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4 Ways to See Hokkaido on a Hokkaido Rail Pass


The largest prefecture in Japan, Hokkaido is blessed with a wealth of attractions. It takes around three hours from the JR Sapporo Station (the main station) to reach the popular Niseko area, and about an hour and 30 minutes to get to the Noboribetsu area, which is famous for its hot springs. 


The most convenient way to get around (especially if you plan to stay for three or more days) is with the Hokkaido Rail Pass. It’ll definitely save you the trouble of buying a ticket each time you have to take the train. Also, the more you use it, the more you save! So, sit back, travel with ease, and enjoy the snowy winter scenery, multiple activities, and delicious seafood that can only be found in Hokkaido.



Take in the wintery view when you ride a train using the Hokkaido Rail Pass.




What is the Hokkaido Rail Pass?



There’s no shortage of views when you tour Hokkaido by train.



The Hokkaido Rail Pass is a transportation pass that is only for international visitors to Japan, so they can freely get on and off all JR lines in Hokkaido (excluding the Hokkaido Shinkansen) and some Hokkaido buses. This pass can be used on consecutive dates from the specified start date. (Choose from 5 or 7 days when purchasing the pass.) There is also a Flexible 4-Day Pass that can be used for any four days within 10 days from the issue date. 


Types of Pass(Adult/Child)※Child Age 6-11
5-Day Pass    ¥20,000/¥10,000
7-Day Pass    ¥26,000/¥13,000
Flexible 4-Day Pass   ¥9,500/¥4,750
※Prices are for tickets bought in Japan and subject to change. 


There are two ways to purchase a pass. Either purchase the exchange ticket at a travel agency in your country and redeem it at the pass exchange place in Hokkaido, or purchase it directly in Japan.


Where to buy


●Places to Exchange tickets and Purchase a Pass
・Major JR railway stations in Hokkaido
・JR East Travel Service Centres at Narita Airport, Haneda Airport, Tokyo Station, and Shinjuku Station. 


※When purchasing the pass outside of Japan or online, you will receive an exchange ticket, which has to be exchanged into an actual rail pass after your arrival in Hokkaido and within three months of the purchase. Note that the exchange of exchange tickets is not possible outside of Hokkaido.
Once you purchase a pass, just show it to the station staff to use. 


※If you would like to use reserved seats, advance reservation is required. Reserved seats can be booked online at JR EAST Train Reservation before coming to Japan. Alternatively, you can make a reservation at JR Hokkaido Station after arriving in Japan. 


※Exchange deadline is three months. Present a passport with a short-term stay stamp at the time of redemption. 


Requirements for purchase

Foreigners staying in Japan for a short period of time. 

Make the Most out of Hokkaido Rail Pass



Traveling to Hokkaido by train is convenient, economical, and loaded with views.



 1) Ride with ease and save with a pass!


You don't need to buy a ticket each time you get on a train, and you don't need to check the ticket fare everytime. Hokkaido Rail Pass covers popular areas such as Sapporo, Otaru, Niseko, and Asahikawa. Even when you travel around such a wide area, it is still much cheaper than buying a separate ticket each time, so it saves transportation costs.


2) Reserved seats are also available!


Reserved seats for the regular car of limited express trains and high-speed trains can also be done in advance online. 

Travel in peace without waiting in line and be assured of getting a seat even on a full train. For children who like trains, make sure to reserve a window seat!



Do book a window seat when traveling with children.




Recommended Round Trips with Hokkaido Rail Pass



Besides the verdant landscape (top), Biei and Furano are known for their vibrant flower fields (above).



Here are recommended travel plans for touring popular cities in three days and four days using the Hokkaido Rail Pass.


(Plan 1) Conquer the 3 classic sightseeing cities! Spend the night at a hot spring inn in Noboribetsu.

Day 1: Enjoy Hot spring in Noboribetsu
JR New Chitose Airport Station → JR Noboribetsu Station/ Noboribetsu Hot Spring Accommodation


Day 2: Stroll around in Hakodate and enjoy nightview at Mount Hakodate
JR Noboribetsu Station → JR Hakodate Station/ Hakodate Accommodation 


Day 3: Enjoy shopping in Otaru as well as Sapporo
JR Hakodate Station → JR Otaru Station → JR Sapporo Station/ Sapporo Accommodation


Day 4: Sightseeing in Sapporo and then to the airport
JR Sapporo Station → JR New Chitose Airport Station


This course covers the classic sightseeing areas of Hokkaido. On the first day, make your way from New Chitose Airport to the famous Noboribetsu Onsen. Relish the hot springs with the inn plan including dinner. On the second day, head to Hakodate. Take a stroll through Goryokaku and enjoy the night scenery at Mt. Hakodate. The next morning, get up a little early and order seafood cuisine at the morning market before heading to Otaru. On the final day, do some sightseeing in Sapporo and head back to the airport.


