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.

Prices and valid period

JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass Flex 6 days

Purchase outside Japan or onlinePurchase inside Japan
Adult26,000 yen27,000 yen
(6-11 years old)
13,000 yen13,500 yen

*Child who is 5 years old and younger is free but you have to share the seat with child. If you want to have a seat for child too, you have to purchase child pass for even younger than 5 years old.
*This pass will be available from April 1st, 2016. If you want to purchase this pass in advance, you can purchase it at only authorized travel agent. But both JR Hokkaido and JR East do not provide the list of authorized agent. Please see the list of JR Pass travel agent and contact them. I think some of them sell this pass.

JR Pass official site

This pass is valid for Flex 6 days only. You can pick any 6 days in 14 days period. There is no Green pass choice.

One day means midnight to midnight, technically 0:00 to 23:59. Even if you start using the pass at 23:00. you spend one full day for just one hour. So try to start in the morning. It does not make any senses to start to use in the evening.

Coverage area

This pass covers eastern part of mainland of Japan, such as Tokyo, Kanto region, Tohoku region, and southern part of Hokkaido. Please see the coverage map in the link below:

Official press release from JR East and JR Hokkaido (See page 3)

This pass covers the following major spots in the area.

  • Tokyo
  • Yokohama
  • Nikko
  • Kamakura
  • Gala Yuzawa
  • Otsuki (gateway to Lake Kawaguchi)
  • Odawara (gateway to Hakone)
  • Izu peninsula (Atami, Ito, Shimoda)
  • Kusatsu
  • Karuizawa
  • Sendai, Matsushima
  • Akita, Kakunodate
  • Aomori, Hirosaki
  • Gono line (the route of Resort Shirakami)
  • Hakodate
  • Toya, Date-Monbetsu (gateway to Lake Toya)
  • Noboribetsu
  • Otaru
  • Sapporo

The following places are not located in the coverage area. You CANNOT use this pass to access these following places.

Of course western part of mainland, like Osaka, Nagoya, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Shikoku and Kyushu are not covered either.

Valid trains and lines

H5 series will run on Hokkaido Shinkansen as Hayabusa and Hayate. This fleet is same series as Tohoku Shinkansen E5 series. (C) By Sukhoi37 (Own work),  JR Hokkaido H5 series shinkansen set H1 approaching Sendai Station on a test run,CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
Hokkaido Shinkansen is covered by this pass. (C) By Sukhoi37 (Own work), JR Hokkaido H5 series shinkansen set H1 approaching Sendai Station on a test run,CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

All JR trains that run in the coverage area are covered by this pass except Tokaido Shinkansen between Tokyo and Atami. But I would like to show you major trains.

I have checked the press release several times. I could not find any other express trains in coverage trains list. But in my understanding, the following express and rapid trains are covered.

JR deals covers basically JR trains only. But Tokyo-Osaka Hokuriku ArchPass covers some “NON JR” railway trains. The following railways are NON JR companies but those are covered by Tokyo Wide Pass.

  • Tokyo Monorail (Haneda-Airport – Hamamatsucho)
  • Izu Kyuko Railway (Ito – Izukyu-Shimoda)
  • Limited Express Nikko and Kinugawa between Shinjuku and Tobu-Nikko, Kinugawa-Onsen
    *The trains from Asakusa station are not covered at all.
  • Aoimoi Railway
  • IGR Iwate Galaxy Railway
  • Sendai Airport Trains

If you arrive in or depart from Haneda airport, trip by Monorail is fully covered by this pass. But the JR ticket service desk is open from 7:45 to 18:30 only.
JR East Travel Service Center Haneda

You may not be able to exchange or purchase your pass at Haneda from early arrival and late departure. As of February 2016, the window at Haneda is open between 7:45 and 18:30 only.

In Tokyo, subway is not covered by this pass. You have to add single fare or city deal. Please see the coverage in Tokyo at the link below:

Guide to take trains in Tokyo. How to choose the best deal and the best route by train to get the major spots?

Compare single fare and JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass

When you think about purchasing this deal, you need to know this is paid off in your trip or not. I show you some sample.
*All rates are based on base fare and reserved seat limited express supplement in regular season.

Trip from Tokyo to Sendai

Total fare is 11,200 yen for one way. You need to have some more trips if you want to use this pass.

Trip from Tokyo to Sapporo

Total fare is 31,720 yen for one way. One way trip is enough to be paid off.
*Single ticket may be cheaper because JR East and Hokkaido will sell some discount ticekt. But I believe this trip is still enough to use this pass.

Trip from Narita airport to Tokyo

If you use the pass, you can use JR trains when you are in Tokyo and Osaka. So even though single fare and express surcharge combination is cheaper, pass will be cheaper and will be paid off. But this pass does not give you a big saving for this itinerary.

Trip between Karuizawa and Tokyo by Shinkansen

Total fare is 5,910 yen for one way. This is not enough to use this pass by only this trip.

Trip to Nikko or Kinugawa-Onsen from Shinjuku or Ikebukuro by direct limited express train, Nikko or Kinugawa

Total fare is 4,000 yen for one way to either Nikko or Kinugawa-Onsen. You have to use the pass more to get the worth of this deal.

