For many railway travelers from and to Honshu (such as Tokyo and Aomori), this mountain-meet-ocean route (JR Hakodate Line) is such a good distillation of all Hokkaido highlights that can be visited in a few days. The line starts from the historic port town Hakodate, then passes through the picturesque Onuma Park and the world-class ski resort Niseko. Otaru is an another of the nostalgic port town near Sapporo.
ORDINARY FARE: ¥5940 (Valid for 3-day)
▶︎ HOKUTO Hakodate – Sapporo
STOPS Hakodate ● Goryokaku ● Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto ● (Onuma-koen) ● Mori ● Yakumo ● Oshamanbe ● Toya ● Date-Monbetsu ● Higashi-Muroran ● Noboribetsu ● (Shiraoi) ● Tomakomai ● Minami-Chitose ● Shin-Sapporo ● Sapporo
▶︎ HAKODATE LINER Hakodate – Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto
STOPS Hakodate ● Goryokaku ● Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto
▶︎ NISEKO LINER Rankoshi ● Kutchan – Sapporo
STOPS All stations Rankoshi – Otaru-chikko ● Teine ● Kotoni ● Sapporo
▶︎ AIRPORT Otaru – New Chitose Airport
STOPS Otaru ● Otaru ● Otaru-chikko ● Teine ● Kotoni ● Sapporo ● Shin-Sapporo ● Kitahiroshima ● Eniwa ● Chitose ● Minami-Chitose ● New Chitose Airport
▶︎ DC 40 Hakodate – Oshamanbe
▶︎ DC 201 Rankoshi – Sapporo
▶︎ DC H100 Oshamanbe – Sapporo
▶︎ EC 721 ● EC 731 ● EC 733 ● EC 735 Otaru – Sapporo
▶︎ EC 733 (Hakodate Liner) Hakodate – Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto
STATIONS & STOOPVERS
LEGEND ⬇︎︎ Route Info // ☆ Attractions // ♨︎ Onsen // ☞ Transfer
HAKODATE TO MORI
One of Japan’s first international trade ports opened in 1854, Hakodate is a romantic port town with an East-meets-West culture, historic buildings, lively markets, fresh seafood and coastal onsen.
☆ Hakodate-yama (2km) At 334m. This mountain boasts stunning night views from the top.
☆ Goryokaku (3.5km) Japan’s first Western-style fort built in 1864.
☆ Yunokawa Onsen (5km) One of Hokkaido’s oldest onsen resorts on the city’s eastern coast.
◎ POP Hakodate-shi 251,000
All trains stop at Goryokaku soon after Hakodate, where the South Hokkaido Railway (Donan Isaribi Tetsudo: not the JR line) heads west to Kikonai along the Tsugaru Strait.
☞ South Hokkaido Railway (for Kikonai)
⬇︎︎ 8.3km Kikyo 桔梗
⬇︎︎ 10.4km Onakayama 桔梗
◎ POP Nanae-cho 28,000
⬇︎︎ The train passes through the agricultural Hakodate Plain.
⬇︎︎ A few local trains from Hakodate to Onuma direction run to the Fujishiro (藤城) bypass line and don’t go to Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto and Niyama.
The electric train Hakodate Liner, timed to meet all the Hokkaido Shinkansen (bullet trains), makes the 15-minute run from Hakodate to Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto.
◎ POP Hokuto-shi 45,000
Just 6 minutes by train from Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station on the Hokkaido Shinkansen, Niyama is a tranquil highland with an onsen and a ski area. An old-fashioned train station was built in 1944.
♨︎ Niyama Onsen (0.1km)
☆ Niyama-kogen Ski Area (0.4km) Hakodate’s nearest ski area.
⬇︎︎ After passes through Togeshita Tunnel, you can see the picturesque lake Ko-numa on the left backed by the double-peaked Koma-ga-take (1131m), the most iconic mountain in Southern Hokkaido.
Only local trains stop at Onuma, from where the Sawara branch line skirts the eastern foot of Koma-ga-take to Mori via Shikabe. Some local trains don’t go to Onuma-koen direction. During the ski season, free shuttle buses run to Hakodate Nanae Snow Park.
☞ JR Sawara Branch Line (for Shikabe)
Onuma-koen is Southern Hokkaido’s most popular and picturesque resort that is designated as a quasi-national park. The volcanic mountain Koma-ga-take and its peaceful lakes offer good for cruise, camping, cycling and hiking. This park can easily be visited for the day from Hakodate.
☆ Onuma Park (0.3km) You will find some nature trails over the islets.
☆ Hakodate Nanae Snow Park (9km) Southern Hokkaido’s best ski area overlooking Onuma Park.
☆ Koma-ga-take (1131m) Possible to climb on Akaigawa Trail to Uma-no-se viewpoint.
⬇︎︎ Soon after Onuma-koen, the train crosses between the lakes and follows the western foot of Koma-ga-take.
⬇︎︎ 31.7km Akaigawa 赤井川
⬇︎︎ 36.5km Komagatake 駒ヶ岳
Mori is a bayside fising town on the northern side of the double-peaked Koma-ga-date. There are cherry-blossom viewing spots in the town center.
