So, is it easy to take the tram in Hakodate to get around the city by public transportation?!
Well, it can be!
Once you ride it 1 or 2 times, you will feel like a pro!
Here’s a bit what to expect and how you can feel confident in riding the Hakodate tram even if it’s your first time.
Hakodate tram aka shiden streetcar
The Hakodate tram is called the “shiden.”
If you’re using Google Maps to navigate your way around Hakodate, then you’ll probably see the option of the “shiden” often.
This refers to the tram.
This is basically a streetcar that runs through the middle of the street alongside cars.
The tram runs through the main parts of the city which means that it can be a convenient way to get to different tourist spots in Hakodate.
One day tram pass
In the case that you do plan on taking the tram several times a day because you’re making it a Hakodate sightseeing day, there’s a one day tram pass that you can get.
The pass will probably be worth it if you plan on taking the tram at least 3 times in a single day.
You can buy the tram pass at Hakodate station.
This is not a JR train, so you can’t use your JR pass to take the Hakodate tram.
Using an IC card on the Hakodate tram
If you have an IC card, you can use it on the Hakodate tram too.
An IC card is a recharge cash card to swipe to pay for your public transportation and more.
If you have plans to take public transportation locally without any sort of passes, then IC cards are highly convenient in cities across Japan!
These cards can all be used in the same way, and you can use any of them whenever you see that “IC cards” are accepted.
This means that you can use a suica, pasmo, icoca, or kitaca card on the Hakodate tram.
What are the tram timings?!
Basically, the Hakodate tram timings are frequent enough that you don’t have to be all that concerned about the timings.
Just show up to the tram stop, and it likely won’t be long until the next one comes!
The official Hakodate travel guide says the tram comes every 6-12 minutes.
Okay, so now…
What’s it like to take the Hakodate tram?!
So, the biggest “challenge” might be making sure that you are standing on the correct side of the platform!
The trams go around the city in opposite directions, so you’ll want to make sure you get on the one that’ll get you to your destination.
This can also be relatively easy to figure out, especially if you’re using Google Maps to guide your way.
There will be sign boards that tell you the final destination the tram is bound for.
Google Maps will tell you the destination, so you can match it up.
And then there will also be a map of the tram route for the side you’re on.
So you can make sure you see your tram stop!
If you’re headed to a popular tourist destination, there might be a separate sign board indicating that the tram does make a stop where you’re going.
Getting on the tram
So once you get to the tram stop to board the tram, you’ll stand in a line.
The front of the tram is for getting off.
So you will be boarding in the middle area of the tram.
Once the tram arrives, grab a ticket as you get on the tram.
If you’re using an IC card, then you swipe your card. (And you don’t need to grab a ticket.)
Swipe the IC card on the left side, grab a ticket on the right side.
Then you can grab a seat!
…if a seat is available.
If not, you’ll be standing and be sure to grab onto something.
It could be a rocky ride.
It will be okay to bring carry-on size luggage onto the tram.
If you have a bigger suitcase, personally I think that would be fine too.
Either way, just keep in mind you might struggle a bit if it’s a crowded tram ride. No problem though, this is normal. 😉
Getting ready to get off the tram
So if you’re using Google Maps, you can use the GPS location to keep an eye on when you’re getting close to your tram stop.
Otherwise, there will be announcements on the tram, in English too.
There will also be a sign board indicating what the next stop is.
When your stop is next, press the button to alert the driver that there will be someone getting off next.
If you’re paying your ticket fare in cash, make sure you have exact change.
No change will be given once you place your money in the tram fare box.
There is a money exchange box on the tram.
You’ll find this at the front of the tram.
There will be a coin slot so you can get smaller yen coins, and you can also break your 1,000 yen bill.
If you do need to get smaller change, do this well BEFORE your tram stop.
You don’t want to do it as you get off the tram, or else you will be holding up the line.
How much does the tram cost?!
This depends on where you get on and where you get off.
That’s why the ticket you grab as you get on the tram is important.
On that ticket will be a number.
When your stop is next, you will look up at the sign board at the front of the tram (and possibly back also), and look at the number that corresponds with your ticket.
This is the amount you will pay!
Getting off the tram
So you have arrived at your stop!
