Overnight transfer between Tokyo and Kyoto/Osaka

Sunrise Seto / Sunrise IzumoHighway Buses
Sunrise Izumo and Sunrise Seto are only scheduled overnight trains in Japan.

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 trains

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.

Overnight bus

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:

Willer Travel official site

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.


Granvia Hotel Osaka Located just in Osaka station
Karasuma Hotel Kyoto Traditional tatami room


  1. Sitt says:


    My friend and I will arrive to Tokyo on 3rd March and we planned to travel from Tokyo to Kyoto on that day. We have JR Pass but according to my knowledge, The latest Shinkansen trains that covered JR pass leave at 8:00 pm from Tokyo station. And to save some money for accommodation, we planned to take night train or bus so I was wondering, if there are trains or buses that covered with JR pass? If yes, could u please direct us ? Thanks a lot and looking forward to your reply.

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of JPRail.com
      Takeshi (JPRail.com administrator) says:

      Hi Sitt,

      Unfortunately there is no overnight options available from Tokyo to Osaka which is covered by JR Pass. It takes at least 3 hours from the arrival time at Narita to the departure time of the Shinkansen at Tokyo. So your flight must arrive before 17:00. And if your flight delay even 30 minutes, it will be very tight.


      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. michelle pangilinan
    mischen says:

    Hi Takeshi,
    I am planning to take the night train from Osaka to Tokyo on 10 Feb given that I cannot book the sleeper in advance where and how can I try to book the sleeper when I arrive from overseas on 10Feb?
    As with the JR Pass, since the train leaves at the OSAKA train station at 00:34AM this can be considered first day spent for my JR pass Is that right?


  3. Hi there

    I am arriving at Narita aiport on August 7th 2016 and would like to travel overnight to Hiroshima. What is the best way to do that? Bus or train (I don’t want to fly). My flight arrives in at 17:25 on Aug 7 so I need to allow enough time to get to a train or bus station. thanks for any advice you can give.

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

      Hi Maureen,

      There is only one overnight trains, Sunrise Izumo and Seto. But you cannot book it in advance. Because there is no online reservation available. So you may not be able to book it when you arrive, That is too risky.

      Regarding overnight bus, there are some available. But I haven’t taken the bus for a long time. I have no idea which one is the best. You may find some bus lines at the link below. But please do not ask me anything about this bus because I’m not familiar:


      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  4. Jen says:

    Hi Takeshi, planning to follow your sample 7 days itinerary -Tokyo, Hakone, Kyoto and Osaka. On the 6th day from Osaka planning to go back to Tokyo for our flight, will it be cost effective if we buy the ticket for the overnight train and take Sunrise Izumo / Sunrise Seto back to Tokyo? Highly appreciate your advice.

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

      Hi Jen,

      If you leave Japan from Narita, JR Pass 7 days is cheaper than single fares even JR Pass covers only base fare for Sunrise. Because you can take Narita Express to get Narita from Tokyo. If you leave from Haneda, total single fares are cheaper than JR Pass. Because Haneda is closer than Narita.

      There is one issue. Sunrise is very popular train. Especially if you want to take most affordable seat, “Nobi Nobi seat”, it’s sold out very often. There is no online booking available. The only way to book is at the reservation window after you arrive in Japan. If you cannot make it, you have to find the accommodation in Tokyo after you arrive in Japan.


      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  5. Hi Takeshi, sorry to disturb you again. On June 6 we’ll be arriving at kansai airport at 22.30, may be after waiting for immigration and custom, it’ll be over midnight, is there any overnight bus or train from kansai to tokyo station ?? thanks a lot…

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

      Hi MIrriam,

      There are overnight train from Osaka. But it’s too late to catch it. And also it’s too risky. Don’t try to move to Tokyo on arrival day. I recommend you to stay in Osaka and move to Tokyo next day.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

  6. lydia teo says:

    I will be travelling wth family to kyoto. I want to save time n money. I read about the dream bus fr kyoto to tokyo. How do i make the bookings as i will be travelling on 11.4.14. Which website gives the schedule and cost. I dont read nihongo. Pls advise

  7. yu says:

    Hello. i will go back in japan on October and i chose the cheapest airline so i will have to land in osaka or kansai airport but our house is near tokyo . we live in setagaya specifically and is there any overnight buses going to tokyo ? its my first time travelling alone and first time in osaka. so i kinda need your help or advice? Thank you.

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

      Hi Yu,

      This bus service, Dream is still available. But it’s not covered by Japan Rail Pass if you use the pass. You will find many more bus service, even cheaper, if you google “夜行バス 大阪 東京”.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

  8. Tata888 says:

    I will arrive in Haneda on 27th of January 2013 at 11 pm, will that be possible for me to book the highway bus to Osaka for the 3rd of Feb and the return for 6th of Feb.
    Since I have read in your other article related to Hamanasu which was so popular that unless you booked 1 month before, there is little or no chance.
    Will this Highway bus be possible to be booked with 6 days before
    Thanks a heap

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

      Hi Tata888,

      Highway bus is basically easier than Hamanasu. I think it will be okay. But nobody can guarantee it.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

  9. my name is ali hassan ,4m islamabad pakistan,i’m looking ur buses are to good,plz u opening jr luxery bus service in pakistan,i’m very thank ful to u if u work on this project,and i want to work in this company if u opening in pakistan,plzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz as soon as posible,thank u

Exit mobile version
Copied title and URL