How to get to Hakodate and Sapporo in Hokkaido by train

sapporo clock towerHokkaido Area
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 it holds the biggest winter festival in the world. Hakodate is located in southend of Hokkaido. This small city is also very popular among tourists. It is also the gate city of Hokkaido if you take a train or a ferry.

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

Train connection between Tokyo and Sapporo by the Tohoku-Hokkaido Shinkansen and the limited express Super Hokuto

The Tohoku-Hokkaido Shinkansen Hayabusa requires a seat booking. You cannot take this train without a seat booking.

The Tohoku-Hokkaido Shinkansen runs between Tokyo and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto. Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto is the gateway station of Hokkaido and the Shinkansen terminal station near Hakodate. The limited express Super Hokuto runs between Hakodate, Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto and Sapporo.

The earliest connection from Tokyo to Sapporo

06:32 DepTokyo
The Tohoku-Hokkaido Shinkansen Hayabusa 1
10:53 Arr / 11:09 DepShin-Hakodate-Hokuto
The limited express Super Hokuto 9
14:41 ArrSapporo

The earliest connection from Sapporo to Tokyo

06:00 DepSapporo
The limited express Super Hokuto 2
09:14 Arr / 09:35 DepShin-Hakodate-Hokuto
The Tohoku-Hokkaido Shinkansen Hayabusa 16
14:04 ArrTokyo

As you saw, the trip time between Tokyo and Sapporo is more than 8 hours.

Train connection between Tokyo and Hakodate by the Tohoku-Hokkaido Shinkansen and the rapid train Hakodate Liner

Hakodate Liner at platform #1 in Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto station. Hakodate Liner is a sort of the commute trains. You cannot book a seat on this train.

The Shinkansen terminal station, Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto is 15-25 minutes away from the center of Hakodate. The rapid train, Hakodate Liner connects Hakodate and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto. The transfer time at Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto is 10 to 20 minutes. You may feel 10 minutes is tight to change the trains. But this is on purpose. You can make it in 10 minutes.

The earliest connection from Tokyo to Hakodate

If you go to Hakodate, the rapid train, “Hakodate Liner” takes you to Hakodate from Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto in 15 to 25 minutes.

06:32 DepTokyo
The Tohoku-Hokkaido Shinkansen Hayabusa 1
10:53 Arr / 11:10 DepShin-Hakodate-Hokuto
The rapid train Hakodate Liner
11:25 ArrHakodate

The earliest connection from Hakodate to Tokyo

06:07 DepHakodate
The rapid train Hakodate Liner
06:29 Arr / 06:39 DepShin-Hakodate-Hokuto
The Tohoku-Hokkaido Shinkansen Hayabusa 10
11:04 ArrTokyo

The trip time between Hakodate and Tokyo is just less than 5 hours

Please refer the post below to learn more about Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto station and Hakodate station.

Train connection between Shin-Osaka, Kyoto, Nagoya and Sapporo, Hakodate by the Tokaido Shinkansen, Tohoku-Hokkaido Shinkansen and the limited express Super Hokuto or Hakodate Liner

There are many Shinkansen trains running between Shin-Osaka, Kyoto, Nagoya and Tokyo. But I think most of you use JR Pass. Therefore I would like to show you the trains connection that is covered by JR pass fully. The train route is same between Tokyo and Hokkaido. I just add the train connection between Shin-Osaka, Kyoto, Nagoya and Tokyo

The earliest connection from Shin-Osaka, Kyoto, Nagoya to Sapporo

06:08 DepShin-Osaka
06:23 DepKyoto
07:18 DepNagoya
The Tokaido Shinkansen Hikari 504
09:10 Arr / 09:36 DepTokyo
The Tohoku-Hokkaido Shinkansen Hayabusa 11
13:34 Arr / 14:11 DepShin-Hakodate-Hokuto
The limited express Super Hokuto 13
17:41 ArrSapporo

The earliest connection from Sapporo to Nagoya, Kyoto, Shin-Osaka

06:00 DepSapporo
The limited express Super Hokuto 2
09:14 Arr / 09:35 DepShin-Hakodate-Hokuto
The Tohoku-Hokkaido Shinkansen Hayabusa 16
14:04 Arr / 14:33 DepTokyo
The Tokaido Shinkansen Hikari 517
16:17 ArrNagoya
17:13 ArrKyoto
17:26 ArrShin-Osaka

