Category Archives: Overnight Trains

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

Save time and money to go to Niigata from Tokyo by train. Overnight rapid train Moonlight Echigo

***This train usually runs in peak periods. But since summer peak season in 2014, this train has not run any more. It seems that this train service is discontinued.***
Moonlight Echigo is operated by old type express train 183 series.
Moonlight Echigo is operated by old type express train 183 series.

Moonlight Echigo (ムーンライトえちご) is the overnight rapid service train that is operated between Shinjuku (新宿) and Niigata (新潟). This train used to be a scheduled train. But it was changed to a seasonal train. It is usually operated in same season as Moonlight Nagara, such as spring break (two weeks from late March to early April), summer break (late July to the end of August) and Christmas holidays. These periods are the seasons when “Seisyun 18 ticket” is sold. Anyone can buy this ticket. You can ride any local train throughout Japan for 5 days at 11500 yen. This train can be used by this ticket. So it is always busy.

This train is fully covered by Japan Rail Pass. It may be hard to get a seat on this train because of only peak season operation. But it may be considerable for overnight transfer between Tokyo and Niigata, and any area in Tohoku and Hokuriku via Niigata. Let’s see the details about this train. 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

Save money and time going to Kanazawa, Overnight Express train Noto

Overnight Express Noto is operated by 485 series. (C) Sui-setz / 800px-JR_East_485_Express_Noto
Overnight Express Noto is operated by 485 series. (C) Sui-setz / 800px-JR_East_485_Express_Noto

*Since March 2012, this train has not been operated. Even though JR East has not announced officially anything about this train, this train seemed to be discontinued.

Not (能登) is the overnight express train that is operated between Ueno (上野) and Kanazawa (金沢). This train used to be a scheduled train. But it was changed to a seasonal train in Mar, 2010. It is usually operated on every Friday and in peak season, such as spring holidays (late April to early May), Obon hoidays (mid August) and Christmas holidays. This train was operated on Saturday before Mar 2011. But JR cut down the operation days because they tried to make vehicle occupancy higher.

This train is fully covered by Japan Rail Pass. It might be hard to get a seat on this train since this train is always busy. But it is considerable for overnight transfer between Tokyo and Kanazawa. Let’s see the details about this train. Continue reading

Save money and time to go to Nagoya, Kyoto and Osaka from Tokyo by train. Overnight rapid train Moonlight Nagara

185 series still run as limited express train Odoriko. This fleet is used for rapid Moonlight Nagara too.
185 series still run as limited express train Odoriko. This fleet is used for rapid Moonlight Nagara too.

Moonlight Nagara (ムーンライトながら) is the overnight rapid service train that is operated between Tokyo and Ogaki (大垣). This train is operated as the seasonal train. It is usually operated in spring break (two weeks from late March to early April), summer break (late July to the end of August) and Christmas to New Year holidays. These periods are the seasons when “Seishun 18 ticket” is sold. This ticket covers any rapid and local train’s non reserved seat throughout Japan for 5 days at 11,850 yen. This train can be used by this ticket with additional charge for reserved seat fare. Therefore this train runs for busy period only and it is very hard to book.

This train is fully covered by Japan Rail Pass. But online reservation is not available for overseas visitor and ticket is on sale one month prior to departure date. It is very hard to book and not realistic to put this train in your plan.

Anyway it may be considerable for overnight transfer between Tokyo and Nagoya/Kyoto/Osaka. Let’s see the details about this train. Continue reading

Overnight limited express train Nihonkai

Overnight train Nihonkai is the best way to save the time from Osaka to Aomori (C) Sonic Rail Garden
Overnight train Nihonkai is the best way to save the time from Osaka to Aomori (C) Sonic Rail Garden
***This train scheduled service was discontinued on March, 2012 due to small demand. It is operated as a seasonal operation train. Please refer the most updated operation date at Seasonal Trains Schedule.***

Nihonkai (日本海) is one of JR Overnight Express trains. It connects Osaka (大阪) with Akita (秋田) and Aomori (青森). This train has only the berth. So if you will use Japan Rail Pass, Japan Rail Pass does not cover an accommodation charge and also limited express surcharge. Even though Japan Rail Pass cover a basic fare, Nihonkai is still considerable way to get Aomori from Osaka. Let’s see the types of accommodation and extra charge. 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

Overnight transfer to Aomori/Akita from Tokyo, No extra charge on Japan Rail Pass! Overnight limited express Akebomo

