Ground Transportation for Japan�s Tohoku and Hokkaido regions

Options for traveling within Tohoku and Hokkaido Japan for a 21-day period


  1. Car
  2. Train / Bus / Air
  3. Other Options
  4. Estimate of total ground travel expenses


For my trip in Northern Japan, I intend to see three cities: Aomori, Hakodate, and Sapporo. Renting a car isn�t too pricey, I was able to find a car to rent from Hertz at a cost of $952.85 USD for a total of three weeks. Since Hakodate and Sapporo are on a different island, I was able to find a ferry to get my car from Honshu to Hokkaido for $38 USD

Train / Bus / Air


Japan has some of the best railways in the world. Because of this, using the train system to get from Aomori to Hakodate and Sapporo would be very easy and convenient. Even though they are on separate islands, there is a shinkansen that runs from the Tohoku region on Honshu, to the island of Hokkaido. From Aomori to Hakodate it would cost between $51-$71 USD and take about 1 hour and 20 minutes. From Hakodate to Sapporo, it takes 3 hours and 44 minutes and costs $65-$85 USD.


For the bus route, there is no bus from Aomori to Hakodate since both cities are on separate islands. Since Hakodate and Sapporo are on the same island though, I was able to find a bus route that takes about 5 hours and costs between $35-$55 USD.


Because of how close Aomori, Hakodate, and Sapporo are, I have no intention of using air travel between these cities. However, when first landing in Japan, one flies either into the Narita or Haneda airports. So I looked up how much it would cost to fly one way from Haneda airport to Aomori. I then planned on making my way to Sapporo using other means of travel, and flying back to Haneda from Sapporo.

Other options


While doing my research, I noticed that there is a ferry you can take from Aomori to Hakodate. This is very convenient since they are on separate islands, you can even take your car. The price is only $38 USD and takes 3 hours and 40 minutes.

Estimate of total ground travel expenses

For this trip I looked up travel within the Tohoku and Hokkaido regions of Japan by car, train, bus and plane. Realistically, for this trip I would opt for the rental car. Lonely Planet�s Japan book says it best when discussing road tripping in Hokkaido, �Japan may not scream �road trip!� in most people�s minds but that�s because Hokkaido is not most people�s image of Japan. Here the roads are long and straight, with little traffic. Instead of densely populated cities, Hokkaido is punctuated by caldera lakes and soaring volcanoes.� I think that road tripping would be very easy in this region and it gives me the freedom to explore where I want and not have to be on anyone�s schedule. The total cost of flying from Haneda to Aomori, renting a car, taking the ferry, and then flying back to Haneda would total at 1,128.85. Staff, L., Bartlett, R., Bender, A., McLachlan, C., Milner, R., Morgan, K., Richmond, S., Spurling, T., Walker, B. and Yanagihara, W. (2017). Lonely Planet Japan. Oakland: Lonely Planet Publications.

Submitted by Davis Clouse on March 8, 2019.