JR Shinkansen VS Airplane VS Ferry. A Complete Guide to Transportation from Tokyo to Hokkaido

Among the 47 prefectures, Hokkaido has the largest area. Due to its vast land, not only the travel across various areas within the prefecture, but also the travel time and means of transportation greatly vary depending on the destination.

In this article, we thoroughly research the efficiency and great deal transportation methods from Tokyo to Hokkaido! We compare the features, merits, and demerits of three means of transportation: JR Shinkansen, airplanes, and ferries. Please use this article as a reference when considering how to get to your destination!

※The information and prices (including tax) appearing in this article are all as of October 2023. Please check the official website, etc. for the latest information.

What are the main means of transportation from Tokyo to Hokkaido?

The main modes of transportation from Tokyo to Hokkaido include the JR Shinkansen, airplanes, and ferries. Depending on whether you prioritize efficiency or want to enjoy the scenery and the atmosphere of the vehicle, the best choice may vary. Find the method that best suits your travel style.

JR Shinkansen VS Airplane VS Ferry. A thorough comparison of transportation methods from Tokyo to Hokkaido

JR Shinkansen
(Tohoku Shinkansen & Hokkaido Shinkansen)

(JAL, ANA and others)

(Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Sunflower)

Departure and Arrival Locations in and around Tokyo
Tokyo Station, Ueno Station
(Departure and arrival stations for the Hokkaido and Tohoku Shinkansen in Tokyo)

Haneda Airport, Narita International Airport

Ibaraki, Oarai Port

*Approximately 90 minutes by car from Tokyo to Oarai Port, or about 100 minutes by train to the nearest station, Oarai Station, and about 15 minutes by connecting bus
Departure and Arrival Locations in Hokkaido
Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station, Kikonai Station
(Departure and arrival stations for the Hokkaido and Tohoku Shinkansen in Hokkaido)

*You will need to transfer to a limited express train to get to Hakodate Station or Sapporo Station

New Chitose Airport, Hakodate Airport,Asahikawa Airport, etc.

Tomakomai Port
Example Travel Time
【Tokyo Station to Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station】
Shortest time: 3 hours 57 minutes

※In case of transferring from Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station by Hokuto Limited Express

[Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station to Hakodate Station]
Local train: about 25 minutes
Limited Express Train/Hakodate Liner: about 15 minutes

[Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station to Sapporo Station]
About 3 hours 30 minutes

[To New Chitose Airport]
About 1 hour 30 minutes

[To Hakodate Airport]
Approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes

[To Asahikawa Airport]
Approximately 1 hour and 35 minutes

*All times are from Haneda Airport/Narita International Airport

[From Oarai Port to Tomakomai Port]
Evening service: Approximately 17 hours and 45 minutes
Night service: 18 hours

【Tomakomai Port - Oarai Port】
Evening service: Approximately 18 hours
Late night service: Approximately 19 hours 15 minutes

Estimated fare example

【Tokyo Station - Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station】fare example
When using reserved seats: 23,430 yen
When using green seats: 32,300 yen


(When transferring from Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station via the Limited Express Hokuto)
【Tokyo Station to Hakodate Station】Transfer to a local or rapid train
When using reserved seats: 23,760 yen
When using green seats: 32,630 yen

[Tokyo Station to Sapporo Station] Transfer to the Limited Express Hokuto (*1)
When using reserved seats: 27,760 yen
When using green seats: 40,560 yen

*1: The price when using the same facilities on a limited express train or Shinkansen

* All prices are as of October 2023, including regular period limited express fares and regular period ticket prices

* Prices may vary depending on the time of year

[To New Chitose Airport]
JAPAN AIRLINES: From 13,390 yen
AIR DO: From 10,490 yen

[To Obihiro Airport]

JAPAN AIRLINES: 14,560 yen
AIRDO: 11,470 yen

[To Asahikawa Airport]
JAPAN AIRLINES: 15,330 yen
AIRDO: 12,370 yen

※All flights depart from Haneda Airport. As of October 16, 2023, this is the lowest price for January 9, 2024.

※The price may vary depending on the season and demand.

