Category Archives: Sapporo, New Chitose Airport

Alternatives of Overnight train Twilight Express, in case that you cannot make a reservation.

***Twilight Express was discontinued in 12 March, 2015. There is no overnight train option between Osaka and Hokkaido any more.***

Twilight Express is one of the most popular train in Japan. (C) Sonic Rail Garden
Twilight Express is one of the most popular train in Japan. (C) Sonic Rail Garden

Twilight Express is very popular. Many tourists might think about taking this luxury overnight train. But you have a problem. Twilight Express cannot be reserved online. The only way to reserve it from outside of Japan is calling Odekake net 078-341-7903 in Japanese and you have to pick up your ticket in JR West, Shikoku or Kyushu stations. You cannot pick up it in other areas, like Tokyo. Otherwise You need to go to a reservation window at the station in Japan. Ticket is started to sell one month prior to the departure date. That means it may be sold out when you arrive in Japan. So you need to think about alternatives if you have a plan to take this train. I tell you several options for the case that you cannot make Twilight Express.

Twilight Express departs from Osaka at 11:50am and arrive in Sapporo at 09:52am, and depart from Sappro at 12:52pm and arrive in Osaka at 14:05pm. I try to make an alternatives as same schedule as possible. Continue reading

Overnight Express Train Twilight Express, most popular overnight train between Osaka and Sapporo

***Twilight Express was discontinued in 12 March, 2015. There is no overnight train option between Osaka and Hokkaido any more.***
Overnight Express train Twilight Express
Overnight Express train Twilight Express

Twilight Express is operated between Osaka and Sapporo. This is the longest service operation train in Japan. It takes more than 22 hours to reach Sapporo from Osaka. (If you take other way, it takes 22 hours 45 minutes.)

When you use a berth or a bedroom, Japan Rail Pass does not cover any accommodation charges and even Limited Express surcharge either. Even though you have to pay lots of the extra on Japan Rail Pass, the experience on board will be worthy. First class hospitality, the beautiful scenery and the sunset on the Sea of Japan, will be very memorable moment in your trip.

Anyway I tell you that the extra cost, timetable, checking the availability and the types of accommodations. Continue reading

My trip from Aomori to Sapporo on March 19, 2012 by Hamanasu Carpet car.

Hamanasu just arrived at Aomori station (C) JP Rail.com
Hamanasu just arrived at Aomori station (C) JP Rail.com

In my site, JPRail.com, the post that is written about Overnight Express Hamanasu is very popular. I got on Carpet car of Hamanasu on March 19, 2012 from Aomori to Sapporo. I would like to share this experience with you. And I tell you what I did before I got on the train. Continue reading

Access to Wakkanai from Sapporo. Limited Express Super Soya / Sarobetsu

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When you go to Wakkanai at North end of Hokkaido, these trains take you there. Both Super Soya (スーパー宗谷) and Sarobetsu (サロベツ) are operated on exactly same route between Sapporo and Wakkanai. But Super Soya is operated by newer 261 series. It is faster and gives you better accommodation and better service. As I mentioned in this site many times, JR Hokkaido give you a great service in Green car. But Sarobetsu do not have any green can in the train set. And Super Soya has only 9 seats. Green seats are sold out very often. I strongly recommend you to reserve your seat as soon as possible.
Of course both trains are fully covered by Japan Rail Pass. Let’s see the details about these trains. Continue reading

Direct transfer to Abashiri for Drift ice in Shiretoko by Ryuhyo Limited Express Okhotsk no Kaze

KIHA183 North Rainbow Express is one of the trains to be used for Furano Express trains. But this fleet is sometimes used for other seasonal trains.(C) Sonic Rail Garden
KIHA183 North Rainbow Express is one of the trains to be used for Furano Express trains. (C) Sonic Rail Garden

This is a seasonal operation of Limited Express Okhotsk that connect Sapporo (札幌) and Abashiri (網走) in Hokkaido. This train is operated from late January to early March for Ryuhyo (流氷=Drift ice) viewing. The operation, like time required and route, is completely same as Limited Express Okhotsk. But this seasonal train is operated by specialized car. The accommodation is much better than regular train of Limited Express Okhotsk.

