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) .


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


*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.

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

Images of Room in car#2


  • 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.


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.


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.


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.


  1. WenKuz
    Wendy Kuzela says:

    Is this true! We can no longer catch the Twilight Express? My husband and I were looking forward to catching this train when we visit Japan in 2016. I know there will be different options, but that train looked really nice. We are very sorry to miss the experience. We are very excited to visit your wonderful country again.

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

      Hi Wendy,

      Unfortunately it is true. This train was completely discontinued in this past March.
      If you go to Hokkaido in 2016, Hokkaido Shinkansen will be only way to get Hakodate from Aomori. It will be opened in next March


      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. cindy says:

    hi, im take flight reach kansai international airport 8.30am, so I wan straight go sapporo/hokkaido?
    So have any method can I reach sapporo?
    If I take bullet train, hw many hours i need to spend?
    And where I need to take the bullet train?
    Can suggest the routes for me?? and have another better way to reach Sapporo??

  3. Thank you! I find your site very helpful. i am modeling JR in N scale, and it is nice to know the consist, schedules and views of the trains in question. i spent three years in Japan while in the US Navy, home-ported in Yokosuka. But, that was 50 years ago, so I have forgotten much

  4. Christine says:

    Hi there.
    My brother and myself will be travelling from Osaka to Hokkaido during August 2015. We were sad to know that the Twilight Express will be discontinued with effective March 2015 onwards.
    Can i please know, if we were on budget, are there other ways to travel from Osaka to Hokkaido?

    Thank you in advance.

  5. Natasha says:

    Please help!!!

    My friend from the UK is planning on a trip from Kyoto to Sapporo on the Twilight Express. He is not getting a JR Pass, so how much is the basic fare of the Twilight Express? I am unable to find out this price, and I am unable to speak Japanese so I cannot call JR West to find out. Please could you help me find out this price. I would appreciate any help. 🙂

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

      Hi Natasha,

      Base fare is about 16500 yen. But are you really sure to book this train. It’s almost impossible to book this train now.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

  6. armstrongest
    Bluemeansgo says:

    Has JR said WHY they’re discontinuing the Twilight Express? It seems like a really popular route to take and the train accommodations look gorgeous!

    Why not just increase the price if it’s not financially feasible?

    Do they have plans to reintroduce a sleeper car from Osaka to Sapporo at a later date?

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

      Hi Bluemeansgo,

      There are several reason.

      1. Carriage is too old.
      It looks good. But some of the carriages are more than 20 years old.

      2. Voltage
      In spring 2016, Hokkaido Shinkansen will open. Once Shinkansen open, voltage will be higher and set Shinkansen standard. That means one of JR Hokkaido or JR East must have new electric locomotive. Both companies do not want to invest it.

      3. Maintenance and capacity
      Most of night time will be spent for Shinkansen track maintenance. There will be some capacity for other trains. But this will be used for freight trains.

      JR West and JR East now making new overnight train fleets. But these trains will run in own territory only. They don’t want to cross the border. Twilight Express runs in three different companies territory, JR West, JR East and JR Hokkaido. It is very hard to settle among three companies in these days. (like profit and invest sharing)

      Unfortunately I think new sleeper train to Hokkaido will never run again. JR West and JR East new overnight trains will be super expensive train, like JR Kyushu’s Seven Stars.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

  7. drsteveb123 – UK – I'm the Senior Programme Manager in FFI’s Asia Pacific Regional Programme, where I help oversee around 70 biodiversity conservation projects across SE Asia. Before joining FFI I spent 15 years studying issues surrounding bird conservation, mostly in the UK. Like all good people I have a particular interest in Pheasants and Pigeons!
    Dr Stephen Browne says:

    Hello, I am looking to try and book a suite/royal on the twilight express going from Osaka to Sapporo in December. Its the only train journey I will take, so I wont get a Rail Pass, but how do I try and book the ticket, it seems there is not online reservation, do I have to telephone only? Any advice on how to book would be appreciated. FYI I am from the UK, but live in Singapore Thanks Stephen

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

      Hi Dr. Browne,

      Unfortunately it is no chance to book. Since JR announce this train will be discontinued in next spring, all tickets are sold out less than one second right after on sale. Now even some of travel agents in Japan do not accept to book this train.

      I’m sorry but huge number of domestic tourists gave up to take this train too.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

  8. Jie says:

    Dear Takeshi,

    Thanks for your kind and useful answer.

    If I am not able to get hold of the twilight train, is it easy or possible to buy other train tickets (with several changes) to Sapporo the same day I am going to travel?

    Will other overnight train be sold out quickly as well?

    Best regards,


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

      Hi Jie,

      You have three choices other than Twilight.

      Hokutosei and Cassiopeia (Sapporo-Tokyo)

      Hamanasu (Sapporo-Aomori)

      Ticket is on sale one month prior to departure date.
      ex) If you take August 20, ticket is on sale at 10:00 am on July 20.

      Among these choices, Hamanasu is the easiest. But Carpet car is very very difficult to book. You have to book right after ticket on sale.
      Other seats, B berth and Dream is not much. But in peak season, these seats are sold out very often.

      Cassiopeia is very difficult too. It’s easier than Twilight. But you have to book right after ticket on sale. Otherwise no chance.

      At last, Hokutosei has several accommodations. If you are okay with B berth, it’s easy. But if you want to take compartment, you have to book right after on sale too. I have taken this train in shoulder season. But all tickets other than B berth was sold out just 10 minutes after on sale.

      When you book, you have only one chance. Because when you will be trying to book, other seats will be sold out. So you have to pick only one train and one accommodation that you want to take. You may not have second chance other than B berth or regular seat of Hamanasu. It’s a key to book. And also if you can’t make it unfortunately, try to keep booking just before taking train. Some of passengers cancel a ticket in last minutes. When I got Hokutosei, I finally could get Solo compartment on departure day.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

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