Sapporo Station is the largest train station in Hokkaido with train lines running to popular destinations including New Chitose Airport, Niseko, Hakodate, Otaru, Asahikawa, Wakkanai and many other areas. Modern and sprawling, the station precinct is a destination in its own right offering an excellent range of accommodation, dining and shopping. On this page you will find the following information:
— Train Lines / Services to Sapporo Station
— Getting To / From New Chitose Airport
— Getting to the Ski Resorts from Sapporo
— Rail Passes Covering Travel to Hokkaido
— Purchasing & Activating a JR Pass
— Hokkaido-Sapporo Tourist Information Center
— Accommodation In & Around the Station
Located in the heart of the city, Sapporo Station is a major transport hub with train lines and buses running to many regions of Hokkaido, while the station precinct boasts lots of accommodation, shopping, dining and entertainment. Whether you are intending to spend time in Sapporo or headed to other areas of the island, including its fantastic ski resorts and national parks, there’s a good chance that you’ll pass through the station at some point during your time in Hokkaido.
For visitors heading to Hokkaido using the ‘Shinkansen’ / Bullet Train network, it’s important to note that the line does not yet extend to Sapporo Station. At this time, the Hokkaido Shinkansen goes as far as Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station, from where rapid services run to Sapporo Station in around 3.5 hours – see below for details.
TRAIN LINES / SERVICES TO SAPPORO STATION
Sapporo Station is a terminal for most limited express services operates by the Hokkaido Railway Company, also referred to as JR Hokkaido. As such, the station is a convenient transport hub for visitors heading to many regions of Hokkaido or for exploring the city itself via the connected Subway Sapporo Station. Major lines at the station include:
HAKODATE MAIN LINE
Running from Asahikawa to Hakodate via Sapporo, the line covers 423km and is utilized by multiple local, limited express and rapid services. Major stations on the line (running south to north) include Hakodate, Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto (the terminus of the Hokkaido Shinkansen line), Kutchan (the nearest station to the ski resorts of Niseko United), Otaru, Sapporo, and Asahikawa. In terms of times and costs to move from Sapporo to those stations, you can expect the following:
Sapporo to Hakodate: 230 minutes / JPY8910
Sapporo to Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto: 215 minutes / JPY8910
Sapporo to Kutchan: 110 to 135 minutes (depending on which service you choose) / JPY2100.
Sapporo to Otaru: 35 to 50 minutes (depending on which service you choose) / JPY750.
Sapporo to Asahikawa: 85 minutes / JPY4690
Multiple rapid and limited express services operate on the line that will be of convenience to international visitors including the rapid ‘Niseko Liner’ running from Sapporo to Kutchan Station – the nearest station to the ski fields of Niseko United – along with the ‘Hakodate Liner’ to Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto – the terminus of the Hokkaido Shinkansen line – and Hakodate. Both the ‘Special Rapid Airport’ and ‘Rapid Airport’ services connect Sapporo to New Chitose Airport via Shiroishi Station – see below for details. Limited express services including the ‘Kamui’ and ‘Lilac’ to Asahikawa, the ‘Soya’ bound for Wakkanai and ‘Okhotsk’ via Abashiri – both via Asahikawa Station.
Running only 57km, the Chitose Line is a much shorter line connecting Tomakomai to Shiroshi and Sapporo with a branch line then running onto New Chitose Airport. For international visitors, services to the airport will be of most interest – see below for details.
GETTING TO / FROM NEW CHITOSE AIRPORT
Sapporo Station connects directly to New Chitose Airport via the station of the same name, with direct rapid services running throughout the day from 05:50 until around 22:00. The journey takes between 35 to 40 minutes and costs JPY1150, with some less direct routes taking a little longer and costing more i.e. up to 45 minutes / JPY1780 when using services that go via Minami-Chitose Station.
GETTING TO THE SKI RESORTS FROM SAPPORO
For visitors heading to the ski resorts, train services can be used from Sapporo Station to reach Niseko United and Hoshino Resorts Tomamu, along with the option of express buses. For visitors headed to Rusutsu and Kiroro, there are no convenient stations near those resorts meaning that you only have the option of an express bus. Visitors headed to Furano have the option of using the train but express bus services are more convenient. For more information about how to get to each resort from Sapporo, see our ‘How to Get to the Hokkaido Ski Resorts’ page.
RAIL PASSES COVERING TRAVEL TO HOKKAIDO
There is no escaping the fact that travel using the shinkansen is expensive. Given the speed and distances covered by these trains, travelers should think of them much like taking a flight, with tickets accordingly priced. International visitors to Japan have the option of purchasing one of several passes which allow for unlimited use of the most major services in Hokkaido:
JAPAN RAIL (JR) PASS
Covering all 9 shinkansen lines in Japan and many other train services, the JR Pass is a great option for visitors planning to use the shinkansen more than a handful of times and/or travel large distances. Travelers have the option of 7, 14 and 21-day passes covering either Ordinary or Ordinary and Green Cars. The JR Pass allows for use of almost any service on the shinkansen lines at no additional cost but noting that should holders wish to have a reserved seat, they are still required to book a seat at the ticket office (at no additional cost).
PURCHASING & ACTIVATING A JR PASS
Passes can be purchased via the official website or via a JR-affiliated sales office. Once you completed payment, you will receive an exchange order. This is a proof of payment and looks almost like a flight ticket with your personal details, type of Pass, and validity (three months from the date of issue). It is important to note that the exchange order is not your actual pass and will need to be exchanged for your pass once in Japan. Whatever you do, do not lose the exchange order and prioritise exchanging it for your pass when you arrive.
Once in Japan and prior to using your pass, you must actually get your hands on it by exchanging the order/proof of purchase you received online. This can be done a numerous JR Pass Exchange Offices found at any major train station or airport, including New Chitose Airport. If you have time to do so before leaving the airport, you can use the pass immediately. Alternatively, passes can be exchanged/activated at Sapporo Station at:
— JR Information Desk: 08:30 to 19:00 (18:00 on weekends & holidays)
Alternatively passes can also be exchanged and activated at:
— JR Travel Service Center (Twinkle Plaza) Sapporo Branch: 10:00 to 18:00*
— JR Travel Service Center (Twinkle Plaza) South Exit Branch: 11:00 to 19:00
To exchange/activate your pass you will need your exchange order and passport. Make sure you allow adequate time to exchange and activate your pass if you are intending to use it on the same day or do so a day or two before you plan to start using it (you can always nominate a later activation date). Once you have your activated pass you are free to ride however you can’t insert your pass into the ticket gates. Simply walk through the side booth (permanently attended by station staff) and show your pass. You will be waved through and you can make your way to the platform.
*located to the left of the Hokkaido-Sapporo Station Tourist Information Center.
HOKKAIDO-SAPPORO TOURIST INFORMATION CENTER
Named the ‘Hokkaido-Sapporo Food & Tourism Information Center’, the station’s tourist information office is located on the west concourse of the station. Open from 08:30 to 20:00 daily, the office is staffed by Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean-speakers who transport, accommodation and tourism information while the office also provides free WiFi, currency exchange and international ATM.
ACCOMMODATION IN & AROUND THE STATION
Visitors heading to Sapporo should consider staying in the area around the station. As the city’s major transport hub, the station is best location for ease of access to Sapporo and many regions of Hokkaido. There’s plenty of accommodation to choose from, starting with JR Tower Hotel Nikko which is connected to the station with plenty more Western-style hotels in the vicinity immediately around it. For more information and accommodation listings, see our ‘Sapporo Station Area’ hotel page.
PLAN YOUR VISIT TO JAPAN
Sapporo Station is just one part of Japan’s fantastic rail network. Unfathomable in its size and efficiency, moving around the country by train is easy and comfortable opening-up all regions of Japan for exploration. Our ‘Plan Your Visit’ page has everything you need to know about visiting Japan – from tips on the best time to travel, times to avoid, entering and exiting the country, money matters, staying connected, accommodation, staying safe and healthy and plenty more to ensure that you get the most out of your time here.