You can take this train by Japan Rail Pass with no restriction. Let’s see the details. Continue reading

Alternatives of Overnight train Cassiopeia and Hokutosei, in case that you cannot make a reservation.

Overnight Limited Express train Cassiopeia (C) Sonic Rail Garden
Overnight Limited Express train Cassiopeia (C) Sonic Rail Garden
***Hokutosei was discontinued as scheduled train in 14 March, 2015. Now Hokutosei runs as seasonal train until end of summer. It will be discontinued after it. Please find operation date at the post, Schedule of 2015 spring seasonal trains of Japan Railways.***

Both Cassiopeia and Hokutosei very popular. Many tourists have a plan to take one of these trains. However these overnight trains cannot be reserved online. The only way to reserve it from outside of Japan is calling Odekake net 078-341-7903 in Japanese and you have to pick up your ticket in JR West, Shikoku or Kyushu stations. You cannot pick up it in other areas, like Tokyo. Otherwise You need to be the reservation window at the station in Japan. Ticket is started to sell one month prior to the departure date. That means it may be sold out when you arrive in Japan. So you must have a back up plan when you try to make a reservation after arrival.

I tell you several options for the case that you cannot make Cassiopeia or Hokutosei. Continue reading

Direct transfer to Furano from Sapporo. Limited Express Furano Lavender Express / Furano Koyo Express

KIHA183 Crystal Express is one of the trains to use for Tomamu-Sahoro Express trains. (C) Sonic Rail Garden
KIHA183 Crystal Express is one of the trains to use for Tomamu-Sahoro Express trains. (C) Sonic Rail Garden

Furano Lavender Express (フラノラベンダーエクスプレス) and Furano Koyo Express (フラノ紅葉エクスプレス) are limited express trains to Furano (富良野) directly from Sapporo (札幌). These trains can be used by Japan Rail Pass with no extra charge. Furano is one of very popular spot in Hokkaido for the tourists. These trains are the seasonal operation trains because the lavender season in summer time and the fall color leaves in September are busy periods. So when you build your itinerary, please check the latest operation date before you put this train in your plan.

Seasonal trains information.

I will show you some images of this train and tell you the details. Continue reading

Overnight express train Cassiopeia, very popular overnight train between Tokyo and Sapporo

Cassiopeia is most popular overnight train in Japan.
Cassiopeia is most popular overnight train in Japan.

*This train was discontinued in March 2016.

Cassiopeia is operated between Ueno and Sapporo. This train is like Japanese version Oriental Express and is the most luxurious in three luxurious overnight trains (other two are Twilight Express and Hokutosei) in Japan.

If you want to take this train by Japan Rail Pass, you need to pay some extra charges. You have to pay Limited Express surcharge and the accommodation fee. And also this train goes through non Japan Railway line between Morioka and Aomori. So you have to pay the basic fare for this non Japan Railway line. Even though you have to pay lots of the extra on Japan Rail Pass, many Japan Rail Pass user are interesting in this train. So I tell you that the extra cost, timetable, checking the availability and the types of accommodations.

Extra charges for Japan Rail Pass user

Japan Rail Pass cover only basic fare on Japan Railway. So you have to pay these extra charges.

Extra basic fare: 5,330 yen (for non Japan Railway line between Morioka and Aomori)
Extra express surcharge: 2,940 yen (between Ueno or Omiya and any stations in Hokkaido)

And also you have to pay the accommodation fee. Please see the next chapter.