The earliest connection from Shin-Osaka/Kyoto to Hakodate

06:08 DepShin-Osaka
06:23 DepKyoto
07:18 DepNagoya
The Tokaido Shinkansen Hikari 504
09:10 Arr / 09:36 DepTokyo
The Tohoku-Hokkaido Shinkansen Hayabusa 11
13:34 Arr / 13:47 DepShin-Hakodate-Hokuto
The rapid train Hakodate Liner
14:02 ArrHakodate

The earliest connection from Hakodate to Kyoto/Shin-Osaka

06:07 DepHakodate
The rapid train Hakodate Liner
06:29 Arr / 06:39 DepShin-Hakodate-Hokuto
The Tohoku-Hokkaido Shinkansen Hayabusa 10
11:04 Arr / 11:33 DepTokyo
The Tokaido Shinkansen Hikari 511
13:17 ArrNagoya
14:13 ArrKyoto
14:26 ArrShin-Osaka

You can make a trip between Osaka, Kyoto, Nagoya and Hokkaido. But please keep it in your mind that you will spend one whole day in the trains if you go to Sapporo.

Timetable

You may find the timetables in the links below.

The Tohoku-Hokkaido Shinkansen (between Tokyo and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto)

JR East official site – the timetable

The limited express Super Hokuto (between Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto and Sapporo)

Due to COVID-19, it may be operated on a schedule different from the normal timetable. Check the train schedule on Hyperdia.
Hyperdia perfect guide, train timetable and route search engine

The Tokaido Shinkansen (between Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto and Shin-Osaka)

JR Central official site – The Tokaido and the Sanyo Shinkansen timetable

I hope this post will help you to build your trip to Hokkaido.

Comments

  1. Jessie mak says:

    Hi there!

    Thanks for all the information, it’s been super helpful! I’m slowly piecing my trip together with your help. I just had a few questions in regards the the overnight train and timing…
    I’m planning a trip to Sapporo this December but my plane actually lands in Narita at 17:30 on a Sunday (Dec.16). I was hoping follow the itinerary you suggested:

    From Tokyo to Sapporo
    Tokyo 18:56 Dep
    (Tohoku Shinkansen Hayate 39)
    Shin-Aomori 22:24 Arr
    Shin-Aomori 22:33 Dep
    (Local train)
    Aomori 22:39 Arr
    Aomori 22:42 Dep
    (Overnight express train Hamanasu)
    Sapporo 06:07+1 Arr

    but I realize that the overnight train departing from Aomori leaves 3 minutes after the local train’s arrival. Is that enough time for a transfer? I read some of your other posts in regards to seat reservation as well, and since the day I arrive is the day I would like to depart, would it be even possible to get a seat on the train?

    Also, since I will be arriving at Narita Airport at 17:30, do you think I would have enough time to get to Tokyo Station? If so, what train would you recommend I take to get there in a short amount of time. I know it will be very tight… so I am worried that I won’t be able to catch the train to Shin-Aomori.

    Thank you so much for your help!!

    • JPRail says:

      Hi Jessie,

      First of all, you cannot arrive at Tokyo by 18:56. Please see the following post:
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/tips-for-japan-rail-pass/how-to-access-from-narita-airport-to-downtown-tokyo.html

      Narita Express is the fastest way to get Tokyo station. If you want to take 18:56 dep Hayate, you must take 17:44 dep Narita Express. Do you think you can finish everything, such as Custom, Immigration, Buggage pick up in 14 minutes? I think it is totally impossible. I don’t know you arrive by domestic or international flight. But even if you arrive by domestic flight, 14 minutes is very tough task.

      Unfortunately you cannot go to Sapporo by rail on arrival day. If you really need to arrive at Sapporo on arrival day, you might find LCC flight from Narita to New Chitose. Google “Narita, Sapporo flight”. You can find it.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

  2. Liqi says:

    Hi there, I’m heading to Japan at the end of this month and your website has been incredibly helpful! I’m planning to head up to Sapporo from Kyoto just by the Tohoku Shinkansen and limited express trains. This is what I have planned:

    Kyoto 09:29 Dep
    (SHINKANSEN HIKARI 514)
    Tokyo 12:10pm Arr

    Tokyo 12:56 Dep
    (SHINKANSEN HAYATE 27)
    Shin-aomori 16:33 Arr

    Shin-Aomori 16:41 Dep
    (Limited Express Super Hakucho 27)
    Hakodate 18:48 Arr

    Hakodate 19:46 Dep
    (Limited Express Super Hokuto 21)
    Sapporo 22:56 Arr

    —–
    As you see, I arrive in Shin-Aomori at 16:33 and the train departs at 16:41, so its a tight schedule… I haven’t been to any of the stations in Japan before so I was wondering if 8 minutes is enough to get myself on the Super Hakucho 27 (given that I reserve my tickets etc well in advance)? THANK YOU SO MUCH!

