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

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.

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

  1. Hi Takeshi-San,
    We will be staying in Sapporo for 3 days 2 nights and was wondering if you could revise the places we will be going. We are travelling around japan for 2 weeks so will be using the JR 14 day pass. Are these places covered by the pass? Or do you recommend a better option to buy? Please let me know, thank you

    Day 1
    Sapporo Beer Museum
    Odori Park
    JR Clock Tower
    Ishiya Chocolate Factory
    Sapporo Art Park
    Mt Moiwa

    Day 2
    Day trip to Niseko Ski Resort

    Day 3
    Hokkaido Shrine
    Noboribetsu Onsen
    Fushimi Inari Shrine

    1. Hi Ishak san,

      There is no deals available for day 1. Just pay as you go.

      You can use JR pass to get Niseko. But train does not run very frequently.

      This timetable does not show all trains between Otaru and Sapporo. There are many more trains for this segment.

      You can use JR pass for taking train to Otaru and Noboribetsu on day 3.

      But you have to pay the fare to take a bus to get Noboribetsu Onsen from Noboribetsu station.

      You should visit Hokkaido shrine on day 1. It’s in Sapporo. Fushimi Inari is in Kyoto. I think it’s mis typo.


      Takeshi /

      1. For Day 3, we have a flight back to Tokyo at 4:30pm, is it possible to go to Noboribetsu Onsen and Otaru before going to the airport? Or do you recommend doing them on Day 1 and just doing the close Sapporo sightseeing on Day 3 to maximise the time? Thank you

        1. Hi Ishak,

          Noboribetsu and Otaru are too much. You should visit only Otaru. If you arrive in early morning on day 1, you can do Noboribetsu and Otaru. If you arrive in late morning or afternoon, it’s not recommended.


          Takeshi /

  2. Hi Takeshi San,

    I am planning to travel to Hokkaido from 31st dec to 7th of Jan . Fly in to New Chitose Airport on 31st dec, morning, 7D6N which is actually kind of rush schedule we’re having.
    So I am facing some difficulties in arranging our based accommodations. We are planning to ride on public transport JR/busses.
    This will be a rough itinerary that i plan through after reading a few blogs.
    Day 1: hakodate
    Day2 : lako toya / Noboribetsu
    Day 3: Noboribetsu – Niseko
    Day 4: Niseko
    Day 5 : Sapporo
    Day 6 : Otaru
    Day7: Sappporo
    Which place of the following you will suggest us to do a day trip instead of staying there? And is the itinerary ok and smooth for transportation?
    And any idea to travel from new chitose airport to hakodate/ you think it is better for us to go noboribetsu on first day of arrival first?

    Between, in Hokkaido where is the happening place that they normally countdown for new year?

    Hope to get your reply soon. Thank you very much!!

    1. Hi Peter san,

      If you want to do day trip, you should stay in Sapporo. But I don’t recommend. Especially Hakodate is too far to visit as day trip. And also night view from Hakodate mountain is “Must-See”.

      You can find the timetable in the link below. You may find the trip time for each segment:

      I recommend you to use Hokkaido Rail Pass 7 days.


      Takeshi /

  3. Hi takeshi, im planning to visit hokkaido 20th-28 th march, and im specifically looking for powdered snow, would i be able to see snow powder during that time?

    And im planning to visit asahiyama zoo, is the penguin march still on during that time??

    Thank you

    1. Hi Winter,

      It’s hard to say about powdered snow in late March. It’s still snow falls in late March. If it snows, you will be able to enjoy it. If the weather is fine, you cannot. It’s mother nature so nobody can tell you.
      Unfortunately Asahiyama zoo is closed until April 8th.


      Takeshi /

  4. Hi Takeshi-san,

    Greetings from Singapore! I just came across your website while planning and researching for upcoming trip. I find your posts very useful and informative ^_^.

