyway I will guide the substitute train and bus service in this post. Continue reading Hokkaido train operation status in fall 2016. Guide for substitute train and bus service.

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

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

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

My trip from Hakodate to Ueno (Tokyo) on March 20, 2012 by sleeper train Hokutosei

I arrived at Hakodate from Minami-Chitose by Ltd Exp Hokuto 183 series. (C) JP Rail
I arrived at Hakodate from Minami-Chitose by Ltd Exp Hokuto 183 series. (C) JP Rail

(Read previous post)

This is the last post of my trip to Tohoku and Hokkaido in this past March. I will write about visiting in Hakodate and getting on sleeper express train, Hokutosei in this post. As probably you know, Hokutosei is one of the train that is very hard to book. I will tell you how I did it. Continue reading My trip from Hakodate to Ueno (Tokyo) on March 20, 2012 by sleeper train Hokutosei

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

Hakodate station guide. How to change the train, Super Hakucho, Super Hokuto and other local trains.

Hakodate station building (C) JP Rail
Hakodate station building (C) JP Rail

On March 26, 2016, Hokkaido Shinkansen was opened and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto station was opened. Hakodate is not transfer point to get Aomori any more. You may get Aomori, Morioka, Sendai and Tokyo by Hokkaido Shinkansen from Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto. It takes about 20 minutes between Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto and Hakodate.

I wrote about Shin-Aomori station on the previous post. Most of travellers who go to Hokkaido get on Tohoku Shinkansen from Tokyo to Shin-Aomori, and then Limited Express Super Hakucho from Shin-Aomori to Hakodate. Now it is time to transfer to Limited Express Super Hokuto/Hokuto to Sapporo at Hakodate. This will be your first step on Hokkaido!

I show you map and images. You may know how to transfer the trains, Super Hakucho and Super Hokuto. And also I show you about Hakodate station. Continue reading Hakodate station guide. How to change the train, Super Hakucho, Super Hokuto and other local trains.

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

Access to Wakkanai from Sapporo. Limited Express Soya / Sarobetsu

When you go to Wakkanai at North end of Hokkaido, these trains take you there. Soya (宗谷) and Sarobetsu (サロベツ) take you to Wakkanai. Soya is operated between Sapporo and Wakkanai. But Sarobetsu runs between Asahikawa and Wakkanai.

Both trains are fully covered by Japan Rail Pass. Let’s see the details about these trains. Continue reading Access to Wakkanai from Sapporo. Limited Express Soya / Sarobetsu

Drift ice watching in Shiretoko by Ryuhyo Norokko train

Ryuhyo Norokko train is operated during very popular Drift Ice season in Hokkaido.
Ryuhyo Norokko train is operated during very popular Drift Ice season in Hokkaido.

Ryuhyo Norokko train has been stopped operation because of carriage was too old. Other train replaced Ryuhyo Norokko train but it is operated by common fleet.

Ryuhyo (Drift Ice=流氷) viewing is most popular things to do in Hokkaido during the winter time. This sea ice reach around Abashiri from late January to late March. The best season to view this ice is mid February. This train, Ryuhyo Norokko train is operated in this Ryuhyo season between Abashiri (網走) and Shiretoko-Shari (知床斜里) where is the gate town to Shiretoko peninsula. This train goes on Senmo line (釧網本線) along the coast of Sea of Okhotsk. You have lots of change to see the sea ice from the train. And also Abashiri can be reached by Limited Express Okhotsk or seasonal tran, Ryuhyo Limited Express Okhotsk no Kaze from Sapporo. Both express train from Sapporo and Ryuhyo Norokko train are fully covered by Japan Rail Pass.

Let’s see the detail about this train. Continue reading Drift ice watching in Shiretoko by Ryuhyo Norokko train

Kushiro Shitsugen Norokko train, Easy rail trip to Kushiro Marsh for everyone.

Kushiro Shitsugen Norokko train goes through Kushiro marsh. (C) 640px-Kushiro_shitugen_norokko_train / 欅
Kushiro Shitsugen Norokko train goes through Kushiro marsh. (C) 640px-Kushiro_shitugen_norokko_train / 欅

Kushiro Shitsugen (Kushiro marsh=釧路湿原) is national park and has the largest marsh wetland in Japan. It is well known as the home of endangered Japanese Cranes (丹頂鶴). JR Hokkaido’s Senmo line goes through this wetland and gives you a great scenery. Kushiro Shitsugen Norokko train (釧路湿原ノロッコ号) is operated on this line from late April to late September. This is the easiest way to enjoy a day excursion in Kushiro Shitsugen from Kushiro. And Kushiro can be reached by Limited Express Super Ozora from Sapporo easily. Both Super Ozora and Kushiro Shitsugen Norokko train are fully covered by Japan Rail Pass.

