Trip to Hokkaido in 2017 winter – Part 7, Noboribetsu Onsen to Hakodate via Lake Toya

2017 Hokkaido
Express bus connects Noboribetsu and Lake Toya

This post is continued from Trip to Hokkaido in 2017 winter – Part 6, Takikwa to Noboribetsu Onsen.

On day 3, I visited Biei and Nobotibetsu Onsen. In this post, I would like to show you the last stretch of day 3 trip which is the trip to Hakodate via Lake Toya.

Noboribetsu Onsen to Lake Toya

Noboribetsu Onsen bus terminal 15:08 (Express bus) 16:13 Toyako Onsen bus terminal (Lake Toya)

I had JR pass. But I did not take a train and took the express bus “Iburi” from Noboribetsu Onsen to Toyako Onsen directly. If I went back to Noboribetsu station by bus, took train to Toya station and then took a bus to Toyako Onsen, I could save 1000 yen. But I had to change train and bus twice. And I had to spend at least 1 hour 40 minutes which include transfer time at both Noboribetsu and Toya stations.

That was why I chose this express bus. This express bus is operated by Donan Bus company. This bus company is major bus company in this area. It operates the local bus lines in Noborbetsu and Lake Toya too.

Express bus runs two round trips between Noboribetsu Onsen and Toyako Onsen daily. This bus pick up and drop off passengers at several bus stops at both Noboribetsu Onsen and Toyako Onsen. Reservation is not accepted to take this express bus. It is first come first serve basis. In peak season, extra bus may depart but it is not guaranteed.

When I took this bus, it was very quiet. There were only 5 passengers on board.

The bus is very ordinary highway coach. It does not equip a bathroom but it is only one hour ride.

On the way to Toyako Onsen, the bus ran on highway. The scenery was good. I could see the shoreline of Uchiura bay and Mt. Usu which is very active volcano in the distance.

I was very sleepy and I supposed to take a nap on board. But I could not sleep. It was nice one hour ride.

I got off the bus at Toyako Onsen bus terminal. And I had 30 minutes break there.

Toyako Onsen bus terminal is a hub of Lake Toya area.

Walking in Toyako Onsen

It was much colder than Noboeribetsu Onsen. I walked along lake shore and it was very windy.

Walking path was very nice even in very cold weather. There were many resort hotels in this Onsen town. Noboeribetsu Onsen and Toyako Onse are both very popular to stay in southern Hokkido area. In summer time, of course this place is much nicer. On this walking train along lakeshore, there are some “Ashi-ui” which means foot bath. Even if you just drop by this place for short time, you can have very tiny Onsen experience.

After this short stay in Lake Toya, I got on the local bus to get Toya station for 20 minutes

Lake Toya to Hakodate

In the bus to Toya station

Toyako bus terminal 16:42 (Donan bus) 17:01 Toya 17:34 (Super Hokuto 18) 19:24 Hakodate

The bus from Toyako Onsen to Toya station was very ordinary commute bus. By the way, if you take this type of bus in the city, like Kyoto, the fare is a flat rate. But if you take this type of bus in suburban area or country side, the fare is varied by the distance.

Usually there is a small ticket dispenser at the entrance. You need to get a numbered ticket.

The fare table is beside the driver seat. You can find the fare by the number.

After 20 minutes ride, I got Toya station. It was much quieter than Noboribetsu station but it might be busy in the afternoon in this station too.

I caught Limited Express Super Hokuto 18 to Hakodate.

I had a plan to eat Sushi in Hakodate. I needed to make my stomach be empty. But I was very thirsty and hungry. I spoiled myself on board.

Beer and dried squid were my snack on board.

Evening in Hakodate

Arrived at Hakodate station

I spent two hours to get Hakodate. I checked in Hotel Route Inn Grantia Hakodate. This is located just in front of Hakodate station and very accessible.

The room was very ordinary.
I got nice view from my room.

This hotel belongs to same group as the hotel in Asahikawa which I stayed in. Most of the hotels in this group have an Onsen public bath. This is one of the reason to stay in this hotel for me. It offers nice breakfast buffet too. It is nice hotel and recommended.

Hakodate held the winter event too. Fireworks display was one of this event. It was started at 19:40 and I could see it.

But I just watched the beginning of this event. Because I thought the restaurant might be crowded after fireworks. I thought I needed to enter the restaurant before fireworks ended. And also I was solo traveler and I felt very lonely when I watched fireworks.

I walked about 15 minutes to get “Marukatsu Suisan” which is very popular Kaiten Sushi (conveyor belt sushi) restaurant.

Most of Kaiten Sushi restaurant offer sushi at very affordable price. But this restaurant is not such a cheap restaurant. I spent 4,000 yen just for myself. It was not cheap but I knew it. This was the last dinner in my trip. I spoiled me again!

I was very very satisfied by nice fresh sushi.

Continue to the post, “Trip to Hokkaido in 2017 winter – Part 8, Hakodate to Tokyo“.


  1. Suzy Ng says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    Are we able to bring the medium size luggage up the express bus from Noribetsu to Lake Toya?

  2. Eve Cher says:


    I’m planning a trip in Dec. Will start from Hakodate — Lake Toya — Noboribetsu — Daisetsuzan National Park.

    I think when I reach Lake Toya, it would be near lunch time, how much time do I need to spend in Lake Toya? Should I stay 1 night there and move on to Noboribetsu the next day morning?

    In Noboribetsu, we intend to go Hell Valley & DateJidaimura, do we need to stay 1 night there as well before heading to Daisetsuzan National Park?

    Sorry for asking that much as we are quite a big group, 10adults and 2 kids, 4 are elderly some more. So really need to plan a not rushing trip for all.