Types of Accommodation

Welcome drink for Cassiopeia Suite and Cassiopeia Deluxe
Welcome drink for Cassiopeia Suite and Cassiopeia Deluxe

Cassiopeia Suite with View

  • Rate: 25,490 yen per person, based on two persons.
  • TV, clock, private shower, private washroom, welcome drink (a bottle of wine, a small bottle of whiskey, water and soft drink), coffee, Yukata (Japanese night wear), bath towel, facial towel
  • There is only one room in the train. This room has a huge glass window. It is so hard to get this room.
  • Images:
    Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia
    These following images are facilities. Cassiopeia Suite, Maisonette type has same as these things.
    Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia

Cassiopeia Suite, maisonette

  • Rate: 25,490 yen per person, based on two persons.
  • TV, clock, private shower, private washroom, welcome drink (a bottle of wine, a small bottle of whiskey, water and soft drink), coffee, Yukata (Japanese night wear), bath towel, facial towel
  • There are six rooms in the train. This room is two levels. The first floor is the bedroom and the second floor is the living. The extra bed can be put in the living room and can be used for 3 persons. The extra charge for third person is 13,350 yen.
  • Images:
    Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia

Cassiopeia Deluxe

  • Rate: 17,180 yen per person, based on two persons.
  • TV, clock, private shower, private washroom, welcome drink (a bottle of wine, a small bottle of whiskey, water and soft drink), coffee, Yukata (Japanese night wear), bath towel, facial towel
  • There is only one room in the train. This room is one level suite and has a higher ceiling than Cassiopeia Suite maisonette. The sofa can be converted to the extra bed and can be used for 3 persons. The extra charge for third person is 9.540 yen.
  • Images:
    Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia

Cassiopeia Twin (double decker)

  • Rate: 13,350 yen per person, based on two persons.
  • TV, clock, private washroom, welcome drink (soft drink), coffee, Yukata (Japanese night wear), facial towel (No private shower in the room. need to use the shared shower room at 310 yen for 6 minutes.)
  • This type of rooms are main stream in this train. This is like a standard twin room. These rooms are in the double decker car. Those rooms are located at the both lower level and higher level. But some of these rooms are located at the single level of this train. A few of these rooms at single level can be used for 3 persons. The extra charge for third person is 9.540 yen.
  • Images (Lower floor):
    Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia
  • Images (Upper floor):
    Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia
  • Images (located at single level):
    Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia
  • Images (Triple type):
    Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia
  • Images (Facilities):
    Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia

Cassiopeia Compart

  • Rate: 22,890 yen per room, based on two persons.
  • TV, clock, private washroom, welcome drink (soft drink), coffee, Yukata (Japanese night wear), facial towel (No private shower in the room. need to use the shared shower room at 310yen for 6 minutes.)
  • This room is designed for the handicapped person. We only have one room in the train
  • Images:
    Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia

Train Formation

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
CSV/CSM CSM/CDX D CC/CT CT CT CT CT CT CT CT L

*CSV=Cassiopeia Suite with View CSM=Cassiopeia Suite Maisonette CDX=Cassiopeia Deluxe CT=Cassiopeia Twin CC=Cassiopeia Compart D=Dining Car L=Lounge Car
*Smoking is permitted on Car#2, 3, 5, 6 and 11.

Dining Car / Lounge Car

Meal is not included in the rate. And the reservation for dinner must be done by 23:00 on three days prior to the departure date. But simply you can make a reservation at the same time as booking for the room. You can choose Kaiseki Gozen (懐石御膳=Traditional Japanese style cuisine) or French four course. Japanese dinner is 5,500 yen. French course is 7,800 yen. And also you have to choose dinner time from 17:15-18:15 or 18:30-19:50 or 20:10-21:30. Dining car is the pub after 20:30. You don’t need to make a reservation.

If you take Cassiopeia Suite or Cassiopeia Deluxe, Room service is available for only the first dining time, 17:15-18:15. And Also you can choose Cassiopeia Tokusei Bento (カシオペア特製弁当=Cassiopeia Special Dinner Box) at 3,500 yen. Of courese you need to order this dinner box three days before the boarding.

