Enjoying daily Sapporo life with “Streetcar (Shiden) Sightseeing”: How to Ride Edition
In Hokkaido, only Sapporo and Hakodate have streetcars.
The Sapporo Streetcar (shiden) runs in a loop from central Sapporo to mainly the western area. Look out the window of the slowly moving streetcar to get a glimpse of everyday Sapporo life. In this feature on “Streetcar (Shiden) Sightseeing” we will introduce how to ride and enjoy the Sapporo Streetcar!
So Easy! How to ride the Sapporo Shiden
Most boarding locations are located in the middle of the street.
Choose to board the inner loop (counter-clockwise) or the outer loop (clockwise) depending on which direction is closer to your destination. Be sure to stand clear as the train arrives at the station.
Payment can be made using cash or IC cards.
The fare for one ride on the shiden is ¥170 for adults, and ¥90 for children, per person. The IC cards SAPICA, Kitaca, Suica, etc. can be used. Payment will be made upon disembarkation. You will not be able to make change from the fare box, so please use the change machine equipped with the fare box while the streetcar is stopped. On Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays the one-day shiden pass “Dosanko Pass” is a great bargain – with just 1 ticket priced at ¥310. One child (up to elementary school age—12 years) can ride for free when accompanying an adult with the pass.
The Dosanko Pass can be purchased from a streetcar crew member. While the streetcar is stopped or upon exiting, please ask them for the Dosanko Pass (you can say, “Dosanko Pass kudasai”). When disembarking from the 2nd time onwards just show the crew member your pass.
3 spots for window-gazing, as recommended by shiden drivers
1. Inner Loop: Nishi yon chome—Nishi jugo chome
As the streetcar progresses you’ll be able to see ahead the Okurayama Ski Jump Stadium, where the ski jumping World Cup is held every year. Being able to see a stadium from the middle of the town is one of Sapporo’s charms.
2. Outer Loop: Higashi tonden dori—Chuo toshokan mae
Check out the sprawling foothills of Mt. Moiwa. After enjoying the various views available during each of the changing seasons, get off the streetcar at Ropeway iriguchi and head up to the top of Mt. Moiwa, a popular sightseeing spot.
3. Nishi yon chome—Susukino
The Sapporo White Illumination begins in late November. While it’s being held you can enjoy the lit-up view of the street in front of the station while seated in the streetcar.
Unique and new-model streetcars you’ll want to check out
This popular car is currently the only one of its kind running. The retro coloring of the 1961 model makes it very popular. It has made appearances in music videos featuring Korean stars and domestic movies set in Sapporo, such as “The Detective Is in the Bar.” As such, you can find the signature of a popular Japanese actor, Yo Oizumi, inside.
Tram No. 241
A fight scene in the movie “The Detective Is in the Bar 2” took place inside of this car. You’ll find signatures from 2 of the leading actors, as well an explanation about a cracked glass window that happened during the filming.
This new model was introduced in 2013. Together with its ease of boarding and disembarkation, its large windows, great for sightseeing, contribute to its popularity. Look for the word “低” (Low) written on the timetable to see when the Polaris will be running. Note: The scheduled vehicle may be subject to change to do vehicle inspections, timetable adjustments, etc.
Snow Miku Car
In operation from late November until late March, this car is fully-decked out in the “Snow Miku” illustration, the popular character Hatsune Miku in her winter Hokkaido look. Within the car you’ll find posters and special announcements, leading to many fans visiting specifically to ride this car.
Take a tour of the train cars at the train bureau, admission free of charge!
At the train bureau where streetcars are stored, you can take a guided tour of the cars that are currently not in service. The snow-removing Sasara Tram, which originated in Sapporo, is particularly popular—once you see how the bamboo brush is made, and how differently it’s operated from the normal shiden trains, you’ll want to come back during the winter to see it blowing through the snow as it moves forward.
- Tour Admission Hours: Weekdays from 11:00–15:00, Saturdays, Sundays, national holidays 09:00 – 15:00 (sign up at the office within the bureau) *Individuals can sign up at any time; groups will need to make a reservation.
- Address: Minami 21-jo Nishi 16-chome 2-20, Chuo-ku, Sapporo (less than 1 minute walk from shiden station “Densha jigyosho mae”)
- Phone: 011-551-3944
Be sure to check back for our feature on recommended spots along the tram line!