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
Child
(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.

Assessment

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 I am looking at the JR East -South Hokkaido Pass.
    I wish to travel from Narita airport to Otaru then from Otaru to Yamagata then Yamagata to Bandai Atami then Bandai Atami to Koriyama then Koriyama to Tokyo..

    Could you please advise these are all covered by the pass…I am not sure if Koriyama is covered.

    thank you for your help

    1. Hi Jenny,

      All trips are covered by this pass.

      But it is very hard to get to Otaru from Narita airport in one day. It takes about 11 hours. You must leave Narita Airport by 10:00 am. Otherwise you cannot get there in one day. Unfortunately there is no overnight trains.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. Hi team,

    Would like to seek for your advise, thanks!

    We are planning to have the JR east & South Hokkaido Pass (6 days) for the coming trip in March.
    1st day: We will be arriving in Narita in the evening and stay 1 night in Tokyo.
    2 & 3rd day: The next day we will heading to Hakodate and stay for two nights.
    4th day: We are planning to either drop by Sendai / Yamagata for one night onsen stay.
    5 & 6th day: Heading to Kawaguchiko & Hakone for 2 nights stay
    7th: Back to Tokyo
    8th: Head to Narita

    Is the jR east & South Hokkaido cover the all above mentioned route?

    Thanks ahead for your kind assistance.

    and heading to Kawagichiko and Hakone.

    Is the acces

  3. Hi Takeshi-san,

    Many thanks for your information.
    However, there is one part that I am confused.
    I am planning to travel from Tokyo – Hakodate – Noribetsu – Sapporo – Otaru by using the JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass.
    I have read from several websites explaining that this JR pass covered route from Hakodate to Noribetsu; while I read on the JR official website, it seems that JR East-South Hokkaido Pass do not cover Noribetsu.

    Thanks for your piece of advice.
    Jey

    1. Hi Jay san,

      I think you saw the map in the link below:
      http://www.jreasthokkaido.com/easthokkaido/e/

      You could not find Noboribetsu in the map. But Noboribetsu is located in the coverage area. The map shows you only major cities. You can use the pass for your trip. But you have to add the fare to take a bus from Noboribetsu station to Noboribetsu onsen. You may find some more info in the link below about the trip:
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/trip-report/2017-hokkaido/trip-to-hokkaido-in-2017-winter-part-6-takikawa-to-lake-toya-via-noboribetsu.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  4. Hi Takeshi san

    Many thanks for your info

    Can we use train from Shinjuku to hakone yumoto on the second day? On the first day of 2 days hakone free pass we Will use JR east south Hokaido pass to go to Odawara..
    The itenary as follow
    Day 1…go to odawara using jR east Hokkaido pass and then using hakone free pass day 1 to play around Hakone. Go back to Tokyo using jR east south Hokkaido pass
    Day 2 …go hakone yumoto using train from Shinjuku …and then after aightseeing around Hakone and gotemba…back to Yokohama with regular train without pass

    Many thanks
    Santo

    1. Hi Santo san,

      If you do so, don’t buy Hakone Free Pass from Shinjuku. On day 1, you will get Odawara by JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass. You may buy Hakone Free Pass 2-day at Odawara. You will use same pass to go back to Tokyo. On day 2, you just add the regular fare ticket for Shinjuku to Odawara. This is cheaper than using Hakone Free Pass 2-day from Shinjuku.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Hi Takeshi San
        Many thanks for your advise
        We have purchase 2 days hakanoe free pass dapart from Shinjuku online.

        I want to make sure is it possible we go to odawara using jR east south Hokkaido pass and then use hakone free pass day 1 to play around Hakone without using odakyu train from Shinjuku in the first day ?
        After that..can we use hakone free pass day 2 to go hakone yumoto from Shinjuku using the free train from Shinjuku ?

        Many thanks Takeshi san

        Regards
        Santo

        1. Hi Santo san,

          Unfortunately there was mis communiceation between us. I meant you buy Hakone Free Pass from Odawara (at 4,600 yen for 2 days). Because one way fare from Shinjuku to Odawara is around 1,000 yen. 3 days pass is 5,700 yen. So one way + 2 days pass from Odawara is slightly cheaper. And also if you buy Hakone Free Pass at Odawara, it doesn’t matter to go outside the coveage area. Because Hakone Free Pass Odawara version does not include any transfer between Odawara and Shinjuku. It’s more flexible.

          But you have already purchased Hakone Free Pass Shinjuku. You must start using it from Shinjuku on day 1. You cannot use Shinjuku-Odawara portion on day 2.

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

          1. Hi Takeshi san
            Apologize to make you confuse
            Yes..we already purchased 2 days Hakone free pass and we got discount from the apps so the price around 4675 Yen almost same with Odawara version. The apps does not sell Odawara version

            Is it still not allowed if we use the pass from Shinjuku to Hakone yumoto on second day but we do not back to Shinjuku ..we back and stay on Yokohama on second day using normal fare.

            So ..on day 1 we using hakone free pass only for sightseeing in Hakone without using train from Shinjuku…we Will use JR east south Hokaido pass to go and back between Tokyo station and Odawara…i check in hyperdia it Will Cost around 1.750 Yen each passenger one way..or total 3500 Yen to return back to tokyo. We can save this cost by using jR east south Hokaido pass

            On second day we go using the pass by train from Shinjuku …but we don’t go back to Shinjuku after we play around Hakone…we go to Yokohama using normal fare cost around 900 Yen. So we only need add 900 Yen for this plan and no need to use JR east south Hokaido pass again

            But if it still not allowed..we will follow your advise

            Last things…do you the official website where i can check whether Hakone ropeway ia open or not around 25 Dec until 29Dec ?

            Many thanks Takeshi san

            Regards
            Santo

            1. Hi Santo san,

              It’s not allowed to use Hakone Free Pass from Shinjuku to Hakone on day 2. So you have to pay for Shinjuku to Odawara on day 2. Odawara to Hakone-Yumoto is in the unlimited ride area. You have to pay for Shinjuku to Odawara only. So I think you can use the passes as below:

              Day 1 Using Hakone Free Pass from Shinjuku to Hakone (covered)
              go back to Shinjuku (not covered)
              *You must exit at Odawara and buy the ticket for Odawara to Shinjuku. If you don’t do this, Hakone Free Pass will cover the trip to Shinjuku automatically and you will use the pass.

              Day 2 Using JR East South Hokkaido Rail Pass from Tokyo to Odawara (covered)
              Using JR East South Hokkaido Rail Pass from Odawara to Yokohama (covered)

              You can find the info about Hakone Transportation in the link below:
              https://www.hakonenavi.jp/international/en/

              Cheers,

              Takeshi / JPRail.com

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