This is a collaboration of Shinkansen and very popular Japanese Anime “New Generation Evangelion (link to Wikipedia)” as Sanyo Shinkansen 40 years anniversary special project. This unique Shinkansen fleet has very different exterior that is painted by Evangelion color. And also it has Evangerion exhibition in car #1. There are many more Evangerion characters and designs in the trains. If you know this anime, you must be excited. Even if you are not familiar with this anime, you will be impressed by these decorations.
***Twilight Express was discontinued in 12 March, 2015. There is no overnight train option between Osaka and Hokkaido any more.***
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 was discontinued in 12 March, 2015. There is no overnight train option between Osaka and Hokkaido any more.***
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.
Tokaido Shinkansen is the oldest and busiest Shinkasen line and it is operated between Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto and Osaka. Sanyo Shinkansen is operated between Osaka, Okayama, Hiroshima and Hakata (Fukuoka). Both lines are connected each other. Many trains, “Nozomi” that is the fastest train on Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen, run from Tokyo to Hiroshima and some of those run to even Hakata.
Most of Hikari run between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka, But some of those run to Okayama and Hiroshima.
Sanyo Shinkansen connected to Kyushu Shinkansen at Hakata. Many trains, Mizuho and Sakura are operated between Shin-Osaka and KUmamoto or Kagoshima-Chuo directly. Please see the post, Kyushu Shinkansen to get details.
Kyushu Shinkansen runs between Hakata and Kagoshima-Chuo. But many trains run from Shin-Osaka and carry many passengers from Kansai area to Kyushu. This is the best way to get Kyushu from Osaka and Hiroshima. But some trains are not covered by JR Pass. I would like to show you about this Shinkansen system in this post.
Sanyo Shinkansen is operated between Shin-Osaka and Hakata. But Sanyo Shinkansen is connected with Tokaido Shinkansen (from Nagoya, Kyoto and Tokyo) at Shin-Osaka and Kyushu Shinkansen (from Kumamoto and Kagoshima) at Hakata.
Most of trains run from Tokyo (Nozomi and Hikari) are operated by Tokaido Shinkansen fleet, 700 series or N700 series. If you look for the images of these trains, please see Tokaido Shinkansen image gallery.
We cannot think about the travel in Japan without Shinkansen. Especially Tokaido Shinkansen (Tokyo-Shin Osaka) can be used for transfer to Kyoto and Osaka from Tokyo. Most of travellers take this Shinkansen once or more. Probably you want to see the interior of Shinkansen trains. There are several types of trains to be operated on Tokaido Shinkansen. I show you all types of trains of Tokaido Shinkansen trains. And also most of Tokaido Shinkansen trains go through on Sanyo Shinkansen between Shin-Osaka and Hakata. So if you take Sanyo Shinkansen, this post may be useful for you too.
Limited Express Hamakaze (はまかぜ) connects Osaka (大阪) with Tottori (鳥取) Kasumi (香住) and Hamasaka (浜坂). Even though there is only one round trip, Hakamaze is only train that connects Osaka with Tottori directly by Japan Rail Pass or other JR rail passes without any extra charge. Actually the primary train goes to Tottori from Osaka is Limited Express Super Hakuto. This train is much more frequent and much faster than Hamakaze. But this train goes through Non JR line, Chizu Kyuko Railway. Therefore you have to pay extra charge if you want to take this train by Japan Rail Pass or other JR passes. Please check the post, The fastest access to Tottori from Osaka, Shin-Osaka and Kyoto, Limited Express Super Hakuto to get the details.
Limited Express Super Hakuto (スーパーはくと) connects Kyoto (京都), Shin-Osaka (新大阪), Osaka (大阪), Sannomiya (三ノ宮) and Himeji (姫路) with Tottori (鳥取) and Kurayoshi (倉吉). This it the fastest and most frequent direct train service to Tottori from Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto. But this train goes through non JR line, Chizu Kyuko Railway. That means you need to pay extra if you use this train by Japan Rail Pass. If you don’t want to pay extra, Limited Express Hamakaze is available between Osaka and Tottori. However there is only one round trip and travel time is 1.5 hours longer than Super Hakuto.
I think Super Hakuto may be your choice even if you have to pay extra on top of Japan Rail Pass. Let’s see about route, schedule and accommodations.
Route, schedule and travel time
There are seven round trips. Some of these seven round trips go to Tottori only, not Kurayoshi. Kyoto/Osaka – Tottori : 5 trips Kyoto/Osaka – Tottori/Kurayoshi : 2 trips Tottori – Osaka/Kyoto : 6 trips Kurayoshi/Tottori – Osaka/Kyoto : 1 trip
Trains are operated every 2 hours. Travel time is 2 hours 30 minutes from Osaka to Tottori and 3 hours from Kyoto to Tottori. You can take Limited Express Hamakaze without any extra charge on top of Japan Rail Pass. But it takes more than 4 hours to get Tottori from Osaka. I think it is worth getting on this train with extra charge. I will tell you about extra charge later.
