Tailor-Made Holiday

Journey North by train to Hokkaido

Tokyo, Sendai, Hakodate, Sapporo

11 days

from £4,600pp (excluding flights)

A holiday to Hokkaido in Japan could not be easier, with the super fast Shinkansen bullet train now operating between Tokyo and Hakodate on the island of Hokkaido. For those keen on train travel, this fun and varied holiday to Japan showcases the ease and speed in which you can travel to the northermost parts of the country, in comfort and style.

  • Spend a few days exploring the vibrant and contrasting city of Tokyo
  • Cruise the Sumida River, disembarking at Hamarikyu Garden, an Edo Period Japanese Garden
  • Combine travel on public transport from the super fast bullet train to local tramways and river boats
  • Discover the pretty city of Hakodate, rich in history with breathtaking views
  • Experience the amazing hot springs at Noboribetsu

Japan has a whopping 6,852 islands. Honshu is the main island and the location of cities like Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka and Kobe. But what's weird is that only four hundred and thirty of them are inhabited. 

Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan’s main islands, is known for its incredible natural beauty and first came into the limelight during the 1972 Winter Olympics. Featuring volcanoes, natural hot springs and ski resorts, the region is ready for discovery with the extension of the super fast bullet train from Tokyo to Hakodate now open.

National parks include rugged Daisetsuzan, home to steaming, volcanic Mt. Asahi, and Shikotsu-Toya park, containing caldera lakes, geothermal springs and Mt. Fuji look-alike Mt. Yotei. Rusutsu, Furano and Niseko are popular ski destinations, with Niseko also offering fishing, biking and rafting in the summer.

This holiday to Japan incorporates a few days in Tokyo then a journey north into the Hokkaido region, stopping at the fascinating city of Sendai and the pretty town of Hakodate. During the trip you travel by train and other forms of public transport, all the while accompanied by an English speaking guide. Take a dip in the thermal hot springs at Noboribetsu and explore the extraordinary landscapes surrounding Sapporo. Capital of the mountainous north, Sapporo is famous for its beer, skiing and annual snow festival. It's extraordinarly beautiful in the summer time too.

Other places of interest in the Hokkaido Region 

Although not included in the suggested itinerary idea, there are also some other places of interest you may wish to include in your journey.

  • Niseko - depending on the time of year you are travelling, Niseko is a town near the dormant volcano of Mt.Yotei offering major ski centres and numerous hot springs in the surrounding mountains.
  • Lake Toya - A beautiful lake to explore with an active volcano standing proudly near by with white smoke rising above it. Lake Toya hot spring, which stretches out along the lake is one of the best spa resorts in  Hokkaido.
  • Furano flower fields - Furano is well known for its lavender fields, but there are many more kinds of flowers that begin blooming in May, welcoming visitors to the area. In May there are Lupines and Tulips. In June, there are Blue Salvia and Poppies. From late June the early Lavender begins to bloom, and by mid July reaches its peak season. August brings Sunflowers and Cosmos, and from September to October Yellow Mustard and Dahlias decorate the refreshing fall season. It is also fun to search for wildflowers that bloom in the fields and mountains surrounding Furano. There are many rare flowers that bloom in the wetlands and highlands, so you may spot some when trekking or climbing.
  • Jikokudani - The Jigokudani Monkey Park offers visitors the unique experience of seeing wild monkeys bathing in a natural hot spring. The park is inhabited by Japanese Macaques, which are also known as Snow Monkeys.
  • Rebun and Rishiri Islands are two small islands near the northern tip of Hokkaido. The islands are part of the Rishiri-Rebun-Sarobetsu National Park and offer beautiful hiking trails, coastal sceneries, alpine flowers and small fishing villages. 

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Price Excluding Flights £Flight cost from 
£ 4600 £ 725

Itinerary at a glance

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Day 1

Fly London to Tokyo

Japan is an intriguing blend of the resolutely traditional and the restlessly innovative - and nowhere typifies this more so than Tokyo. Look beyond its futuristic façade and you will discover a different Tokyo, where ancient traditions and customs are quietly maintained. An enthralling and captivating city of many layers, it is an essential place to visit for any keen traveller.