    For the mode of transport, is it convenient to take public transport based on our group size + luggages?


    • Hi Eve,

      I think you can stay overnight at either Lake Toya or Noboribetsu. You don’t need to stay overnight at both places. Noboribetsu is better location to stay.

      In winter time, there are not many attractions available at Lake Toya. Only Lake cruise is available around lake. It take less than one hour. Even if you take lunch time there, you can get Noboribetsu easily.

      If you take a train, you have to book seats in advance. Online is available:

      Your group is a big and other transportation, such as charter small size bus may be better choice. But I have no idea about the cost to charter the bus. I don’t have any info about bus companies either.


      Takeshi /

  3. Michelle says:

    Hi Takeshi San
    I am traveling to Hokkaido in May this year. I couldn’t decide where to go for onsen experience. Do u have any good advices btw Lake toya, Otaru, noboribetsu or Jozankei.

    Is it too rush to do a day trip + onsen or recommended to stay 1 nite min?

    I also saw tomamu resort unkai terrace and was really interested to go but having limited time

    • Hi Michelle san,

      In my experience, Noboribetsu is the best onsen spot among these places. You can visit there as day trip but if you stay there, it’s more comfortable.


      Takeshi /

  4. Priscilla Elle says:

    Hi Takeshi-san,
    I need your advice.
    Me and my family (we are 8adults and 6children) are going to Sapporo in March. Our itinerary as below:
    21/3 Arrived in Sapporo at 11.45am and directly go to Ishiya Chocolate Factory
    22/3 Going to Kiroro Ski Resort for a day and return to Sapporo
    23/3 We are planning to go to Noboribetsu Marine Park by train and spend about 3 hrs in the park, and go directly to Lake Toya and return to Sapporo.
    I would like to ask you especially about this date trip. Do you think it is possible for us to go to Noboribetsu and Lake Toya for a day? Please kindly advise us what should we do and which bus or train we should take from Noboribetsu to Lake Toya and return to Sapporo. I try to find a rent micro bus with driver for this trip but, I could not find one to rent for a day only.
    24/3 Planning to go to Otaru Canal for half day and return to Sapporo for evening church
    25/3 Go to Asahiyama Zoo and return to Sapporo
    26/3 We have another free day to explore, but no idea where should we go
    27/3 Return to our country

    Thank You so much

  5. suriani says:

    dear Takeshi-san,
    need yr helps.
    I am travelling from Lake Toya to Aomori on feb 9, 2018 and stay 2 nites in Aomori then travel from Aomori to Ueno on 11/feb 2018. What is the less-cost transport for both trips if I don’t have JR pass ?
    thanks for yr helps.


  6. Koh Chwee Leng says:

    Hi Takeshi San
    My trip to Hokkaido till 7 Jan 2018 included visits to Hakodate, Lake Toya and a day trip to Noboribetsu from Lake Toya. My transport mode is using JR train between cities. Is public transport in Lake Toya and Noboribetsu easily available during winter? I am considering renting a car to move around Toya and Noboribetsu. I have never driven in winter. Is it easy to drive in the two cities?
    Thank you

  7. trix says:

    Hi Takeshi San

    I’ll be heading to Hokkaido in March with my husband. Our itinerary as below:

    7th March Wednesday – Arrive at New Chitose Airport -> Niseko Village
    8th March Thursday – Niseko (Ski)
    9th March Friday – Niseko (Ski)
    10th March Saturday – Niseko

    11th March Sunday – Niseko -> Hakodate
    12.35pm – Depart Kutchan Station
    4.08pm – Arrive Hakodate -> Red Brick Warehouse -> Mt Hakodate

    12th March Monday – Hakodate -> Lake Toya
    9am – Morning Market -> Fort Goryokaki
    1.51pm – Depart Hakodate
    3.48pm – Arrive Lake Toya & check-in for the day

    13th March Tuesday – Lake Toya -> Noribetsu -> Sapporo
    10.45am – Depart Toya
    11.25am – Arrive Noribetsu & travel to Jigokudani
    2.50pm – Depart Noribetsu
    4.04pm – Arrive Sapporo

    14th March Wednesday – Sapporo -> Day trip to Otaru & return
    15th March Thursday – Sapporo
    16th March Friday – Depart from New Chitose Airport

    Any feedback especially for the part from Niseko -> Hakodate -> Toya & Noribetsu -> Sapporo?
    (main purpose of going Hakodate is for the morning market, night view of Mt Hakodate, Red Brick warehouse & viewing tower for Fort Goryokaku)

    Appreciate it!

  8. Yan says:

    Hi Takeshi san, may I know if there is luggage deposit or lockers facilities in Toyako Onsen bus terminal? I would like to pay a visit to Lake Toya before heading to Hakodate, but carrying luggage with me wouldn’t be so convenient during the visit. Thanks.

    • Hi Yan,

      There are lockers in the station. But only 13 lockers are there. It’s hard to say that is unoccupied or not when you get there.

      I have seen some lockers at Toyako bus terminal. But there are a few lockers available too.


      Takeshi /

  9. Jefferene Lee says:

    Hi, Takeshi San, can I know how much is the Iburi bus fare from Noboribetsu Onsen to Toyaka Onsen, is the bus still running in April 2017? I am planning to take this direct bus next month. Thanks ya.

  10. Elaine Lam says:

    We have patronized the same kaiten sushi restaurant as you, Takeshi Sen. I agree with your comments. It seems to be quite popular because we had to wait a long time for our turn during lunch time in Dec 2015.

    Why didn’t you take the Ropeway up Mt Hakodate for the famous night view of the city? You should be in time. We did and the view of “sprinkled jewels” over the inlet is awesome! The best effect though is when the sun is totally set. Takeshi Sen, have you missed it?

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