If you see the map below, you might think this train’s route seems to be a big detour. However this is the fastest route because Chizu Kyuko line is a high standard track for high speed train operation. And if you travel from Nagoya or Tokyo, you can transfer at Himeji.
Limited Express Super Hakuto makes a stop at these stations: Kyoto (京都) – Shin-Osaka (新大阪) – Osaka (大阪) – Sannomiya (三ノ宮) – Akashi (明石) – Himeji (姫路) – Kamigori (上郡) – Sayo (佐用) – Ohara (大原) – Chizu (智頭) – Koge (郡家) – Tottori (鳥取) – Kurayoshi (倉吉)
Super Hakuto is operated by the Chizu Kyuko Railway’s HOT 7000 series. In ordinary class, the seat configuration is 2+2 and the seat pitch is 970 mm. But Reserved seat is a better seat than non reserved. Green class seat is one of the best seat in Kansai area. The seat configuration is 2+1 and the seat pitch is 1,160 mm. There are only 18 seats available on one train set. It is very popular and sold out very often. On board sales is available between Kamigori and Tottori only.
*G=Green seat R=Reserved ordinary seat NR=Non reserved ordinary seat Smoking is not allowed on this train.
Unfortunately there is no most updated images of ordinary class seats. Please find it at Chizu Kyuko official site. The first seat images are reserved ordinary class seat an next one is non reserved ordinary class seat.
N700 series was introduced for Kyushu Shinkansen in this past March. The fleet is the newest and the fastest on Kyushu and Sanyo Shinkansen. If you will use Japan Rail Pass, you may take this train as Sakura from Shin-Osaka to Hakata, Kumamoto or Kagoshima-Chuo. This series is basically on same types of N700 series on Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen. But this series is strictly called N700-7000/8000. The exterior is not much different between N700 and N700-7000/8000. But the interior is quite different. This N700-7000/8000 is much better than original N700. Of course this has the best facility on Sanyo and Kyushu Shinkansen. Some of my frequent visitors rate Green class of this series higher than even the highest seat in Japan, Glan class of E5 series on Tohoku Shinkansen. Let’s see the interior images of this beautiful train. Continue reading Kyushu Shinkansen N700 series for Mizuho, Sakura and Tsubame image gallery
Shirasagi runs between Nagoya, Maibara and Kanazawa. This train is the fastest transfer from Nagoya and Maibara to Hokuriku region, such as Kanazawa and Fukui. This train is very popular for both a business and a leisure travelers. Because there are several popular locations along the route, such as Awara-Onsen hot springs, Kaga-Onsen hot spring. And Kanazawa is the biggest city in Hokuriku area and it is very popular tourist destination as well.
This train, Shirasagi is fully covered by Japan Rail Pass. And if you use Kansai Hokuriku Area Pass or Hokuriku Arch Pass, only the segment between Kanazawa and Tsuruga are covered. If you use Takayama Hokuriku area pass, the segment between Tsuruga and Gifu is not covered.
Hashidate connects Kyoto and Miyazu, Amanohashidate and Toyooka. This is only train to go directly one of “Three Views of Japan”, Amanohashidate.
This train, Hashidate goes through KTR (Kyoto Tango Railway) between Fukuchiyama and Toyooka. So if you use this train and go to stations further than Fukuchiyama by Japan Rail Pass, you have to pay extra fare. But if you use Kansai Wide Area Pass, Kansai Hiroshima Area Pass or Kansai Hokuriku Area Pass, this segment on KTR is covered.
Kinosaki (きのさき) connects Kyoto (京都) with Kinosaki-Onsen (城崎温泉), Toyooka (豊岡) and Fukuchiyama (福知山). When you go to the popular hot springs town, Kinosaki or one of “Three Views of Japan”, Amanohashidate (天橋立) from Kyoto you may take this train.
Maizuru (まいづる) connects Kyoto with Maizuru (舞鶴). This limited express train is always combined operation with Kinosaki between Kyoto and Ayabe (綾部).
Konotori connects Shin-Osaka (新大阪) and Osaka (大阪) with Kinosaki-Onsen (城崎温泉), Toyooka (豊岡) and Fukuchiyama (福知山). When you go to the popular hot springs town, Kinosaki or one of “Three Views of Japan”, Amanohashidate from Osaka, you may take this train.
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.