    I will be traveling to Hokkaido in December. Flying in and out of New Chitose airport . My trip is from 14-28 Dec (total of 14 nights!) And I would like some advice on whether my itinerary is ok? Also, what kind of pass is the best for me to get please? There will be 3 adults (including myself) and 2 kids (8 years old) traveling , free and easy and we will not be renting car. My plan below:

    Base 1: Sapporo 14-17 Dec (3 nights)
    – day trip to Otaru

    Base 2: Asahikawa 17-21 Dec (4 nights)
    – day trips to Sounkyo, Furano, Asahiyama zoo

    Base 3: Lake Toya/ Noboribetsu 21-25 Dec (4 nights)
    -optional side trip to Niseko

    Base 4: Sapporo 25-28 Dec (3 nights)
    – day trip to Tomamu, Mitsui outlet

    I’m open to any suggestions and advice, and kindly let me know if my itinerary makes sense. It is our first time to Hokkaido and also experience snow and winter. We would like to celebrate Christmas in a busy cheerful environment during winter. Basically, we would like to visit those places above (or Hakodate but I’m afraid its too far). We like food, shopping, sightseeing, some kids activities (for our kids) and some simple ski/snow fun.

    Apologies for the long message but hope you can help as I am trying to confirm everything soon before they sell out. Only my flights are booked so far. Thank you very much!


    1. Hi Vee,

      Your trip plan is okay. But if you go to Niseko, you should visit from Sapporo. It’s much easier.

      Actually only Hokkaido Rail Pass Flex 4 days is your choice.

      Other passes is too short or too expensive. You can use any 4 days in 10 days period. You can use it for Sapporo-Asahikawa, Asahikawa-Noboribetsu, Noboribetsu-Sapporo and day trip to Tomamu.

      If you have a time, you should visit Hakodate. You can get there as day trip from Noboribetsu.

      My newer trip report may help you to build your plan. Please see the link below:


      Takeshi /

      1. Dear Takeshi,

        Thank you for your tips and advice. I will definitely look into them and get the Hokkaido 4 day Flex pass.

        I am considering making Furano a base (Maybe 2 nights after Asahikawa) too, perhaps for snow activities if Niseko is out of the way or expensive. Do you think Furano is too far to travel from Asahikawa and if it is worth visiting? I’m afraid there is nothing much to do in Lake Toya/Noboribetsu except the lake and onsen, haha. Otherwise, I will just stick to my itinerary and include Hakodate as you suggested.

        Thank you for taking time to answer my questions, your input and posts are so interesting and useful! I have been reading them and forgetting to book and plan my hotels haha 🙂

        Best regards,

  5. Hi Takeshi,

    My husband and I are going on on a trip to Hokkaido from the 4th – 13th December (9 days 7 nights). We will be arriving at Sapporo Chitose airport. We plan to stay in Sapporo for 2 nights and proceed to Hakodate on the 3rd day. We will stay a night in Hakodate and on the 4th day we will head to Noboribetsu. We will then head back to Sapporo for the balance of our trip. We intend to do a day trip to Otaru and Asahikawa. We would appreciate your advice whether which JR pass we should purchase and the number of days for the pass. Thank you so much.

  6. Takeshi San,
    I bought a 4 day flexi Hokkaido Pass.
    I plan to take a train trip on Oct 5, at 8:39am from Sapporo to Noboribetsu. After visiting and having lunch to take the train at 2:43pm from Noboribetsu to Toya. After visiting places at Toya, to leave Toya station at 6:34pm to Sapporo Station.
    (1) Is this itinerary practical?
    (2) Is there any transport available from Toya station to Lake Toya?
    (3) Understand the trains in this trip are Limited Express. When should I reserve the seat?
    Thank you very much.

    1. Hi Fred,

      1. It will be busy. Especially Lake Toya portion is tight. You will have only two hours there. If you intend to take lake cruise, you may not be able to make it.

      2. Bus runs very frequently. I had very similar trip in this past winter. Please see the link below. You will find the info what you need.

