Trip to Otaru from Sapporo and trip from Sapporo to Hakodate on March 20, 2012 by Rapid Airport and the limited express Hokuto

2012 spring trip to Tohoku and Hokkaido
Odori koen (Odori Park) is one of the popular spot in Sapporo. (C) JP Rail
Odori koen (Odori Park) is one of the popular spot in Sapporo. (C) JP Rail

I had a trip from Aomori to Sapporo by Overnight Express Hamanasu on March 19, 2012. After arrival in Sapporo, I continued my trip in southern part of Hokkaido in just one day. I knew this was very busy trip. But I wanted to visit as many as possible.

Even though my itinerary was too busy to recommend you, my experience may give you some ideas to plan your trip.

If you want to read other parts of this trip, please see the following posts:
My trip from Osaka to Aomori via Tokyo, Matsushima and Kakunodate on March 19, 2012 by Tokaido, Tohoku and Akita Shinkansen
My trip from Aomori to Sapporo on March 19, 2012 by Hamanasu Carpet car.

Sapporo to Otaru by local train

Sapporo 08:17 (Local train) 09:06 Otaru

The seat is very common as Rapid train. (C) JP Rail

After I said Good-bye to Hamanasu, I rushed to change the train to Otaru. I supposed to have one hour at Sapporo station to have breakfast. But Hamanasu delayed for 80 minutes. I needed to catch up with my original schedule! I jumped into the train to Otaru.

It was about one hour trip to Otaru by local train. The train was not bad. If you take Rapid train, you can take reserved seat, U seat without any extra by JR Pass. But this train did not have any U seat.

This line go along the sea shore line between Zenibako station and Asari station.

This is the best section on the way to Otaru from Sapporo. The train pass this section about 30 minutes after Sapporo departure. Don’t miss it.


To get Otaru canal, just go straight down from the station. Very easy access in 10-15 mins (C) JP Rail

After I arrived at Otaru station, I went to Midori no Madoguchi to book U seat on the way back to Sapporo. And also I checked a space availability for B Solo (basic compartment) on Hokutosei. When I tried to book B Solo one month prior departure date, I could not book it. It was too popular to book it! I booked B berth (basic sleeper) anyway. After I arrived in Japan, whenever I saw Midori no Madoguchi, I checked the space. But I could make it. I thought this was the last chance to check at Otaru. I did not expect I could get it. But a station staff told me, “Yes, we have only one available.” YES! I finally did it! I was so happy to have a privacy on Hokutosei. Anyway, after I left Otaru station, I went straight to the famous Otaru canal.=

Actually this canal was the reason why I came to Otaru. I was very impressed to get there. But I had only one hour to stay in Otaru. I walked around the canal and headed back to the station.

It is very easy to access to Otaru from Sapporo. If you stay in Sapporo, I recommend you to visit this beautiful port city, Otaru.

Otaru to Sapporo by Rapid Airport

Entrance door of U seat car

Otaru 10:04 (Rapid Airport @ U Seat) 10:36 Sapporo

I booked U seat on the way back to Sapporo. My seat was on the right side. It was opposite side of sea shore. But there were lots of empty seat. I enjoyed the view of shore line again.

Otaru station

Otaru station building

By the way, Otaru station is very small and very easy to get the direction. There are only 2 platforms and 4 tracks. Track numbers are 1,2,4 and 5. There are only one exit and one ticket gate. These platforms and the ticket gate are connected by underground walkway. Usually Rapid Airport depart/arrive at track 4 or 5. Please see the following images of Otaru station.

Otaru station escalators and stairs to the platform #4 and #5.
Underpath to the platform #1 and #2. Track #3 is not existed.
Rapid Airport at track #5
Overview platform #4 and #5 from the track #2.
The platform #1 and #2 from track #4
Old fashioned station name signage
Passengers waiting for the train at Track #4.
Rapid Airport at track #1


Sapporo station south exits. (C) JP Rail

To visit this city, Sapporo is one of my object in this trip too. But I had three things to do in less than 2 hours.

First of all, I walked down to Clock Tower, the landmark of Sapporo and Odori Park.

Sapporo subway is rubber-tyred metro. (C) JP Rail

There were lots of snow. March was not spring but still winter in Hokkaido.

I went back to Sapporo station by subway. Because I had never taken it. And also I need to save time to eat Ramen (Japanese style Chinese noodle in soup). I really love Ramen.

I went to 10th floor at Sapporo ESTA. This is one of the shopping complex around Sapporo station. There are 9 Ramen restaurants in this building. It is called Sapporo Ramen Kyouwakoku (Republic of Ramen). Sapporo is well known as home town of Miso Ramen.

Miso Ramen (left) / Entrance of Ramen Kyouwakoku (right)

Of course I tasted it.

Sapporo to New Chitose Airport by Rapid Airport (Limited Express Super Kamui)

Sapporo 12:20 (Rapid Airport-Super Kamui #20) 13:01 New Chitose Airport

I got on Rapid Airport to New Chitose Airport. This train was operated as Limited Express Super Kamui before arriving at Sapporo station. I booked U seat again. Because this train had a power outlet. This might be a last chance to charge on this day.

After arriving at New Chitose Airport, I checked access between the station and the terminal building. Please refer the post, How to access from New Chitose airport to Sapporo, Otaru, Asahikawa and other cities in Hokkaido. to get the details about airport access and Rapid Airport.

Minami-Chitose to Hakodate by the limited express Hokuto

Mew Chitose Airprt 13:34 (Rapid Airport) 13:37 Minami-Chitose 13:45 (Hokuto #14) 16:49 Hakodate

Rapid Airport (right) and Super Tokachi to Obihiro (left) at Minami-Chitose station (C) JP Rail

After visiting New Chitose Airport, I moved to Minami-Chitose where is one station away from New Chitose Airport. I transferred Limited Express Hokuto to Hakodate. This station is a junction to Sapporo, Hakodate, Kushiro, Obihiro. Most of trains stop at this station.

