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12 days itinerary suggestions for hokkaido, tohoku & tokyo

12 Days itinerary suggestions for Hokkaido, Tohoku & Tokyo

I'll be traveling to Japan for the first time in Oct/Nov for 12 days. Instead of exploring the usual Tokyo-Osaka-Kyoto circuit I plan to do Hokkaido & Tohoku with a bit of Tokyo.

This is my planned itinerary:
Day 1: Reach Tokyo early morning, take shinkansen all the way to Sendai (I will be purchasing 7-day JR Pass). I will spend 2 nights there. First day will be spent exploring the town itself
Day 2: Take train to Omoshiroyama Kogen and walk to Yamadera from there. I heard it is a 2-3 hours walk. Hopefully I'll be able to catch the autumn foliage. Return to Sendai in the evening.
Day 3: Matsushima. Will be spending the night here at a ryokan. will try to visit Shiogama-jinja (shrine) close to Hon-Shioama Station. Any other activity that I can do?
Day 4: Take train to Hakodate. Will be spending 2 nights here since by the time I reach it will be evening time. Will explore the town in the evening. Is there anything to do at night in Hakodate?
Day 5: Hakodate morning market, Kanemori Warehouses, Motomachi and take ropeway to Mt Hakodate in the evening to catch the evening / night scenery
Day 6: Take train to Sapporo. Again, will just spend the rest of the day exploring the town. Any place for a good view?
Day 7: Sapporo morning market and have a day trip to Otaru. (Last day for JR Pass)
Day 8: Fly to Tokyo/Take the bullet train
Day 9: Either go Kamakura or check out Odaiba, Roppongi, etc
Day 10: Tokyo cities - Harajuku, Asakusa, etc
Day 11: Explore Mt. Fuji. Tokyo cities - Harajuku, Asakusa, etc
Day 12: Flight home

I have a feeling I am exploring less of Hokkaido. I can reduce the number of days in Tokyo and use them in Hokkaido. Can anyone suggest if this is a good way to travel or i should make some changes?

Also, will one JR pass for 7 Days be OK to explore Hokkaido & Tohoku or do I need another one like JR South Hokkaido Pass?

Thanks in advance!


Hi there,

It really depends on what your own personal preferences are. While I may like spending a lot of time in Hokkaido, you may just like Tokyo more. So far I think day 1-7 look planned really well. There are very nice stops on the way from Hakodate - Sapporo but I am not sure where to add them in.

If you take the bullet train back to Tokyo, then a 14 day JR Pass would be way cheaper than buying a normal tickets. Also keep this in mind when looking at ticket prices, the price difference from a 7 day JR Pass to a 14 day JR Pass is about 16,000yen.

The JR Pass covers all your travel, so no other kind of pass is required.

Hope this helps,

Expert button 2

Hi Daniel,

Thanks for replying. I am keen on spending more time in Hokkaido than Tokyo. I can just be in Tokyo for 2 days. and the rest 10 days can be spent in Tohoku and Hokkaido. Could you suggest me which places I can add in between Sapporo & Hakodate?

I also read on that buses are cheaper and more reliable than trains in Hokkaido. Is that true?

Maybe I can use the JR pass for long travel and utilize buses or local trams. What say?

Also, is JR East-South Hokkaido Rail pass better than JR pass since it can be used for any 6 days in 14 days? Or do you still recommend a 14 days JR pass?

Thanks a lot for all your help.

Look forwrad to hearing from you :)



Hi Archana,

A couple of places come to mind, first Hakodate itself, then Nobori-Betsu, Onuma-Koen, Lake Toya and Otaru.

The train system in Japan is the best in the world and that applies to Hokkaido too. Buses may be cheaper but certainly not faster or more reliable.

About the sort of JR Pass, it depends on how you return to Tokyo.

Hope this helps,

Expert button 2

Thanks Daniel. The places that you mentioned above will be part of my itinerary.

One last question.

What is the best travel pass/passes for my entire 12 days period considering I'll be spending 10 days in Tohoku (2-3 days - Sendai, Nikko, Yamadera, Zao onsen, Matsushima) and 7-8 days in Hokkaido (Hakodate, Nobori-Betsu, Onuma-Koen, Lake Toya and Otaru,Aoiike, Daisetsuzanand Naka-Furano)

I don''t want to fly back. I want to use the train system for my entire journey.

Thanks a lot for your help.


Hi again,

Considering that you are travelling nearly every day and travelling through different regions I recommend using a 14 day JR Pass. It will cover travel to nearly all places you wish to visit and get you great savings if you use it to travel back to Tokyo as well.

You can use the JR Pass Fare Calculator to find an approximate ticket cost of a single route or even your full itinerary.

If you can spare the Yen's, also consider travelling Green Class. Travelling around Tohuku on Green Class is especially nice.

Hope this helps too!

Expert button 2

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