Wide View Nanki (ワイドビュー南紀) is a Limited Express train that connects Nagoya (名古屋) with Shingu (新宮) and Kii-Katsuura (紀伊勝浦). Nanki (南紀) is the name of the area in Kii peninsula (紀伊半島). When you go to UNESCO World Heritage site, “Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range” from Nagoya, you can use this train and access there from Shingu. This train is operated by KIHA 85 series that equips very huge windows. It can offer to passengers very panoramic view. That is why this train is called “Wide View”. Continue reading Access to World Heritage Kii mountains from Nagoya. Limited Express Wide View Nanki
***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 limited express train Nihonkai
Yamatoji Rapid Service is the fastest local train that is operated between Osaka (=大阪) and Nara (=奈良). Most of local tourists take Kintetsu line (近鉄) to Nara. Because they have many more trains and very frequent. If you travel in Japan without Japan Rail Pass, you may use Kintetsu line. But most of travellers from foreign countries use Japan Rail Pass. So this Rapid Service is your best choice, because you don’t need to pay any extra by Japan Rail Pass. This line used to be very local and inconvenient. But JR West upgrade the trains and operate many Rapid trains. It is very convenient and frequent departure these days.
Miyakoji Rapid Service is the fastest local train that is operated between Kyoto (=京都) and Nara (=奈良). Most of local tourists take Kintetsu (近鉄) line to Nara. Because they have many more trains and very frequent. If you travel in Japan without Japan Rail Pass, you may use Kintetsu line. But most of travellers from foreign countries use Japan Rail Pass. So this Rapid Service is your best choice, because you don’t need to pay any extra. This line used to be very local and inconvenient. But JR West upgrade the trains and timetable. Now JR West operate many Rapid trains. It is very convenient and frequent departure these days.
These trains connect downtown Osaka (=大阪) with Kansai airport (=関西空港) and Wakayama (=和歌山). Both Kansai Airport and Kishuji Rapid Services are combined to operate between Tennoji (=天王寺) and Hineno (=日根野). Those trains are uncoupled at Hineno, then each trains go to Kansai Airport or Wakayama. If you arrive at Kansai airport, you can take Kansai Airport Rapid Service instead of airport access express “Haruka“. Of course both Limited Express Haruka and this rapid train are fully covered by Japan Rail Pass. But if you buy a single ticket, you may consider to take this train.
Special Rapid Service is the fastest local train that is operated between Tsuruga (=敦賀) and Kamigori (=上郡) via Kyoto (=京都), Shin-Osaka (=新大阪), Osaka (=大阪), Sannomiya (=三ノ宮), Kobe (=神戸) and Himeji (=姫路). Especially JR West compete with Hankyu (=阪急) and Keihan (=京阪) between Kyoto and Osaka, with Hankyu and Hanshin (=阪神) between Osaka and Kobe. So JR West have to offer fast and good quality of services. As a result, the time required by this train is faster than Shinkansen between Osaka and Kyoto. Since Shinkansen do not have a station in downtown Kobe, this trains is faster than Shinkansen between Osaka and Kobe too. Of course this train is fully covered by Japan Rail Pass. Let’s see the details.
JR West operates many commute trains, rapid and local between 5:30 am and midnight. But when you travel in Kansai area by JR trains, special rapid service trains are the best way to travel among cities, like Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Nara, Wakayama and Kansai airport. These “Special” rapid service skips many stations and much faster than rapid and local trains. If you use JR pass, you may take limited express trains. But these rapid service trains are sometimes faster than express trains and run much more frequently. That means you do not check the timetable. These are commute trains and mostly very busy in even daytime and late night, but it is convenient. It is a key to understand this rapid train system to travel among cities in Kansai area.
Kansai Airport Limited Express Haruka may be your first train in Japan. It is operated between Kansai (Osaka) airport and Greater Osaka area, Kyoto, Kusatsu and Maibara. But please be careful that Haruka does not stop at Osaka station. It stop at Tennoji and Shin-Osaka. If you want to go to Osaka station, you have to transfer to the local train at Shin-Osaka. This express train has 30 round trips a day and are operated mostly every 30 minutes.
Limited Express Kuroshio connects Kii peninsula, Kyoto, Shin-Osaka and Tennoji. This is the train which you take to get Shingu, Kii-Katsuura, Shirahama, Kii-Tanabe. These places are known as the gateway to UNESCO World Heritage site, “Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range”.
This train is covered by Japan Rail Pass, Kansai Wide Area Pass, Kansai Hiroshima Area Pass and Kansai Hokuriku Area Pass.
Kyushu Shikansen will be scheduled to operate all part of line on March 12, 2011. It will be connected with Sanyo Shinkansen at Hakata station. JR Kyushu and JR West will start to operate new express train service between Shin-Osaka (新大阪) and Kagoshima-Chuo (鹿児島中央).
Mizuho will be the fastest train service. It will stop at Shin-Kobe, Okayama, Hiroshima, Kokura, Hakata and Kumamoto. It will take 3 hours and 45 minutes. 4 round trips will be scheduled to operate. Sakura will stop at some more stations, Himeji (姫路), Fukuyama (福山), Shin-Yamaguchi (新山口), Shin-Tosu (新鳥栖), Kurume (久留米) and Shin-Yatsushiro (新八代). It will be operated once an hour. After Sakura will be operated, the similar train service, Hikari Rail Star, will be stopped to operate.