You don’t need to make a reservation for the breakfast. They open at 06:30. They have Japanese style and Western style. Both breakfast are same price at 1,600 yen.

They sell regular dinner box (Japanese Bento, Sandwich and so on) and drinks. If you cannot make a reservation for the dining car, you still can get something to eat. Of course you can get something before boarding.

Image (Dining car interior) : Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia

Image (Pub time menu) : Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia

Image (Breakfast menu) : Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia

Image (Cassiopeia Bento) : Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia

Lounge car is open for the public. You can enjoy the view through the panoramic glass windows. You can see the iamges of Dining car and Lounge car here on JR East website.

And also smoking is not permitted in Lounge car, but it is permitted in and dining car. Please don’t upset that!
*Since March 17, 2012, smoking is not permitted in both dining car and lounge car.

Image (Lounge car) : Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia

Image (Public washroom) : Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia

Image (Shared shower room) : Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia Overnight train Cassiopeia

Reservation and space availability

It is very difficult for Japan Rail Pass user to make a booking. Because you cannot make a reservation online. All you can do is going to the station to take it. Japan Railway starts to sell the ticket 30 days prior to the departure date. Most of Japan Rail Pass user start to use the pass right after arrival. So if you have a plan to take this train, you need to think about the back up plan. You have to expect that you won’t be able to make it!

*If you have a friend who speaks Japanese, you can ask to make a call to JR West odekake net at 078-341-7903. This reservation center can take a reservation for all JR trains. However you need to pay surcharge and accommodation fee. Japan Rail Pass do not cover any surcharge and accommodation fee on overnight trains. So it is not a big issue. And also you have to pick up your ticket in JR West, Shikoku or Kyushu’s stations. You cannot pick up ticket in other areas, like Tokyo, Niigata, Aomori, Hokkaido.

But you can check the availability online. Please access this page on JR East website. It is in Japanese but it is not complicated. You will see like this table.

曜日 上野発 札幌発
1 17 O
18 O
19 O
20
21
22 X
23

From left to right, Month (月), Day (日), Week-day (曜日), Departure from Ueno (上野発), Departure from Sapporo (札幌発). So the second row means January 17, Monday. Cassiopeia is not operated from Ueno to Sapporo. So you see “-“. On the other hand, you see “O” from Sapporo. It means that lots of rooms are still available. Please see the sixth row. You see “△” departure from Ueno. It means almost sold out. If you see “X”, it means completely sold out. Please check in last minutes before you depart from your country.

Operation dates will be different after March 14, 2015. Please find it at Schedule of 2015 spring seasonal trains of Japan Railways. I wrote the dates until September, 2015.

But you need to think about alternative in case that you cannot make it. If you need any ideas about a back up plan, please refer the post, Alternatives of overnight train Cassiopeia and Hokutosei. I suggest several itineraries.

Timetable

Timetable will be different after March 14, 2015. Please find it at Schedule of 2015 spring seasonal trains of Japan Railways. I wrote the dates until September, 2015.

station/direction Ueno to Sapporo Sapporo to Ueno
Ueno (上野) 16:20 09:25
Omiya (大宮) 16:45 09:00
Utsunomiya (宇都宮) 17:50 07:50
Koriyama (郡山) 19:13 06:15
Fukushima (福島) 19:52 05:36
Sendai (仙台) 20:59 04:33
Ichinoseki (一ノ関) 22:08
Morioka (盛岡) 23:16
Hakodate (函館) 05:02 21:12
Mori (森) 05:52 20:18
Yakumo (八雲) 06:18 19:51
Oshamanbe (長万部) 06:43 19:15
Toya (洞爺) 07:13 18:42
date-Monbetsu (伊達紋別) 07:25 18:28
Higashi-Muroran (東室蘭) 07:44 17:57
Noboribetsu (登別) 08:00 17:37
Tomakomai (苫小牧) 08:33 17:06
Minami-Chitose (南千歳) 08:55 16:46
Sapporo (札幌) 09:32 16:12

Overnight Express Train Hokutosei, most popular overnight train between Tokyo and Sapporo

Overnight Express train Hokutosei
Overnight Express train Hokutosei

*This train was discontinued as scheduled train on March 13, 2015. Now this train is seasonal operation. Please find the operation dates at Schedule of 2015 spring seasonal trains of Japan Railways. It will run until August and it will be discontinued completely. Now it is VERY DIFFICULT to book for this train. I highly recommend you to avoid to use this train in your plan.

