hakodate church

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 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. JR Pass is better choice if you intend to visit these places.

In this post, I would like to share the information of this pass with you. And I will show you some sample rate and compare the pass value and single fares. You may find that JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass suits your plan or not.

Prices and valid period

JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass Flex 6-day

 Purchase outside Japan
or online
Purchase inside Japan
Adult26,900 yen27,930 yen
(6-11 years old)
13,450 yen13,960 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.
*If you want to purchase this pass in advance at the authorized agent, you may see the list of JR Pass travel agent. You can purchase it at same travel agents as JR Pass.

JR Pass official site

This pass is valid for Flex 6-day only. You can pick any 6 days in 14 days period. There is no Green pass choice. When you exchange/purchase this pass, you can decide which day you will start to use. This is the first day of 14 days period.

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 site of JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass

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. You can exchange your pass at 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:

Compare single fare and JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass

When you think about purchasing this deal, you must know that you can get the worth or not. I show you some sample rates.
*All rates are approximate and it is based on the base fare and the reserved seat limited express supplement in regular season. The fare may be varied by the season.

Trip from Tokyo to Sendai

Total fare is 11,500 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 32,000 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

The fare is around 4,000 yen.

Trip between Karuizawa and Tokyo by Shinkansen

Total fare is about 6,000 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 the limited express train, Nikko or Kinugawa

Total fare is 4,500 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 the Shinkansen and a 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 around 6,000 yen for one way.

Trip to Gala Yuzawa from Tokyo by the Shinkansen

Total fare is about 7,000 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 the 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!

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

  1. Hello!
    Thank you very much for the helpful guide.
    We are travelling to Japan in 2018 and planning to spend 2 weeks in Tokyo, then the following two weeks spending time throughout the Tohoku region and some time in Sapporo.
    I had already thought that this pass would work well for us, but your guide and comparisons of price really helped me to become sure.
    Thank you again. 🙂

  2. Hi Takeshi

    My wife, our 20-month-old baby and I are travelling to Hokkaido in February 2018 using JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass from Tokyo to Hakodate.

    We were thinking of making our way up from Hakodate (2 nights) – Lake Toya (1)- Noboribetsu (2)- Sapporo (2) – Otaru (1) to Asahikawa (1) and then catch a train back to Tokyo with a couple stopovers in Akita and Aomori.

    As we are travelling with a baby, we would like to rent a car and do a road trip between places in Hokkaido when possible.

    1. Would you recommend a road trip during Hokkaido Winter months? I have had some experience driving in Winter in both NZ and Japan Alps Region.
    2. Would our itinerary look logical?


    1. Hi Nat,

      Actually I haven’t driven in Japan for the last 2 decades. So I cannot help you about driving at all.

      Your itinerary is okay but if you intend to take a train between Sapporo and Asahikawa, you should use JR pass. JR East South Hokkaido Rail Pass does not cover this segment.


      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  3. Hi Takeshi,

    I’ll be traveling to Hokkaido and Tokyo in December. Below is my itinerary

    Day 1 – Arrive New Chitose Airport 8.10am – Otaru (1N)
    Day 2 – Otaru to Sapporo
    Day 3 – Sapporo
    Day 4 – Sapporo
    Day 5 – Sapporo – noboribetsu- Hakodate
    Day 6 – Hakodate
    Day 7 – Hakodate – Tokyo
    Day 8- Yokohama (day trip)
    Day 9 – Tokyo
    Day 10 – Tokyo – depart 11.45pm ( Haneda international terminal )

    Which pass should I buy? JR Rail pass or JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass?

    1. Hi James,

      JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass is better choice. You may use 6 days for day 1, 2, 5, 7, and 9.
      Single ticket or local deal, such as subway pass is okay for the rest of the days.


      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  4. Hi Takeshi

    I am arriving Sapporo on 18th Dec and leaving to Tokyo from Hakodate on 25th Dec, if i plan to reserve seat online which is 1 month before ie somewhere Nov , do I need to buy JR East South Hokkaido Pass (exchange order) with authorized agent before I can make online reservation ? Any detail about the exchange order we need to key in when do reservation ?

    Beside, if I exchange the pass on 19th Dec, do I need to tell the staff which 6 days I m going to use, as I will reserve seat online for 20th- 23rd Dec, 25th but for the last day of use we still cannot decide whether to use it on 26th or 27th.

    Also, 1 of my friend will buy 3 days Hokkaido Rail pass (HRP) whereas 7 of us will but JR East South Hokkaido pass, when we do online reservation, we have do in separate booking , but how can we make sure my friend who book with HRP will get a seat which is same section as us.


    1. Hi Hon,

      You don’t need to buy any passes when you book. You need to input your credit card number anyway. When you pick up your ticket, just show your pass. It won’t be charged. If you don’t show any passes, regular fare will be charged to your credit card.

      You can book at JR East online site. You can choose which pass you will use when you book.

      Actually it doesn’t matter which pass you choose. You can book all seats same time for any passes.


      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  5. Hi Takeshi,

    I planned to use the JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass for my upcoming trip to Japan in October. I will be staying in Shinjuku for a couple of days. In order to get to Hakodate from Shinjuku, I have to take a train to Omiya, and then transfer to Shinkansen Hayabusa 19 departing at 12:46 p.m. Is it easy to find the Shinkansen Platform in Omiya Station? Can you give me directions? I tried to find the information online but I am not able to find it. I am worried that I will miss the Shinkansen since the transfer time is only 10 minutes.

    Thank you!


  6. Hi Takeshi,

    Great information here 🙂
    My family of 3( hubby baby and I) are planning to do Tokyo -Hokkaido in mid October 2017.We arrive Thursday morning in Tokyo and depart following week Friday morning, flying out from Tokyo too.

