Hokkaido Rail Pass
Explore Japan’s northernmost prefecture with a 5 or 7-day Hokkaido Rail Pass. Experience unparalleled cuisine and pristine natural beauty as you hop from one place to the next.
Are you ready to jumpstart the planning process for your Hokkaido trip? Then let’s look at the Hokkaido Rail Pass in detail so you can see how this pass can help save you money.
Foreign passport holders with temporary visitor visas can use the Hokkaido Rail Pass. Japanese passport holders are ineligible for the pass.
To get a pass, you must buy a voucher from your local travel agent or the JR East Online Train Reservation site. The voucher must be exchanged within 90 days of the purchase date at a JR Exchange office in Hokkaido. Don’t forget your passport, or you won’t get your pass.
Passes for children aged 6-11 are discounted, while kids under five can travel on trains for free with an adult.
There are two types of Hokkaido Rail Pass available: 5 days and 7 days. And starting on the 1st of October, 2023, a 10-day pass will be available for purchase. As always, kids aged 6-11 are eligible for a discounted pass.
Here are the prices:
Price from 1 October 2023
|Sales Type||5-day Pass||7-day Pass||10-day Pass|
|Outside Japan (Travel Agent)||A$213* (20,000 yen)||A$106* (10,000 yen)||A$277* (26,000 yen)||A$138* (13,000 yen)||A$341* (32,000 yen)||A$170* (16,000 yen)|
|Inside Japan (JR East website)||A$223* (21,000 yen)||A$117* (11,000 yen)||A$287* (27,000 yen)||A$143* (13,500 yen)||A$351* (33,000 yen)||A$175* (16,500 yen)|
How to Exchange the Voucher
In order to get your Hokkaido Rail Pass without any issues, here are a few pointers you must remember:
- Your exchange voucher is valid for three months from the date of purchase.
- Confirm the date you want to exchange your voucher. Once you get your pass, the timer timer starts and it cannot be modified.
- Travellers aged six or older must have a voucher and a valid foreign passport in order to obtain a pass. You cannot get it without a foreign passport.
- Any unused vouchers are refundable minus a 10 per cent cancellation fee (560 yen if purchased from the JR East website). The voucher must be within a year of its purchase date and han’t been used yet in order to be eligible for a refund. You cannot get a refund for a lost or stolen voucher.
With those pointers in mind, here’s a list of JR Exchange Offices in Hokkaido and their operating hours:
- Sapporo Station – JR Information Desk – 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily
- New Chitose Airport Station – JR Information Desk – 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily
- Twinkle Plaza Hakodate Station – 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday; closed on weekends and public holidays.
- Twinkle Plaza Asahikawa Station – 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily
- Twinkle Plaza Obihiro Station – 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily
- Twinkle Plaza Kushiro Station – 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily
- Noboribetsu Station – Ticket Office – 7 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. daily
- Abashiri Station – Ticket Office – 5:50 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. daily
- Twinkle Plaza Abashiri Station – 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday; closed on weekends and public holidays.
How to Use the Pass
You can use the Hokkaido Rail Pass on any of the following:
- Any local, rapid, and limited express trains on JR Hokkaido lines
- JR Hokkaido buses within Sapporo
- JR Hokkaido Express buses between Sapporo-Otaru
The pass is not valid on the following:
- Chuo buses
- Buses between the following areas:
- Shin-Sapporo-Atsubetsu Stadium
- JR Shiroishi Station-Sapporo Dome
- Temporary buses.
An extra charge applies for the following:
- Any JR Hokkaido train route that overlaps with JR East line. The pass only covers the JR Hokkaido portion of the journey.
- Sleeper trains
- Twinkle buses
Remember to bring your passport with you when travelling with the pass. To access the platforms, insert your rail pass into the automatic ticket gate and pick it up once you pass through. There is no need to insert your reserved seat ticket into the gate as they won’t be valid.
Seat reservations are free as long as they are made before the journey. Otherwise, you must sit on any unreserved seat.
To travel in Green Class (first class), you must pay the limited express and green car charges, as the pass will only cover the basic fare.