Hokutosei is operated between Ueno and Sapporo. This train is like Japanese version Oriental Express and is operated on the same route as the most luxurious overnight train, Cassiopeia. Continue reading

Access to Kushiro and Obihiro from Sapporo. Limited Express Super Ozora / Super Tokachi

Limited express Super Ozora
Limited express Super Ozora and most of express trains are covered by Hokkaido Round Tour Pass.

When you go to South East part of Hokkaido, these trains take you there. Super Ozora and Super Tokachi are operated on same route. Super Ozora connect Sapporo and Kushiro. Super Tokachi connect Sapporo and Obihiro. These trains are very popular and the reserved seats are sold out very often. Especially JR Hokkaido give you a great service in Green car. Sometimes Green car is sold out earlier than Ordinary class. Both trains are fully covered by Japan Rail Pass. So if you have a plan to take these trains, I strongly recommend you to reserve your seat when you exchange your Japan Rail Pass.

I would like to share the information about these trains with you. Continue reading

Access to Abashiri from Sapporo. Limited Express Okhotsk

Limited express train Okhotsk
Limited express train Okhotsk

This is the limited express train that connect Sapporo and Abashiri in Hokkaido. When you go to the world heritage site, Shiretoko, you may use this train to Abashiri and transfer to the local train to Shiretoko-Shari. If you need the information about the access to Shiretoko, please see one of my posts, “How to get Shiretoko“. And also you may access Daisetsu mountains and Sounkyo canyon by this train.

You can take this train by Japan Rail Pass with no restriction. Let’s see the details. Continue reading

Overnight train to/from Sapporo and Aomori. Express Hamanasu

Overnight train Hamanasu at Aomori station
Overnight train Hamanasu at Aomori station

Hamanasu was discontinued in mid March, 2016. There is no overnight train service options available to Hokkaido.

This overnight express train is operated between Aomori and Sapporo. If you want to save your time and you don’t want to spend your money for Hotel in Sapporo, this overnight train is the best choice. Especially when you want to transfer to Tokyo from Sapporo as early as possible, this train is connected with the earliest Tohoku Shinkansen at Shin-Aomori. Continue reading

Access to/from Sapporo, New Chitose airport and Asahikawa. Limited Express Super Kamui

Limited express train Super Kamui
Limited express train Super Kamui

This express train connect two major cities in Hokkaido, Sapporo (札幌) and Asahikawa (旭川). This train does not have any Green class seat. But Super Kamui has “U seat” substitute of Green seat. It is a sort of Reserved Ordinary seat. So even Japan Rail Pass Ordinary can be used for this seat.

Let’s see the details about this train. Continue reading

Access to/from Sapporo and Hakodate. Limited Express Hokuto / Super Hokuto

Super Hokuto
Most of Hokkaido Limited Express trains are operating for a long transfer.

Hokuto and Super Hokuto are operated between Hakodate (函館) and Sapporo (札幌). These trains are connected with Hakucho/Super Hakucho at Hakodate. So if you want to transfer from Tokyo to Sapporo, take Tohoku Shinkansen, Hakucho/Super Hakucho (Shinaomori-Hakodate) and then take these train at Hakodate to Sapporo. Japan Rail Pass cover all these trains from Tokyo to Sapporo. You may have other choices from Tokyo to Sapporo. Even though this is very long trip, there are many trains and this is the easiest to get the ticket. Continue reading