the Ryuhyo Monogatari Train
Take a tour of Eastern Hokkaido via the Ryuhyo Monogatari Train! The view from the Ryuhyo Monogatari Train, which only runs from late January to late February, is breathtaking. The tracks run along the Sea of Okhotsk, where the rare view of drift ice can be seen from the train’s windows.
The Ryuhyo Monogatari Train is easy to spot, with colorful illustrations of animals and views of Eastern Hokkaido painted on its exterior.
■Operation period in 2022: From Jan 29 until Feb 27
■Route: From Abashiri Station until Shiretoko Shari Station (about an hour)
■One-way ticket: ¥970 (Travelers can pay an additional ¥530 for reserved seating.)
*You can purchase tickets and reserve seats at the JR ticket counter or on Ekinet (online reservation)
SL Fuyu-no-Shitsugen Train
Introducing the SL Fuyu-no-Shitsugen Train, the locomotive-powered train that runs along the great marshes of Kushiro.While its retro feel and steam whistle are what give the train its charms, parts of the interior went through a bit of a makeover this year. Some seats were lifted so passengers can have a better view of the Kushiro marshes and rivers, and decorations were added to induce a nostalgic feel. Experience the new SL Fuyu-no-Shitsugen Train only in Kushiro、 Hokkaido.
■Runs between Kushiro Station and Shibecha Station from late January to mid-March
*1 round trip a day, about a 1-hour ride
■Where to purchase tickets: The ticket office at JR Stations or the Ekinet website
The JR Nemuro Main Line runs along Hokkaido’s longest railroad. The 135.4 kilometer-long tracks between the cities of Kushiro and Nemuro are affectionately nicknamed “Hanasaki Line” and offer a dynamic view of the region’s vast natural landscape and wildlife. As you ride, look out for the Bekanbeushi Marsh, a must-see beautiful lush and scenic wetland. Lucky travelers can also spot red-crowned cranes, white-tailed eagles, Ezo deer, and other animals unique to Hokkaido. Wrapped trains also run along the Hanasaki Line, including one featuring “Lupin the Third ” and another named “Earth Exploration on the Hanasaki Line,” decorated with the red petals of the beach rose flower and snowflakes. Travelers can also enjoy local lunch boxes while riding the Hanasaki Line. (Advanced booking is highly recommended!)
Higashi-Nemuro is an unmanned station famous for being the easternmost train station in Asia. Train buffs often travel here to see the station’s beautiful wooden platform and lack of station building. Don’t forget to take a commemorative photo! Ride all the way to Nemuro station to see the end of the tracks, a rare sight that will surely remain in your memory.
■Access: To get to Kushiro Station: From Kushiro Airport, 45 minutes by bus; From ■Sapporo Station, four hours by express train
■Travel time: A ride from Kushiro Station to Nemuro Station takes about two and a half hours. One train is composed of a single car with about 55 seats. No seat reservation necessary.
Did you know that only 17 cities in Japan have their own tram system? In Hokkaido, both Sapporo and Hakodate feature fully operating tram systems!
Grab a one-day tram pass, and hop onto one of Hakodate’s retro trams for a tour of the city you will never forget! Listen to the nostalgic sound of the tram’s clattering wheels as you enjoy a leisurely journey around the city, past the quirky array of vintage buildings which line the streets.
Of Hakodate’s trams, the most popular by far are the refurbished carriages, which maintain their original vintage exteriors. Perhaps the most beloved of all of Hakodate’s trams is the number 530 carriage, which since its creation around 70 years ago has seen countless events, snowy winter days, and has even appeared in a few movies set around the city! When you visit Hakodate be sure to bring a camera to get a shot of one of these beautiful and time-loved vehicles!
Kushiro Shitsugen Norokko Train
Bask in the great nature of Kushiro, Hokkaido on the Kushiro Shitsugen Norokko Train.The vast marshes of Kushiro are truly a sight to see, and the Kushiro Shitsugen Norokko Train is one of the best ways to experience its beauty up close. The train runs slowly through the marsh and along the way you may run into travelers on canoes or wild animals who live in the area.
■Operation period: On weekends and holidays, Jul 17 through Oct 10
■Access: 30min drive from Kushiro Airport or take the express train Ozora from Sapporo or New Chitose Airport (4h)