Shinkansen bullet train is now connected to Hokkaido. The Hokkaido Shinkansen line opened in March 2016. It is a line which connects from Aomori to Hakodate and the shinkansen goes through the undersea Seikan Tunnel. Aomori is in very north of Honshu, the main island of Japan and Hakodate is at the very south of Hokkaido. So now you can travel from south of Japan, Kyushu to Hokkaido by shinkansen. The Hokkaido Shinkansen is expected to be connected to Sapporo by 2031.
How Long Does It Take to Hakodate?
You can reach Hakodate in approximately 4 hours from Tokyo. It took more than 5 hours before the shinkansen was connected. From Sendai, it takes only 2 hours and half. It is still faster if you take airplane because speed of the shinkansen is limited especially at the undersea tunnel. But for shinkansen, you don’t need to check in earlier for security check. So travel from Tohoku (northern Honshu area) to Hakodate would be easier by Shinkansen. Be careful that the shinkansen station in Hakodate isn’t really in Hakodate city. The station’s official name is Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto station. It is in Hokuto town where about 20 minutes away from Hakodate by train.
Hayabusa & Hayate
There are two kinds of shinkansen which heads to Hokkaido. The most used shinkansen is Hayabusa and the other one is Hayate. Hayate is operated only between Aomori and Hakodate in the early morning and late evening. All seats in both Hayabusa and Hayate are reserved seats and you can purchase standing or non-reserved seats when all seats are reserved.
Fare of Shinkansen
The fare of shinkansen between Tokyo and Shin Hakodate Hokuto is 22,690 yen for Standard, 30,060 yen for Green Car, and 38,280 yen for Gran Class. You need additional 260 yen to get Hakodate station by train. If you compare with airfare of budget airline, it is a little expensive. But if you have Japan Rail Pass, you can use the pass for Hokkaido Shinkansen. You may use either Green or Standard Car according to type of your ticket. For Gran Class Car, you need additional payment.
Hakodate is Popular Sightseeing Spot
Hakodate is a popular sightseeing spot in Hokkaido. It is worth visiting the city. The night view of Hakodate is said to be one of three best night view in the world. Goryokaku Fortress in Hakodate is a very beautiful shaped fortress.
Hakodate was one of earliest opened port after national isolation in Edo era. So there are some old buildings influenced by western culture. There are also many nature spot like Komagatake Mountain around Hakodate. Food in Hakodate is good, too. It is not just seafood but there are also famous hamburger, curry, ramen noodle, and so on.
If you have a Japan Rail Pass and have time to go a little farther from Honshu, taking the Hokkaido Shinkansen and visit Hakodate would be great idea!
※This article was published in November 2016.※