  3. Tata says:

    Great answers as usual JP 🙂

    So I guess the main issue is the availability of nobi nobi seat instead of the comfort.
    I think i’d better come up with plan B in case I can’t get nobi nobi

    Thanks a heap Takeshi 🙂

  4. Tata says:

    Thank you for the very prompt reply

    Q1. How is the seat for non reserved in hamanasu? Is it still acceptable for 8 hour trip, or will it be a dolorous one?
    Q2. Will I be able to take 2 bags with me, one is around 25 kgs and the other one is cabin bag
    Q3. Here is my sample itinerary, I am thinking of maximizing the night train like sunrise izumo and hamanasu, so please advise this itinerary

    D1. Tokyo- osaka ( night train)
    D2. Osaka only
    D3. Osaka kyoto
    D4 osaka -tokyo ( night train)
    D5. Tokyo sapporo ( night train)
    D6. Sapporo – otaru- akihizawa, then at 10 o clock taking night train to tokyo
    D7. Use JR only for the hayate

    I think the iti is somehow very tiring because I will spend day 4,5,6 on night trains and somehow I am afraid that the seats are not comfortable since i can bend it like relax seats

    Thanks

    • JPRail says:

      Hi Tata,

      A1. Have you seen my post about Hamansu?
      https://jprail.com/trains/sort-by-type/overnight-trains/hamanasu.html
      It is better than the economy class seat on the flight. But non reserved seat is very common seat.

      A2. Baggage is always a big issue for the overseas travellers on the train. Please see the following post:
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/managing-luggage-how-to-carry-your-baggage-on-board-and-how-to-store-your-baggage-at-the-station.html

      A3. When you take Sunrise from Tokyo, the train do not stop at Osaka because it is too early. You need to go to Himeji and then come back to Osaka.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/tips-for-japan-rail-pass/overnight-transfer-between-tokyo-and-kyotoosaka.html
      Sunrise Nobi Nobi seat is popular too. It is easier to reserve than Hamanasu carpet. But it is no surprise if it is sold out. You can try to take Highway bus Dream between Osaka and Tokyo too. But it is very popular and may be a bit hard to book too.

      Overnight trains are popular and hard to book it. So you must expect in case of sold out and prepare back up plan. That means you have to arrange your accommodation when you stay in Osaka. Especially between Tokyo and Osaka, all seats are reserved for both Sunrise and Dream. There is no option to take Non reserved seat.
      So if you don’t like to face this situation, I recommend you to take Shinkansen and arrange your hotel in Osaka or Tokyo. Of course it is your choice. But please keep it in your mind.

      Good luck.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

      • JAyre says:

        Hi Tata, Takeshi,

        I’ve thought I’d offer a bit of advice, having just been to Japan.

        Firstly, please make sure you are alright with the schedules for night trains with fully JR Pass covered options. Sunrise Exp departs Tokyo quite late, and arrives at Himeji quite early. Hamanasu departs quite late in both directions. Can you do Sunrise Exp (dep Osaka ~midnight, arr Tokyo 07:00), spend a day in Tokyo, transit to Aomori, take Hamanasu (dep Aomori late, arr. Sapporo early), go to Otaru, then change directions to (Asahikawa I presume?), turn around and leave Sapporo again on Hamanasu without getting exhausted?

        I suggest breaking it up perhaps with Hokutosei. It leaves Tokyo much earlier and arrives at Sapporo in the mid-morning, allowing you more opportunity for sleep and still good time in Sapporo/Otaru/Asahikawa, but you do have to pay.

        Your itinerary makes good use of the pass on overnight trains, to be certain, but if you burn yourself out and get exhausted you won’t be able to do any sightseeing. I suggest coming up with some alternatives so you can have a bit of flexibility in case of getting too tired, trains being booked out etc. Stay safe and best of luck with your planning!

