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.
The list of overnight trains
Japan Rail Pass does not cover any accommodation fee for overnight trains. Most of overnight trains have berth and bedroom. So if you want to take this train, you have to pay extra for this accommodation on top of JR Pass. But these following trains have an accommodation that you can take by Japan Rail Pass without any extra charge. Please find more details on each page of trains.
- Express Train “Hamanasu” (runs between Aomori and Sapporo in Hokkaido) This train will be discontinued in March 2016.
- Limited Express “Sunrise Seto” (runs between Tokyo and Takamatsu in Shikoku)
- Limited Express “Sunrise Izumo” (runs between Tokyo and Izumo-shi)
- Rapid Train “Moonlight Nagara” (runs between Tokyo and Ogaki / Seasonal operation)
- Rapid Train “Moonlight Echigo” (runs between Shinjuku and Niigata / Seasonal operation) This train may be discontinued.
- Rapid Train “Moonlight Shinshu 81” (runs from Shinjuku to Matsumoto, no train to Shinjuku from Matsumoto / Seasonal operation)
Japan Railways have another overnight train, Cassipeia. But you need to pay extra to take these trains.
- Limited Express “Cassiopeia” (runs between Ueno and Sapporo) This train will be discontinued in March 2016.
But Cassiopeia is not operated daily. This train provides a first class hospitality. Even if you can pay extra to take this train, it is very hard to reserve the seat because these trains are very popular. And also there is no way to book online from outside of Japan.
There are still two more overnight trains. But these trains will be discontinued in March 2015. And it is almost impossible to book for these trains.
- Limited Express “Hokutosei” (runs between Ueno and Sapporo)
- Limited Express “Twilight Express” (runs between Osaka and Sapporo)
I do not recommend you to use these above trains in your plan.
At last, there are also some seasonal overnight trains available.
- Limited Express “Nihonkai” (runs between Osaka and Aomori)
*This train was discontinued service as scheduled train on March 17, 2012. It is operated as a seasonal train. But it has not been operated in these days.
- Limited Express Train “Akebono” (runs between Ueno in Tokyo and Aomori)
*This train was discontinued service as a schedule train on March 14, 2014. It is operated as seasonal operation. But since 2013 spring season, this train was not operated.
These above four trains were discontinued completely.
Unfortunately only JR East provide Online reservation service. So Japan Rail Pass holder can make a reservation for Tohoku, Joetsu, Nagano, Yamagata and Akita Shinkansen, and also some limited express trains that operated by JR East only. We cannot even Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkasen. Of course those overnight trains cannot be reserved before you depart.