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

Overnight Express train Twilight ExpressHakodate, Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto
Overnight Express train Twilight Express
***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

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.

*Sonic Rail Garden has copyright for all images below.

Time table and Route

This train is not operated everyday. It is operated on Mon, Wed, Fri and Sat to Sapporo, and on Tue, Thu, Sat and Sun to Osaka. But it is operated everyday during the peak season (mid August, New year holidays) .

Timetable

station/directionOsaka to SapporoSapporo to Osaka
Osaka (大阪)11:5012:52
Shin-Osaka (新大阪)11:5612:47
Kyoto (京都)12::3512:15
Tsuruga (敦賀)13:4810:36
Fukui (福井)14:4009:54
Kanazawa (金沢)15:4008:49
Takaoka (高岡)16:1408:18
Toyama (富山)16:3108:01
Naoetsu (直江津)17:5906:27
Nagaoka (長岡)18:5805:29
Niitsu (新津)19:3904:40
Toya (洞爺)07:1816:33
Higashi-Muroran (東室蘭)07:5215:50
Noboribetsu (登別)008:1115:34
Tomakomai (苫小牧)08:5015:00
Minami-Chitose (南千歳)09:1014:39
Sapporo (札幌)09:5214:05


View Twilight Express in a larger map

Types of accommodation and extra charges

Japan Rail Pass cover only basic fare when you take overnight accommodation. So you have to pay these extra charges.

Extra express surcharge: 3,150 yen (between Osaka or Shin-Osaka or Kyoto and any stations in Hokkaido)

And also you have to pay the accommodation fee. Please refer the below informations.

Train Formation

123456789
STE/RYLSTE/RYLDSTW/STTW/STTWBB

*STE=Suite RYL=Royal TW=Twin Deluxe ST=Single Twin D=Dining Car “Diner Pleiades” SL=Salon Car “Salon Du Nord” B=”B compart”
*Smoking is permitted on all cars except the dinner time in Dining Car.

Suite

  • Rate: 50,980 yen per room, based on two persons.
  • TV, audio, clock, in-room shower, in-room washroom, dryer, power outlet, fridge, welcome drink (choose from a bottle of wine, a small bottle of whiskey, coffee or tea), morning drink (choose from coffee or tea), Yukata (Japanese night wear), bath towel, facial towel

There are only two rooms in the train. One of two rooms is located at the end of the train in car#1. It has a huge panoramic window. Especially when you go to Sapporo, this room is at the end of the train formation. You can see very dramatic view. (But if you travel from Sapporo to Osaka, this room is just behind the locomotive.) The other room is located in car#2. This room has a huge glass window to the ceiling. And it has separated shower and washroom. Since these rooms are very popular, hard to get it.

Images of Room at the end of the train in car#1

Images of Room in car#2

Royal

  • Rate: 17,180 yen per person, based on one person.
  • TV, audio, clock, private shower, private washroom, welcome drink (choose from a bottle of wine, a small bottle of whiskey, coffee or tea), morning drink (choose from coffee or tea), Yukata (Japanese night wear), bath towel, facial towel

There are eight rooms in the train. But it is also very hard to get it because these rooms are very popular. These rooms can be used for 2 persons. The extra charge for second person is 9.450 yen.

Images

Twin

  • Rate: 16,320 yen per room, based on two persons.
  • Audio, Yukata (Japanese night wear)

There are 23 rooms in the train. This type of room has upper and lower berth. This room does not have a washroom in the room.

Images

Single Twin

  • Rate: 9,170 yen per room, based on one person.
  • Audio, Yukata (Japanese night wear)

There are 12 rooms in this train. This room is designed for one person and can be used for 2. This is a reason why it has very strange name. The extra charge for second person is 5,250 yen.

Images

B Compart

  • Rate: 6,300 yen per person.
  • Yukata (Japanese night wear)

This is not a real compartment. It is very similar to the regular berth. Every compartments have 4 beds and have a sliding door. But it cannot be locked. So if you travel as the party of four, you can get a minimum privacy for your group.

Images

Dining Car “Diner Pleiades” and Salon Car “Salon Du Nord”

Dining car “Diner Pleiades” gives you the fine dining experience. Meal is not included in the rate and the reservation for dinner must be done by five days prior to the departure date. You can choose the dining time, 17:30-19:00 or 19:30-21:00. Simply you can make a reservation at the same time as booking for the room. You can choose “The Sea of Japan Kaiseki Gozen (日本海懐石御膳=Traditional Japanese style cuisine)” at 6,000 yen or French cuisine five course at 12,000 yen. But you cannot take the Sea of Japan Kaiseki Gozen in the dining room. If you take Japanese cuisine, the dinner will be delivered to your room, or you can have your dinner at Salon car “Salon Du Nord”.

