So you’re going…
When it comes to train travel in Japan, Hakodate is probably best known as being the last station up north on the shinkansen bullet train. (For now anyway.)
So if you’re looking to go from Sapporo to Hakodate so you can further continue on to Tokyo, the most important thing to know is…
There’s a Hakodate Station and there’s a Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station
Either way, you’ll end up on the same train, but the difference will be where to get off!
Hakodate Station = city
If you’ll be spending the night in Hakodate, you’ll want to go to Hakodate Station which will drop you basically in the middle of the city.
Or you’ll go to the city if you want to spend a few hours in the city before moving on to your next destination!
Similar to Tokyo Station coin lockers, there are coin lockers at the Hakodate train station so you can drop your luggage off as you explore the city during the day.
Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station = shinkansen
If you’re going to be riding the shinkansen, you need to go to Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station.
Other than that…
It can be pretty easy to get from Sapporo to Hakodate by train!
How to get to Hakodate from Sapporo?!
Once you’ve taken the train a couple of times in Hokkaido, it’ll become pretty easy.
That’s because once you’re at the Sapporo train station, you basically just follow the signs!
So even if this becomes your first train ride in Hokkaido… just follow the signs!
First you’ll follow the signs to the JR train line…
And then you’ll arrive at the ticket gate.
And then you mainly just need to know the final destination of your train.
So in the case of Hakodate…
You’re looking for a train to Hakodate!
This is the same train you would take to get to Noboribetsu Onsen!
This will be a train called “Super Hokuto” but it’s really not that important to remember the name of the train.
It’ll be easier to remember Hakodate since that’s where you’re going, and that’s really all you need to remember when looking at the sign boards!
The digital boards switch between English and Japanese.
The sign will also tell you which platform the train departs from, so you’ll check to see where you need to go…
And then go there!
And then wait for the train to arrive!
Then enjoy the train ride that’s around 3.5 hours.
And then get off in Hakodate!
The train will first stop at Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto.
Then about 15 minutes later will be the final destination of Hakodate Station.
How much does the limited express train to Hakodate cost?
Google Maps and the Japan Travel Navitime app can be good for figuring out a rough estimate of how much any journey around Hokkaido may cost. (It may not be perfect, but it’s good for getting an idea.)
You can expect the Sapporo to Hakodate limited express train to cost around 8,830 yen (US$80).
If you’re traveling with a JR pass, it’s FREE!
The JR Hokkaido line has a network of trains around Hokkaido.
While there aren’t shinkansen bullet trains around most of Hokkaido, there are limited express trains that go to the main cities.
And on these trains, if you’re traveling with a JR pass or a JR Hokkaido pass, your pass will cover you.
If you’re NOT traveling with a JR pass, there are cheaper ways to get to Hakodate that you may want to look into. (But it will most likely require a sacrifice with the alternatives being a longer journey.)
Do you need to make seat reservations with the JR pass?
It’s not a requirement to make seat reservations if you’re traveling with a regular JR pass on the limited express Hokkaido trains.
But if you want to, you can do so at Sapporo Station at any time before your train leaves by going to the ticket counter office with the little green seat picture.
That said, for the shinkansen train from Hakodate to Tokyo, you DO need to make reservations.
This is one of the few shinkansen bullet trains that have reserved seating ONLY.
Most shinkansen trains have both reserved and non-reserved seating which allows you to just show up to the train station and hop on the next train that arrives.
But there are no non-reserved train cars on the shinkansen from Hakodate, so be sure to stop by the JR office before you board the train!
You can make the reservation at Sapporo Station too. (And pretty much any major Hokkaido train station with one of these JR ticket offices.)
What are the train timings to Hakodate?!
…and to Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto?
JR Hokkaido train timetable
Once you get to Hokkaido, head to the JR office at a train station to grab yourself the little JR Hokkaido train timetable booklet!
I referred to this SO much when I was traveling around Hokkaido.
I did occasionally check Google Maps for suggested routes, which can help to know which train routes to look for.
But because the train timings are fewer in some parts of Hokkaido, it’s important to confirm the timings.
So the listed train timings below are from the timetable booklet for dates March 2019 onwards.
You can generally expect this to last for about a year, although someone at the JR ticket counter did tell me that it usually doesn’t change much from year to year.
So in case you’re doing research for a trip for April 2020 onwards, you can use these JR Hokkaido train timings for general research purposes, and then confirm the timings when you’re in Hokkaido.
Sapporo to Hakodate train timings
These are the listed train timings for the limited express trains – always confirm once at the train station, as timings can change!
Listed as: Sapporo Station departure time – Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station arrival time – Hakodate Station arrival time
- 6:00am – 9:13am – 9:29am
- 6:53am – 10:22am – 10:38am
- 8:39am – 12:07pm – 12:23pm
- 9:32am – 1:06pm – 1:23pm
- 10:44am – 2:12pm – 2:27pm
- 12:16pm – 3:49pm – 4:05pm
- 1:32pm – 4:55pm – 5:10pm
- 2:45pm – 6:09pm – 6:25pm
- 3:39pm – 7:08pm – 7:24pm
- 4:39pm – 8:11pm – 8:27pm
- 6:08pm – 9:39pm – 9:56pm
- 8:00pm – 11:23pm – 11:38pm
On the timetables below, it’s set up so that you can compare the Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station arrival time to the departure time of the shinkansen train to Tokyo.
Page 2 of the 2019 JR Hokkaido train timetable
Page 3 of the 2019 JR Hokkaido train timetable
Page 4 of the 2019 JR Hokkaido train timetable
The train from Sapporo to Hakodate takes around 3.5 hours, and there are generally trains leaving around once an hour.
HAPPY SAPPORO TO HAKODATE TRAIN 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