Let’s see the detail about this train. Continue reading Kushiro Shitsugen Norokko train, Easy rail trip to Kushiro Marsh for everyone.

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

Ekiben (Boxed meal at the station or in the train) in Hokkaido

Oshamanbe Kanimeshi is one of the most well known Ekiben in Japan.
Oshamanbe Kanimeshi is one of the most well known Ekiben in Japan.

Bento (弁当) is the classic boxed meal in Japan. Especially Bento that is sold at station is called “Ekiben”. “Eki” (駅) means station and “Ben” (弁) is an abbreviation of the Bento. Major department store hold an exhibition that show many Ekiben from all over Japan very often. Ekiben is one of the food culture in Japan. Nobody knows how many Ekiben we have in Japan now. According to Ekiben archives, it says more than 3000 Ekiben in Japan. Even though I pick up the popular Ekibens, it is too many to share the information with you in one post. First of all, I would like to show you the popular Ekiben in Hokkaido with you. Continue reading Ekiben (Boxed meal at the station or in the train) in Hokkaido

How to access Shiretoko peninsula, Hokkaido

Shiretoko Pass is the highlight of Shiretoko peninsula. (C) JNTO
Shiretoko Pass is the highlight of Shiretoko peninsula. (C) JNTO

Shiretoko is one of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Japan. There are falls, lakes and onsen. Shiretoko is one of the best place to enjoy the nature of Hokkaido. I will share the information about access Shiretoko. Continue reading How to access Shiretoko peninsula, Hokkaido

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 have received some inquiries about trip to Kyoto and Hokkaido in only 7 days. It is packed but it is not impossible. I would like to share the sample itinerary which covers Kyoto and Hokkaido. Continue reading Two most popular spots in 7 days! Sample itinerary Kyoto and Hokkaido 7 days by Japan Rail Pass 7 days pass

Sample itinerary Hokkaido 7 days by Japan Rail Pass 7 days

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

This itinerary includes most of popular spots of Hokkaido in 7 days. Departure and arrival places are Tokyo. You can start using 7 days JR pass when you leave Tokyo. Continue reading Sample itinerary Hokkaido 7 days by Japan Rail Pass 7 days

Access to Kushiro and Obihiro from Sapporo. Limited Express Super Ozora / Super Tokachi

Limited express Super Ozora
Limited express Super Ozora and most of express trains are covered by Hokkaido Round Tour Pass.

When you go to South East part of Hokkaido, these trains take you there. Super Ozora and Super Tokachi are operated on same route. Super Ozora connect Sapporo and Kushiro. Super Tokachi connect Sapporo and Obihiro. These trains are very popular and the reserved seats are sold out very often. Especially JR Hokkaido give you a great service in Green car. Sometimes Green car is sold out earlier than Ordinary class. Both trains are fully covered by Japan Rail Pass. So if you have a plan to take these trains, I strongly recommend you to reserve your seat when you exchange your Japan Rail Pass.

I would like to share the information about these trains with you. Continue reading Access to Kushiro and Obihiro from Sapporo. Limited Express Super Ozora / Super Tokachi

Access to Abashiri from Sapporo. Limited Express Okhotsk / Taisetsu

Limited express train Okhotsk
Limited express train Okhotsk

Limited Express Okhotsk and Taisetsu take you to Abashiri from Sapporo and Asahikawa. Abashiri is well known as drift ice viewing in winter time. And also when you go to the world heritage site, Shiretoko, you may use this train to Abashiri and transfer to the local train to Shiretoko-Shari. If you need the information about the access to Shiretoko, please see one of my posts, “How to get Shiretoko“.

You can take this train by Japan Rail Pass with no restriction. I would like to show you the information about these trains. Continue reading Access to Abashiri from Sapporo. Limited Express Okhotsk / Taisetsu

Overnight train to/from Sapporo and Aomori. Express Hamanasu

Overnight train Hamanasu at Aomori station
Overnight train Hamanasu at Aomori station

Hamanasu was discontinued in mid March, 2016. There is no overnight train service options available to Hokkaido.

