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.
New Chitose airport terminal building and station
This station is directly connected with the terminal building. As probably you know, it is freezing in Hokkaido during winter season. But outer jacket is not required when you arrive in New Chitose station.
As you have seen the picture above, the station in located at the underground level. You can simply take stairs, escalators or elevators from the arrival level. There are lots of signage. You cannot miss it. Please see the following links to get the maps.
New Chitose airport station is quite small. There is only one ticket gate and one platform. If you want to exchange Japan Rail Pass or Hokkaido Rail Pass, you can do it at JR Hokkaido information desk. It is located at the left side of the ticket gate.
By the way, be careful to spend too much money in New Chitose airport terminal. Most of airports in Japan have lots of shops and restaurants. But I was very surprised when I stepped in the terminal building from the underground station. It was almost department store. This shopping complex is named “Fleur”. I put several terminal images below. And also if you are interested in it, please see their website.
Rapid Airport is operated between New Chitose airport and Sapporo, Otaru and Asahikawa. There are four trip an hour in daytime. Mostly two of these four trips connect airport with Otaru. Other trips connect airport with Sapporo or Asahikawa. The travel time to major stations are following:
to Minami Chitose (南千歳) – 3 minutes
to Sapporo – 36 minutes
to Otaru – approximately 1 hour 15 minutes
to Asahikawa – approximately 2 hours
*Direct train service to Asahikawa was discontinued on March 25, 2016. You have to change the train at Sapporo when you go to other than Sapporo and Otaru.
Rapid Airport to Otaru, Sapporo
View Rapid Airport to Otaru in a larger map
This Rapid Airport is operated by commute train 721 series. But most of trains have reserved sheet that is called “U seat”. U seat is like a express train sheet. Of course it is much better than regular seat. And also the car of U seat has baggage space. (Ordinary seat does not) If you use Japan Rail Pass or Hokkaido Rail Pass, you can take U seat without any extra. It is quite easy to book. Just go to “Midori no Madoguchi” (reservation window) and try to get it.” If you need the detailed timetable, please see the timetable at JR Hokkaido website.
I put several images of both ordinary seat and seat. Please see the difference.
Transfer to the trains to other major cities in Hokkaido
As I mentioned above, you can access to Sapporo, Otaru and other major stations between Otaru and New Chitose airport directly. But if you go to other cities, you need to transfer. There are two transfer points.
Minami-Chitose – Hakodate, Muroran, Noboribetsu, Toya, Date-Monbetsu, Obihiro, Kushiro
Sapporo – Asahikawa, Furano, Wakkanai, Abashiri, Shiretokoshari
Minami-Chitose is just one station away from New Chitose airport station. It takes only 3 minutes. Furano can be accessed from the south via Minami-Chitose, Shitoku. But most of passengers take direct access train, Funora Lavender Express from Sapporo.
If you are looking for the direct access to your accommodation, airport buses may be better. You can find the detailed information at New Chitose Airport Buses information page.
Photo Credit for 721 series U seat – By天然ガス ( Tennen-Gas ) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons