Hokkaido Rail Pass

The JR Hokkaido Rail Pass allows unlimited travel on all JR (national rail) trains and selected buses in Hokkaido, covering the whole prefecture.  This includes the use of Shinkansen (bullet) trains and limited express trains. There are various options depending on how long you want to spend in Hokkaido.

What does it cost?

3 day: Adults 16,500 yen (about $135), Children 8,250 yen (about $70)

5 day: Adults 22000 yen (about $180), Children 11000 yen (about $90)

7 day: Adults 24000 yen (about $200), Children 12000 yen (about $100)

Flexible 4 day (effective for 10 days): Adults 22000 yen (about $180), Children 11000 yen (about $90)

When can I use it?


Is it worth it?

The train network in Hokkaido is rather poor compared to down south, with limited schedules and routes. But if you just want to visit the main sites in our Hokkaido guide, it can work out fine, with big savings compared to buying individual tickets and a much easier reservation system (English always available) than buses. Having said this, the buses are a good way to save money in Hokkaido when going long distances, and can actually be faster than some train routes. It’s best to plan out your route, then decide between buses and/or trains.

What are the rules?

  • For use only in Hokkaido.
  • You cannot use on non-JR (national rail) trains,
  • Only available to people with Tourist Visas,
  • When riding a Shinkansen train with the Japan Rail Pass, you need to reserve seats.  This can be done at the Shinkansen ticket office of any JR station with Shinkansen services.
  • The flexible option must be used on any 4 days in a 10 day period.

Where can I buy it?

You can purchase at a travel agent in your home country (Japan specific ones are best, such as JTB or HIS) or at a major train station in Hokkaido such as Sapporo or Hakodate.

How do I use it?

Activating a JR Hokkaido Pass differs according to who you buy it from, so check with the company you purchased from. You are usually given a slip which you then take to a major JR train station, then exchange for a pass (you will need to show your passport). You can exchange at major stations such as Sapporo station, as well as major airports.

Once you have your ticket, just show it to the station staff at the ticket gates and they will let you in.  They will sometimes stamp the pass.

Published by Matthew Baxter

Japan travel writer and onsen addict