Have you done an overnight journey before in a train? If you want to travel to longer distances in Japan, you could take one. Overnight trains are very comfortable compared to other means of transport and have nice amenities. However, overnight trains are becoming less and less popular day by day in Japan due to the advent of low-cost airlines and low-fare domestic buses. Although there is the super fast Shinkansen, it is not a 24-hour service. The bullet trains are usually shut down late night for maintenance.
There are only a few overnight trains that are running successfully. The government is planning to close the remaining ones too due to their dramatic decline in usage. Let`s know more about the Japanese overnight trains and how good it is to take them at least once in a while in Japan.
The question is ‘Why would anyone want to take an overnight train?’ . The cost of this train journey is almost close to a low-cost airline ticket. One thing answers the question i.e., the comfort. The train has different seating arrangements such as ‘Private and Public Compartments’, ‘Carpet seats’ etc. One can reserve a private compartment in advance if one needs privacy. Otherwise, a public sleeping compartment such as the ‘couchettes’ with a two to three story beds is also great. In some trains, there is a section where one can lie down on the floor which is cushioned or carpeted. All the trains have at least one shower room and a few toilets and sinks. Usually, one should buy a separate ticket beforehand to use the shower room where one can shower for a limited time of five to nine minutes depending on the train. The shower stops working after that time period.
The Cassiopeia is one of the last remaining overnight trains in Japan. It is the only high-end luxury train in Japan. In this, every accommodation is a private one. It is operated by the JR East and runs from Ueno to Sapporo. There are dining facilities and an observation deck at the end of the train for a nice romantic view while the train is on the go. It is said that the Cassiopeia is going to be shut down in 2016. There was an another luxurious and romantic overnight train called the Twilight Express. This train was operated by the JR West from Osaka to Sapporo. It was unfortunately withdrawn in March 2015 and there are some plans to re-introduce the Twilight Express series in the coming years to attract tourists.
So, needless to say, it is fun to take an overnight train in Japan. And if you want that romantic edge, a luxury train would be a great option.