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Visit all the popular sites in Hokkaido! Convenient for all - The Hokkaido Rail Pass

Hokkaido is the largest prefecture in Japan, and Hokkaido has various attractions all over the area. For example, it takes around 3 hours from JR Sapporo station, which is the main station, to reach the popular Niseko area, and around 1 hour 30 minutes to get to the Noboribetsu area which is famous for hot springs. In this article, we will introduce the Hokkaido Rail Pass, which is convenient for travelling around Hokkaido when you are planning to stay in Hokkaido for more than 3 days. You can save yourself the trouble of buying a ticket each time you use the train, and the more you use it, the more you save! Get rid of the troubles of traveling and enjoy at ease the winter snow scenery, activities, and seafood that can only be found in Hokkaido!

 

What is the Hokkaido Rail Pass?

What is the Hokkaido Rail Pass? This 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 (3, 5, or 7 days can be selected when purchasing the pass) and there is also a "Flexible 4-day pass" that can be used for any 4 days within 10 days from the issue date. 

 

Types of Pass(Adult/Child)※Child Age 6-11
3 Day Pass    17,400 yen/8,700 yen
5 Day Pass    23,480 yen/11,740yen
7 Day Pass    25,710 yen/12,850yen
Flexible 4 Day Pass    23,480 yen/11,740yen
※Prices valid as of September 2020

 

There are two ways to purchase a pass: purchase the exchange ticket at a travel agency in your country and redeeming 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 3 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

 
1) Ride with ease and be economical 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. It covers popular areas such as Sapporo, Otaru, Niseko, and Asahikawa. Even when you travel around in 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 reserved in advance online. 
You can travel in peace without waiting in line or not being able to get a seat on a full train. For children who like trains, please make sure to reserve a window seat!

Recommended Roundtrips with Hokkaido Rail Pass

Introducing travel plans for touring popular cities in 3 days and 4 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

 

A course that covers the classic sightseeing areas of Hokkaido. On the first day, from New Chitose Airport to the famous Noboribetsu Onsen. Slowly enjoy 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 Mount Hakodate at night! The next morning, get up a little early and enjoy seafood cuisine at the morning market. Then head to Otaru. On the final day, do some sightseeing in Sapporo and head back to the airport.
This course will cost approximately 63,150 yen 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

 

Winter trip to Hokkaido. On the first day, stopover at Tomamu, Noboribetsu and Muroran stations to see seasonal activities, stunning views and Jigokudani (Hell Valley). On the third day, we will visit Yoichi and enjoy a romantic evening in Otaru with Japanese whisky and wine.On the 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 yen for two adults and two children. However, with this pass, you can travel about 20% cheaper, which makes it even more convenient!
※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

First day, go from the Sapporo Station to Nemuro Station and visit Cape Nosappu, the easternmost point on the mainland of Japan, East Nemuro Station, and Kushiro Marshland. Second day, visit Lake Mashu and stay overnight at Kawayu Onsen. On the fourth day, take a stroll through Obihiro and back to Sapporo.
This course will cost approximately 100,950 yen for two adults and two children. However, with this pass you can get around 50% cheaper and more convenient!
※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 would like to enjoy the spectacular view of Hokkaido’s summer, such as lavender in Furano, which is in full bloom in mid-July, and Biei with its pretty flower fields and hills, this is the plan for you. On the first day, depart from the airport to Sapporo, enjoy 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. Enjoy seasonal flowers such as lavender, and on the third day, head to Lake Toya Onsen. There are even inns where you can take do hot springs day trip, so take the time to relax at the hot springs. On the last day, stroll around the city, and savor delicious sushi and seafood dishes in Otaru. Otaru confectionary is also recommended as souvenirs.
This course will cost approximately 79,050 yen for two adults and two children. However, with this pass you can get around 33% cheaper and more convenient!
※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.

JNTO
https://www.japan.travel/en/travel-directory/Hokkaido/

4 Cherry Blossom Viewing Spots not to be Missed in Hokkaido
https://www.japan.travel/en/my/fascinating-suburb-japan/4-cherry-blossom-viewing-spots-not-be-missed-hokkaido-5/
 

Hokkaido Tourism Organization
https://en.visit-hokkaido.jp/
Hokkaido Railway Company
https://www.jrhokkaido.co.jp/global/english/ticket/index.html

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