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Karl Mibbuck

Tokyo to Hokkaido - train or plane (or automobile!?)



My gf and I are thinking about visiting Japan next winter.

We do want to go to Tokyo as we have a friend there, but are tempted by Hokkaido too for the snowboarding. I see there is a bullet train up to Hokkaido. If we have a JR ticket will that be the best choice or should we plane it up there? Always feel that airports and flights involve a lot of hassle but not sure what the +/- would be.

Any tips would be great!

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Yes, you can use the JR Pass to get to Sapporo. 4hrs Tokyo to Hakodate, then 3.5hrs Hakodate to Sapporo......bullet train only goes as far as Hakodate, sorry. The train from Hakodate to Sapporo usually stops at Niseko and/or Kutchan stations for the snow sports community. "next winter" is vague....cost of flights will vary; Christmas/New Year, any long weekend when Monday is a national holiday, and Chinese New Year week should be the most expensive. Regular LCC fares are about 10200yen-12500yen Narita-Chitose(Sapporo) and 7700yen-10000yen Chitose-Narita.

The JR Pass can also be used to go boarding on Honshu; Niigata and Nagano Prefectures have fairly convenient Shinkansen stations, 1.5-2hrs from Tokyo, then bus to ski/board area.


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Hi Karl

I didn't board in Niseko this season but i did the previous four and nothing had changed (so it should be the same next time around).

From Tokyo i got an early (before 8am) bus (airport limousine, ticket window is opposite the bus stop at the Shinjuku train station) to Narita airport (i go to terminal 2 as i put my board bag into storage and then its under 10mins to walk to the domestic terminal but just get it to the domestic if you don't store luggage). I get a 11am (ish) flight (jetstar Japan or ANA but you can't book that flight till about six months out)up to New Chitose airport,  allow about an hour (to get through airport stuff) and jump on the White Linner bus ( book this in advance as it can fill up). It'll take about 2 1/2hrs (very quick stop halfway) and drop you off at the  Grand Hirafu Welcome Centre (most accommodation will pick you up if you let them know).

It will be about 5pm when you arrive   so you can sneak in a 'nighta' session haha.

Tips: small demountable on the right of the Welcome Centre,  they run buses to Rutsusu and Kiroro, well worth a trip (you accommodation might run you there if you ask the night before).

Atm is inside the Skiki Niseko (hotel).

Hope this all makes sense 



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SnowJapan.com is the independent guide to skiing and snowboarding in Japan and has been online since 1999.

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