Hokkaido is the northernmost prefecture in Japan and is known for its agriculture and unspoiled nature. During colder months it attracts skiers and snowboarders that can enjoy the many ski lodges and resorts. During the warmer months, visitors can relax along the many lakes and watch for cranes and other peaceful creatures.
Hokkaido's Sapporo's Chitose Airport has international flights to and from Hong Kong, Taipei, Kaohsiung, Shanghai, Beijing, Seoul, Busan, Bangkok, and Guam. However, most visitors will need to transit through Tokyo and Osaka. Sapporo is the capital of Hokkaido and is a 45-minute train ride or a 35-minute taxi from Chitose Airport.
Read more about the natural highlights in Hokkaido and other regions in this overview.
Duration: 3-9 hours
From Haneda Airport to Hakodate Airport is only an hour and 20 minutes and runs numerous times a day by a few different providers. Keep in mind the travel time to Haneda from your origin, plus the time to your ultimate destination. If your Sapporo is going to be your base, a flight to Chitose Airport (1 hour and 40 minutes) is a better bet. Hakodate will bring you to the southernmost part of Hokkaido while Sapporo is 3.5 hours inland.
Another option is to take the bullet train which is a delight in itself. The Shinkansen bullet train will take around 9 hours and there is a transfer at Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto. You will arrive at the Sapporo station in the capital of Hokkaido which is famous for the Sapporo Brewery.
Other options include trains and ferries but take almost a full day to get to your destination.
Duration: 4-12 hours
Chūbu Centrair (NGO) offers Nippon Airways flights to Hakodate Airport that are only an hour and a half long. There are typically 2 runs a day. A Shinkansen bullet train is required to get to NGO however, and there is a transfer at Nagoya. The entire trip altogether is around 4 hours.
Another option is to take the train the whole way. The trip will take around 12 hours with transfers in Tokyo and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto.
Duration: 5.5-7 hours
To get from the far south of Japan to the far north, the best bet is to fly. There are two different flight routes that you can take from Okinawa (OKA). One takes you to New Chitose (CTS) and is a 3-hour 15-minute flight and the other goes to
Hakodate (HKD) in 4.5 hours. In both situations, there is a bus or train that will get you to or from the airports.
While planning your trip, look into this guide to Tokyo & Kyoto. Plus this article will give insight on the pros and cons of each season in Japan. If you are looking to discover parts of Japan that are off the beaten track, consider advice from this guide.