☞ JR Sawara Branch Line (for Shikabe) ● ♨︎ Nigorikawa Onsen (30min)
☆ Aobagaoka Park (0.8km) Famous for its a thousands of cherry-blossoms.
◎ POP Mori-machi 14,000
SAWARA BRANCH LINE (ONUMA TO MORI)
⬇︎︎ 3.4km Ikedaen 池田園
⬇︎︎ 5.6km Nagareyama Onsen 流山温泉
☆ Higashi-Onuma Yaei-jo (0.7km) Eastern Onuma’s popular free campsite on the shore.
On the eastern side of Koma-ga-take, Shikabe is a small coastal onsen town and the transit point for visit to the Kameda Peninsula from Onuma Park. The train station is about 6km north of the town center.
☞ Shikabe Kanketsusen Park (20min)
☆ Michi-no-eki Shikabe Kanketsusen Park (7km) There is a geyser.
◎ POP Shikabe-cho 3800
⬇︎︎ 20.0km Oshima-Numajiri 渡島沼尻
⬇︎︎ 25.3km Oshima-Sawara 渡島砂原
⬇︎︎ 29.0km Kakarima 掛澗
⬇︎︎ 31.9km Oshironai 尾白内
⬇︎︎ 33.5km Ikedaen 東森
MORI TO OSHAMANBE
⬇︎︎ From Mori, the line follows the western shoreline of the Uchiura Bay (also called Funka-wan).
⬇︎︎ 56.1km Ishiya 石谷
⬇︎︎ 60.0km Hon-Ishikura 本石倉
⬇︎︎ 62.1km Ishikura 石倉
⬇︎︎ 66.1km Otoshibe 落部
⬇︎︎ 71.4km Nodaoi 野田生
⬇︎︎ 76.0km Yamakoshi 山越
In the heart of the Oshima Peninsula, Yakumo is known as the only town which faces the Sea of Japan and the Pacific Ocean (Uchiura Bay).
☆ Yakumo Town Museum (0.7km) Has a collection of kibori kuma (wooden carving of a bear with a fish in its mouth).
◎ POP Yakumo-cho 15,000
⬇︎︎ 88.3km Yamasaki 山﨑
⬇︎︎ 94.4km Kuroiwa 黒岩
☞ Setana (1hr 27min)
⬇︎︎ 107.7km Nakanosawa 中ノ沢
Halfway between Sapporo and Hakodate, Oshamanbe is a major rail junction on the JR Hakodate Line. All limited express trains for Sapporo stop here and enter the JR Muroran Line for Noboribetsu.
You will have enough time to explore the town if you are continuing north to Otaru via Niseko, but Oshamanbe offers traveler-friendly shokudo and onsen to keep you amused between train connections.
☞ JR Muroran Line (for Toya) ● Setana (1hr 40min)
♨︎ Oshamanbe Onsen (0.5km)
◎ POP Oshamanbe-cho 5000
OSHAMANBE TO OTARU
⬇︎︎ JR Hakodate Line veers north from Oshamanbe, where you leave Oshima Region and enter Shiribeshi Region. Until the 1980s, several limited express trains went this inland route, sometimes called Yama-sen (it means ‘the mountain line’ in Japanese).
⬇︎︎ 120.9km Futamata 二股
The rural town Kuromatsunai is a nice place to relax before or after visiting the international resort Niseko. Slow your pace and take the time to walk on the footpaths with a countryside view.
☆ Utasai Beech Forest (2km) Japan’s northern limit zone of the beech forest.
♨︎ Kuromatsunai Onsen (1.6km)
◎ POP Kuromatsunai-cho 2700
⬇︎︎ 140.4km Neppu 熱郛
⬇︎︎ 155.8km Mena 目名
☆ Shiribetsu-gawa Ranran Park (0.7km) Pleasant riverside park with mountain views.
◎ POP Rankoshi-cho 4600
If you plan to soaking in an onsen along the line, get off the train at Konbu and head to the Yusenkaku behind the train station.
♨︎ Konbugawa Onsen Yusenkaku (0.1km)
♨︎ Kogane Onsen (3.2km)
Niseko is Japan’s most dynamically changing ski resort, modern buildings, restaurants and bars are rising day by day. JR Niseko Station is a convenient gateway for Niseko Village and Annupuri ski resorts on the west side of Niseko United.
♨︎ Niseko-ekimae Onsen (0.1km)
☆ Chuo Warehouses (0.3km) Historic agricultural building.
☆ Niseko Brewing (0.8km) Craft beer brewery overlooking the town.
◎ POP Niseko-cho 4900
If you plan to head to the Grand Hirafu ski resort (approximately 4km to the northwest) without pick-up service, do not get off at Hirafu. The train station has an accommodation.
☆ Yotei-zan (1898m) Trailhead is 3.8km east of the train station.
⬇︎︎ Look east to see the beautiful Yotei-zan (1898m) before arriving.