Images of Dining car “Diner Pleiades”

Images of French dinner

*Dinner menu is changed very frequently. You can see the most updated menu and Japanese Kaiseki menu at JR West Food Service website (in Japanese only).

Dining car gives you the service as the pub between 21:00 and 23:00. You don’t need to make a reservation. You can drink and eat some small plates, such as cheese plate, smoked salmon, rice pilaf.

Images of Pub time menu

Breakfast is available 6:00 am (from Sapporo at 6:45 am) to 9:00 am. You can make a reservation after boarding. You can choose Japanese style or Western style, and also choose the time from 6:00 (only from Osaka to Sapporo), 6:45, 7:30 and 8:15.

Images of western breakfast menu

If you take the train to Sapporo, Dining car gives you the lunch too. They serve a light meal, such as curry rice, pasta, beef stew, deep fried prawn and omelet rice. Reservation is not necessary.

They sell regular dinner box and drinks. And also you can eat a light meal in the Pub time. 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.

There is a beautiful lounge space for the public on car#4. It is called “Salon Du Nord”. All seats face to Sea of Japan. If you travel from Osaka in sunny day, you can see the dramatic sunset on Sea of Japan. This must be the most memorable moment in your trip. You can have your Japanese Kaiseki or regular box meal or even pub menu here in this lounge.

Images of “Salon Du Nord”

There is small salon space on car#7.

Images of Mini Salon

*Smoking is NOT permitted in both lounge space and dining car.

Other facilities

There are some public sanitary spaces from car#4 to car#9. The shared shower rooms and the public phone are located on car#4. If you want to use the shower room, you need to buy a shower card at dining car and secure your time. It costs 310yen for 6 minutes to use shower. But you have 30 minutes for using the space.

Images of sanitary spaces

Images of shower rooms and other facilities

Reservation and space availability

It is very difficult for Japan Rail Pass user to make a booking. Because you cannot make a reservation online. And also lots of tour operator block many spaces on this train for their domestic package tour product. If you give up to use Japan Rail Pass and you can understand Japanese or have a friend in Japan, you can contact to JR West reservation center directly. One of my readers, Tak gave me very useful infomation. He told us how to do it. I would like to share this information with you.

Personally, I have tried JR West telephone reservation center to buy Twilight express ticket.
I can tell you how to reserve on the phone.
1.Call JR west call center +81-78-341-7903 to make reservation from your country. (Only Japanese)
2. If the seat is available, pay by credit card.
3. When you arrive Japan, go to Midorino madoguchi. Show your credit card and you can collect the ticket from any JR west station.

They don’t have this service for JR pass, but I think it is useful for Twilight express because you need to pay for the Express and sleeper tickets anyway. Tak added some more information for Japan Rail Pass user. This way maybe useful for Japan Rail Pass user who can speak Japanese.

Actually, you don’t need to give up your JR pass when you make reservation by phone. I bought only limited express ticket (特急券) and sleeper ticket (寝台券) by phone reservation. I can take Twilight using JR pass with the tickets bought in advance.
If you go to Midori no Madoguchi and ask for Twilight using JR pass, they will charge for express and sleeper surchages (特急券 and 寝台券). So, this works perfectly when you make reservation
using this service.

When you use this service, please don’t forget you can pick up only from JR West station.

Please see this website for details.

If you cannot do this way, all you can do is going to “Midori no Mdoguchi (みどり窓口=ticket reservation window) at the station to take it. Japan Railway starts to sell the ticket at 10:00 am on 1 month prior to the departure date.

ex) If you take the train on April 1, the ticket is started to sell at 10:00 am on March 1.

Most of Japan Rail Pass user start to use the pass right after arrival. But actually most of people who wants to take this train in Japan do not decide the date. They take the ticket whenever they can make it. (Then they try to get the vacation…) Especially Suite and Royal room are almost impossible to get it after you arrive in Japan. Usually these two types of rooms are sold out just a few second after the tickets are started to sell. If you really really want to take this train, try to take this from Sapporo to Osaka. Mostly this direction is easier to reserve a ticket than Osaka to Sapporo direction. However if you have a plan to take this train, you need to think about the back up plan anyway. If you want to make sure which you can do it or not, use your local travel agent to make a reservation.

Unfortunately you cannot make any reservations and check the space availability at all either online. If you need any ideas in case that you cannot make a reservations, please refer this post, Alternatives of Overnight train Twilight Express. I suggest you several itineraries there.

