If you want to save the time and save your money to stay hotel, overnight transfer is considerable. Many travelers move among Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka. We have a few ways to take overnight transfer among these cities by Japan Rail Pass too. I would like to tell about it in this post.
Overnight train is actually not very common in these days. Many overnight trains were discontinued. Only Sunrise Izumo and Sunrise Seto are the scheduled trains.
Sunrise Seto and Sunrise Izumo
These trains connect Tokyo, Takamatsu and Izumoshi. You may take this train from Osaka to Tokyo.
These trains stop at Osaka at 00:34 and arrive at Tokyo at 07:08. Especially “Nobi Nobi seat” on these trains is fully covered by JR Pass. Please find more information about these trains in the post below:
These trains do not stop at Kyoto. You have to go back to Osaka. It is 30 minutes away from Kyoto by Special Rapid Service train.
If you take Sunrise Seto and Sunrise Izumo from Tokyo, the train does not stop at Osaka and Kyoto because it it too early. The first station is Himeji at 05:24. You can take Special Rapid or the Sanyo Shinkansen to go back to Osaka or Kyoto.
However you have to take a risk if you use this train in your trip plan. Because you cannot reserve a seat or berth online. You have to book a seat after the arrival. All spaces may be booked out at the time of booking. It is hard to say about the availability. You must prepare back up plan for the case of booked out if you take this option.
Many hotels allow you to cancel before a few days without any cancellation fees. You may book a hotel in either Osaka or Tokyo. If you cannot make it, you can stay in the hotel and use the Shinkansen from Osaka to Tokyo. If you can make it, you can cancel your hotel and take Sunrise Izumo or Seto. This is the best preparation if you take this option.
Rapid Moonlight Nagara
If you travel in the peak period, you may be able to take overnight rapid train, Moonlight Nagara:
This train is operated between Tokyo and Ogaki. Ogaki is located between Naogya and Kyoto. You have to transfer to other trains at Ogaki or Nagoya to get Kyoto or Osaka. Moonlight Nagara is a sort of the local train. But all seats are reserved seat. You cannot take this train without reservation. And it is very hard to book because of popularity. If you use JR Pass, you can get on this train with no extra charge. However it is very challenging to book a seat on this train after you arrive in Japan.
This train is operated in peak season only. You can find the operation dates in Category of Seasonal trains schedule.
There are many overnight bus services running between Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto. JR pass used to cover some overnight bus but it does not cover any overnight bus at all now. If you take this option, JR Pass might not fit your travel because you may not be able to get the worth of it.
Willer Travel operates lots of overnight bus. Please see the link below to find more information:
Actually I am not a big fan of bus. I have never taken Willer Bus before. I cannot answer any inquiries about this bus service.