Getting there: The quickest way from Tokyo to Sapporo is to fly to Chitose in southwest Hokkaido. One-way fare for the 1 1/2-hour flight is about $170.
The train takes longer but is more scenic. Take a sleeper car through the mountainous orchards, rice paddies and towns of northern Honshu to Sapporo. With completion of the Seikan Tunnel--at 33 miles, the world's longest--under the rough Tsugaru Straits between Honshu and Hokkaido in 1988, the trip takes about 16 hours one way and costs about the same as flying.
From Chitose, rent a car or take a bus or train to Sapporo or Shikotsu-Toya National Park. It's 30 minutes by train, about $5 one way.
Where to stay: The Sapporo Grand Hotel (about $80 single and $130 double) and the Sapporo Royal Hotel ($95 single, $160 double) are good places, if not ritzy. Also in Sapporo, cheaper "business" hotels are about half the price.