This overnight express train is operated between Aomori and Sapporo. If you want to save your time and you don’t want to spend your money for Hotel in Sapporo, this overnight train is the best choice. Especially when you want to transfer to Tokyo from Sapporo as early as possible, this train is connected with the earliest Tohoku Shinkansen at Shin-Aomori. Continue reading Overnight train to/from Sapporo and Aomori. Express Hamanasu

Access to/from Sapporo and Asahikawa. Limited Express Kamui / Lilac

Limited express train Kamui
Limited express train Kamui

These limited express trains, Kamui and Lilac connect Sapporo (札幌) and Asahikawa (旭川). Kamui and Lilac run on exactly same route. The only difference is accommodation. Lilac has Green seat and Kamui does not. But the reserved ordinary seat of Kamui is called “U seat”. It has better seat with some equipment. But it is a sort of Reserved Ordinary seat. So even Japan Rail Pass Ordinary can be used to take this seat.

In this post, I show you the details of these train. Continue reading Access to/from Sapporo and Asahikawa. Limited Express Kamui / Lilac

Access to/from Sapporo and Hakodate. Limited Express Super Hokuto

Super Hokuto
Most of Hokkaido Limited Express trains are operating for a long transfer.

Super Hokuto runs between Hakodate (函館) and Sapporo (札幌). This train is connected with Hokkaido Shinkansen at Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto. So if you move from Tokyo to Sapporo, take Tohoku-Hokkaido Shinkansen and take this train for Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto to Sapporo. Japan Rail Pass covers all these trains from Tokyo to Sapporo. Continue reading Access to/from Sapporo and Hakodate. Limited Express Super Hokuto

Connect Mainland (Aomori) with Hokkaido (Hakodate). Limited Express Hakucho / Super Hakucho

Limited Express Hakucho connect Honshu island with Hokkaido island.
Limited Express Hakucho connect Honshu island with Hokkaido island.

Super Hakucho and Hakucho is no longer running after Hokkaido Shinkansen opened in March, 2016. Now Hokkaido Shinkansen connects Tokyo and Hokkaido directly. Please see the following link to see the details of this Shinkansen line.

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

Hakucho/Super Hakucho is operated between Shin-Aomori (新青森) and Hakodate (函館). These trains go through the longest tunnel in Japan, “Seikan Tunnel” and connect the main island in Japan, “Honshu” (本州) and Hokkaido (北海道). All these trains are scheduled to be connected with Tohoku Shinkansen at Shin-
Aomori station and Limited Express “Hokuto” and “Super Hokuto” to Sapporo at Hakodate. These trains used to connect Hachinohe with Hakodate via Aomori. But Tohoku Shinkansen was extended to Shin-Aomori on December 4, 2010. Departure location had been changed to Shin-Aomori instead of Hachinohe.

Both Hakucho and Super Hakucho are fully covered by Japan Rail Pass. But the accommodation between Hakucho and Super Hakucho is very different. So I would like to show you the difference and other details. Continue reading Connect Mainland (Aomori) with Hokkaido (Hakodate). Limited Express Hakucho / Super Hakucho

How to access to Hakodate and Sapporo in Hokkaido by railway.

Sapporo in winter time is so beautiful.
Sapporo shows very beautiful scenery in winter time.

Hokkaido is very popular destination in these days. Especially Sapporo is very well known because it is the biggest city in Hokkaido and is it the base city of the biggest winter festival in the world. Hakodate is located in southend of Hokkaido. This small city is also very popular among tourist. It is also the gate city of Hokkaido if you take train or ferry.

If you have JR Pass, JR East South Hokkaido Rail Pass, train trip to Hakodate or Hokkaido is fully covered. Actually we can get Sapporo in same day from Tokyo and even Osaka by Shinkansen and Limited express trains. However it is such a long long trip. I would like to show you the sample trip plan and you will find the trip time from Tokyo and Osaka. Continue reading How to access to Hakodate and Sapporo in Hokkaido by railway.

How to access to Cape Erimo (Erimo Misaki) by Japan Rail Pass.

Cape Erimo (Erimo Misaki)
Cape Erimo (Erimo Misaki)

Cape Erimo (=Erimo Misaki=襟裳岬) is located at south end of Hokkaido. There is more than 60m height cliff around the cape and 7km long shore reef to offshore. It is facing the open water of Pacific Ocean. A lot of harbor seals can be seen there.

You can access Cape Erimo by JR local line and bus without any additional charge by JR Pass, but Hokkaido Rail Pass does not cover the bus to Cape Erimo. Continue reading How to access to Cape Erimo (Erimo Misaki) by Japan Rail Pass.