Comments

  1. Sesergey says:

    Takeshi-san,

    Could you do me a favor, would it be possible to get a ticket for 3 person(2 adults+1 children) for Twilight express from Sapporo to Osaka on December, 29, 2011 in advance more that 30 days. Prefer to buy Royal or Twin room due to traveling with family. I assume it will be peak season for rail express. In addition Pls. advise if timetable suppose to be changed in December – need to know precise arrival time to Osaka because of air tickets from Kansai airport. Do you have any recommendation regarding the shortest way to get Kansai airport from Osaka railway station. Thanks in advance. Serge

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of JPRail.com
      JPRail says:

      Hi Sesergey-san,
      We do not have anyway to get a ticket more than 30 days before. But some of travel agents have a packaged tour that includes Twilight Express. If you buy this type of package tour, you may secure a ticket more than 30 days before.
      However this kind of tour is sold for the domestic tourist in Japan. So it is almost impossible to find this kind of information in English. If you are interested in this type of tour, try to contact to major Japanese travel agent, such as JTB, Nippon Travel Agency, Kintetsu International or Japan Airlines.
      Basically it is very very hard to get Royal room. If you want to get it, you need to be the ticket window at 10:00 am in 30 days prior, or use a travel agent. Even if you do this, it is still very very hard to get it.

      Regarding schedule, it is same so far. I don’t think they change it. But the trains will be late. Especially they have lots of snow in Hokkaido, Tohoku and Hokuriku area. The trains that go through these area are late often in winter time. I don’t recommend you to make a tight schedule. If I were you, I don’t use Twilight Express to go to Osaka on same day as the departure date from Kansai. It is too risky.
      Takeshi / JP Rail

  2. Pavlo says:

    Dear Takeshi,
    thank you so much for your work, it’s one of very few places with all the information about night
    trains in Japan.
    I plan to use Twilight express on October 21 from Kanazawa to Toya (I need Hakodate but there’s no stop). Do you think it will be very difficult to book single twin compartment upon my arrival in Tokyo on October 10? Is it advisable to ask my Japanese friends to book it for me now? Is there any possible way to book it from abroad?
    Thank you in advance,
    Pavlo

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of JPRail.com
      JPRail says:

      Hi Pavlo,
      It may be busy. Because it is friday. If you can ask your friend in Japan, go ahead. The ticket will be sold at 10:00 am on Sep 21. We have no way to reserve from outside of Japan.
      Takeshi / JP Rail

  3. Nikki says:

    We would like to travel to Osaka from Sapporo by Twilight Express on 28 August 2011. Do you think end of August is a peak season in Japan? What are the chances of getting B compartment as there are four of us? If Twilight is difficult to get what would be your advice for us?

    Nikki

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of JPRail.com
      JPRail says:

      Hello Nikki,
      It is not the highest season. But in Japan school have summer vacation until August 31. So it is still slim chance.
      B compartment is the easiest to get. I hope you can get it.
      If you cannot, I suggest two options.

      1. Nihonkai to Aomori, Super Hakucho from Aomori to Hakodate, Super Hokuto from Hakodate to Sapporo.
      2. Tokaido Shinkansen from Shin Osaka to Tokyo, Tohoku Shinkansen from Tokyo to Shin Aomori, Local train from Shin Aomori to Aomori (only 1 station), Hamanasu from Aomori to Sapporo

      If you want to arrive at Sapporo earlier, take option 2. If you need the timetable, try to get at Hyperdia.

      Takeshi / JP Rail

  4. bikae
    Giang says:

    This site is very informative and helpful.
    I’m going to travel from Shin Osaka to Sapporo from August 13, 2011 with my boyfriend. We are living in Japan, so we are not traveling from overseas. There are several questions I would like to ask.

    We are considering between single twin and B compartment. Could you please tell me the total costs for each type of room? As stated, if we book a single twin, the extra cost for the second person is 5,250 yen, if compared with the B compartment, it sounds better. Which one do you think is more suitable for two people like us?

    Is it necessary to reserve the dining on the train or we can bring our own food and eat during the journey?

    And is August 13 already the peak season?

    Thank you in advance.
    I look forward to your reply.
    Giang Tran

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of JPRail.com
      JPRail says:

      Hi Giang,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I answer your questions.

      First of all, the total cost is the following:
      Basic fare — 16170 yen per person
      Limited Express surcharge — 3350 yen per person
      And you need to add the accommodation charge that you like to use.

      I recommend you to use Single twin. This room is designed for one person. So it is quite small. But you have a privacy. B compartment is shared among 4 person. So you may share the compartment with other passengers.

      Unfortunately August 13 is the busiest period. Most of companies in Japan have summer holidays around August 13 to 18. I’m afraid the train is sold out. It is very hard to get the ticket for Twilight Express in even regular season.

      Takeshi / JP Rail

  5. SherryNS says:

    Such informative website!

    I am planning to travel to Sapporo (from Kyoto) with my husband and 3 kids (ages 12, 7, 4 years) in mid July. The Twilight Express sounds wonderful. Can you tell me how much is the total ticket price (without Japan Rail Pass) if we were to book the B Compartment accommodation? Do you think this accommodation type fits our family well?