***This train scheduled service was discontinued in March, 2014 due to small demand. It is operated as a seasonal operation train. Please refer the most updated operation date at Seasonal Trains Schedule.***
Overnight train "Akebono"
Overnight train Akebono

This overnight train is operated between Ueno and Aomori. Japan Railway operate 3 overnight trains between Tokyo and Tohoku or Hokkaido. But only “Akebono” has the reserved seat. The other two trains, “Hokutosei” and “Cassiopeia”, have only the sleeper. If you take sleeper class by Japan Rail Pass, Japan Rail Pass is valid for the basic fare only. You have to pay not only sleeper class surcharge but also limited express surcharge. That means you do not need to pay the extra to get “Akebono” because this train has the reserved seat. Continue reading

Overnight transfer Niigata – Kyoto and Osaka, Overnight Express Train Kitaguni

Overnight express train Kitaguni (C) Sonic Rail Garden
Overnight express train Kitaguni (C) Sonic Rail Garden

***According to media release on Jan 31, 2013 from JR West, this train scheduled service was officially discontinued. This train will never run again.***

***According to media release on Nov 18 from JR West, this train scheduled service will be discontinued on March, 2012 due to small demand. It will be operated as a seasonal operation train. Please refer the most updated operation date at Seasonal Trains Schedule.***

Kitaguni(きたぐに) is one of very few express trains in Japan Railway Group. This train is the overnight train that connects Osaka/Kyoto area with Niigata area. If you want to save the time and save your budget for the hotels in Osaka, Kyoto or Niigata, this train is perfect choice. This train has non reserved ordinary seat. So you can take this train without any extra charge by Japan Rail Pass. Kitaguni has some sleeper cars and Green class too. If you have Japan Rail Pass Green pass, you can take Green car with no extra cost. But you need to pay extra to use sleeper class by using any Japan Rail Pass. I will tell you the extra charge and show you some images. 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

No extra charge with Japan Rail Pass to take this overnight train! Passenger’s review of "Sunrise Seto"

Sunrise Seto / Sunrise Izumo

I took “Sunrise Seto” from Tokyo to Takamatsu on April 23, 2010.

I reserved “Nobi Nobi seat”. This is one of the reserved seat. But I could lie down to sleep. It seemed to be a berth. Continue reading

Overnight train to/from Tokyo and Izumoshi via Okayama, Sunrise Izumo. JR Pass user can take with no extra charge!

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Sunrise Izumo is the Overnight train that operated between Tokyo and Yonago, Matsue and Izumo-shi in Sanin area. This train is combined with Sunrise Seto between Tokyo and Okayama.

Some of overnight train consist of the bedroom and the berth only. This train has the reserved seat. So Japan Rail Pass holder can take this train without the extra. This reserved seat is called “Nobi Nobi Seat”. It is like a berth and much more comfortable than the coach type seat. You can lie on the seat. And you have some privacy because there is a small partition between the seat and the seat.

But some of Japan Rail Pass users want to take a bedroom or another choice even though additional will be charged. Let’s see the accommodation of Sunrise Seto. Continue reading

Overnight train to/from Tokyo and Takamatsu via Okayama, Sunrise Seto. JR Pass user can take with no extra charge!

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Sunrise Seto is the Overnight train that operated between Tokyo and Takamatsu in Shikoku island. This train is combined with Sunrise Izumo between Tokyo and Okayama. This train depart late night and arrive early morning. If you want to save the time, this train is the perfect choice.

(Please see my passenger’s review too)

Some of overnight train consist of the bedroom and the berth only. This train has the reserved seat. So Japan Rail Pass holder can take this train without the extra. This reserved seat is called “Nobi Nobi Seat”. It is like a berth and much more comfortable than the coach type seat. You can lie on the seat. And you have some privacy because there is a small partition between the seat and the seat.

But some of Japan Rail Pass users want to take a bedroom or another choice even though additional will be charged. Let’s see the accommodation of Sunrise Seto. Continue reading

Save time and money! Learn more about Overnight Trains. Which overnight train can we take with no extra charge by JR Pass?

Overnight train Hamanasu runs between Aomori and Sapporo. It is very useful train to get Hokkaido. But it may be discontinued when Hokkaido Shiknansen open.
Overnight train Hamanasu runs between Aomori and Sapporo. It is very useful train to get Hokkaido. But it may be discontinued when Hokkaido Shiknansen open.

Japan Railways used to operate many overnight trains. But in these days, many of those train services were discontinued. Now the choice is very limited. Continue reading