A frequently asked question is "Which are the best and cheapest ways to get from Tokyo to Sapporo?“ To start with, there are lots of possibilities but not all of them are very reasonable to use. So here is some advice:
Of course, the fastest way is by plane. From Tokyo (usually Haneda) to Sapporo Chitose (CTS) it takes about one and a half hours. The most common airlines for this route are ANA and JAL. But also Skymark and Air Do offer flights on a daily basis. Flights start about every half hour all from 06:00–22:35. Furthermore, since 2012 the low-cost carrier, Jetstar Japan, has been flying domestically from Narita which has ensured low prices. Another thing to mention is if you book a flight online with Skymark at least 28 days before departure you can get a Web Bargain price of less than 6,000 yen. But, all in all, going by plane, as usual, is pretty expensive. Especially internal Japan flights are around 34,000 yen one way. Foreign travelers, on the other hand, can utilize the Japan Explorer Pass for just 10,800 yen, a saving of over 50%.
There are ferries operating twice a day, one in the evening and another at night. It takes about 19 hours from Tokyo to Sapporo and costs around 10,000 yen one way during the main season. Please note that the ferry company has divided the year into 3 different periods which affect the price. Period A, which is the cheapest season is from September until March. For detailed information on this please see the MOL Ferry website. There are several cabin styles available such as Western and Japanese style cabins. Based on my experience, this is one of the best ways to get to Sapporo and it is quite cheap compared to other transportation methods. I recommend this to every traveler searching for transportation to Sapporo at a reasonable price if he/she can be patient. A ferry ride is a very relaxing way to travel and there are great opportunities to use the onsen.
There are also many possibilities to go by train. One of the best websites to check train timetables and information is “Hyperdia.com”. Combined with the JR Pass which applies to various kinds of trains it is a very comfortable way to move and costs around 29,650 yen for a 7 days availability. To go by train from Tokyo to Sapporo takes about 10 hours with a few transfers within. There are both day and night trains available. But note that in case you have a Japan Rail Pass and you choose night trains you will have to pay at least 14,500 yen extra for your pass. Moreover, a direct sleeper is available and takes around 16 hours.
These two means of transport are the best and most common alternatives to going by plane. Of course, another possibility is to rent a car. But this would be a completely different way of traveling and you have to be prepared to do this all on your own such as driving and navigation even though almost all rental cars have got an integrated navigation system. Requirements to rent a car are an international driver’s license. Either you can rent a car via the internet or in Japan at the airport for example. A credit card is not needed as you pay at the time you pick up the car. Even though driving in Japan is very comfortable and other drivers are very cautious I do not recommend this type of trip from Tokyo to Sapporo unless you are a group of people who can share the costs in order to pay for the gas and ferry between Honshu and Hokkaido.