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Japan Travel Tips

Perfect Trip Guide

Japan Travel Tips

Perfect trip Guide

How To Get To Hokkaido From Tokyo (Train, Flight, Ferry, Car)

Travel Information

Thu, 31 Aug 2023

Hokkaido, a true spectacle in the realm of Japanese tourism. Think snowflakes as soft as marshmallows, seafood that tastes like it was caught five minutes ago, and landscapes that could put a Monet painting to shame.

Now, here's the deal. Direct flights to Hokkaido are primarily from Asian countries—think China, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore. So, for tourists from other parts of the globe, especially Europe and America, getting to Hokkaido usually involves a pit stop in Tokyo.

In this guide, we'll lay down your options for getting from Tokyo to Hokkaido—airplanes, bullet trains, ferries, and yes, even cars.

The table comparing the modes of transportation, travel time, and cost from Tokyo to Sapporo in Hokkaido is as follows.

Mode of Transportation

Travel Time



1.5 hours

JPY 10,000-30,000

Train (Bullet Train)

7.5 hours

JPY 34,120


18-20 hours

Starting from JPY 9,800 for group rooms

How to Get to Hokkaido from Tokyo

Strap in, folks. We're exploring four ways to hop from Tokyo to Hokkaido.

  • Airplanes
  • Bullet Trains (Shinkansen)
  • Ferries
  • Cars

Taking a Flight

When it comes to speed and convenience, nothing beats flying.

From Haneda Airport to New Chitose Airport (that's in Sapporo), it's roughly a quick 90-minute journey. And get this, flights from Tokyo have direct access to 9 major cities in Hokkaido. So no matter where in Hokkaido you're venturing, airplanes are your best bet.

Airports in Hokkaido's Major Cities

Hokkaido boasts 9 airports, each a gateway to something spectacular.

  • New Chitose Airport (Sapporo)
  • Asahikawa Airport (Asahikawa)
  • Obihiro Airport (Obihiro)
  • Kushiro Airport (Kushiro)
  • Nakashibetsu Airport (Nakashibetsu)
  • Memanbetsu Airport (Ozora)
  • Monbetsu Airport (Monbetsu)
  • Wakkanai Airport (Wakkanai)

And here’s a pro tip: New Chitose Airport is the busiest and many flight times, offering both international and domestic flights. Fly in from China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, or Korea. For domestic flights, you've got choices ranging from All Nippon Airways (ANA) and Japan Airlines (JAL) to budget airlines like Peach Aviation and Jetstar.

Airports map in Hokkaido

Time and Fare

  • Time: About 1 hour 30 minutes from Haneda to New Chitose.
  • Costs: One-way fares range from roughly ¥10,000 to ¥30,000, fluctuating based on seasons and airlines.

Booking Tips

Cheaper flights come to those who book early. If you're hunting for the best cheapest flights, check out low-cost carriers.

Also, bear in mind that while early morning and late-night flights may save you some yen, they could mess with your other travel plans. Need to look for somewhere for the night? New Chitose Airport offers an airport terminal hotel equipped with its own hot springs. A reasonable stay without breaking the bank.

Taking the Bullet Train: The Shinkansen Method

Let's zoom into how you can use the Shinkansen (Bullet Train) to travel from Tokyo to Hokkaido.

Since the Hokkaido Shinkansen launched in March 2016, getting to Hokkaido by train has been a breeze. Compared to flights, it's more relaxed—you skip all the baggage checks and heavy luggage woes. Plus, direct Bullet Trains run about ten times a day from Tokyo Station to Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station.

But here's the rub: The Shinkansen only takes you as far as Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station. From there, you'll need to switch to an express train.

Train Route

You can travel from Tokyo all the way to Sapporo in Hokkaido by connecting through the Tohoku Shinkansen and the Hokkaido Shinkansen (Hayabusa Line). First, you’ll take the Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station in Hokkaido. If you're heading to Sapporo, you'll need to catch an express train from there. The journey to Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station takes about 4 hours, and another 3.5 hours to reach Sapporo Station.

So, if you're just planning to explore Hakodate, the train is a fantastic choice. But for Sapporo or other major cities, it's not the most time-efficient.

Train Stations map in Hokkaido

Stations Along the Way

The Tohoku Shinkansen and the Hokkaido Shinkansen Hayabusa Line have two different patterns for their stops, creating a time difference of up to 30 minutes. So, make sure to double-check when booking.

Here's a list of stations for the Hayabusa Line to Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station. Note that some trains may not stop at all these stations.

  • Tokyo Station (Tokyo Prefecture)
  • Ueno Station (Tokyo Prefecture)
  • Omiya Station (Saitama Prefecture)
  • Sendai Station (Miyagi Prefecture)
  • Morioka Station (Iwate Prefecture)
  • Ninohe Station (Iwate Prefecture)
  • Hachinohe Station (Aomori Prefecture)
  • Shichinohe Towada Station (Aomori Prefecture)
  • Shin-Aomori Station (Aomori Prefecture)
  • Okutsugaru Imabetsu Station (Aomori Prefecture)
  • Kikonai Station (Hokkaido)
  • Shin Hakodate Hokuto Station (Hokkaido)

Time and Fare

  • Time: About 4 hours from Tokyo to Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto. Add another 3.5 hours to reach Sapporo.
  • Cost: For adults, the seat reservation from Tokyo to Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto costs 25,210 yen. The express train (Hokuto) from Shin-Hakodate to Sapporo costs an additional 8,910 yen one-way.

Tips for Booking

  1. Reservation: Easily book through JR's official site, service counters, or their app. Book early for potential discounts. Of course, Japan Rail Pass is a good option!
  2. Seating: The Tohoku Shinkansen Hayabusa offers only reserved seating, no free-seating. Especially during tourist season, seats can fill up fast. On the other hand, the Hokuto express lets you choose between reserved and non-reserved seats.
  3. Departure: You can go directly from Tokyo to Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto without changing trains, all while enjoying the passing scenery.

Taking the Ferry

The ferry is another choice for traveling from Tokyo to Hokkaido. With a one-way fare starting at around 9,800 yen, it can be a budget-friendly option. Sometimes, it can even be cheaper than flying. However, bear in mind that the ferry ride takes a whopping 19 hours. So, it’s recommended only if you have a flexible itinerary or a compelling reason to bring your car along.

Ferry Route

Mitsui O.S.K. Lines operates the service between Oarai Port and Tomakomai Port, taking roughly 18 to 20 hours.

Ferry route map from Tokyo to Hokkaido

Time and Fare

  • Duration: Approximately 18-20 hours.
  • Fare: Starting at 9,800 yen for dormitory rooms (varies based on room grade).

Ferry Schedules

Here's a handy table of convenient ferry timings. You have the option of choosing between evening and late-night departures, fitting your schedule.



Departure Time

Arrival Time

Oarai to Tomakomai

Evening Service


Next day 13:30

Oarai to Tomakomai

Late-Night Service



Tomakomai to Oarai

Evening Service


Next day 14:00

Tomakomai to Oarai

Late-Night Service



Tips for Booking

The ferry operates two services daily. The evening service offers more amenities, including a variety of rooms and restaurants. Reservations can be made online from two months to 14 days before departure, so plan ahead.

A Note on the Seikan Tunnel

For those considering driving from Tokyo to Hokkaido, note this. As of 2023, the Seikan Tunnel that connects Aomori and Hokkaido is rail-only. Cars can’t pass through. So, you’ll have to take a ferry from Aomori if you're driving. Plus, Japan's highways aren't free. So, it's not the most recommended mode of travel between Tokyo and Hokkaido.

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