Tips on Effectively Navigating Sapporo on Public Transportation
Unlike Tokyo, Sapporo is a rather compact city that's easy to navigate effectively. Here are 6 pieces of information that can help you get around and even find a bargain.
The Sapporo City Subway is split up into three lines separated by color: green (the Nanboku Line), orange (Tozai Line), and sky blue (Toho Line). (Please refer to the photo.) Respectively their symbols are N, T, and H, and each station has a number, and all stations have this information displayed so it's easy for travelers to get around. Most of the important sightseeing areas in Sapporo (Sapporo Clock Tower, Former Hokkaido Government Office, Nijo Fish Market, Odori Park, etc.) are covered. When you buy a ticket you can buy a subway - bus ticket that allows you to transfer between them so the areas you can travel to widens even further. This is one way to get the best out of traveling through this city without problems in snow country that's buried in snow six months out of the year. *On both the Nanboku and Tozai Lines from the first train to 9:00 am, there are women-only cars where the only men allowed are children and disabled/elderly people. If you do not fall into this category, please don't ride in those cars at that time.
1. The optimal, most convenient way to get around: Sapporo City Subway
While using the subway is fine, you might want to enjoy the sight of the town through the windows as you travel by bus. For those of you that want that, it's recommended that you try the Toshinnai 100 Yen Bus. You can travel around the major sightseeing and shopping areas like Sapporo Station, Odori, and Susukino, for 100 JPY on this bus. It uses designated sections of regular bus routes and costs 100 JPY for adults, 50 JPY for children (available only if paying with cash). It's extremely convenient for traveling over short distances and when the weather is bad.If you're traveling on routes outside of what this bus covers, get on or off the bus outside of this special route, or pay using a non-cash method, you'll be charged the regular price. Also, be aware that the subway - bus ticket discount isn't eligible for this offer.*The photo is of Sapporo Clock Tower.
2. Toshinnai 100 Yen Bus
There is a 1-Day subway pass that will let you use all of the Sapporo City Subway for 830 JPY for adults and 420 JPY for children. Since riding the subway one-way goes from 200 - 360 JPY and it's separated into 6 areas, so the price was calculated by assuming that one would ride the train more than 5 times in a 200 JPY area or more than 3 times in a 290 JPY area. Buying this gets rid of the need for checking the price before you buy a ticket every time you get on the train. However, if you're taking the train on Saturday, Sunday, holidays, or during the New Year holiday (December 29 to January 3), the Donichika Kippu is better. It's the same as the 1-Day Pass but it's 520 JPY for adults and 260 JPY for children. You can buy them both at ticket machines in the train station.*The photo is of the Former Hokkaido Government Office, also known as the Red Brick Government Office.
3. Subway 1-Day Pass and Donichika Kippu
There are two bus companies in Hokkaido. One of them is the JR Hokkaido Bus, and they offer a 1-Day All-You-Can-Ride Pass. You can use it from JR Sapporo Station to Otaru (a distance that one-way costs 610 JPY) so even if you just do one trip round-trip it's a ticket that will save you money. Be aware that you can't use it on Toshikan Kousoku buses or non-JR buses, but this ticket is still extremely cheap at 800 JPY for adults and 400 JPY for children. You can buy it on regular buses or at Bus Ticket Center Apia stores.
4. JR Hokkaido Bus 1-Day All-You-Can-Ride Pass
There's also the Kyoutsuu 1-Day Pass offered by Hokkaido Chuo Bus, a company that runs a sightseeing bus, that you can use on their buses and on Sapporo Walk as much as you want for one day. The Sapporo Walk bus runs around the Sapporo Biergarten, the Sapporo Factory, Odori Park, and other Sapporo sightseeing spots for a 30 minute route. It's very convenient because if you see some place you'd like to go as you pass you can just stop there. It goes around every twenty minutes, so you can easily move between sightseeing areas and it's also convenient for shopping.When summer bleeds into autumn, you can also use this pass on the Sapporo Strollers' Bus. The Hokkaido Chuo Bus Kyoutsuu 1-Day Pass is 750 JPY for adults and 380 JPY for children and can be bought inside the Sapporo Walk bus or in big terminals.
5. Hokkaido Chuo Bus Kyoutsuu 1-Day Pass
Dosanko Pass is a ticket aimed towards families that costs 310 JPY for an adult and one child to use all day on Sapporo's streetcars. However, it can only be used on Saturdays, Sundays, holidays, and the New Year's holidays (December 29 to January 3), so please be careful. The usual price is 170 JPY one-way, so you're already saving money on a round-trip and since a child's fare is included it's even better if you're together. Since you can ride as much as you want, please stop along the route and leisurely enjoy the Sapporo sights. You can buy the Dosanko Pass inside the streetcar. You can't use it to ride the subway or buses.
6. Dosanko Pass
Even in the winter cold Sapporo is a city with great public transportation. Use discount tickets and enjoy yourself even more! *Usually children's prices are for children ages 6-12.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.