When using the bus, take a numbered ticket with you and keep it until the end of your journey. Before you disembark, show the driver your numbered ticket along with your pass.
Validity and Exclusions
The Hokkaido Rail Pass is valid for five, seven, or ten consecutive days. The day you exchange your voucher and activate the pass counts as day 1, regardless of the time. Day 2 starts at 12:01 a.m. the next day, and the pass expires at midnight on Day 5, 7, or 10.
This pass is not valid on other train companies’ buses and subway trains.
Although children under five years old do not need a pass, they cannot have their own seats; they must sit on your lap. If you require a seat for your child, you must purchase a pass for them.
Exploring Hokkaido: Japan’s Natural Paradise
Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan’s main islands, is renowned for its breathtaking landscapes and unique climate. As Japan’s largest prefecture, it is home to a myriad of natural wonders and unique cultural experiences. This article provides an in-depth exploration of Hokkaido’s key attractions, activities, and culinary delights.
Hokkaido’s Geographical Splendour
Hokkaido, situated to the north of Japan’s main island of Honshu, is connected through the Seikan Tunnel, which spans underneath the Tsugaru Strait. This subterranean marvel allows the Shinkansen (bullet train) to ferry visitors to Hokkaido’s stunning landscapes.
The island’s climate differs significantly from the rest of Japan, thus offering unique seasonal attractions. Its winters are renowned for snow festivals and winter sports, while its summers provide respite from Japan’s notorious humidity, making it ideal for outdoor activities.
Embracing Hokkaido’s Seasons
Hokkaido’s climate creates distinct seasons, each with its own charm and range of activities. During the frigid winter months, tourists flock to the area to marvel at the Sapporo Snow Festival, partake in winter sports, or witness the elegant Japanese red-crowned cranes at Kushiro Marshland. On the other hand, Hokkaido’s summers, less humid than the rest of Japan, are perfect for outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy cycling, camping, and hiking. The cherry blossom season arrives last in Hokkaido, usually in early May, offering a beautiful spectacle.
Sapporo: Hokkaido’s Dazzling Capital
As Hokkaido’s capital and largest city, Sapporo is a must-visit destination. The city is especially known for its annual Snow Festival, where visitors can marvel at intricate snow sculptures shaped like famous landmarks and popular culture icons.
Sapporo’s Tanukikoji Shopping Street is a shopping haven, offering an array of local goods under its vibrant lights. The city’s architecture, influenced by its proximity to Russia and its geographical separation from the rest of Japan, blends Western and Japanese styles, giving Sapporo a unique aesthetic.
Hakodate: A City with Charm
Hokkaido’s southern city of Hakodate is another popular destination. The city is uniquely positioned on a strip of land on a peninsula, offering stunning views, especially from Mount Hakodate. Its morning markets and historic bay area add to its charm. Hakodate can be conveniently accessed from Sapporo via train with the Hokkaido Rail Pass.
Furano: A Natural Wonder
Located in the heart of Hokkaido, Furano is famed for its natural beauty. The region is a canvas of vibrant colours, with fields of lavender and other flowers contrasting with the open fields synonymous with Hokkaido. The Furano Ski Resort, with its 28 ski trails, is a popular winter sports destination. Access to Furano is easy, with a short train ride from Sapporo, also covered by the Hokkaido Rail Pass.
Hokkaido: A Foodies Delight
Hokkaido’s vast open landscapes are not just a feast for the eyes, but also for the palate. The region is renowned for its agricultural produce, particularly its luxurious melons and dairy products. Hokkaido’s cold, nutrient-rich waters yield a bounty of seafood, making it a top source for many of Japan’s high-end restaurants. With the Hokkaido Rail Pass, you can easily access some of the island’s most esteemed culinary destinations.
A visit to Hokkaido offers a unique cultural experience, distinct from the rest of Japan. With the JR Hokkaido Pass, you can explore the region’s cultural heritage, immerse yourself in its natural beauty, and indulge in its culinary delights. So, why wait? Embark on your adventure to Hokkaido today!