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) .
|station/direction||Osaka to Sapporo||Sapporo to Osaka|
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.
*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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
There is small salon space on car#7.
*Smoking is NOT permitted in both lounge space and dining car.
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.
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.
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.
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.