Travel from Tokyo to Hokkaido

The reason for our Japan trip was to ski in Niseko, Hokkaido! We could have bought the return air tickets from Singapore to Hokkaido. However, it turns out that the “direct” flight from Singapore to Hokkaido is not that direct. We will still need to make a transfer at Tokyo (without getting out of the airport). Since this was our first time to Japan, we decided we should just pop by Tokyo. And it’s much easier to find good airline deals to Tokyo than Hokkaido. We simply needed to find other ways to travel from Tokyo to Hokkaido, more specifically Sapporo.

Here are a few options to travel from Tokyo to Hokkaido:

By Car (Stressful)

Rent a car and drive all the way up from Tokyo to Honshu’s northernmost point, Aomori. From Aomori, take a ferry or bullet train to Hokkaido. From Narita Airport to Aomori Prefecture, it’s about 8 to 9 hours drive on google map, not considering pit stops, traffic & weather conditions, and the time to navigate. Needless to say, it can be stressful to travel from Tokyo to Hokkaido by car.

More about car rental in Japan; More about Japan’s domestic ferries
Bullet train ticket for travel between Shin-Aomori and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto is ¥7,260.

By Ferry (Long Relaxing Hours; Cheapest)

If you have lots of time, enjoy the ferry ride of approximately 19 hours! The ferries depart once in the evening, and another late in the night.

Ferry should be the cheapest option, at about ¥10,000 for a round trip ticket and ¥5,010 one-way between Tokyo and Sapporo. The ferry also travels from Tokyo to other areas in Hokkaido (Otaru, Asahikawa and Furano).

More information of the ferry package prices

By Train: JR and Shinkansen (Bullet Train) (Scenic Route)

If you have the time to take the scenic route and appreciate all that Japan’s nature has to offer, take the train! There used to be two sleeper trains from Tokyo to Sapporo. However they have been discontinued: Hokutosei in August 2015 and Cassiopeia in March 2016.

ShinkansenImage Credit:

Tokyo-Southern Hokkaido Route Information

Currently for trains, there’s only the Shinkansen (Bullet Train) to bring you directly from Tokyo to Southern Hokkaido:

  • Tohoku Shinkansen line connects Tokyo to Aomori which is at the northern tip of Honshu (Japan’s main island). The station at Aomori is Shin-Aomori.
  • Hokkaido Shinkansen line connects Aomori on the main island to Hokuto, which is next to Hakodate in Southern Hokkaido). The station at Hokuto is Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto.

Although they are 2 different lines, Hokkaido Shinkansen is really like an extension of Tohoku Shinkansen. There’s no need to change train at Aomori as most trains operate directly between Tokyo and Hokuto (Hokkaido).

The fastest train travels one way from Tokyo to Hokkaido in about four hours.

A reserved-seat ticket between Tokyo and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station in Hokkaido will cost ¥22,690 one way. You must reserve seats. There is no non-reserved seating. Standing tickets can be purchased once the train is fully booked.

Find out more from my previous post on how to travel from Hokuto to Hakodate/Sapporo. And also the various rail passes to consider.

Domestic Flights (Fastest)

Vanilla Air - travel from Tokyo to Hokkaido -

When we were in Japan, the Hokkaido Shinkansen was not up yet. And the sleeper train journey was simply too long for us. Hence we went for the fastest option — by plane.

Domestic Flight Carriers (with English online reservation): All Nippon Airways (ANA), Japan Airlines (JAL), Jetstar, AirDo, Skymark Airlines, Peach Aviation, Jetstar Japan, Vanilla Air and Spring Airlines Japan.

Our itinerary:

  • Tokyo Narita > Sapporo (New Chitose Airport) with Vanilla air, which took 1 hour 50 minutes. (¥10,170)
  • Sapporo > Tokyo Haneda with ANA, which took 1 hour 40 minutes (¥10,800)

We bought 2 one way tickets, which added up to be about the same as round trip tickets.

Find out more from my previous post on why we chose Vanilla Air and ANA. And more about the enticing JAL and ANA promotions have for overseas visitors.

What method do you prefer to travel from Tokyo to Hokkaido? What other airlines have you tried? Do share with us below or on our Facebook Page or Instagram.

Related Posts: 
Overview Itinerary: Hokkaido and Tokyo (Winter/Spring 2016)
Pocket Wifi or Prepaid SIM Card in Japan?
Richmond Hotel Sapporo Ekimae: Review

Bookmark this page >> Overview Itinerary: Hokkaido and Tokyo (Winter/Spring 2016) as I update it with links of useful tips and navigation around Japan.

Travelled in February/March 2016

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