        Best regards,

        Jonathan Ayre

  5. Tata says:

    Hi,

    I know it might sound too early, but my wife and I plan to attend the sapporo snow festival in Feb 5-12 2013.
    I am arriving in Haneda on 27 of Jan at 23.00

    Upon reading all your articles related to JR pass, I decided to buy one for 7 days and would like to make the most of it. So here are the questions

    1. Is it little chance of getting return tickets of the carpet seat from tokyo to hamanasu train on 4 and 6Feb ( Since this will be be hi season in sapporo) ?

    2. Assuming I will not get the reservation for carpet seat in hamanasu, will I be able to get a non reserved seat in hamanasu , if I come 1 hour earlier in Shin aomori?

    3. Do you have any possible itineraries to use the JR pass to its maximum ? Since I plan to use the Jr pass on the 2nd to 8th of Feb

    But the plan to go to sapporo on the 5-6th of Feb is a must

    Thank you for this amazing website 🙂

    • JPRail says:

      Hi Tata,
      The answers are the following:

      1. Honestly, no chance. When I travelled Japan in last March, I booked Hamanasu Carpet on the day of starting sell. It was almost sold out. Hamansu Carpet is always like this. Especially you will travel in the busiest period. It is almost impossible to get it.

      2. You can get non reserved seat all times. But sometimes it is packed. Some of the passengers may be forced to stay on isle. If you go Aomori earlier, you will get a seat. Be careful, Hamansu depart from Aomori, not Shin Aomori.

      3. If you can tell me your rough itinerary, I can suggest you. Please tell me where you want to go first.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

  6. Isebelle says:

    Hi I intend from Ueno to Sapporo overnight. As a JR pass holder, I find that taking Akebono is the cheapest alternative. But there are several questions I have:

    1. For Akebono’s goron to seat, is it okay to book only on the 31st May when I am departing for Sapporo from Ueno on 1st June?

    2. Are there any transfers to be done from Ueno to Sapporo?

    3. What are the additional costs incurred for goron to seats? Like transfer fees?

    4. In event where I do not get the seats, what other alternatives there is on the Akebono train?

    5. Can you provide me with a timetable for Akebono trains?

    • JPRail says:

      Hi Isabelle,

      It is very tiny chance. Especially Goron to seat is very popular in weekend. Timetable and other details info are in my post, Overnight transfer to Aomori/Akita from Tokyo, No extra charge on Japan Rail Pass! Overnight limited express Akebomo.

      It is no extra cost to take Goronto for JR pass users. Honestly I don’t think you can make it. But you must think about another option in case that you cannot make it.
      I recommend you to take Tohoku Shinkansen and Hamanasu.

      Ueno 19:02 (Shinkansen Hayate 39) 22:24 Shin-Aomori 22:33 (Local train) 22:39 Aomori 22:42 (Hamanasu) 06:07 Sapporo

      See the details about Hamanasu.

      Hamanasu is very popular train but it has some non reserved seats too. In worst case, you can go for this train without booking. However I recommend you to take one more earlier Shinkansen (18:02 dep from Ueno) because of too short transfer time at Aomori. Otherwise you may not be able to get any seat on Hamanasu.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

  7. BSan says:

    Takeshi San,

    I am visiting with my family wife and two kids 5 and 6 year old. we will have JR Pass 21 days. I want to use the best experience of doing overnight trains at least once between Osaka and Sapporo and back. Our most likely option is to do this in week of June 18-June 23.

    What is the best option you can suggest to use overnight trains and chance of success in reservation considering the below plan for 20 days approx. from June 10-June 27th (we fly back from Narita on 28th in AM)

    Places to visit must.
    June 10th Arrive in Osaka via Shinkansen
    Osaka (keep as main base for travel)
    Visit Jun 12 Yabusame in Ibraki pref. – schedule cant change
    Jun14-15 – Mt Koyasan – schedule cant change due to Matsuri festival
    Other places must visit are
    Nagoya (Robot and Train museum) – 2 days
    Kyoto – 2-3 days
    Nara – Must visit with kids and deer etc.
    Hiroshima/ Miyazaki
    Kyushu/ Aso
    Sapporo and Hokaido

    Domo Arigato Gozaimasu in advance for your excellent site and notes.

