The limited express Hokuto train guide and the timetable: Sapporo – Hakodate intercity transfer train

Super Hokuto
281 series is the standard fleet for the limited express trains in Hokkaido.

The limited express Hokuto runs between Hakodate and Sapporo. This train is connected to the Hokkaido Shinkansen at Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto. So if you move from Tokyo to Sapporo, take the Tohoku-Hokkaido Shinkansen and transfer to this train for Sapporo at Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto station. Japan Rail Pass covers all these trains from Tokyo to Sapporo.

Route, schedule and trip time

Super Hokuto runs more than 10 trips a day. It takes 3 hours 10 minutes by the fastest Super Hokuto between Sapporo and Hakodate.

You can find the timetable in the link below:

Timetable is not available until further notice due to the train suspenstion due to COVID-19.

I traveled from Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto to Sapporo by this train. Please find my trip report in my Youtube channel:

But the trip between Sapporo and Tokyo is quite long trip. Please refer the link below to learn more:


The limitede express Hokuto operates on KIHA-261 or 283 series. The seat layout on Ordinary car is 2+2 and Green seat is 2+1. These two fleets are very similar. The biggest difference is a material of the seat on Green car. 283 series has ordinary fablic seat and 261 series has leather seat.

*Sonic Rail Garden has copyright for all images of accommodations below.

Train formation

Train formation by 281 series


*Some more cars are added in the peak season.

Train formation (261 series)


Images – KIHA-281 series

Green seat

Ordinary seat

Sanitary space

Images – KIHA-261 series

Green seat

Ordinary seat

Sanitary space

139 thoughts on “The limited express Hokuto train guide and the timetable: Sapporo – Hakodate intercity transfer train”

  1. Hi Takeshi-San,

    I plan on traveling from Sapporo to Hakodate on May 1st for a day tripand would like to take the Super Hokuto shinkansen to get there the fastest (the estimated 3 hours). I am fine with leaving as early as possible. However I’ve noticed some websites quote 3 hours travel & some quote 4 hours. Can you confirm the travel time for this trip please?

    Thank you,

    1. Hi Yevgeniy,

      It takes 3.5 to 4 hours. The trip time is a bit different by the trains because some trains skip many stations and other do not.

      By the way, Super Hokuto is not the Shinkansen but the limited express train. And also you will travel in Golden Week which is the busiest period in Japan. I highly recommend you to book a seat right away. You can book it online:


      Takeshi /

  2. I with 2 other persons plan to travel from Tokyo to Sapporo by train on March 31 and will return to Tokyo on April 1 this year. I already bought the JR Pass from my country. What time does train available everyday from Tokyo? and what time from Hokodate to Sapporo? Are the seats always available for us as the holder of JR Pass tickets? or do I need to book the seats before? The same questions also for our return from Sapporo to Tokyo.

    Thank you very much for your response.

  3. I will be traveling from sapporo to hakodate using the Hokuto. I wonder if there is a space on the train for my large suitcase? Thank you

  4. Hi Takeshi-San,

    Want to check if I am traveling from Tokyo to Sapporo via Hakodate, and wants to visit Otaru later during the week, does JR East pass cover the whole trip? Or I need the full JR Pass?

    Thank you.

      1. Hi takeshi-san,

        Does that include keisei narita skyaccess too?
        Also, will there be a late night train from Hakodate to Sapporo?


          1. Hi Takeshi-San,

            Im planning to go directly to Hakodate from my arrival in Narita airport on Dec 30th. Do you think it will be difficult to get seat for 2 people on the spot on Dec 30th?

            1. Hi Maria san,

              I do not recommend you to do it. I think December 29 and 30 will be the busiest day. And reservation is required to take all trains to Hakodate. If you cannot reserve your seat, you will be stuck in Tokyo. It is risky to travel on 30th. If you travel on 31st, it is easier to reserve. And you can reserve your seat online. If you use this online reservation, you have to pick up a ticket one day before travel date. So if you travel on 31st, you can use online. If you travel on 30th, you cannot use online and it will be a big gamble.


              Takeshi /

  5. Since its only one-way trip from Hakodate to Sapporo, i plan to take Ltd Exp Super Hokuto. How much is the fare? Where to buy this ticket? Do I have to buy it online. Which is cheaper, JR ticket or ltd exp super Hokuto?

      1. Tku for the prompt reply. I got the time table but do i need to buy this ticket online or in Japan? Pls type in your reply and do not refer me to another domain. Appreciate.

        1. Hi Janie,

          Even if you book a ticket online, you have to pick up your ticket at the window. You cannot get a ticket online, such as PDF by email.
          You don’t need to purchase/book a ticket online. You can do so in Japan. But if you want to reserve your seat in advance, online reservation is recommended.

          By the way, a huge earthquake hit Hokkaido yesterday and all trains are suspended now. If you intend to travel soon, please check the updated before you travel. At this point, even JR Hokkaido official website is down. We will see the details in next few days.


          Takeshi /

          1. I quite understand the JR ticket booking system coz i had booked JR tickets to Kyushu before. What i really really need to know exactly is, if i choose to ride on Ltd Exp Super Hukuto train, do i still have to book this ticket online? Or can I juz get this ticket in Hakodate JR Station personally?
            Also, can you please tell me how much is the fare riding on Ltd Exp Super Hokuto from Hakodate to Sapporo?

            I will be going to Hokkaido in January 2019 so i hope by then Hokkaido would be restored back to normal. However, tku for the info.

            Appreciate very much for your assistance. Tku.

            1. Hi Janie,

              Sorry but I don’t give you a fare in this site. Because a fare is varied by travel date and seat class (non reserved, reserved or Green). And if I answer this type of inquiry, I have to check the fare personally. So please understand that and find it at hyperdia by yourself. I gave your a link in the first reply about hyperdia. Please refer it. It is quite easy.

              Online reservation is not required. You can purchase a ticket at Hakodate station just before you travel. But in these days, trains in Hokkaido is quite popular. Sometimes train is completely booked. Super Hokuto has non reserved seat car. You can take this train without reservation. But in the worst case, you have to stand up in the car if all seats are occupied. This does not happen very often. But if you really want to secure your seat, I recommend you to book online in advance.

              If you want more info about reserved seat and non reserved seat, please see the link below:


              Takeshi /

  6. I plan to go from Shin-Chitose to Hakodate, do I need to book our train ticket in advance? Usually will it be fully booked if I purchase on the day I want to depart?

    1. Hi Allison,

      You cannot book it in advance even if you want. Online reservation is available but you have to collect a ticket one day before travel date.

      So you cannot use it for the travel on arrival day. You have to book a seat when you get New Chitose. In these days, train in Hokkaido is always busy. You may not be able to book a seat when you get there. You have to find a seat in non reserved car. In worst case, all seats are occupied and you have to stand up in the train. Please find more info about non reserved car in the link below:


      Takeshi /

  7. We are planning a trip this Dec and traveling on JR Rail from Sapporo to Hokodate with family of 2 children / 2 adult and 2 elderly. We will have a few big luggage, wondering if KIHA-283 does have compartment for us to store bigger luggage?


  8. Hi Takeshi-san,

    Can i use the JR Pass to travel from Hakodate to Sapporo? We’ll also be in Kyoto after that.

    Also can I use the JR Pass around Sapporo and visit Otaru?

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