The Gakuentoshi Line is a commuter railway line in Hokkaido that runs between Soen Station in Sapporo and Hokkaido-Iryodaigaku Station in Tobetsu. The official name of this line is the Sassho Line but this name is rarely used in station signage. Since 1991 it has been known as the Gakuentoshi Line (which means “College Town Line) because it links several educational facilities.
The Gakuentoshi Line links the Chuo, Nishi, and Kita wards of Sapporo with the town of Tobetsu. Previously this line ran beyond Hokkaido-Iryodaigaku Station as far as Shintotsukawa City, but that section of the line was closed on April 17th 2020. At Sapporo Station Gakuentoshi Line services depart from platforms 4, 9 and 10. This line is fully covered by the Japan Rail Pass.
Although the Gakuentoshi Line officially begins at Soen Station most services on this line begin or end at Sapporo Station on the Hakodate Main Line. For that reason, Sapporo Station is listed with the Gakuentoshi Line stations below.
Sapporo – Soen – Hachiken – Shinkawa – Shin-Kotoni – Taihei – Yurigahara – Shinoro – Takuhoku – Ainosato-Kyoikudai – Ainosato-koen – Ishikari-Futomi – Ishikari-Tobetsu – Hokkaido-Iryodaigaku
The key destinations are listed below with example fares and journey times from Sapporo Station.
A large number of shopping centers and department stores are clustered inside and around Sapporo Station building, many of which have excellent dining facilities. The station building is also directly connected to Sapporo JR Tower which is a skyscraper with an observation deck on the 38th floor. Here you can enjoy fantastic views over the city. Sapporo Station is also convenient for Hokkaido University and bus services on the north side of the station run directly to the Sapporo Beer Museum and Sapporo Beer Garden.
This station is convenient for Sapporo Racecourse, the Soen Campus of Sapporo City University, and the Sapporo Campus of Hokkaido University.
Kitano Tamayura Soen is a public bathing facility which is a 4 minute walk from Soen Station. Here you will find a range of natural hot spring baths, jet baths, outdoor baths and a sauna as well as dining facilities where you can enjoy typical Japanese meals, snacks, and drinks.
Sapporo Central Wholesale Market is a 10 minute walk from Soen Station. This is a lively seafood market, particularly famous for its crab, and there are also many restaurants serving fresh sushi or seafood rice bowls. The market is open from 6.00 am and restaurants open by 7.00.
Train fare: 200 yen
Train time: 3 minutes
This station is a 6 minute walk from a historical building called Shinkotoni Tondenhei Headquarters. The tondenhei were former samurai who were recruited as “farmer-soldiers” to colonize Hokkaido in the 19th century. The tondenhei and their families settled the Shinkotoni area in 1887. Their headquarters in Shinkotoni is now a museum which exhibits their uniforms, agricultural tools, a diorama showing the tondenhei village at that time, and other related materials. The museum is located on the grounds of Shinkotoni Shrine.
Shin-Kotoni Station is a 9 minute walk from Asabu Station on Sapporo Municipal Subway’s Namboku Line.
Train fare: 300 yen
Train time: 12 minutes
This station is convenient for Yurigahara Park. This park contains a large number of flower gardens which can be enjoyed for their colorful floral displays in any season. In particular the park is famous for its lily gardens which have over a hundred varieties blooming between June and September. The park also has a restaurant, shop, playgrounds, “park golf” facilities, an observation deck in a repurposed silo, and its own train, called the Lily Train, which runs a circuit of the park’s flower gardens on a 1.2km track. Yurigahara Park is a 7 minute walk from the Yurigahara Station.
Train fare: 340 yen
Train time: 17 minutes
This station is a 3 minute walk from Shinoro Shrine which was first founded in the 1850s. Shinoro Shrine holds an autumn festival every September 8th that features a lion dance. This dance is believed to have originally come from Toyama Prefecture as people from Toyama settled in this area, and it has been performed every year since the late 19th century. The lion costume is 6 meters long from head to tail and is operated by 8 dancers.
Train fare: 340 yen
Train time: 20 minutes
This is the closest station to Hokkaido University of Education Sapporo Campus. The campus is a 20 minute walk from the station. This station is also a 10 minute walk from the Sapporo Ainosato Campus of Hokkaido Health Sciences University.
A 4 minute walk to the south of the station is the day spa Sapporo Ainosato Onsen Nagomi. The natural mineral waters of this hot spring bath facility are said to be good for muscle pain, stiff joints, bruises, digestive problems, and recovery from fatigue. There are several different bathtubs, including a jet bath, outdoor bath and electric bath. After bathing you can enjoy soft drinks, beer, or ice cream in the leisure area.
Train fare: 440 yen
Train time: 26 minutes
This station is convenient for Ishikari Horse Trek. This is a horseback riding club offering outdoor riding experiences suitable for beginners and advanced riders that can be enjoyed in all seasons. Horse riding experiences should be booked in advance and the location is a 7 minute taxi ride from Ainosato-koen Station.
Train fare: 440 yen
Train time: 29 minutes
This station serves the town of Tobetsu. The Date Memorial Museum is a 7 minute walk from this station. Tobetsu was settled in the 19th century by Kuninao Date, a lord of the Iwadeyama Date Clan from the Sendai Domain. This museum shows exhibits and historical materials related to the date family and the development of this area. Another 3 minutes from the museum is Tobetsu Shrine which is dedicated to Kuninao Date. His spirit is now revered as the patron of the town.
In the winter months shuttle buses connect Ishikari-Tobetsu Station with the Ishikari Heigen Ski Slope. This is a family friendly resort with courses suitable for beginner and intermediate skiers.
Train fare: 750 yen
Train time: 40 minutes
This station is named after the Tobetsu campus of Hokkaido Health Sciences University (Hokkaido Iryo Daigaku) and is located directly outside that institution. This is the northern terminus of the Gakuentoshi Line.
Train fare: 750 yen
Train time: 44 minutes
Article and original photos by Michael Lambe. All rights reserved.