Day 2

Day at leisure in Tokyo

You will be staying at Park Hotel, Bed & Breakfast

Day 3

Full Day Sightseeing of Tokyo using Public Transport
Free day to explore Tokyo at your leisure
Visit this fascinating city making use of Tokyo’s comprehensive and user friendly public transport system. Start the day with a visit to Hamarikyu garden, an Edo Period Japanese garden surrounded by the Shiodome district’s futuristic skyscrapers. Perhaps stop for a cup of steaming macha in a tea house on a small island in the park’s lake, take a boat cruise on the Sumida River. Disembark in Asakusa, Tokyo’s old town and soak in the atmosphere of the Tokyo of old. Visit Sensoji, Tokyo’s oldest temple and wander down Nakamise, a shopping street that has been providing temple visitors with a variety of traditional, local snacks and tourist souvenirs for centuries.

In the afternoon take the subway across town to Meiji Shrine, a shrine dedicated to the deified spirit of Emperor Meiji and a popular place for traditional Japanese weddings. If time permits, take a walk down Omotesando shopping street, a broad tree lined avenue home to the flagship stores of the world’s top fashion brands.

You will be staying at Park Hotel, Bed & Breakfast

Day 4

Travel from Tokyo to Sendai (Rail Journey)

With roughly one million inhabitants, Sendai is by far the largest city in the Tohoku Region and one of the country's 15 largest cities. The modern city of Sendai was founded around 1600 by Date Masamune, one of feudal Japan's most powerful lords. Many of Sendai's attractions are related to Masamune and his family. The city was severely damaged after the 2011 earthquake but reconstruction has proceeded speedily.

Visit Sendai
You will first visit Zuihoden Mausoleum, the site of entombment of Masamune. It was designed in the ornate style of the Momoyama Period. It features intricate woodwork and a rich variety of vivid colours. Masamune's son and grandson are entombed in smaller mausoleums designed in the same style. Massive cedar trees surround the paths in the area, and are meant to symbolize the long history of the Date clan.

You will be staying at Metropolitan Sendai, Bed & Breakfast

Day 5

Excursions around Sendai
This morning, a guide will meet you and accompany you on a quick train ride to the neigbouring town, Shiogama, a flourishing fishing village and one of the most important fish providers in Tohoku. You will taste delicious, fresh fish donburi (fish on a bowl of rice) with the ingredients of your choice for breakfast.

In the afternoon continue to Matsushima Bay, which is dotted by many pine clad islets and has been ranked one of Japan's three most scenic views. Take a public boat from Shiogama, providing you with splendid views of the islands and bay. After landing you will also visit the islets that are reachable by bridge from the mainland.

Travel from Sendai to Hakodate (Rail Journey)

Transfer to Sendai station to board the Shinkansen train to Shin Hakodate Hokuto. The Shinkansen that connects Japan's main island, Honshu, to Hakodate in Hokkaido, opened in March 2016 and is the latest addition to the bullet train family.

Hakodate is Hokkaido's third largest city, located at the island's southern tip. Hakodate is best known for the spectacular views from Mount Hakodate and the fresh seafood. As one of the first Japanese harbour cities to be opened to international trade after the country's era of isolation, Hakodate has experienced notable influence from overseas, and the foreign population's former residential district and a Western style fort are among its main tourist attractions. Onuma Park, with beautiful island dotted lakes, is located only half an hour north of Hakodate.

You will be staying at Danshaku Club Hotel, Bed & Breakfast

Day 6

Explore Hakodate
With a local guide, using public transport, discover the pretty city of Hakodate, on the southernmost end of Hokkaido, with its rich history and breath-taking views.

Head first to Fort Goryokaku, a star shaped Western style citadel, which was built in the last years of the Edo Period for the defense of Hakodate. A few years later, the fort was the scenario of a civil war between the defeated Shogunate and the forces of the Meiji government. The fort is now a public park, one of Hokkaido's best cherry blossom spots (blooming in early May), and the Former Magistrate Office in the centre of the fort can still be visited. You will also access the observation deck of the nearby Goryokaku Tower to take in a view of the Fort from above.

Move to the bay area where you will enjoy a stroll in the Motomachi area. After Japan opened up its ports in 1854 many foreign traders from China, Russia and Western countries settled in Hakodate, and the buildings in the area are an interesting mix between classic Western and Russian architecture with some Japanese touches.

