questions & answers: using the japan rail pass

sapporo to tokyo sleeper train - advance reservation

Sapporo to Tokyo Sleeper Train - Advance Reservation

Hello

I would like to take the sleeper train from Sapporo to Tokyo (Hokutosei or Casiopeia) at the beginning of my trip.

I have a JR Rail Pass, but do not want to activate it until the day that I take the sleeper train, which will be my first journey using the pass.

But I have read that this train gets very busy and that it's very important to reserve it in advance.

Is it possible to make an advance reservation for the train before I have exchanged my XO for the Rail Pass? If so, how do I do this?

Also - does anybody know how much the supplement is for the sleeper train?

Many Thanks

Ali

Ali
Ali

I have just searched the forum more thoroughly and have read that I can exchange my XO for the Rail Pass in advance and then set the activation date up to 30 days in the future.

I will be arriving in Japan 3.5 weeks earlier to snowboard in Niseko, so I guess that I can exchange my XO for my pass on arrival at Narita and then just set it to start on the day I want to travel from Sapporo. I believe that it is also possible once the pass is exchanged to make reservations in advance, even though the pass has not been activated yet.

So, my remaining question is how much extra it will cost to travel on the sleeper train from Sapporo to Tokyo - either the Hokutosei or Cassiopeia.

Also - my friend will be coming to join me in Sapporo and will also want to get the sleeper train. She will only be able to exchange her pass as soon as she arrives which is the day before we want to use the sleeper train. I am worried that she may not be able to make a reservation so late. If I have already reserved a ticket in a 2-person cabin, will she be able to book the other place in the same cabin? Or is it possible for me to reserve for 2 people when I get my pass?

Thanks

Ali
Ali

Hi there!

Traveling by night train in Japan truly is a great experience, the best is the Cassiopeia - get on it if you can!

Reserving night trains is indeed a little tricky, not only do they sell out quickly, you also need to be in Japan to do so.
This will be hard for your friend, the only thing you can do is buy a full price ticket for her when you buy yours in order to be sure of having the same cabin. You can later ask JR to refund the basic fare because you have a JR Pass (this is something I have heard people do with success, however it is not an official procedure, so it may take some effort on your part to explain the situation to the JR Staff).

As for fares, the basic fare is covered by the JR Pass however extra charges, such as special express fares and accommodation fares are not covered. The fare depends on the class of compartment and from what city you travel. From Tokyo - Sapporo the extra fare 21,500 yen for a private compartment (34,000 yen without the JR Pass) for the Cassiopeia, the Hokutosei is 7000yen less. You can find more information on night train fares HERE.

Have a wonderful trip!
Daniel

72a8815842aa5db137c135807bd6bb11?s=50&d=mm
Daniel-san
Expert_button_2

Hi Daniel

Thank you so much for your advice and the night train link you sent - very helpful.

Looking through all of the information, I am now also considering taking the Hamanasu overnight from Sapporo to Aomori and then connecting via Shin- Aomori to the Hayabusa Shinkansen to Tokyo. I'm thinking that this would be a quicker and less expensive route to take, although it might not be as great an experience as taking the Cassiopeia.

Thanks for your help and advice.

Ali

Ali
Ali

Hi Ali,

An other (perhaps better) alternative would be to use the Akebono Train from Ueno (Tokyo) to Aomori and travel on the next morning by special express train to Sapporo.) Personally I prefer this route as the Akebono train has better bunks to sleep in and traveling Aomori - Sapporo by day is also recommended because the view is very scenic.

Using the Hayabusa/Hamanasu combo is also good though, both routes are completely covered by the JR Pass. Do note that traveling on the Hamanasu requires a bit of planning and luck. There are different kinds seats available that are covered by the JR Pass. One is the carpeted seat on which you can lay down, this is train car number 4. There's also the "Dream Car" which has reclining seats on which you can't lay down completely, up to 145 degrees (180 is flat). These are car number 5-6, lastly there are also non-reserved cars 3 and 7, these have just normal seats and should be avoided if possible. Car number 1,2 are sleeping compartments be require an extra fee.

Hope this helps too!
Daniel

72a8815842aa5db137c135807bd6bb11?s=50&d=mm
Daniel-san
Expert_button_2

Order your Japan Rail Pass Online

Starting from $254.00 for 7 days of unlimited Japan Rail travel

Please note: we are only able to handle order related enquiries via our online direct support. Commercial advertising is prohibited as per our website terms.