Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Spring Break! Part the First: In Which Gaijin Takes the Bus Instead of the Train from Hakodate to Sapporo

Bussing It in Hokkaido Almost Reminded Me of Passing Through Western Alberta During My Greyhound Adventure Days

In the past my weekend trips to Sapporo have generally been rushed affairs in which I relinquished the necessary funds to get me there and back as quickly as possible. I would drive myself to the Oma ferry terminal, embark on the 7:10 a.m. ferry to Hakodate, catch a taxi to Hakodate Station and entrain on the first express to Sapporo. Total travel time between departure of ferry and arrival in Sapporo Station: six hours and twenty minutes. Cost: ¥1,170 for the ferry, ¥1,570 for the taxi and (with the special “six trips in three months” ticket) ¥6,950 for the train to Sapporo for a total of ¥9,690. Round trip: ¥19,380. This time, however, I took five days of paid leave in order to spend a whole week of spring break in Sapporo. Since this afforded me a more leisurely pace of travel I was able to explore some of the cheaper options. There are no practical alternatives to the Oma ferry when traveling from Kazamaura, but I was able to take a city bus instead of a taxi from the Hakodate ferry terminal to Hakodate Station where, instead of getting on an express train, I was able to board a Hokuto bus to Sapporo Station. Total travel time from departure of ferry to arrival at Sapporo Station: eleven hours and twenty minutes, with lots of dead time between the different legs of the journey. Cost: ¥1,170 for the ferry, ¥270 for the bus to Hakodate Station, ¥4,170 (one way on a round trip ticket) for the bus to Sapporo Station for a total of ¥5,610. Round trip: ¥11,220. Total money saved: ¥8,160. Total time lost: ten uncomfortable hours. Was it worth it? ? ? ?