Tourist: From 9,800 yen
Comfort: From 13,100 yen
Superior Ocean View: From 20,500 yen

Suite: 52,400 yen

※Prices vary according to a 5-grade system (A~E), depending on the period and room type

From here, we will explain the merits and demerits of each method.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of going from Tokyo to Hokkaido by JR Shinkansen?

Provided by: JR Hokkaido

The Hokkaido Shinkansen, which operates direct services from Tokyo Station to Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station (Hokkaido) via the Tohoku Shinkansen. The biggest attraction is that if you purchase a ticket, you can board the train just by going through the Shinkansen ticket gate at Tokyo Station or Ueno Station in Tokyo. In addition to having very few delays, it operates accurately according to the timetable, so you can move according to your travel plan.

However, as of 2023, the Hokkaido Shinkansen only has two stations in Hokkaido, Kikonai Station and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station, so you will need to transfer to another train or bus to go to other areas. It may not be suitable for tourists who aim for North Hokkaido (Biei, Furano) or East Hokkaido (Obihiro, Kushiro).

Also, the travel time from the first station to the last station is about 4 hours, so there is a risk of feeling tired from long-distance travel.

Official website: https://www.jrhokkaido.co.jp/index.html

If you are traveling between Tokyo and Hokkaido by Shinkansen or train, the "JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass" is a great deal!

Provided by: JR East Japan

If you use a reserved seat between Tokyo Station and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station, the regular fare is about 23,430 yen one way. If you want to tour multiple areas along the line, including Hokkaido, without getting off in the middle, we recommend the "JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass" for travelers who have come to Japan under short-term stay conditions.

Selling price: 35,000 yen for adults (half price for children)

How to purchase:

  1. Online reservation site "JR-EAST Train Reservation"
  2. Domestic counters (such as "JR EAST Travel Service Center" at Shinjuku Station, Shibuya Station, Tokyo Station, etc.)
  3. Overseas travel agencies

This is a convenient round-trip pass that allows unlimited rides on trains and Shinkansen in the target areas such as Haneda Airport, Narita International Airport, Tokyo Station, and the suburbs of Tokyo, and the Tohoku region for 6 consecutive days. You can get your money's worth just by making a round trip between Tokyo and Hokkaido!

💡Tourism TIPS:

Areas other than Hakodate, Otaru, and Sapporo are not eligible for use, so if you plan to tour Biei, Furano, Kushiro, etc. by train, you will need to purchase a separate ticket or another rail pass.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of flying to Hokkaido from Tokyo?

Sapporo New Chitose Airport

If you want to travel from Tokyo to various places in Hokkaido in the shortest time, we recommend domestic flights.

Centered on Sapporo and New Chitose Airport, there are currently direct flights from Tokyo to 9 regional airports in Hokkaido. You can access areas such as Asahikawa, Kushiro, and Wakkanai, where the Hokkaido Shinkansen does not pass, in about 1.5 to 2 hours. Furthermore, LCCs are operating at 6 airports including New Chitose Airport, Hakodate Airport, Asahikawa Airport, and Tancho Kushiro Airport, which is a nice point to keep travel expenses down.

The disadvantage is that the flight schedule is easily affected by the weather. Due to the effects of snow, it is expected that flights will be particularly cancelled during winter trips to Hokkaido. Also, the flight time is short, and in addition to the time for domestic flight boarding procedures, you must consider the travel time from each airport to the nearby city area.

Travel time from Tokyo to major airports in Hokkaido by plane

New Chitose Airport (CTS)
Hakodate Airport (HKD)
Asahikawa Airport (AKJ)
Tokachi Obihiro Airport (OBO)
Tancho Kushiro Airport (KUH)
Travel time

About 1 hour 30 minutes

About 1 hour 20 minutes
About 1 hour 35 minutes
About 1 hour 30 minutes
About 1 hour 40 minutes
Example of Operating Airlines
JAL, ANA, Skymark, AIRDO, Jetstar, Spring Japan
JAL, AIRDO, Jetstar 
Example of Means of Transportation and Required Time to the City