    • JPRail says:

      Hi BSan,
      Twilight Express (Osaka-Sapporo overnight train) is always busy. But June is one of the slowest month. The easiest day to book is weekday from Sapporo to Osaka. The direction from Osaka to Sapporo is always busier than opposite way. And also if you don’t care to use the basic berth (Type B berth), it will be easier than other compartment. You can use Twin room that can accommodate all your family member. You need to share the bed with your kids. But it has more privacy. Please see the details about accommodation at the page below.
      https://jprail.com/trains/overnight-express-train-twilight-express.html
      So you may have a chance to get a space on weekday from Sapporo to Osaka. Of course you can try to get from Osaka to Sapporo.
      Cheers,
      Takeshi / JP Rail

      • BSan says:

        HI Tak San,

        Thanks for your tips on overnight. Can you please give me your feedback for the itinerary I am thinking about. Is it doable and what do you suggest for 20 days based on below.

        Places to visit must.
        June 10th Arrive in Osaka via Shinkansen
        Osaka (keep as main base for travel)
        Visit Jun 12 Yabusame in Ibraki pref. – schedule cant change
        Jun14-15 – Mt Koyasan – schedule cant change due to Matsuri festival
        Other places must visit are
        Nagoya (Robot and Train museum) – 2 days
        Kyoto – 2-3 days
        Nara – Must visit with kids and deer etc.
        Hiroshima/ Miyazaki
        Kyushu/ Aso
        Sapporo and Hokaido

        • JAyre says:

          Hi BSan,

          I’m actually traveling in Japan right now and I thought I would offer a few thoughts on your itinerary.

          Firstly, Ibaraki is a long way from Osaka by train. You will probably need to stay overnight there either on the 11th or 12th.

          Koyasan on the 14th-15th sounds fine. I assume you will be staying at a temple there, which is no problem. Koyasan can be easily explored in 2 days. I suggest the Koyasan “World Heritage Ticket” offered by Nankai Railways, that gets you your return travel from Namba/Shin-Imamiya in Osaka, bus pass and discounts at some sites and shops. It will be very busy to go from Osaka to Ibaraki and come back to go to Koyasan, but it is doable. There’s a page about Koyasan on JPRail, which I highly recommend.

          Nagoya for the SCMaglev Museum and robot museum should be ok from Osaka in one day, but you can take 2 and stay in Nagoya if you like.

          Kyoto looks fine with 2-3 days. You can use your time in either Osaka or Kyoto to go to Nara. Both have train services, but its a little bit faster from Kyoto.

          Miyazaki and Mt Aso should be done together. I’m not sure how much there is to do around Miyazaki City, but the Udo Shrine is nearby, and you can also go to Takachiho via Nobeoka. Mt Aso can be accessed from Kumamoto, which is conveniently on the Kyushu Shinkansen.

          To have a crack at your below question, I think all trains other than Sunrise Express (TokyoIzumo/Takamatsu) and Hamanasu the only ones that have any berths where you don’t have to pay extra. So you can either start in Osaka late (around midnight) and arrive in Tokyo at 7:00 and go through to Sapporo by about 5:00pm, or leave Osaka to get to Aomori by 10:00pm for Exp Hamanasu overnight to Sapporo, arriving early in the morning.

          Best regards,

          Jonathan Ayre

          • JPRail says:

            Hi BSan and Jonathan,
            Thank you, Jonathan for your reply.
            As you saw, BSan, Jonathan answered all of your questions.
            I added one more thing for your kids about overnight trains. If you use berth and compartment on Twilight Express or other luxury trains, like Hokutosei and Cassiopeia (Tokyo-Sapporo), you will not have any problem with that. Your kids will be very happy and it is very comfortable to stay one night in train. However you need to pay extra to take these trains. If you take Nobi Nobi seat of Sunrise or Carpet car of Hamanasu will be acceptable. I don’t recommend to use Dream car or non reserved seat of Hamanasu for your kids. It is much bigger seat than economy class seat on the flight. But train depart around 10:00pm and arrive at around 6:00am. Kids cannot get enough sleep. They may be too tired to enjoy next day.
            So in my opinion, Twilight Express, Hokutosei and Cassipeia are suitable for the family travellers. I don’t really recommend you to use Nobi Nobi seat of Sunrise or Carpet car of Hamanasu. But these seats are still acceptable. But these seats are very popular. I am not surprised if it is sold out.
            And regarding your last question about Sapporo to Hiroshima, you are right. You need to come back to Osaka. However if you take Surise Izumo/Seto, you can take this train to Okayama from Tokyo, and change to Shinkansen at Okayama to Hiroshima.
            Cheers,
            Takeshi / JP Rail

          • BSan says:

            Dear Jonathan San and Tak san,

            Domo Arigato Gozaimasu for your excellent tips i will need to digest now and firm up our plan before leaving on june 9th.

