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

Aomori, Shin-Aomori, Hirosaki
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.

Tokyo – Shin Aomori – Hakodate – Sapporo (overnight train Hamanasu used)

Overnight Express train Hamansu

Tokyo to Sapporo

17:56pm Tokyo (Tohoku Shinkansen Hayate 37)
21:28pm Shin-Aomori
21:38pm Shin-Aomori (Local train)
21:44pm Aomori
22:42pm Aomori (Hamanasu)
Overnight in the train
06:07am Sapporo

Sapporo to Tokyo

22:00pm Sapporo (Hamanasu)
Overnight in the train
05:40am Aomori
05:46am Aomori (Limited Express Tsugaru 2)
05:51am Shin-Aomori
06:10am Shin-Aomori (Tohoku Shinkansen Hayabusa 4)
09:24am Tokyo

Overnight express train “Hamanasu” is used. I think this is the best alternative. Because you don’t need to book your hotel in Sapporo or Osaka. And this is faster than Cassiopeia and Hokutosei. Even though both Hayate and Hayabusa on Tohoku Shikansen do not have any non reserved seat, there are lots of trains. So if you make a small adjustment (take earlier train), you can make this trip. Hamanasu is not luxury overnight train. But two types of reserved seat on Hamanasu have very good reputation. It is quite popular and hard to get it too. You may not be able to get a reserved seat either. But in the worst case, Hamanasu has non reserved seat. See the details about Hamansu at my post.

Tokyo – Shin Aomori – Hakodate – Sapporo (no overnight trains used)

Osaka to Sapporo

12:56pm Tokyo (Tohoku Shinkansen Hayate 27)
16:33pm Shin-Aomori
16:41pm Shin-Aomori (Super Hakucho 27)
18:53pm Hakodate
19:41pm Hakodate (Super Hokuto/Hokuto 21)
22:56pm Sapporo

Sapporo to Osaka

07:00am Sapporo (Super Hokuto/Hokuto 2)
10:11am Hakodate
10:17am Hakodate (Super Hakucho 26)
12:19pm Shin-Aomori
12:28pm Shin-Aomori (Tohoku Shinkansen Hayate 26)
16:08pm Tokyo

I use the last train to Sapporo and the first train to Tokyo. All trains have non reserved seat except Hayate on Tohoku Shinkansen. So it is same story as the alternative plan above. But this is going to be very long day trip. And also you need to reserve your accommodation in Sapporo/Tokyo because you don’t overnight in the train.

Tokyo – Ueno – Aomori – Hakodate – Sapporo (overnight train Akebono used)

Reserved seat (Goron to seat) is almost same as basic berth. (C) Sonic Rail Garden

Osaka to Sapporo

21:15pm Ueno (Overnight Limited Express train Akebono)
Overnight in the train
09:56am Aomori
10:24am Aomori (Super Hakucho 11)
12:22pm Hakodate
12:30pm Hakodate (Super Hokuto/Hokuto 9)
15:44pm Sapporo

Sapporo to Osaka

12:22pm Sapporo (Super Hokuto/Hokuto 12)
15:38pm Hakodate
15:55pm Hakodate (Super Hakucho 40)
17:51am Aomori
18:25am Aomori (Overnight Limited Express train Akebono)
Overnight in the train
06:58am Ueno

Akebono is basic type of overnight train. But this train has a reserved seat. So if you will use Japan Rail Pass, you can take this train with no extra cost. This train does not have any non reserved seat. If you cannot make a reservation, you cannot take this option. See the details about Akebono at my post.

If you need more alternatives, please see the post about overnight ferry service between Aomori and Hakodate. You have to pay some extra. But you can stay overnight in the vessel and you don’t need to worry about booking a hotel after you arrive in Japan.


  1. caroll says:

    hi Takeshi san,
    i read that Hamanasu was discontinued last March 2016.
    Do you have other blog about ovenight train from TOkyo to Sapporo and vise versa which is also fully covered by JR pass?

    Btw, im planning to visit hokkaido this coming sept. is it peak season?

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      Takeshi / says:

      Hi Caroll san,

      There is no overnight train options available any more to Hokkaido. You have to Hokkaido Shinkansen and other limited express train in daytime.
      September is not the busiest season but it’s still busy. In these days, Hokkaido is always busy.


      Takeshi /

  2. Lydia says:

    Hi, I thought there are comments under this blog entries including my questions but i cannot see any. Could you let me know how to access the entry that you have answered for me? Thanks.

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      JPRail says:

      Hi Lydia,

      You left the comments at Akebono’s post.

      By the way, I have arrived in Japan this afternoon. My flight arrived one hour earlier than schedule. My flight landed around 15:00. I complete custom and immigration around 15:45. And then I went to the station, get the pass and make a booking. Goronto seat was sold out that I expected. It is no surprised. No I’m on Akebono. I paid additional 9000 yen to get B Solo compartment. Today there are lots of empty space at B Solo and B berth. I feel it is not hard to get B berth. Regarding B solo, I did not expect to get this compartment. I think I’m lucky today.

      As long as you arrive on time, you can be Ueno station before Akebono will depart. I arrived at Ueno station around 18:00 today. I had lots of time to have dinner and some shop around.
      Regarding booking, don’t expect to get a Gronto saet. It is completely full today too. It is one of the hardest to make it in all Japanese trains. If you can accept extra appx 9000 yen to get B berth, you can go for it.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

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