    We plan on using this JR 6 day flex pass that you recommended here.

    What would be a sample itinerary you would suggest to us? We would love to bring our one year old hiking while mixing in some shopping retail therapy for the mummy too.

    Thank you


  7. Hello Takeshi,

    My partner and I are visiting Japan in February 2018. I am having difficulty deciding if I should focus only on Hokkaido or Tokyo or visit both Tokyo and Hokkaido. The trip between Tokyo and Hokkaido costs a lot and I am not sure if I will be making much savings using the JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass because I am not traveling long distance from Tokyo or Sapporo for day trips. At the moment, I am still trying to plan for both Tokyo and Hokkaido based on the JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass.

    My itinerary is as follow:
    Day 1 (Tues) – Arrive at Tokyo Haneda at 10.30 pm and travel to Tokyo. Plan to use Tokyo monorail 490 yen.

    Day 2 (Wed) – Sightseeing around Tokyo. Plan to use Tokyo subway 24-hour pass 800 yen.

    Day 3 (Thurs) – Day trip to Yokohama from Tokyo. Train from Tokyo to Yokohama station 270 – 470 yen one way.

    Day 4 (Fri) – Day trip to Kamakura. JR Yokosuka Line Tokyo to Kamakura station or JR Shonan Shinjuku Line Shinjuku to Kamakura station, both 920 yen.

    Day 5 (Sat) – Sightseeing around Tokyo. Plan to use Tokyo subway 48-hour pass 1200 yen.

    Day 6 (Sun) – Sightseeing around Tokyo

    Day 7 (Mon) – Travel to Kawaguchiko and stay 1 night. Save 2500 yen direct limited express train Shinjuku to Otsuki station on JR Chuo line. Take Fujikyu Railway Line from Otsuki to Kawaguchiko station 1140 yen extra fare. If not using JR east-south pass, can take highway bus from Tokyo to Kawaguchiko station, 1750 yen from Shinjuku and 1800 yen from Shibuya.

    Day 8 (Tues) – Leave Kawaguchiko back to Tokyo. Reverse of Day 7.

    Day 9 (Wed) – Travel to Hakodate and stay 1 night. Cost 23000 yen without pass.

    Day 10 (Thurs) – Travel to Sapporo. Cost 8830 yen for east bound direct express train from Hakodate without pass.

    Day 11 (Fri) – Day trip to Otaru. Train fare 640 yen one way.

    Day 12 (Sat) – Day trip to Lake Toya. Cost 5400 yen one way on non reserved seat from Sapporo to Toya station without pass. Additional 330 yen for bus to Lake Toya OR day trip to Nobo cost 3960 yen non reserved without pass .

    Day 13 (Sun) – Sightseeing around Sapporo
    Day 14 (Mon) – Leave Sapporo to New Chitose airport. Plan to take JR Airport Express Train for 1070 yen)

    I plan to use the JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass on day 4, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 12.

    I have a few questions:
    1) Do you think it is a good idea to visit Lake Toya on the day I arrive at Hakodate and stay a night at Lake Toya instead of Hakodate or to do day trip to Lake Toya from Sapporo.
    2) I am not sure to do day trip to Lake Toya or Noboribetsu. I have read that it is harder to travel Lake Toya compared to Noboribetsu but it is advisable to stay overnight at Noboribetsu. May I know your advice?
    3) I am not sure if I have calculated my travel expenses correctly. May I know if you could confirm?
    4) Would you do both Tokyo and Hokkaido at the same trip?

    Thank you for reading my long comment Takeshi.

    1. Hi Karen,

      1. I recommend you to drop by Lake Toya and/or Noboribetsu on the way to Sapporo from Hakodate. I understand luggage may be issue. But if you make a day trip from either Hakodate or Sapporo, you will waste many hours.

      2. Both are not hard to get. I traveled both places in this past winter. Please see the link below:

      In my opinion, Noboribetsu is more attractive as the place to visit. I strongly recommend you to stay overnight in Hakodate. Hakodate is my most favorite city in Japan. It’s very lovely.

      3. Your calculation is correct. You can get the worth of this pass.

      4. If I were you, I do both. I actually add some more if I have 14 days. But I’m crazy traveler. Don’t copy me.


      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Thank you Takeshi,
        I will take your advice 🙂 Yes, I notice you are a crazy traveler! I don’t think my partner can cope, he will be tired haha.

  8. Hi,
    Can I use 6 days flexi JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass travel for the following itinerary?
    I would like to use it to travel from :
    Sapporo to Noribetsu
    Noribetsu to Niseko
    Niseko to Hakodate
    Hakodate to Tokyo
    Tokyo to Yokohama (1day trip)
    Tokoyo to Lake Kawaguchi (1day trip)

    Day 1 – Airport Chitose to Sapporo Station
    Day 3 – Otaru
    Day 4- Noribetsu
    Day 5 – Lake toya
    Day 7-Niseko
    Day 8 – Hakodate
    Day 9 – to Tokyo
    Day 10 – to Yokohama
    Day 11 – Lake kawaguchi

    1. Hi April,

      You can use this pass. But when you go to Lake Kawaguchi, you need to pay extra for Otsuki – Kawaguchiko which is Fuji Kyuko railway and it’s not covered by this pass. Extra fare is 1140 yen one way.


      Takeshi / JPRail.com

    1. Hi Neli,

      There is no choices other than regular seat version. If you want to take Green seat, you should use JR pass.

      Even JR pass does not cover the highest seat, Gran class. You need to pay whole amount of seat fee if you want to take Gran class seat on top of any kinds of passes.


      Takeshi / JPRail.com

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