Trip to Nikko from Tokyo by Shinkansen and local train

If you stay at east side of Tokyo, like Shinagawa, Tokyo, Ueno, this route may be faster than direct express from Shinjuku.
Total fare is 5,580 yen for one way. Tokyo Wide Pass is cheaper than only this round trip cost.

Trip to Gala Yuzawa from Tokyo by Shinkansen

Total fare is 6,870 yen for one way. You can get the worth of this deal easily by only this trip.

Trip to Odawara, Atami or Izukyu-Shimoda from Tokyo by limited express train, Odoriko or Super View Odoriko

Total fare is 2,940 yen to Odawara for one way by Odoriko and 3,190 yen for one way by Super View Odoriko.
Total fare is 3,800 yen to Atami for one way by Odoriko and 4,180 yen for one way by Super View Odoriko.
Total fare is 6,260 yen to Izukyu-Shimoda for one way by Odoriko and 6,640 yen for one way by Super View Odoriko.
If you visit Shimoda, this pass is cheaper.
*Shinkansen runs from Tokyo to Odawara and Atami. But this Shinkansen line, “Tokaido Shinkanse” is not covered by this pass because Tokaido Shinkansen does not belong to JR East but JR Central that is different company.

Trip between Narita Airport and Tokyo, Shinagawa, Shinjuku or Yokohama by Narita Express

Total fares are 3,020 yen for Tokyo, and 3,190 yen for Shinagawa or Shinjuku.

Trip between Haneda Airport and Hamamatsucho by Tokyo Monorail

Single fare is 490 yen for one way.

Fares in downtown Tokyo

You can take any local trains, like Yamanote line, Chuo line by this pass. But the fares in downtown Tokyo is quite reasonable. If you take a local train from Tokyo to Shinjuku, the fare is 200 yen. When you calculate the fares and compare this pass and single fare, you can ignore the fares in downtown Tokyo. It does not help to get worth very much.


If you travel from Tokyo to southern Hokkaido, like Hakodate, Otaru and Sapporo by train, this is a good deal. You may add trip to Nikko, Izu, Fuji and Hakone , Gala Yuzawa, any places in Tohoku region. If you use this pass, you must be sure that you do not visit outside coverage area, such as, Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Kobe, Hiroshima, Kyushu, Takayama, Kanazawa and Nagoya. This pass does not cover eastern and northern part of Hokkaido either, such as Furano, Asahikawa, Kushiro, Shiretoko, Abashiri and Wakkanai.

You may be wondering which one is better, this deal or Japan Rail Pass (a.k.a. JR Pass). JR Pass 7 days is sold at 29,100 yen. But you have to use this pass in 7 consecutive days.

On the other hand, JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass Flex 6 days is sold at 26,000 yen. Price is a bit cheaper and you can pick any 6 days in 14 days valid period. But the coverage area is much smaller than JR Pass. JR Pass covers throughout Japan.

If you want to visit Kansai area, such as Osaka, Kyoto, Nara and/or Kobe, this deal does not suit your trip plan. If you visit both Kansai area and Hokkaido from Tokyo, even 14 days JR pass is way cheaper than single fare.

I hope this post will help you to pick up the right deal for your trip!

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

  1. Hi Takeshi,

    Your site is amazing and I always check your site before I plan my Japan trip. Your site is even better and more detailed than any of the JR official sites I visited.

    I am sending my parents to Japan next month. This is the first time they go there by themselves and they don’t speak any Japanese. They will go in Kansai airport, then later join a tour that will bring them through Takayama, Shirakawago, Kawakuchiko etc and the tour will bring them to Tokyo. My parents will then stay on and plan to visit Hakodate for Sakura viewing. They will leave Japan from Narita airport. I am now planning their itinerary before and after their joining of the tour.

    Here are my questions,

    1. For an old couple with suitcases, is it easier for them to take the bus to Kyoto or the Haruka train from KIX? They don’t speak the language so they worry that they may miss the stop also. I read about the ICOCA and Haruka package deal. For someone who plan to go everywhere in taxi in Kyoto, is it still a good deal or they better off just buy the Haruka one way ticket?

    2. They plan to get the JR East-South Hokkaido pass for their Hakodate trip from Tokyo. Can they get it when they arrive in Kyoto or do they have to get it when they are already in JR East area? They would of course like to book it the earliest possible time in case it gets full.

    Thank you so so much for your help

    1. Hi Joey,

      1. Actually it’s not much different between Haruka and bus. Both go to Kyoto station and trip time is not much different either. Some travelers do not like bus because of motion sickness. So if your parents are okay with either way, you can choose whichever they like.

      In these days, the number of tourist to Japan is huge. Most of them do not speak Japanese. Many location, transportation, accommodation are much more overseas tourists friendly. They will be okay.

      They may use ICOCA and Haruka deal. They can add Kansai one pass instead of ICOCA. ICOCA and Kansai one pass are basically same. But Kansai one pass offers discount at many location.

      JR East South Hokkaido Rail Pass cannot be purchased in Kyoto and any other places in Kansai area. They need to get it after they arrive in Tokyo. They can book a seat online to Hakodate if they like:


      Takeshi / JPRail.com

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