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.


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.


  1. HL says:

    Dear Sir,

    I’m planning a trip for two from Osaka Airport to Sapporo from 25-29/1/2015.

    Is it better and more cost saving to take a domestic flight or take a JR rail? How long would it take via this two routes?

    I need you help to advice the best way to travel from Osaka airport to Sapporo. This is the first time I’m going to Sapporo or rather Hokkaido. What is your recommendation for a first timer only have 4-5 days to spend?

    Look forward to your advice.

    Best Regards,

  2. Carolyn Lim says:

    Hi Takeshi, thanks for your prompt reply. would like to clarify with you and after got some information from website/forum, some of them said we are not able to make seat reservation for Express Hamanasu train if we are not in Japan, but some of them also comment we can actually make the reservation 1 month in advance and call thru JR west odekakate net??? if yes can i get their contact number?? thank you. Best Regards, Carolyn Lim

  3. Carolyn Lim says:

    Dear Sirs,

    We will travel to Japan in group with 5 persons on 8 Dec 14 for 10 days trip. We having some problem on the routes from Tokyo to Sapporo and we did some research that one of the easier and fastest way is take Shinkansen. Following is routes that we wish to follow and please give us your professional advice if any.

    We wish to take shinkansen hayabusa 31 from Tokyo at 6.20pm, arrive Shin-Aomori at 9.37pm then change JR Ou Line at 9.46pm. Depart from Aomori Station at 10.18pm heading towards to Sapporo via Express Hamanasu. Estimated reach Sapporo in the next day early morning at 6.07am. Please comment and advice us. Is it all train/shinkansen as above mentioned were fully cover by JR Pass?

    Would appreciate your kind response and advice.

    Thank you.

    Best Regards,
    Carolyn Lim

  4. Kathy says:

    I will traveling to Japan from Sep.30. To Oct. 13. My biggest problem is the overnight train. I will get 14-day JR pass. But my flight arrives on 15:25 at Narita airport. I have to collect JR pass get get to Sapporo at the same date. Is this possible? Is there any way it can exchange JR pass faster at the station? How much do I have to pay for the overnight train with JR pass? Does green car level make any difference? Thanks

  5. Anthony says:

    Hi, i understand this is a really old post but i’d appreciate if you could help me out.

    I’m flying to Chitose first and heading downwards to tokyo. I want to take the earliest train while saving on accomodation so i would like to take the night train “Hamanasu” and transfer at Aomori station to the Tsugaru so that i can get to the Hayabusa.

    I understand that the arrival time of the Hamanasu is 0539 and Tsugaru departs at 0543.

    Is it possible to make this transfer at Aomori station within 4 minutes?

    • Hi Anthony,

      Yes, it does. Usually both trains are at the same platform. So actually it takes 30 seconds to transfer. Even though sometimes those trains arrive and depart at different platform, 4 minutes is okay to transfer.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

  6. Simon says:

    Ohayo Gaizaimansu Takeshi-son,

    I will be in the Nagano area in early Feb enjoying the wonderful Japanese snow. I plan to then take Shinkansen to Shin-Aomori for an extra 2 days of skiing in Haddako.

    After skiing it seems easier to catch Shinkansen back to Tokyo / Narita, than to get to Chitose airport? Is that right?

    Appreciate your advice – Simon.

    • JPRail says:

      Hi Simon san,

      It depends on which part of Hokkaido you will stay.
      If you stay near Sapporo, flight from New Chitose is easier and faster than trains to get Tokyo.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

      • Simon says:

        Arigato Gozaimasu,

        We will not be staying in Hokkaido, we will be staying in Hakkoda (Aomori area) still on Honshu.

        Seems like 5 hrs to Narita and almost same to Chitose, but Sapporo trains are less frequent.


        • JPRail says:

          Hi Simon,

          That’s right.
          Shinkansen from Shin-Aomori is much faster.

          You can catch domestic flight at Aomori airport. But flight goes to Haneda and it takes 1 hour 20 minutes. If you go to Narita, you need to spend another 1.5 hour to get Narita from Haneda.

          I think Shinkansen and Narita Express is a bit faster.


          Takeshi / JP Rail

  7. Monica says:

    Hi JPrail,

    My husband and I are planning to go to Japan in early Nov for 8-9 days. We’ll arrive in Osaka in the morning and spend a couple of days there, then we want to go to Tokyo for another 2 days. After that to Sapporo for another couple of days, then straight back to Osaka to catch our flight.
    We’ll purchase 7 days JRPs, so what would be the most convenient trains/buses to take and requires least additional fees?

