Before you read this article, I would like to let you know that this post is written by one of my frequent visitor, Takuji san. He offered me to share his experience about SL Hakodate Christmas Fantasy train. I would like to thank you, Takuji san for your work.
*This train was discontinued in December, 2014.
It’s December, Christmas is coming soon and I would like to introduce a train of the festive season. This steam train with Christmas decoration runs in Hakodate Hokkaido area during the Christmas season every year. “On the seasonal SL train “Hakodate Christmas Fantasy”, our train crews wear Santa Clouse costume to bring the mood for Christmas.” (JR Hokkaido) I have taken this train in 2010 and I would like to share the information.
Route and schedule
This train has been operating every year during the Christmas season since 2010. This year in 2012, this train is operated on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays between 1 December and 24 and 25 December.
Time Table as of 2012
SL Hakodate Christmas Fantasy #1 Hakodate 8:35Dep – Onumakouen 9:15Arr
SL Hakodate Christmas Fantasy #2 Onumakouen 10:10Dep – Hakodate 11:00Arr
SL Hakodate Christmas Fantasy #3 Hakodate 14:11Dep – Onumakouen 14:52Arr
SL Hakodate Christmas Fantasy #4 Onumakouen 15:49Dep – Hakodate 16:27Arr
As the train approaches to the Onumakouen, you will see the lake on the left side (trains from Hakodate to Onumakouen). However, when I took this train, I didn’t see anything due to a severe snowstorm. When the train arrived at Onumakouen, it was very cold and snowstorm outside. I had a free soup at the community hall next to the station.
If you are travelling from Hakodate to Sapporo, you can take this steam train and transfer to the next train.
SL #1 is connecting to Hokuto #5
Onumakouen 9:53 – Sapporo 12:59
SL #3 is connecting to Super Hokuto #13
Onumakouen 15:37 – Sapporo 18:35
If you are travelling from Sapporo to Hakodate, the following trains connect to the SL Christmas Fantasy.
Super Hokuto #2 Sapporo 7:00 – Onumakouen 9:48 connecting to SL#2
Super Hokuto #12 Sapporo 12:22 – Onumakouen 15:16 connecting to SL#4
When taking the steam train in this direction, the steam engine car is at the end.
Reservation is required for this train. When I took this train in 2010, seats were available even on the same day. However, I recommend you make reservation as soon as you exchange the voucher to actual JR pass. There is no surcharge for JR pass users.
<- Onumakoen Hakodate ->
SL = Steam locomotive engine, R= Reserved Seats, DL = Diesel locomotive
Coffee, snacks and souvenir are sold in Café car. Crew wearing Santa Clause costume will come to your seat and they sell coffee, snacks as well. They give a free Christmas postcard to every passenger. You can take photograph with a Santa Clouse if you wish to.
There is an extra car in between the DL and car #1. This very old car used to be a brake van car attached to freight trains but not used these days. They have put a Christmas tree in the car so that passengers can take photos with the Christmas tree. The Christmas tree is from Halifax in Canada, which is the same one used for the huge Christmas tree in the Hakodate city. You will also find antique charcoal heaters used in the car to match with this train.
I will put a link to another site for the photos as I don’t have much photos inside the train. You can click on a photo to see a larger one.
JR Hokkaido English webpage has a good guide in English. I suggest you have a look at this as well.