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Public Transportation in Sapporo

Learning how to get around using public transportation in Sapporo is an important step in adjusting to life in Sapporo. In this article, we cover the local public transportation options.

Sapporo, the capital city of Hokkaido, Japan, is a bustling metropolis with a well-developed public transportation system. The city is served by a variety of public transportation options including the Sapporo Municipal Subway, JR Hokkaido trains, city buses, and streetcars. These systems are interconnected, making it easy for residents and visitors to navigate the city and its surroundings. With such a comprehensive public transportation network, it’s entirely possible for an expat living in Sapporo to comfortably live without a car, relying solely on public transportation and walking.

Sapporo Municipal Subway

The Sapporo Municipal Subway is a key part of the city’s public transportation system. It’s safe, clean, and reliable, making it a popular choice for everyone from school children to elderly residents. The subway operates from early morning until midnight, and it’s considered safe even at night. Women traveling alone and children can use the subway without worry. The subway system consists of three lines: the Namboku Line, the Tozai Line, and the Toho Line, covering most areas of the city. The fare depends on the distance traveled, but a one-way ticket typically costs between 200 and 360 yen. The subway also offers a convenient IC card system, which allows passengers to simply tap their card on the reader to pay the fare.

JR Hokkaido Trains

For those looking to travel beyond the city limits, the JR Hokkaido trains are an excellent option. These trains connect Sapporo with other cities in Hokkaido, making it easy to explore the region. The trains are safe and comfortable, and they offer stunning views of Hokkaido’s beautiful landscapes. The fare varies depending on the destination, but a one-way ticket from Sapporo to Otaru, a popular nearby city, costs around 640 yen. The JR Hokkaido trains also accept the IC card for payment.

City Buses

Sapporo’s city buses complement the subway and train services by covering areas that are not accessible by rail. The buses are safe and reliable, and they operate on a regular schedule. The fare is flat, regardless of the distance traveled, and it’s typically around 210 yen. The buses also accept the IC card for payment. The city buses are particularly useful for reaching tourist attractions such as the Sapporo Beer Museum and the Hokkaido Shrine.


For a more leisurely and scenic way to get around, Sapporo’s streetcars are a charming option. The streetcars run on a loop line that goes around the city center, passing by many popular tourist spots. The streetcars are safe and comfortable, and they offer a unique way to experience the city. The fare is flat at 210 yen, and the streetcars also accept the IC card for payment.

In conclusion, Sapporo’s public transportation system is comprehensive, safe, and reliable. Whether you’re commuting to work, going to school, or exploring the city, you can easily get where you need to go without a car. The IC card system makes it even more convenient to use the various modes of transportation. So, if you’re an expat living in Sapporo, you can definitely live comfortably relying on public transportation and walking.

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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