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2008 Snow Festival

Decatur, Georgia
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62 posts
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2008 Snow Festival

This is my second post on this topic and I'm hoping someone can provide advise.

My wife and I have wanted to see the festival for many years and this coming year is about the best time for us. I have not yet made flight reservations but am looking at either flying directly to Sapporo or into Tokyo and then taking the train round trip with a rail pass. We will most likely arrive in Japan on Feb 5 and depart on Feb 13.

If we opt for the train option, I understand that we cannot make reservations on the Tokyo to Sapporo train until we have the pass validated in Tokyo. Does this seem like a viable option? I would hate to get all the way to Tokyo and then find there were no seats to/from Sapporo. This option would allow us to spend a few days in and around Tokyo either before or after the snow festival.

However, this option might be problematic in terms of booking a hotel in Sapporo since we might not get to Sapporo on the day we plan.

Any help is appreciated.

Fukuoka, Japan
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1. Re: 2008 Snow Festival

Hello,

I hope that you'll have more specific answer from someone who live in Sapporo. But If your main purpose of visit is the Snow Festival, why don't you skip Rail Pass and book a flight from Tokyo to Sapporo?

Reservation can be made 3 months in advance and there're many discounts for early-bookers. You may also be able to use Air Pass for foreign tourists.

Unless you're a diehard train-lover, air seems easier and more reasonable option to me. (Well, it's just my thought. I've never travelled to Sapporo by train.)

This site will tell you more about domestic flights in Japan.

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2364.html

Tokyo and California
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for Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Shinjuku, Japan
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2. Re: 2008 Snow Festival

To me, going to Sapporo from Tokyo by train is a waste of time. It takes at least 10 hours...you spend a whole day to get there and another day to come back.

As JLady suggested, flying is a better option.

Decatur, Georgia
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62 posts
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3. Re: 2008 Snow Festival

Thanks for your replies about flying.

As I mentioned in my original post, one option we are considering is to fly round trip to Sapporo from the USA. We are not considering flying round trip to Tokyo and at some later date flying round trip to Sapporo.

The train/rail pass option is the one I am seeking advise on since I have no idea how hard it will be to get a train reservation to / from Sapporo during the Snow festival. From what I've been able to find out, a one way train ticket from Tokyo to Sapporo would cost about the same as a 7 day rail pass. If we spend a day on the train going to Sapporo and 2/3 days at the festival, we will still have a few days of rail pass validity to visit other parts of Japan on our way back to Tokyo.

Since the train reservation cannot be made until the rail pass is validated, the best case scenario appears to be no problem with making the reservations while the worst case seems to be no seats available on the dates we wish to travel!!! I'm sure reality is somewhere between the two but I am concerned about not having a handle on this until I get to Tokyo.

Does anyone think there will be problems making the train reservations during the time of the festival?

Sapporo, Japan
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for Sapporo, Hokkaido
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4. Re: 2008 Snow Festival

Yes.

There will be problems getting a train reservation. Thousands of people come here for the Snow Festival and the trains in the week before and during the event are packed.

It may be ok if you don't mind what kind of seat you get - but as another poster said - it's 10 hours....if you want any chance of a reserved seat or a sleeping berth.

I think coming by plane is better - flights are fully booked too, but at least you have the chance of getting a flight because it's possible 3 months in advance.

If you come by train you are competing with all the Japanese who have been able to book their seats on the train LONG before you've arrived in the country.

Get the flight - get the hotel booked...although most hotels don't start accepting bookings until September...October.

Another option would be to book a Sbow Festival tour with one of the big agencies - more expensive , but would cut the stress of trying to get bookings.

Amanfda

Decatur, Georgia
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62 posts
27 reviews
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5. Re: 2008 Snow Festival

Amanda,

Thanks for your input. You answered my questions perfectly and your advice was excellent.

I had a feeling the train would be a problem.

Thanks for your quick reply.

Sapporo, Japan
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for Sapporo, Hokkaido
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6. Re: 2008 Snow Festival

I think we are on line at the same time here!

Hi f rom Sapporo to Atlanta...it's Friday night here...we just had the first summer fireworks show, the beer gardens opened in Odori Park and the streets are full of girls in colorful yukatas and wooden sandals...Snow Festival seems a LOONG way away!

Snow Festival IS great. But the bgeting here is hard - reservations are hard...even with a plane you'll probably be on a waiting list and have the stress of getting a hotel booking.

The week before is also a good time to come - when they are making the statues - you can stand and see it all taking shape.

I first came to Snow Festival 14 years ago when I was living in Tokyo...and it started my long LURVE affair with Hokkaido...come on up/over!

Amanda

7. Re: 2008 Snow Festival

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