      3. In these days, train running in Hokkaido is always busy. You can book a seat online one month prior to departure date. So you can do it now..


      Takeshi /

      1. Thank you Takeshi San.

        If I were reserved the seat for the various trains in advance, can I collect them together when I am at Sapporo Station?


  7. Hi Takeshi San, can you advise which side
    is the coastline view if I’m traveling from sapporo
    to Hakodate by limited express train.
    Thank you

  8. Hi Takeshi,
    I planned to travel to Japan on October 1st. My plan is to fly into Narita Airport, stay in Shinjuku for 5nights, and will be visiting surrounding areas. Then I will take Shinkansen to Hakodate and will stay there for 2 nights and then 1 night in Noboribetsu, followed by 5 nights in Sapporo. While in Sapporo, I will be visiting surrounding areas. I will leave Japan from New Chitose Airport. Please let me know what will be my best transportation option.
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Teresa,

      I recommend you to use JR pass 7 days. You can start using it when you leave from Tokyo for Hakodate. When you reach Sapporo, you still have some days in JR Pass left. Try to use it for long trip. You don’t need it for sightseeing in Sapporo. Even trip to Otaru is very short trip and not require JR pass. Single ticket is okay after JR pass finished.

      You can use Narita airport access + subway pass for staying in Tokyo.


      Takeshi /

      1. Hi Takeshi,
        Thank you for your prompt response and valuable information. I was debating about whether to get the JR 7 days pass or the new JR East/South Hokkaido pass, so I decided to get your opinion.

        1. Hi Teresa,

          If you go around Sapporo and south part of Hokkaido, such as Hakodate, Otaru, Noboribetsu only in Hokkaido, JR East South Hokkaido rail pass is okay, But if you go to other part of Hokkaido, such as Furano, Asahikawa, Abashiri, Kushiro, you need JR Pass.


          Takeshi /

  9. Hi Takeshi,
    I’m travelling to Hokkaido in and out from New Chitose airport. Will be staying in Sapporo for 6D5N, and 2D1N in Hakodate from Nov 7 to 13. Will love to visit Otaru and Noboribetsu aside from Hakodate. Can you please suggest what type of transportation fits me to explore these places as we got 4 pax here. Otaru and Noboribetsu will be on day trip. Thank you !

    1. Hi Yuenn,

      I recommend you to use Hokkaido rail pass 3 days for trip to Hakodate and Noboribetsu.

      Single ticket is okay for Otaru and trip to/from New Chitose. You may use other pass or single ticket for staying in Sapporo.


      Takeshi /

      1. Thanks Takeshi-san! One more question, is the 3 days JR Pass is for unlimited rides as I plan to drop by at Noboribetsu before i continue my journey on same day to Hakodate.

        1. Hi Yuenn san,

          It offers unlimited travel. If you drop by Noboribetsu on the way to Hakondate 1 night trip, you can use one day for trip to Otaru. If you have extra time, you may visit other place, such as Furano, Asahikawa. You can visit one of these places as day trip. Otaru is closed to Sapporo. Even if you pay single ticket, the fare is 640 yen for one way. I don’t think it’s a good idea to spend one of three days of Hokkaido Rail Pass. You should use it for long distance trip if you can.


          Takeshi /

              1. Hi Takeshi-san,
                I was considering between 3 days JR Pass and JR East Pass. Can you please advise which one is more convenient and cost saving for my itinerary below. And do u think is necessary to reserve seat especially for my Day 2 trip?
                Day 1: arrival from New Chitose airport to Sapporo
                Day 2: Sapporo to Noboribetsu then to Hakodate
                Day 3: Hakodate to Sapporo
                Day 4: Otaru
                Day 5: Furano and Biei (by car)
                Day 6: Sapporo
                Day 7: Back to New Chitose Airport

                Thank you!

  10. Hi Takeshi,

    I’m traveling to hokkaido in March. For 3 nights. Can you suggest some itinerary for me? I’m traveling with my husband.

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