            Kids are really looking forward to the trip and the Japanese experience. They are 5and 6 and i want them to soak up on another wonderful cultural experience in one of my favorite countries to visit. It would be their first time so we are looking forward to this educational experience for them.

            Tak san i might have a suggestion that you start a special forum for visiting Japan by rail with kids and some itinerary ideas for that as well. I am sure other parents would find this very useful as well. As i have any questions I will post on this trail.

      • BSan says:

        HI Takeshi San,

        Another question is how can we do overnight Osaka Sapporo and back without paying anything extra. I think you had couple of options you suggested elsewhere. Will they still work with a family with 2 young kids with train changes etc.

        Additionally on return we might goto Hiroshima from Sapporo but I guess we need to come back to Osaka anyway and change for that correct?

        Cheers
        BSan

  8. Choong says:

    Hi Mr TAkeshi,

    We are going to the whole of Japan for 24 days. We will be travelling from Osaka to Shin Aomori and then to Hakodate just in time for the viewing of the sakuras. We will be buying the JR Pass for 21 days. I have been checking the Hyperdia and on the routes to take and these are the questions :
    1 Are all the limited express and express free for JR Pass holders?
    2. We will be in Tokyo and I have yet to find a way to go to Mt Fuji on the JR Pass just to view Mt Fuji.

    Thank you very much,
    Choong

    • JPRail says:

      Hi Choong,
      1) Most of trains can be used by Japan Rail Pass with no extra charge. Some of the train go through NON JR line are not covered partially by Japan Rail Pass, such as Hakutaka (Echigoyuzawa-Kanazawa), Spacia Nikko/Kinugawa (Shinjuku-Nikko/Knugawa Onsen), Odoriko (Tokyo-Atami). These trains are explained on this website. Please check the menu above at “Trains”>”sort of departure/arrival stations”.
      2) Please see the post below. I hope it will help you.
      https://jprail.com/destinations/how-to-use-japan-rail-pass-to-go-to-mt-fuji.html
      Takeshi /JP Rail

  9. Casey says:

    Hi

    I would like to take one of the overnight options from Tokyo to Sapporo on May 6. I would like to know if it would be hard to reserve tickets then (I’m only arriving in Japan on the 30th April)? And also there appears to be a very short transition time between trains. Will it be very hard to find the correct platforms and transit in time?

    • JPRail says:

      Hi Casey,
      It is very tough to get Hamanasu Carpet car and Goronto of Akebono. It would be no chance. I don’t mention about other overnight trains Cassiopeia and Hokutosei in this post. But all rooms of Cassiopeia and all compartments of Hokutosei are usually sold out in 5 minutes right after starting to sell. Goronto seat and Hamanasu Carpet are sold out easily too. You might be able to get dream car of Hamanasu and type B berth of Akebono. But if will use Japan Rail Pass, type B berth is not covered by pass. The pass cover only basic fare. That means you need to pay limited express surcharge and accommodation fee.
      May 6 will be still Golden week in Japan. It is one of the busiest season (other two are mid August summer vacation and New Years vacation) in Japan. It will be very crowded.
      Right after you arrive in Japan, try to book your trains as many as you can.
      Don’t worry about transit. It is very easy to find the correct platform. Mostly connected train stop at same platform.
      Good luck to get a seat!
      Takeshi / JP Rail

  10. MayQ says:

    Hi

    If i wish to take night train from Sapporo back to Tokyo, what’s the best way to do it if i’ve JR pass and i dont wish to pay extra?

    • JPRail says:

      Hi MayQ
      Hamanasu + Tohoku Shinkansen is the best.
      Takeshi / JP Rail

      • MayQ says:

        Looking at the Hokkaido JR timetable, just want to confirm:-
        1. If i take Hamanasu, will the train will take me all the way to Aomori station? I dont have to change train in Hakodate?

        2. At Aomori station, do i have to go to a different platform to take tohoku shinkansen to come back to tokyo?

        • JPRail says:

          Hi MayQ
          1) No. Hamanasu goes to Aomori.
          2) You need to take other trains to Shin Aomori. Shin Aomori is one station away from Aomori. This station is Shinkansen’s station. You may need to change the platform. But Aomori station is not such a big station. It is easy to find it.
          Takeshi / JP Rail

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