    Thanks.

    Regards.

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of JPRail.com
      JPRail says:

      Hello SherryNS,
      This compartment will fit your family.
      If you take 1 unit of B compartment without Japan Rail Pass, you need to pay the basic fare 4 X 16170 yen, plus 4 x limited express surcharge and 4 x accommodation fee. One of three kids is free because of sharing the bed. But you need to pay full fare for other two kids as long as you use 4 beds for your family.
      Takeshi / JP Rail

  6. triffids4markfraser
    MarkF says:

    What is the peak season for the twilight express? We are hoping to use it in the second half of May, and want to plan for its timetable.
    Cheers.

    P.S. I am very impressed with your website. You are providing a great service to travellers.

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of JPRail.com
      JPRail says:

      Hello MarkF,
      Thank you for your comment! : )
      The peak season in Japan is the following:
      last week of April to 1st week of May (It is called Golden Week. There are 4 national holidays.)
      Mid August
      Last week of December to 1st week of January

      Second half of May is not peak season. But the weather is nice. Especially June is a rainy season. Some of the travellers want to go somewhere before June. And also Twilight Express is always busy. I expect it will be slower than usual. Because lots of domestic travellers still are hesitating to travel in Japan due to earthquake.

      Twilight Express is operated to Sapporo on Mon, Wed, Fri and Sat, and to Osaka on Tue, Thu, Sat and Sun. Usually the train to Sapporo is busier than to Osaka. If you really want to take this train, try to get the ticket for the train to Osaka from Sapporo.
      Takeshi / JP Rail

  7. chef man says:

    I want to to drop by and let you know that I love reading your website. Thank You for all your useful information… i love japan .. i want to go japan..

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of JPRail.com
      JPRail says:

      Hi Chef man,
      Thank you for dropping by. I hope you’ll enjoy travelling in Japan!
      Takeshi / JP Rail

  8. juan516 says:

    Further to my earlier comments I strongly advise against TWO adult people travelling in ONE Royal compartment: the single bed is far too small to accomodate comfortably both.

    On the other hand it only is a modest surcharge of JPY 6300 + 3,150 for LEX supplement for the second person – so for a child it is OK.

    I recommend to book an extra single B compartment (B1) for the second adult and spend the extra 2,870 yen (and the first adult travels alone in the Royal compartment and let the second adult sit down with him during daytime – there is ample sitting space in this compartment – and use the shower).

    juan516.

  9. James says:

    It’s actually possible to buy JR West/JR Tokai/JR Kyushu/JR Shikoku/JR Hokkaido tickets before you get to Japan. Through JTB branches around the world, but it’s expensive, in fact more expensive than buy the ticket in Japan!!

    1. JTB will charge process fee of $AustD 45 per ticket($USD 47 or $4000 yen Feb 2011 currency) on top of the fare.

    2. You HAVE TO pay full fare, so altogether you will be paying $45+train fare, you will end up paying more than people staying in Japan!

    3. Even if you buy JR pass with JTB, they will not offer discount, because the JR Pass you purchase from JTB will not be valid until you get to Japan

    4. You NEED a postal address in Japan so JTB can send the ticket to you when you get there, this can either be your friend’s address in Japan or the hotel you will be staying in Japan. Most people reserved a room with the popular “Toyoko Inn” hotel, then buy ticket from JTB and ask JTB to send to “Toyoko Inn” they will be staying in Japan.

    But there are upside, during the end of December/New Years Eve, when it’s very hard to get a ticket, or if you want to take train that is very popular, hard to get a ticket, JTB can help. I bought Hokutosei “Royal” ticket with them last year because I really like Hokutosei train and I need to travel during busy season.

    So, if you REALLY need to take a particular train, and if you can afford to pay more, contact your nearest JTB office around the world, they got branches in most countries around the world, and book a hotel before you get to Japan so JTB can send the ticket there.

    This year I will ask JTB to buy “Yamaguchi” train ticket(steam train C571) for me.

    Regards
    James

  10. juan516 says:

    I have travelled a few times with Twilight. I can report that you can verify the right compartment by car number and space number. Suite compartments are Car 1 Space 1 and Car 2 Space 3. Royal Compartments are Car 1 Spaces 2, , 4 and 5 and Car 2 Spaces 1,2, 4 and 5.

    Twin compartment is B2. Single Twin compartment is B,. The rates – correctly given – are per compartment AND in addition to the express surcharge.

    The timetable given above may be incorrect: 11 stations are named UENO and should be – from top – OSAKA UMEDA, SHINOSAKA, KYOTO and so on.

    Congratulations to you for all your work – all the best
    juan516.

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