Direct access to Hokkaido from Tokyo, Hokkaido Shinkansen (bullet train)

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
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 will be opened on March 26, 2016 between Shin-Aomori and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto. This will be the newest Shinkansen (Bullet Train) line technically. However this line is connected with Tohoku Shinkansen at Shin-Aomori. Many of trains run through Tohoku Shinkansen to Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto from Tokyo. You will be able to get Hokkaido from Tokyo directly by this Shinkansen train.

However Hokkaido Shinkansen will be partial open. You can get southern Hokkaido only. You still need to transfer to get most of Hokkaido. such as Sapporo. And also Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto station is not located in downtown of Hakodate. You need to transfer to get Hakodate.

I mentioned many negative things at the beginning. But it will be much more convenient and faster than current trains. There are a few things that you need to know before taking Hokkaido Shinkansen. I would like to show you the detail of Hokkaido Shinkansen and will also give you some tips to use this Shinkansen line in this post.

*Additional info
JR Group has announced that Hokkaido Shinkansen is fully covered by Japan Rail Pass, a.k.a. JR pass.

Route, schedule and trip time

The route is shown in the map below:

Map of Hokkaido Shinkansen (C) Hisagi - CC BY-SA 3.0  or GFDL, via Wikimedia Commons
Map of Hokkaido Shinkansen (C) Hisagi – CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL, via Wikimedia Commons

There will be 13 round trips in the following segment.

Tokyo to/from Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto
Run as Hayabusa
10 round trips
Sendai to/from Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto
Run as Hayabusa
1 round trip
Morioka to/from Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto
Run as Hayate
1 round trip
Shin-Aomori to/from Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto
Run as Hayate
1 round trip

As you see above, most of trains run between Tokyo and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto. Technically this train runs on two different Shinkansen lines, Tohoku and Hokkaido. But it goes directly and you cannot find the difference between these two Shinkansen lines. Hokkaido Shinkansen is like extension of Tohoku Shinkansen. You may think one Shinkansen line between Tokyo and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto.

The fastest train connects Tokyo and Shin-Hakondate-Hokuto in 4 hours and 2 minutes. The average trip time is around 4 hours 15 minutes.

Timetable

Unfortunately there is no timetable in English available yet. But I show you the link of timetable in Japanese.

You can find the timetable at JR Hokkaido official website.

Hokkaido Shinkansen and limited express train to/from Sapporo timetable

It’s Japanese but don’t worry and see Page 3 (but shown page 2 in the PDF) of this PDF.
You will find two tables there. The first one is bound for Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto and second one is bound for Tokyo.
In the first table, from left to right, the station names are shown, Tokyo (東京発), Omiya(大宮発), Sendai(仙台発), Morioka(盛岡発), Shin-Aomori(新青森発), Okutsugaru-Imabetsu(奥津軽いまべつ発), Kikonai(木古内発) and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto(新函館北斗着).
In the second table, it’s just reverse order.

Stations

The stations are same as Tohoku Shinkanse between Tokyo and Morioka. Please refer to Tohoku Shikansen.

Shin-Aomorix
Okutsugaru-Imabetsu*
Kikonai*
Shin-Hakodate-Hokutox

x:All trains stop *:some trains stop

All trains that run between Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto and Shin-Aomori, Morioka make stops at both Okutsugaru-Imabetsu and Kikonai. Trip between Sendai and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto skips both stations. Five of ten trips between Tokyo and Shin-Hakodatre-Hokuto make a stop at Okutsugaru-Imabetsu. And six of ten trips between Tokyo and Shin-Hakodatre-Hokuto make a stop at Kikonai.

Shin-Aomori station is one station away from Aomori station by local and express trains. Please see the link below to find the info about Shin-Aomori. Currently this page shows you how to change the train to Hakodate. But once Hokkaido Shinkansen opens, transfer is not required to Hokkaido at Shin-Aomori.

Shin-Aomori station guide. How to change the train, Shinkansen, Super Hakucho and other local trains.

Location of Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto station

Hakodate Liner will be operated by commute train fleet 733 series.
Hakodate Liner will be operated by commute train fleet 733 series.

Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto is currently existed as Oshima-Ono station. This station is under construction now and will be opened as Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto on opening day. It is five stations away from Hakodate and it is not located in downtown Hakodate.

Access train “Hakodate Liner” will run between Shin-Hakondate-Hokuto and Hakodate. You have to change this train to Hakodate. It will take 15 to 20 minutes to get Hakodate from Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto. All Shinkansen trains will connect Hakodate Liner. You do not need to wait the trains to Hakodate for a long time.

Train formation and accommodation

All Hokkaido Shinkansen trains are same as Tohoku Shinkansen’s trains, “Hayabusa” and “Hayate”. Please refer the following page to get the details of Hayabusa and Hayate.

Tohoku Shinkansen (bullet train), the fastest train to Tohoku area from Tokyo.

