Tokyo To Hokkaido Train - Guide On Hokkaido Shinkansen

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By JetsetJ

Japan, a land of wonder and innovation, is a place where the past harmoniously blends with the present. Among its many marvels, the Shinkansen bullet train stands as an iconic symbol of Japan's technological prowess. 

These high-speed trains efficiently connect major cities, making travel across Japan a breeze. One such remarkable route is the Hokkaido Shinkansen, which links Tokyo to Hokkaido (at Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido). 

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore everything you need to know about traveling on the Hokkaido Shinkansen and how to make the most of your journey.

The Birth Of The Hokkaido Shinkansen

Until March 2016, accessing Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost island, was quite challenging. 

Travelers needed multiple transfers and lengthy journeys to reach this picturesque destination. However, with the inauguration of the Hokkaido Shinkansen, everything changed. 

This new line, which connects Aomori on Japan's main island of Honshu to Hakodate on Hokkaido via the Seikan Tunnel, revolutionized travel to Hokkaido. Even more exciting, plans are in place to extend the line to Sapporo by 2030.

The Japan Rail Pass Advantage

Traveling on the Hokkaido Shinkansen becomes even more enticing when you have the Japan Rail Pass in hand. This pass covers the entire Hokkaido Shinkansen route, including the lightning-fast Hayabusa train. 

The cost savings are significant, as a regular round-trip ticket would set you back 23,120 yen (~SGD$213). With the JR Pass, your journey becomes not only convenient but also economical.

Exploring the Hokkaido Shinkansen Line

Source: jrailpass.com

Currently, two main trains operate on the Hokkaido Shinkansen line: the Hayabusa and the Hayate. 

Hayabusa

The majority of Hokkaido Shinkansen trains are Hayabusa, running between Tokyo Station and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station. Seat reservations are a must for these trains.

The journey from Tokyo to Hakodate on the Hayabusa takes approximately 4 hours and 4 minutes. Upon arrival at Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto, you'll need to take the local Hakodate Liner to reach the city of Hakodate.

Hayate

Hayate trains operate one return service per day during the morning and late evening between Morioka and Shin Hakodate, as well as one return service per day between Shin Aomori and Shin Hakodate. For Hayate trains, seat reservations are mandatory, as there are no non-reserved cars. In case all reserved seats are booked, standing tickets are made available.

The Hokkaido Shinkansen has added new stations, including Oku-Tsugaru-Imabetsu in Honshu and Kikonai Station in Hokkaido. This expansion has further improved accessibility to various destinations along the line.

Getting To Hakodate

Once you arrive at Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto station, getting to Hakodate is a breeze, thanks to the convenient Hakodate Liner. Once in Hakodate, you can explore the city easily using the shuttle bus or the streetcar.

Getting To Sapporo

Reaching Sapporo is equally straightforward. Upon arriving at Shin Hakodate station, you'll need to board the Ltd Express Super Hokuto or Express Hokuto, which takes about 3 hours and 30 minutes. It's worth noting that the Hokkaido Shinkansen extension from Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto to Sapporo Station is scheduled to open in 2030, making future journeys even more convenient.

🔥Popular Hotels near Sapporo Station🔥

Train Between Sapporo And Hakodate

For a swift and comfortable journey between Sapporo and Hakodate, you can opt for the Hokuto and Super Hokuto limited express train services operated by Hokkaido Railway Company (JR Hokkaido). The Super Hokuto, in particular, offers a journey time of approximately 3 hours and 40 minutes, making it 10 minutes faster than the Hokuto. These services have significantly reduced travel time through the many curves of the line between Sapporo and Hakodate.

Gran Class Luxury

Source: jrailpass.com

For travelers seeking the utmost in luxury and comfort, the Hayabusa trains offer Gran Class cars. These first-class cars provide spacious seating and personalized service, surpassing even the green class. 

While the train fare itself is covered by the Japan Rail Pass, travelers are required to pay an additional Gran Class charge, which varies depending on whether you're riding a Hayabusa or a Hayate from Shin-Aomori to Tokyo. 

This premium experience ensures that your journey on the Hokkaido Shinkansen is nothing short of extraordinary.

FAQs: Tokyo To Hokkaido Train

  • How long does it take to travel from Tokyo to Hokkaido on the Shinkansen?

    The journey from Tokyo to Hokkaido on the Shinkansen typically takes around 4 to 4.5 hours, depending on the specific route and train you choose.
  • Is the Japan Rail Pass valid for the Hokkaido Shinkansen?

    The Japan Rail Pass covers the Hokkaido Shinkansen route, including the Hayabusa train, making it a cost-effective option for travelers.
  • Are seat reservations necessary for the Hokkaido Shinkansen?

    Seat reservations are highly recommended, especially for Hayabusa and Hayate trains. It ensures you have a guaranteed seat during your journey.
  • When is the scheduled opening date for the Hokkaido Shinkansen extension to Sapporo?

    The extension from Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto to Sapporo Station is scheduled to open in 2030, offering even more convenient access to Sapporo.
  • What is the Gran Class on the Hokkaido Shinkansen, and how can I experience it?

    Gran Class is a luxurious first-class option on the Shinkansen. While your Japan Rail Pass covers the train fare, you'll need to pay an additional Gran Class charge for this premium experience.

Tokyo To Hokkaido Train Conclusion

In conclusion, the Hokkaido Shinkansen is not only a testament to Japan's engineering marvels but also a gateway to exploring the beautiful island of Hokkaido. With the convenience of the Japan Rail Pass, travelers can embark on this remarkable journey and create lasting memories. 

As plans for further extensions and improvements unfold, the future of travel on the Hokkaido Shinkansen promises even greater ease and accessibility. So, whether you're a seasoned traveler or a first-time visitor to Japan, make sure to include this iconic train ride in your itinerary for an unforgettable experience.

🔥 Pro Tip #1: Do remember to check on Hokkaido weather before booking your tickets! Know when is the best time to visit Hokkaido
❤️Pro Tip #2: There are so many things to do in Hokkaido! Get your JR Hokkaido Pass and start exploring! Check out our Hokkaido map to navigate this enchanting gem and you can even use this Hokkaido itinerary guide to make the best of your trip!
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