Beginner's Guide

Beautiful scenery and delicious food can be found throughout Hokkaido. The most convenient way to see all Hokkaido has to offer is by train. This guide will provide first time JR Hokkaido users with a wealth of useful information.

1. What kind of ticket do I need to board a train?

  • A basic fare ticket is required for boarding.
  • In order to board a Limited Express, a limited express ticket is required in addition to a basic fare ticket.
  • All seats on the Ltd. Exp. Hokuto, Ltd. Exp. Suzuran, Ltd. Exp. Ozora, and Ltd. Exp. Tokachi are reserved. For taking the train, a reserved seat limited express ticket or a vacant seat only ticket is required in addition to a basic fare ticket.
  • For reserved seats, a reserved seat ticket is required in addition to a basic fare ticket and limited express ticket.

Ticket Types

Train Types in Hokkaido Stops Car & Seat Type Ticket(s) Required
Local train

Rapid train
Every station

Skips some stations
All seats non-reserved

(Except sightseeing trains)
Semi-rapid/Rapid/Special Rapid
Skips some stations Non-reserved


Limited express train 1 Major stations Non-reserved




Green car
(Only on some trains)



Limited express train 2 (All seats reserved)
Hokuto, Suzuran, Ozora, Tokachi
Major stations Ordinary car




★Vacant seat only ticket

Green car
(Except Suzuran)



Shinkansen Shinkansen stations Ordinary car


Green car



Gran Class

★Vacant seat only ticket: A ticket sold only for the Ltd. Exp. Hokuto, Ltd. Exp. Suzuran, Ltd. Exp. Ozora, and Ltd. Exp. Tokachi. You need to decide the boarding date and section but not train and seat number. Any vacant seats (only in ordinary cars) on your desired train can be used. However, if a passenger with a reserved seat ticket for that seat comes, you need to move to another seat.
The price of the vacant seat only ticket is the same as that of the reserved seat limited express ticket. If you decide the boarding time before boarding, you can reserve a seat without additional charge by reserved seat ticket vending machine etc. (Only if there are vacant seats)
You need to stand if seats are full. (Refunds cannot be made for the reason that seats are full)

Car Formation (Example)

Long Distance (Sapporo - Kushiro, etc.) Limited Express Train

Short Distance (Sapporo - Asahikawa, etc.) Limited Express Train

Local/Rapid Train (Some trains have reserved seats)

Car Types of Limited Express Train

There are two types of car: Ordinary and Green.

The difference between Ordinary and Green cars is…

Green cars have wider seats for a more comfortable and relaxing trip.

Reserved Seat
Because the date, train, departure time, arrival time, and seat number are determined, a seat is guaranteed.
Non-reserved Seat
You may sit in any vacant seat of a Non-reserved car (on the date of your choosing). Because a seat cannot be reserved, you may be unable to sit if the train is crowded.

Passenger Classification

Adult Ages 12 and older
Child Ages 6 through 11
Baby Ages 1 through 5
Infant Less than 1 year old

Fares & Charges for Children

Children's basic fare, limited express, express, and reserved seat tickets are 50% of the adult price (fractions under ¥10 are rounded down). Green car, sleeper car, and numbered tickets are the same as the adult price.

Fares & Charges for Babies/Infants

Though babies and infants travel for free, a child ticket is required in the following cases.

When three or more babies accompany one adult or a child (tickets are required for the third and any additional babies).

When a baby or infant occupies his or her own reserved seat, Green Car seat, or berth.

When a baby travels alone.

When a baby travel as a group.