The view was nothing special when I left Minami-Chitose by Limited Express Hokuto. But after stropping at Tomakomai, this train went along sea shore line.

Especially after Higashi-Muroran, I enjoyed the view of Uchiura bay on left hand side. I was so happy to have a local beer with this nice view!

It was 3 hours trip to Hakodate. But I felt much shorter trip.

If you want to continue reading after arriving at Hakodate, Please read next post, My trip from Hakodate to Ueno (Tokyo) on March 20, 2012 by sleeper train Hokutosei.


  1. SeLin says:

    Dear Takeshi,

    We have planned a day trip from Sapporo to Otaru and Yoichi.

    I understand that there is a Sapporo Otaru Welcome Pass at 1700 yen for visitors from overseas.

    I would like to know if i can make use of the sapporo otaru welcome pass from Odori direct to Yoichi (i just top up the fare difference from Otaru to Yoichi at Yoichi station?) or must i buy a separate ticket from Otaru to Yoichi if i were to use the sapporo otaru welcome pass? Im looking at JR Hakodate Line for KITCHEN from Otaru to Yoichi.

    If i must buy a separate ticket from Otaru to Yoichi? Can i buy the said ticket at Sapporo station or can it only be done at Otaru station?

    Which way would be more economical and consume less time in buying tickets

  2. jacko says:

    hi takashi san
    i am leaving spore on 1st dec and returning on 9 dec. is it possible to cover sapporo, otaru, lake toya , hokadate, asahikawa n tomamu??

  3. Reoi says:

    I’m going to travel Hokkaido this year September(place to visit are hokadate, otaru , sapporo, noboribetsu, any comments bout
    1) car rental ~is that convenient, easy to find way to drive ?
    2) if take train, JR pass can use for all place above-mentioned?

  4. Tammy says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    I’m planning to have holiday in December.
    My trip was :
    – Sapporo ( Niseko, Otaru , Asahikawa)
    – Tokyo
    – Osaka
    Can you suggest for me, what kind of pass that i should purchase?
    Thanks.. 🙂

  5. susan says:

    My family and I will be going to Hokkaido in Dec. We will be arriving Sapporo 8.30pm. My plan is to go directly to Hakodate , Is it possible? what is the last train from sapporo to hakodate?

  6. aster1317
    Esther Chan says:

    Hi Takeshi San

    My trip to hokkaido as per below:-
    16~ 18/05 – Sapporo to Hakodate
    18~20/05 – Hakodate to Sapporo
    20~23/05 – Sapporo to Asahikawa , Furano + Biei
    23~25/05 – Asahikawa – Sapporo

    I have a concern that is JR Pass needed in place? i have done a comparison of the train pass, eventually Local Train (LImited Express) ticket still cheaper than the 4 Day JR Pass Ticket (22000Yen).

    But i am really worry if i purchase the Local Train (limited express) ticket, would i able to reserve a seat on the spot? as i am traveling with 2 kids + myself and husband, for instant, traveling from sapporo to Hakodate is 3 hr, if i can’t get a reserve seat, it will be a tough situation for me.

    Hope to hear the advice from you


  7. Fun says:

    Dear Takeshi San
    We’ve changed our itinerary to the following:
    5/2 Arrive Chitose Airport to Sapporo Station
    Trip to Otaru n back to Sapporo Station for one night
    6/2 Free 2 ways shuttle to Noboribetsu.
    7/2 Sapporo Station to Furano For 2 days (Ski resort)
    9/2 Furano to Abashiri via Sounkyo Gorge. Overnight in Abashiri
    10/2 Day trip in Abashiri
    11/2 Abashiri back to Sapporo
    12/2 Sapporo one day
    13/2 Sapporo to CTS Airport for flight to Tokyo Narita Airport
    Head for Ueno or Asakusa for a day
    14/2 Ueno/Asakusa to Tokyo Disneyland
    Back to Narita Airport hotel for a night stay
    Is this feasible? Secondly, what kind of passes should we purchase? Kindly assist to modify the itinerary wherever necessary. Thank you n warm regards.

  8. Fun says:

    Dear Takeshi
    My plan is 2N ski resort, 3N Sapporo n not staying overnight in Otaru, and the rest of days to Sounkyo, Abashiri, Shiretoko n Kushiro. The trip to Kushiro n back to the northern part is a bit too time consuming. Do you think I should give it a miss? Rather, do you have any good suggestion? From the train schedule, travelling alone already takes up most of my time. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks.

  9. Fun says:

    Hi Takeshi
    I’ll be back in Hokkaido from 4th to 15th Feb 2016. Was there last Jan. Had visited Hakodate, Noribetsu and Otaru. I planned to make a night trip to Otaru this time and also 2 days at the ski resort. Had been thinking about the ice breaking cruise and the eastern part of Hokkaido this time. But after checking the Japan Guide website, it seems like it’s quite impossible to it due to my short stay after 2 days at the ski resort. Could you kindly advise on the places that are worth visiting during my short trip? Thanks very much.

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      Takeshi / says:

      Hi Fun,

      I think you have a lot of time to visit other places in Hokkaido. As I saw your rough plan, you will spend one night in Otaru and 2 days for ski. I think you still have about 10 days and you can see drift ice very easily. Do I misunderstand your plan?


      Takeshi /

  10. YamieX – A wondering soul whose mind is filled with thoughts of many things...
    Yamie says:

    Hi Melody,
    Thanks for the tip! It happens that my flight in Dec is also a SQ. Could you advise me on how I can get the Star Alliance discount flight? It would be a great alternative. Once again, thank you.

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