235 thoughts on “Direct access to Hokkaido from Tokyo, Hokkaido Shinkansen (bullet train)”

  1. We are 2 senior travellers from Canada and will be arriving Haneda Airport on Sept 29…after a brief stop at Shinagawa to activate our JR 3 week Pass, we would like to travel by shinkansen to Hakodate and Sapporo for a week. Our plan is to depart from Tokyo to Hakodate on Sept 30 (after doing the reserved seat booking on Sept 29)…
    My concern is, WILL THERE BE A PROBLEM REGARDING BOOKING TRAIN TICKETS WITHOUT ADVANCE ONLINE, SINCE WE CANNOT BOOK UNTIL after activation of JR Pass??)

    1. Hi Mrs R Yan,

      If you are okay with any trains to Hakodate, you will be okay. But if you want to book a seat on the specific train, such as the earliest departure train, you should exchange the pass on the arrival day and book online. You can book a ticket online however you have to pick up a ticket by 21:00 on the day before the travel day. Please see the link below to find the online site:
      https://www.eki-net.com/pc/jreast-shinkansen-reservation/English/wb/common/Menu/Menu.aspx?_ga=1.4778995.1325107855.1421419524

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Thank you for your prompt response and attached website for online booking. …If I am going to activate JR pass at Shinagawa station anyway, can I book the train tickets immediately afterwards (on Sept 29) for travel date the following day, instead of doing that online?
        I will not be travelling with my computer…
        As I recall for my previous visit in early March this year, the ticket office is just opposite to JR Pass activation office at the station.
        Greetings and appreciation from Canada.

        1. Hi Mrs R Yan,

          Of course you can book a ticket right after you exchange the pass. But it depends on how busy the train to Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto will be. Reservation is required to take the train to Hokkaido from Tokyo. The Shinkansen to Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto from Tokyo does not have any non reserved seat. Hokkaido is always busy in these days. I recommend you to book a seat in advance.

          You don’t need to bring your computer. Just book a ticket online and print out the confirmation. You can bring this confirmation and the credit card when you use the online. As long as you pick up a ticket by 21:00 on the day before, it will not be charged to your credit card. But if you don’t pick it up, it will be charged. And you must bring the credit card to pick up a ticket. It is mandatory.

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

      2. Thank you from Toronto…can I activate JR Pass first, on Sept 29 am, and go over to the ticketing side @Shinagawa station immediately, to get the train tickets for the following day, Sept 30 for Shin-Hakodate ?
        There are 2 time slots either 10 am or 12.20
        Since I have already made hotel reservation at Hakodate for Sept 30, we must arrive by then. Do you think it is OK?

        1. Hi,

          If you really want to exchange the pass, you can do so. But I cannot guarantee that you will be able to book. In my experience, you will be able to get two seats but you may not be able to book two seats side by side. The choice is yours. If you don’t want to book in advance, you have to take this risk.

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

          1. Hi Takeshi
            Thank you very much for your sound advice re reservation prior to arrival. I am already registered as a member on the JR reservation system and will proceed with reservation a month prior to travel date. Question: will I be charged on my bank account when I make a reservation? Since I will be travelling with a 3-week JR Pass, any online reservation prior to activation of JR Pass on arrival should be covered. Please clarify…..
            And I would like to add, we are very impressed with the high efficiency of the JR Rail System…and the helpfulness of the staff at all stations. This is one of the reasons why my husband and I are making 5 trips to Japan within the last 2 years….Thank you JR Pass!!

            1. Hi Mrs R Yan,

              As I mentioned in the previous reply, the credit card is just a deposit. It will not be charged to your credit card at the time of booking. But if you don’t pick up a ticket by 21:00 on the day before the travel date, it will be charged.

              Cheers,

              Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. Hi Takeshi,
    I shall be traveling from Shin-Osaka to Tokyo on the 07:16 am train that’s due to arrive in Tokyo at 10:10 am on the morning of 17th May and then I’d like to catch the Hayabusha Shinkansen that’s due to depart Tokyo Station for Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto at 10:20 am that same morning. Would I have enough time to make the transfer if I were to reserve my seat on the Hayabusa Shinkansen before leaving Shin-Osaka? Or would it be a better idea altogether to reserve my seat when I arrive in Shin-Osaka from Hiroshima on 13th May? I will be traveling with a Green 21 Day JR Pass.

    1. Hi Tim,

      You should book all tickets when you exchange JR pass.

      It is not impossible to change trains in 10 minutes at Tokyo station. It is very tight. Japanese train operation is very reliable. However a few minutes delay may happen. I don’t recommend you to change trains in 10 minutes. But it is your trip and the choice is yours.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  3. Hello,
    I’ll be going to Hokkaido from Haneda airport in end April. Would you advise how do I transfer from Haneda to take the Shinkansen? Also, how much time should I allocate for this transfer (and including queuing to validate my pass for the first time, reserving the seat etc)? Supposing I land at 6:45am, which is the earliest Shinkansen train timing should I aim for? And would it be fully reserved when I arrived, considering it would be the Golden week? How can I reserve the seat in advance since I would be validating my ticket on the day I touch down in Haneda.