To Sapporo Station

① Fastest 33 minutes by Special Express 'Airport'
② About 80 minutes by Hokuto Kotsu or Chuo Bus

To Hakodate Station

① About 20 minutes by Limited Express 'Hokuto'
② About 20 minutes by shuttle bus

About 35 minutes to Asahikawa Station by Dohoku Bus
About 38 minutes to Obihiro Station by Obihiro City Bus
About 45 minutes to Kushiro Station by Airport Shuttle Bus

The most frequent flights connecting Tokyo and Hokkaido are at New Chitose Airport, with about 40 flights daily. However, there are also airports like Kushiro Airport and Wakkanai Airport that only have one or a few flights per day. If you're traveling to a destination with fewer flights, you can also consider flying into Hokkaido via New Chitose Airport and then transferring to a flight to your destination.

💡Tourism TIPS:

If you are departing from the center of Tokyo, it is recommended to use Haneda Airport, which is relatively close to the city and has many flights to and from cities in Hokkaido. On the other hand, Narita International Airport also operates routes to New Chitose Airport, Asahikawa Airport, and Tancho Kushiro Airport. If you are going directly to Hokkaido from the airport, Narita, which has many international flights, can also be considered as an option.

If you are traveling from Tokyo to Sapporo by plane, discounted domestic flight tickets for foreign tourists are a great deal!

If you are using the domestic flight between Haneda Airport and New Chitose Airport, there are also discounted flight tickets targeting foreign tourists.

JAL Japan Explorer Pass

ANA Discover JAPAN Fare

① Haneda Airport - New Chitose Airport

② New Chitose Airport - Tancho Kushiro Airport

Haneda Airport - New Chitose Airport

① From 11,000 yen

② From 5,500 yen

From 13,819 yen
Official Website

In addition to the above, it's also important to check out the early bird services offered by each airline. These services allow you to book and pay for your flight tickets in advance, enabling you to purchase them at a discounted price compared to the regular ticket price. The discount rate varies depending on the airline and the reservation date, such as 75 days, 55 days, or 45 days before the scheduled boarding date.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of taking a ferry from Tokyo to Ibaraki to Hokkaido?

The "Sunflower", operated by "Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Sunflower", is a large ferry that departs from Oarai Port in Ibaraki Prefecture, about 90 minutes away from Tokyo, and docks at Tomakomai Port in Hokkaido about 18 hours later. It operates two services, an evening service and a late-night service, and offers a variety of onboard services including a restaurant serving buffet-style meals, an observation bath, a sauna, a kids' land, and a game corner. You can enjoy a sea vacation at your own pace, gazing at the Pacific Ocean from your private room or looking at the starry sky from the deck.

This is particularly recommended for tourists who use rental cars, as cars can be loaded onto the ferry. After driving around the suburbs of Tokyo from the airport or the city, board the ferry with your rental car. After arriving at Tomakomai Port, you can leave the port directly from the ship by car and head to stopover spots such as "Umi no Eki Puratto Port Market", which is full of seafood, and "Northern Horse Park", where you can interact with horses. It takes about 60 minutes and 90 minutes to drive to Noboribetsu and Sapporo city respectively, so it's easy to plan a driving course to the surrounding areas.

However, since the travel time by ship is very long, it can be said that it is a means of transportation limited to those who have a flexible schedule.

  • Boarding location:
    【Oarai Port Ferry Terminal】2 Minato Chuo, Oarai-machi, Higashiibaraki-gun, Ibaraki Prefecture
    【Tomakomai West Port Ferry Terminal】1-2-34 Irifune-cho, Tomakomai-shi, Hokkaido
  • Official website: https://www.sunflower.co.jp/

Find the best way to travel from Tokyo to Hokkaido that suits you

If you're looking to travel from Tokyo to Hokkaido, the JR Shinkansen is recommended for flexibility, airplanes for speed, and large ferries for an extraordinary vacation experience.

Additionally, you could also consider traversing from Honshu to Hokkaido at your own pace by renting a car. Why not consider a different mode of transportation that suits your travel style and needs?


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