Lastly, you will ascend by ropeway to the top of Mt. Hakodate. We will time the tour so that you will be there by or right after sunset, and you will witness a night panorama that is considered one of the three most beautiful in Japan.

You will be staying at Danshaku Club Hotel, Bed & Breakfast

Day 7

Travel from Hakodate to Noribetsu (Rail Journey)

Noboribetsu in southwestern Hokkaido is the location of the Noboribetsu, Karurusu, kaminoboritbetsu hot springs, and has a rich variety of scenery including forests, lakes and marshes. It has been designated a part of Shikotsu-Toya National Park.The Noboribetsu hot spring is one of Hokkaido's best-known hot springs, and is surrounded by a virgin forest 200 meters above sea level. It has nine different kinds of water, containing minerals such as sulphur, salt, and iron. The quality of these minerals results in the spa being ranked among the world's most exceptional hot springs.

The most impressive scene at the hot spring is the Jigoku Valley (hell valley), where yellowy gray volcanic gas seeps from the surface of the rocks. This makes the whole place smell strongly of sulphur, and gives it an image like that of hell. The valley is a 450-meter-diametre mouth of a volcano, which produces 3,000 litres of hot water per minute.

You will be staying at Bourou Noguchi Ryokan, Bed & Breakfast

Day 8

Day at leisure to explore Noribetsu.

You will be staying at Bourou Noguchi Ryokan, Bed & Breakfast

Day 9

Travel from Noribetsu to Sapporo (Rail Journey)

Sapporo is the capital of Hokkaido and Japan's fifth largest city. Sapporo is also one of the nation's youngest major cities. In 1857, the city's population stood at just seven people. In the beginning of the Meiji Period, when the development of Hokkaido was started on a large scale, Sapporo was chosen as the island's administrative centre and enlarged according to the advice of foreign specialists. Consequently, Sapporo was built based on a North American style rectangular street system. Sapporo became world famous in 1972 when the Olympic Winter Games were held there. Today, the city is well known for its ramen, beer, and the annual snow festival held in February.

Visit Sapporo
A guide will meet you and take you on a tour of Sapporo by public transport. Start off with the Tower Clock, the symbol of the city, and the Hokkaido Prefectural Office, constructed in 1888 in the Neo-Baroque style, one of the most exquisite examples of Meiji architecture. Next, head to Hokkaido Shrine, the most important Shrine in Sapporo, set in the beautiful Maruyama Park.

In the afternoon head to Okurayama Viewing Point, where you'll rise by ropeway to the top of the Sapporo Winter Olympics Ski Jump and enjoy a breathtaking view of the area and surrounding mountains.

You will be staying at Keio Plaza Hotel Sapporo, Bed & Breakfast

Day 10

Excursion to Otaru
Today visit Otaru from Sapporo with a knowledgeable local guide by public transportation. Otaru is a pretty port town, which used to be Sapporo's most flourishing harbour. You will reach Otaru by train (about 40 minutes) and then you take a stroll around town with your guide.

First, visit the Canal Area. One of Northern Japan's most famous, romantic places, it makes for a very enjoyable, interesting stroll on the canal that leads you to the port. Afterwards, move to Sakaimachi, the old town where the rich merchants at the end of XIX / beginning of XX century used to build their houses.

You will then visit a typical Japanese home. Learn to prepare gunkan maki (sushi rice wrapped with a trip of seaweed and topped with soft ingredients) and nigiri sushi (sushi rice topped with a slice of raw fish). You will then get to enjoy your home made sushi for lunch). The guide will then take you back to Sapporo by train. You will stop at the Sapporo Historic Village, an open air museum in the suburbs of Sapporo. It exhibits about 60 typical buildings from all over Hokkaido, dating from the Meiji and Taisho Periods (1868 to 1926), the era when Hokkaido's development was carried out on a large scale. There are four different sections: a town, fishing village, farm village and a mountain village.

You will be staying at Keio Plaza Hotel Sapporo, Bed & Breakfast

Day 11

Day at leisure to explore in your own time.

You will be staying at Keio Plaza Hotel Sapporo, Bed & Breakfast

Day 12

Fly Sapporo to Tokyo

Fly Tokyo to London

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For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

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