Although bus service is available to all areas of Hokkaido, information is primarily in Japanese, so it can be hard to reserve tickets in advance, etc. It’s usually best to arrive in Sapporo in person and then go to the bus ticket window directly to purchase your tickets and communicate with the staff as best you can there.
There are several different bus companies operating regular routes and chartered tours. The two main lines that operate from Sapporo to destinations around Hokkaido are Chuo Bus and Donan Bus. These two companies share a terminal at Sapporo Station Bus Terminal, which is located at the southeast corner of the Sapporo Station complex on the 2nd floor of the Esta Building. Tickets can be purchased at the ticket windows on the bus platform (located on the ground floor, entrance on the 2nd floor).
Buses are generally cheaper than trains and access more areas than the rail system. The system varies from company to company, but generally speaking you take a number when entering the bus and pay when getting off for the amount traveled, rather than paying when you get on. Buses depart from Sapporo Station bus terminal several times a day for destinations all over Hokkaido, including Wakkanai (¥5,500, six hours), Asahikawa (¥2,000, two hours), Muroran (¥2,000, 2¼ hours), Noboribetsu Onsen (¥1,900, one hour and 54 minutes), Toyako Onsen (Lake Toya) (¥2,700, 2¾ hours), Niseko (¥2,100, three hours) and Furano (¥2,100, two hours and 51 minutes).
Sapporo Station Bus Terminal is a part of the Sapporo Station complex, which also houses the Japan Rail Sapporo Station and Sapporo Subway Station. Since all of these are connected at Sapporo Station it is usually the most convenient terminal to embark at. It can be somewhat confusing however, as there is also the Sapporo Bus Terminal at Block 1 of Odori Park. Most buses pass both on their way out of Sapporo though, so you can actually embark at either terminal.
This post is also available in: Japanese