    Thanks in advance.

    Regards,
    Ling

    1. Hi Ling,

      First of all, you cannot book a ticket in advance. Online is available but you have to pick up a ticket by 21:00 on the day before travel date. The following link is online site but you cannot use it for arrival day travel:
      https://www.eki-net.com/pc/jreast-shinkansen-reservation/English/wb/common/Menu/Menu.aspx?_ga=1.4778995.1325107855.1421419524

      Golden Week will kick off on April 27. If you intend to travel before this day, it will be okay. But if you travel on 27 or 28, this is very risky. All trains may be booked out. You cannot take the Shinkansen to Hokkaido without reservation. You may be stuck in Tokyo.

      If you are okay with these above conditions, you can go to Hokkaido on arrival day. You will spend at least 2 hours to complete custom, immigration, baggage pick up and exchange train pass/booking.

      And the take Tokyo Monorail to Hamamatsucho, change to Yamanote line to Tokyo, and then take the Hokkaido Shinkansen. Travel time is less than 30 minutes. But you will spend around 1 hour to travel and change trains at Hamamatsucho and Tokyo.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  4. Hi,
    We will be going to Sapporo on Feb and we will be flying in via Narita Airport. We will be using JR Pass, how do we get to Tokyo from Narita Airport (fastest) to take the Shinkansen going to Hakodate? Where can we check the train schedules (Shinkansen)? What train station in Tokyo should we go to to be able to take the Shinkasen going to Hakodate?

    Thank you very much for your assistance.

    Manny

  5. Dear Takeshi,

    Can you please check my itinerary? Travel date is April 23-30 2019, we will use JR Pass. Any suggestion? Or do you think this itinerary is possible?

    Day 1 Fukuoka
    Day 2 Tokyo
    Day 3 Tokyo – Aomori
    Day 4 back to Tokyo to Mt Fuji
    Day 5 Tokyo to Nagoya
    Day 6 Tokyo – Fukuoka
    Day 7 Fukuoka

    1. Hi Karisse,

      It is possible but it will be tight on some part of your trip itinerary. You will be on the train for many hours. You can find the Shinkansen train timetable in the links below:

      Tokyo – Nagoya – Hakata (Fukuoka)
      https://global.jr-central.co.jp/en/info/timetable/_pdf/eastbound.pdf
      https://global.jr-central.co.jp/en/info/timetable/_pdf/westbound.pdf
      *You cannot take Nozomi and Mizuho by JR pass.

      Tokyo – Shin-Aomori
      http://www.eki-net.com/pc/jreast-shinkansen-reservation/english/wb/common/timetable/e_tohoku_d/index.html
      http://www.eki-net.com/pc/jreast-shinkansen-reservation/english/wb/common/timetable/e_tohoku_u/index.html

      Especially trip to Fuji after Aomori to Tokyo is tight. It takes more than 3 hours to get Tokyo from Aomori. And then you will start to make a trip to Fuji. You have to leave Aomori in early morning. Please see the link below about trip to Fuji.
      https://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/1to3-days/how-to-build-the-trip-plan-to-fuji-area-various-sample-itineraries-of-fuji-five-lakes-and-5th-station.html

      It is not impossible anyway but please keep it in your mind.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  6. Hi, I’m planning to go from Tokyo to Sapporo by train on Friday, Dec. 7th. But I can’t figure out exactly which station in Tokyo the train leaves from. Also, it looks like there’s no train that goes direct from Tokyo to Shin-Aomori, is that right? Every option I see requires changing trains along the way.

    I’ve never taken the train in Japan, and it looks extremely complicated. Well, for a foreigner. But I’m hoping to at least figure out the starting station, so I can book a hotel somewhere near it. Thanks for any help you can give!

    Dan

  7. Dear Takeshi,
    Ive already read your explanation about how to get to Hokkaido from Tokyo, and as long as I know, we can user JR Pass for using shinkansen there right? thing that Im curious is, what’s the meaning of ‘reserved seat’ ? Do we have to pay again for reserved seat? I mean is that different cost from our JR Pass ticket?
    thankyou .

    1. Hi melyana,

      Reserved seat fee is covered by JR pass. When you reserve a seat, you can show your JR pass and receive your seat ticket without any extra. You cannot get a seat in reserved seat car without this reserved seat ticket. Some trains have reserved seat and non reserved seat.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/travel-tips/reserved-seat-vs-non-reserved-seat-how-to-get-a-seat-on-non-reserved-car.html

      But Hokkaido Shinkansen has only reserved seat car. Please receive your seat ticket before on board.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

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