☞ Iwanai (44min) ● Kimobetsu (45min) ● Date (2hrs 24min)
☆ Kutchan Fudokan (2.5km) Gives a history and nature of Niseko.
☆ Hirafu Ski Area (8km) One of Hokkaido’s top ski area on Niseko Annupuri.
☆ Niseko Annupuri (1308m) Magnificent views of Yotei-zan and the ocean.
◎ POP Kutchan-cho 16,000
☞ Iwanai (24min)
⬇︎︎ The train passes through Inaho Tunnel (1766m).
⬇︎︎ 101.1km Ginzan 銀山
⬇︎︎ 111.8km Shikaribetsu 銀山
With many orchards scattered around the train station. You can experience fruit picking from mid June to early November.
☆ Fruit Park Niki (2.5km) Hillside fruit-themed park overlooking the town.
◎ POP Niki-cho 3200
The engaging town Yoichi is a gateway to the Eastern Shakotan Peninsula. It was one of Hokkaido’s major herring fishing grounds from the Edo to Meiji periods. The main joy here is tasting malt whisky. It is worth stopping to stroll if you are passing.
☞ Shakotan-Yobetsu (2hrs 13min) ● Akaigawa (24min)
☆ Nikka Whisky Yoichi Distillery (0.2km) Home to Japanese malt whisky founded in 1934.
☆ Old Shimo-Yoichi Unjoya (2km) Once a trading post between Ainu and Japanese people.
☆ Old Yoichi Fukuhara Herring House (2km)
♨︎ Yoichigawa Onsen (1km)
◎ POP Yoichi-cho 18,000
Ranshima is famous for its scenic sandy beach (mid Jul–late Aug) near the train station.
☆ Ranshima Beach (0.5km)
☆ Shioya Maru-yama (629m) Boasts a panoramic view of the ocean. Trailhead is 1km south of the train station.
Otaru is a nostalgic port town grew rapidly since the 1880s, a number of major trading companies and banks opened branch offices. Today the historic buildings and warehouses still remain throughout the city.
☞ Asarigawa Onsen (30min) ● Otaru Aquarium (26min) ● Tengu-yama Ropeway (18min)
☆ Otaru Canal (0.8km)
☆ Otaru Museum Unga-kan (0.8km) Housed inside the city’s oldest warehouse.
☆ Tengu-yama (530m) Fine views of the town. There is also a ski area.
◎ POP Otaru-shi 112,000
OTARU TO SAPPORO
Minami-Otaru is the nearest station to Sakaimachi-dori shopping street, lined with souvenirs, seafood and glass craft shops.
☆ Otaru Music Box Museum (0.5km) Has several thousands of orugohru (music boxes).
☆ Kitaichi Glass Sangokan (0.6km) A superb lovely handmade glass crafts shop.
☆ Tanaka Sake Kikkogura Brewery (0.5km)
This waterfront station is directly connected to the massive shopping complex Wing Bay Otaru and the hotel Grand Park Otaru. From the train station mountain side, frequent buses run to Asarigawa Onsen.
☞ Asarigawa Onsen (17min)
⬇︎︎ From Otaru-chikko to Zenibako, the train travels on the rugged coastline of the Sea of Japan, in the form of the Ishikari Bay.
⬇︎︎ 259.3km Asari 朝里
⬇︎︎ 268.1km Zenibako 銭函
⬇︎︎ The line enters Sapporo.
⬇︎︎ 271.0km Hoshimi ほしみ
⬇︎︎ 272.6km Hoshioki 星置
⬇︎︎ 273.7km Inaho 稲穂
The western part of Sapporo, Teine is the closest station to the city’s best ski mountain Teine-yama (1023m).
☆ Sapporo Teine Ski Area (8km) Host of the downhill rotation at the 1972 Winter Olympics.
◎ POP Teine-ku (Sapporo-shi) 141,000
⬇︎︎ 277.0km Inazumi-koen 稲積公園
⬇︎︎ 279.2km Hassamu 発寒
⬇︎︎ 281.0km Hassamu-chuo 発寒中央
◎ POP Nishi-ku (Sapporo-shi) 218,000
Just a 3-minute from JR Sapporo Station by local train, Soen is home to Hokkaido’s wholesale market and horse racing.
☞ JR Gakuen-toshi Line (for Ishikari-Tobetsu)
☆ Sapporo Central Wholesale Market (1km) Host of the downhill rotation at the 1972 Winter Olympics.
☆ JRA Sapporo Racecourse (1.2km) Offers major races in August and September.
Hokkaido’s 150-year-old capital and Japan’s fifth-largest city, Sapporo is a spacious and laid-back place. The compact city center is well-laid-out and it has a lot of parks dotted with Western-style historical landmarks, which makes a pleasant stroll. JR Hakodate Line still has another 136.8km for Asahikawa. There are direct trains to Hokkaido’s major cities and New Chitose Airport.
☆ Hokkaido University (0.4km)
☆ Old Hokkaido Government Office Building (0.5km)
☆ Odori Park (0.7km)
◎ POP Sapporo-shi 1,970,000