This course will cost approximately ¥63,150 for two adults and two children if you purchase a regular round-trip ticket. However, with this pass, you can travel about 17.3% cheaper, which makes it even more convenient!

※The cost of round-trip transportation will depend on the dates and times you travel


(Plan 2) Seasonal views, skiing, hot springs! Winter travel in central Hokkaido


Day 1:Enjoy nature in snow activities. Lake Toya Onsen in the evening
New Chitose Airport → JR Tomamu Station → JR Noboribetsu Station → JR Muroran Station → Toya Station/ Toya Hot Spring Accommodation


Day 2: All day skiing and snowboarding in Niseko
JR Sapporo → JR Niseko Station/Niseko Accommodation


Day 3: After enjoying Skiing and Japanese sake, night view stay in Otaru
JR Niseko Station → JR Yoichi Station→JR Otaru Station/Otaru Accommodation


Day 4:Eat seafood Strolling around in Otaru and then go to the airport
JR Otaru Station →Shikotsuko bus stop → JR Sapporo Station→ New Chitose Airport


For a winter trip to Hokkaido, stop over at Tomamu, Noboribetsu, and Muroran stations on the first day to see seasonal activities, stunning views, and Jigokudani (Hell Valley). Spend your second day doing winter activities. On your third day, visit Yoichi and enjoy a romantic evening in Otaru with Japanese whisky and wine. On your last day, have a seafood bowl in Otaru and visit Lake Shikotsu. After shopping for souvenirs at Sapporo Station, head to the airport.


This course will cost approximately ¥65,490 for two adults and two children. However, with this pass, you can travel about 20% cheaper.

※The cost of round-trip transportation will depend on the dates and times you travel.


(Plan 3) Kushiro and Shiretoko: Enjoy Hokkaido in winter, covered with snow and ice


Day 1: Enjoy seafood and stroll through the majestic nature
JR Sapporo Station → JR Kushiro Station→ JR Nemuro Station → JR Higashi-Nemuro Station → JR Kushiro Station/Kushiro Accommodation


Day2:After sightseeing at Lake Mashu, go to the hot spring.
JR Kushiro Station → JR Mashu Station → JR Kawayu-Onsen Station / Kawayu-Onsen Accommodation


Day 3:Explore the World Heritage Shiretoko area
Kawayu Onsen Station → JR Shiretoko Shari Station → JR Abashiri Station → JR Shiretoko Shari/Shiretoko Accommodation


Day 4:Visit Obihiro and then go to the airport
JR Shiretoko Shari → JR Obihiro Station→ JR Sapporo Station


On your first day, go from Sapporo Station to Nemuro Station and visit Cape Nosappu, the easternmost point on the mainland of Japan, East Nemuro Station, and Kushiro Marshland. On your second day, visit Lake Mashu and stay overnight at Kawayu Onsen. Exploring the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Shiretoko is the agenda on your third day. On your fourth day, take a stroll through Obihiro, then head back to Sapporo.


This course will cost approximately ¥100,950 for two adults and two children. Using the pass will make the course about 50% cheaper. 

※The cost of round-trip transportation will depend on the dates and times you travel.


(Plan 4) Enjoy the superb view of summer with the magnificent lavender fields in Furano, as well as Otaru and Lake Toya 


Day 1: Walking around the Sapporo area on the first day
JR New Chitose Airport Station → JR Sapporo Station/ Sapporo Accommodation


Day 2: From Asahikawa to Furano and Biei, where seasonal flowers are in bloom
JR Sapporo Station → JR Asahikawa Station → JR Biei Station → JR Furano Station → JR Sapporo Station/ Sapporo Accommodation


Day 3: Relaxing in Lake Toya Hot Springs
JR Sapporo Station → JR Toya Station (Lake Toya Onsen) → JR Sapporo Port Station/ Sapporo Accommodation


Day 4: Eat seafood in Otaru and go to the airport
JR Sapporo Station → JR Otaru Station → JR New Chitose Airport Station


If you want to enjoy the spectacular view of Hokkaido’s summer, this is the plan for you. On your first day, depart from the airport to Sapporo, eat ramen and seafood cuisine, and visit the Sapporo Clock Tower and other popular attractions. The next day, head over to the Biei and Furano areas to catch vibrant fields of the seasonal flower lavender. On your third day, head to Lake Toya Onsen. There are inns where you can do a hot springs day trip, so don’t rush as you take a dip in the warm and soothing water. On your last day, stroll around the city, and savor delicious sushi and seafood dishes in Otaru. Otaru confectionery is a highly recommended souvenir. 


This course will cost approximately ¥79,050 for two adults and two children. With the pass, expect costs to be 33% cheaper. 


※The cost of round-trip transportation will depend on the dates and times you travel.



Click here for more information on the facilities mentioned in this article.



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Hokkaido Tourism Organization
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