    Also, in your opinion, will this itinerary be too much for 2 first timers who don’t speak nor read Japanese? Do train and bus stations have English signs?

    Any help will be greatly appreciated 🙂

    • JPRail says:

      Hi Monica,

      As long as you don’t care about long trip by train, it will be okay. Regarding language barrier, don’t worry. Most of travellers cannot speak Japanese at all. There are lots of English signs. Most of Japanese can’t speak English very fluently. But they always try to communicate.

      When you build your itinerary, check the latest timetable at Hyperdai.

      In above post, I wrote this article a couple of year ago. The timetable had been revised several times. Trip time is not much different. But train schedule may be slightly different.

      And I don’t recommend you to use overnight trains. Because it’s very hard to book, especially Hamanasu. Please see the following post about booking:

      So if you go back to Osaka from Sapporo, it will be more than 12 hours trip.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

      • Monica says:

        Hi again,
        Thanks for your reply, a big relief about the language barrier.
        I’ve tried Hyperdia, and this itinerary below seems good to me. Problem is I can’t make out which part is covered by JRP and which is not (wholly or partially). I’ve limited the shinkansens and this is the result.
        Could you tell me what’s what, please?

        And also, I noticed that time between transfers can be really tight, like 6 minutes. Does it mean that the trains will be basically next to each other?
        One more thing, how do you reserve seats (the free ones) from Hyperdia?

        Take time: 977 Minutes Transfer: 4 Times Distance: 1765.9 km
        Total:¥ 30,780(Fare:¥ 18,160 Seat Fee:¥ 12,620) Commuting ticket(1mon:¥ — 3mon:¥ — 6mon:¥ — )

        begin SAPPORO(JR)
        [ Departure track No.5 ]

        [459 Min]


        Train timetable | Interval timetable

        transfer AOMORI
        [ Arrival track No.3 / Departure track No.2 ]

        [6 Min]

        JR Ou Line

        Train timetable | Interval timetable

        transfer SHIN-AOMORI
        [ Departure track No.12 ]

        [230 Min]


        Train timetable | Interval timetable

        transfer TOKYO
        [ Arrival track No.22 / Departure track No.19 ]

        [180 Min]


        Train timetable | Interval timetable

        transfer SHIN-OSAKA
        [ Arrival track No.22 / Departure track No.15 ]

        [4 Min]

        JR Kyoto Line Local

        Train timetable | Interval timetable

        end OSAKA
        [ Arrival track No.6 ]

        Does it seem good? Or you think there’s a better way?
        Thanks again for your help!

        Best regards,

      • Monica says:


        Please disregard my previous post; I just realised that you’ve mentioned Hokutosei is not covered fully by JRP.
        Instead this is the new itinerary I found, please tell me what you think:

        Shin Osaka- Tokyo ( Hikari 474)
        Tokyo-Shin Aomori (Hayate 47)
        Shin Aomori-Aomori ( JR Ou Line)
        Aomori – Sapporo (Hamanasu)

        I think they’re fully covered by JRP, right?
        Do you think we’ll be able to get seats on Hamanasu?
        I don’t want to spend the night in Aomori station if I can’t get them.
        Can I reserve seats for all these trains in the JR office right after we get to Japan?

        Thanks again,

        • JPRail says:

          Hi Monica,

          Itinerary is okay and fully covered by JR Pass. As I mentioned at previous reply, you will be able to take non reserved seat of Hamanasu anyway. You don’t need to worry about staying Aomori. But it may be very hard to book reserved seat. It’s same thing as Sapporo to Aomori direction. Hamanasu reserved seat is always busy.


          Takeshi / JP Rail

      • Monica says:

        Dear Takeshi,

        We have just returned from a most wonderful, unforgettable holiday in Japan! It was so good we can’t wait to visit again!!

        Everything worked perfectly with the travel itinerary; when we reached Kansai airport we went to the JR office to exchange the passes and book seats for the entire trip. And guess what? We got Hamanasu carpet car to AND from Sapporo!
        It was very comfortable. I couldn’t sleep much on the way there (must be because of strange situation of actually lying down in a futon on a train haha) but I slept like a baby on the next trip.
        I guess luck was on our side considering we booked seats only 2 days before D-day.

