While many people prefer to fly or take the high-speed train, night trains are still popular. They are a real treat for international travelers. Why take the night train? These trains allow you to travel quickly overland, arriving at your destination the next morning. In addition, you will be able to sleep while traveling, more comfortably than on a plane or a night bus. If you are planning to visit Japan, consider booking a trip on Sunrise Express.
Before the advent of the bullet train, there was a time when night trains were common throughout Japan. The country's elite, as well as tourists, traveled in a style similar to that of the luxury line-up of The Blue Train (South Africa). However, these "blue sleeper trains" were replaced by simpler, but comfortable, and most importantly budget trains. Currently, the only regular night trains still operating are Sunrise Seto and Izumo.
These trains differ only in their routes. A long fourteen-car train departs from Tokyo. At Okayama station, the train is divided in half and each goes to its destination. Sunrise Seto goes to Takamatsu City on Shikoku Island, and Sunrise Izumo goes to Izumo City in Shimane Prefecture. On the return journey, the two trains run separately from their starting points at Takamatsu and Izumo. Then, after reaching Okayama, they join together again until the final stop in Tokyo. However, the train from Tokyo does not stop at Osaka. If you want to take this train from Tokyo, you can get off this train at Himeji and then take the high-speed train to Osaka. The train departs late in the evening and stays early in the morning at the final stations. Therefore, this train can safely be called a hotel on wheels. Let's take a look at its amenities, and you'll see what's so special about it.
The composition of Sunrise Express was created for this direction, so you will not find analogues either in Japan or around the world. It can reach speeds of up to 130 kilometers per hour. There are no windows in the cars, I work with air conditioners. But do not worry, in the case of faulty air conditioners, the composition is not released on the line. By Japanese standards, the composition is old, but even from the photos you can estimate that it looks decent. That's just the amenities in the form of sockets and Wi-Fi are not here.
The train has a variety of accommodation options, so you can choose from the most budget, to the suite:
Nobinobi (nobi nobi seats) - this is the cheapest seat on the train, as well as the "chip" of the train itself. The car is similar to the reserved seat in Russian trains, but without side shelves. There is an upper and lower section without tables. Your ticket includes a personal space that is 190 centimeters long and 80 centimeters wide. All spaces are separated by small partitions, which do not isolate 100% from the neighbors. There is a small curtain, but it will close you from the side of the common corridor. A small plastic cup sits on a cup holder next to the window. In fact, in your space, you can safely sleep, sit and do your own business. It is carpeted. A small blanket and a small pillowcase are provided. It does not include a pillow, in addition, if you do not have the habit of sleeping on the floor, it can be uncomfortable, so it is better to insure yourself and think in advance how to spend the night on such a bed. For example, take a thin air mattress or a travel pillow.
Single Deluxe is the best room on the train. The size of the bed is 196 centimeters long and 85 centimeters wide. These rooms are located on the upper deck in a double-deck carriage. So you will have a better view than the other class. There is also a desk, a chair and a sink. There are only six such numbers in the composition. This is the most expensive room and it is very popular, so it is difficult to book. Nightwear is included in the price, and the window can be closed with a curtain.
Single-the most common type of ticket. All compartments are located in a two-level car. The size of the bed is 196 centimeters long and 70 centimeters wide. Since the compartment is located in a two-level car, its height is about 180 centimeters. It's a bit cramped for a tall passenger. A blanket and pyjamas are provided.
Solo is another type of single compartment. The size of the bed is 196 centimeters long and 70 centimeters wide, but in one part of the bed the width is 56 centimeters. This compartment is located in a single-level car. But there are compartments in the upper and lower areas. The space where you can stand is very limited on the upper level. In the lower-level compartment, you can't stand up, unlike a Single.
A Single Twin is a single or double room. The size of the bed is 196 centimeters long and 70 centimeters wide. The area is almost the same as in Single. The upper berth is reserved for the second passenger. The bed is slightly smaller than the lower bunk. The lower bunk can be converted into a seat.
Sunrise Twin - standard double room with 2 single beds. The size of the bed is 196 centimeters long and 75 centimeters wide. The beds are located next to each other. The space is much larger than in a Single Twin. These compartments are located on the lower level in a two-level carriage. Only 4 compartments are available, so they are not easy to book.
Also in the composition there is a small lounge area (3 and 10 cars), where there are tables like bar counters and 8 seats. Here you can eat and drink. There is also a vending machine in the lounge. Please note that only a cold soft drink is available. Keep in mind that one conductor works for the entire train and it does not sell any products. Therefore, in terms of food, you need to take it with you or buy it from vending machines.
Unexpected convenience for trains that is present in the composition-shower. It is located in cars 3 and 10. You have to buy a shower card from a vending machine and you will have 6 minutes of shower time available. But the number of cards is limited due to the water supply.
If you are staying at the Single Deluxe Hotel, you can use the shower room in car 4 and 11. These shower rooms are located in the same cars as the deluxe single compartments. And these shower rooms in Car No4 and No 11 are available exclusively for single luxury passengers. Other passengers must use the shower room in cars 3 and 10.
The method of using the shower room is the same in all shower rooms. The Deluxe Single Room includes a small towel. But other compartments and nobi nobi seat passengers can't get any towels on the train. If you plan to use the shower room, you will need to prepare some towels. Shampoo and soap are provided in the shower room. As soon as you start using the shower, the timer will start counting down. But if you stop using the shower, time stops. So when you wash your hair and body, you can stop showering to save your time. But you can't share it. As soon as you get out of the shower (that is, out of the locker room), you will lose your time, even if you have it left.
Night trains in Japan are already very rare, they have been replaced by high – speed trains. Therefore, traveling on the Sunrise Express is a truly unique experience and may not be possible in the near future.