If you’re paying with your IC card, just as you swiped to get ON the tram, you will swipe to get OFF the tram.
And that’s when the tram fare will be deducted from your card!
If you are paying in cash, then you’ll insert the coins and the ticket into the fare box.
And then off the tram you go to your Hakodate destination!!
Is there a tram stop at Hakodate Station?
There is a tram stop right near the JR Hakodate Station, and if you’re staying in a convenient part of the city, there’s a good chance you can even take the tram to get to your hotel for your first tram experience!
How to get from JR Hakodate train station to Hakodate ekimae tram stop
Once you arrive at Hakodate station…
Just follow the signs for the tram!
Once you’re outside the station, look for the Four Points Sheraton hotel across the street.
You’ll cross the street to that side, and then walk along that street until you get to the intersection.
Then you will start to see the tram stop.
Then get yourself to the stop going in the direction you want to go!
HAPPY HAKODATE TRAM RIDE!
How to spend winter in Japan
More quick tips for planning your trip to JapanThere are affiliate links on this page that take you to partner websites.
Among the top 3 things people get specific for a trip to Japan
- JR pass for quick and easy long distance train travel (see price here and see here how to calculate train routes to figure out it's worth it for you)
- Pocket wifi to make travel in Japan easier (see price here)
- Travel insurance for natural disasters just in case especially for travel disruptions (see price here and see here for past natural disaster that affected foreigners)
Food in JapanIf you are in Japan for FOOD, then be sure to see where to try different types of Japanese food! (Sometimes for cheaper!)
And also have a look at some of these cooking classes in Japan too.
If you're looking for a route for winter in Japan, here are some ideas!
- 10 day Japan winter itinerary
- Tokyo to Nagano bus
- 2 days in Nagano with snow monkey pass // Stay at this Nagano hostel (private rooms available)
- A few days in popular ski resort area Hakuba (go here for at least a day even if you don't ski for the winter landscape in the mountains!) // Stay at this Hakuba hostel (private rooms available)
- Hakuba to Takayama (Hakuba to Matsumoto train / a few hours in Matsumoto / Matsumoto to Takayama bus)
- A few days in Takayama with day trips: Shirakawago / Shinhotaka ropeway on a sunny day // Stay at this Takayama hostel (private rooms available) and eat regional Takayama ramen
- Takayama back to Tokyo OR Takayama to Nagoya airport to fly to Hokkaido for more winter landscapes!
Hokkaido winter itinerary (train to get around - there are JR Hokkaido passes available, and you can use a regular JR pass too)
- Sapporo to Asahikawa (Asahikawa for penguin walk at zoo)
- Asahikawa to Abashiri (Abashiri for drift ice cruise)
- Abashiri to Obihiro (night in Obihiro and go to Lake Shikaribetsu ice village the next day)
- Obihiro to Sapporo
- Sapporo to Noboribetsu onsen hot spring town (day trip)
- Sapporo to Hakodate // Stay in this Hakodate hostel
- Hakodate to Tokyo on shinkansen bullet train through the underwater tunnel! (Regular JR pass will be worth it if you take this train ride along with one more long distance train ride within 7 days)
When the JR pass is worth itIn general, 2 long-distance shinkansen train trips will likely end up making it so the JR pass will be worth it. But here's how to calculate it to be sure. See the current price of a JR pass from an official vendor.
Natural disasters in JapanUnfortunately, Japan can be prone to natural disasters which means risk for travel delays. So be sure to look at travel insurance for natural disasters.
My travel insurance took care of my accommodation and food costs when I was forced to stay extra days in Japan because of a typhoon. There have been a few typhoons that have hit Japan in the past couple of years and they can cause real travel disruptions!
See how much insurance costs for your trip.
More for your Japan itinerary
- 5 days in Kyoto
- Cost of climbing Mt Fuji from Tokyo
- Where to go for famous Mt Fuji views as seen in pictures
- Know before you go to Hiroshima
- One day in Miyajima with famous floating torii views
- 3 days in Okinawa, Japan's tropical islands
- Cherry blossom photo walk
- When is the JR pass worth it for train travel?
- Tokyo to Kyoto train
- Hostels in Japan