        Thank you very much for all your help, couldn’t have built the itinerary so detailed without your suggestions and explanations, and a detailed itinerary was super important to book seats.


        • JPRail says:

          Hi Monica,

          I’m very happy to hear that you had a wonderful time in Japan. 🙂
          Especially you got Hamanasu. That was beautiful!

          Now you know many things about trip by train in Japan. But if you have some questions when you go to Japan next time, I’m very happy to assist you.


          Takeshi / JP Rail

          • Monica says:

            Dear Takeshi,
            It’s me again, and we’re going to Japan again next month wheee!

            We’re just going by the same itinerary as last time, but with longer stay at each stop to enjoy ourselves more.

            Now, if you remember last time we went in Nov when it was fairly quiet and we were able to book the Hamanasu carpet car both ways. I understand that late march/early april will be busy with people travelling for the sakura season and also school holiday… In your opinion how busy the travelling will be from Osaka to Sapporo (1 april) and Sapporo to Tokyo (5 april)?
            How big is the possibility that we won’t be able to get on the train(s) and have to miss our hotel booking?

            Thanks in advance.

            • Hi Monica,

              Welcome back!
              When I took Hamanasu in late March, Carpet car was completely sold out. But in Dream car, half of seats were empty.
              In my opinion, it’s not hard to book Dream, but carpet is not easy.


              Takeshi / JP Rail

          • Monica says:

            Hi Takeshi,
            So you think late march and early april would be similar?
            That’s good, I thought with the sakura and school holiday travelling would be crazy, a relief that it isn’t 🙂

          • Monica says:

            Dear Takeshi,
            Great! Thank you and wish me luck for the carpet car bookings haha


  8. Michael says:


    is it possible to travel from Kyushu to Sapporo by train without having to go to Tokyo. I have about 8 days in which to make the journey. I have been to Tokyo on several occasions and want to go to other places this time. I am purchasing a JR ordinary pass and will book each part of my journey in advance.

    Thank you.

  9. Tata888 says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    I have been a silent reader in your web, but since my departure to japan is drawing near, which will be from 27th of Jan to 9th Feb , I would like to ask some classic questions regarding Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Sapporo and back to Tokyo.

    Here is my itinerary,

    Feb 2013
    3rd Tokyo -Osaka ( shinkansen)
    4th Osaka – Full day
    5th Osaka – Kyoto Kobe Nara
    6th Osaka Tokyo ( I will try to book sunrise seto on 31st of Jan for night train on 5th of Feb, but if I fail, I will just take shinkansen in the morning from osaka to tokyo, then use hamanasu non reserved seat
    7th Arrive at Sapporo around 6 am – full day sapporo
    8th Sapporo ( night train back to Tokyo with non reserved seat)
    9th arrive at Tokyo in the morning, travel around, then get to airport around 8pm since the flight back is at 23.45pm

    There are 2 qs,
    1. Can I squeeze in trip to Shirakawa Go?
    2. Will this trip be doable, considering it is snow festival ( I am referring to Night train Hamanasu non reserved seat)
    3. if you were me, would the trip for the last three days, from 7-9 feb, be too enervating?

    Thank you in advance

    • JPRail says:

      Hi Tata888,

      1. Tokyo 6:26 (Hikari) 8:20 Nagoya 8:43 (Hida 3) 10:55 Takayama 11:50 (Nohi bus) 12:52 Shirakawago 16:50 (Nohi bus *reservation required) 18:05 Kanazawa 18:42 (Thunderbird 42) 21:22 Osaka
      I think this is only way to get Shirakawago on Feb 3.

      2. I checked several site about Hamanasu and other night trains (Hokutosei, Casiopeia, Twilight). It will be packed. You have to expect that you cannot get a seat. You can take a train anyway. But you have to stay on isle or passengers deck. It will be very tough. Some passengers will wait for Hamanasu non reserved 5 hours before departure time. I am not sure this is serious or not. But it will be very hard trip anyway.

      3. It will be very busy trip. But it is no problem to do tight schedule for me. But I will not do this in snow festival period. I have never been to snow festival. But everybody says it will be packed.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

  10. wenny tjandra says:

    dear sir,
    please help me ,i want to go to saporo,kyoto and osaka start from tokyo all covered by jr pass.can you tell me how must i make my schedule for that?and may i know if i want to go from osaka must i stay in tokyo first?if not can you suggest me how can i go from osaka?thamks
    regards,wenny tjandra

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