For holders of the JR Railpass, this is a good option to get from Tokyo to Sapporo on the northern island of Hokkaido.  The Hokutosei is a tokkyu limited sleeper express and leaves at 7 p.m. from Ueno Station,  arriving the next morning at 11:15 a.m. in Sapporo.  That is about 17 hours, but there is no change involved, so you just get on, get comfortable and off you go.  If you have the JR Railpass, you just pay the sleeper surcharge.  I paid 9,240 Yen for a single “B” compartment (approx. $111 or 82 Euro).  It turned out to be an upper one, which, while comfortable, had two major disadvantages:  I had to take my luggage up 4 narrow steps and I couldn’t really stand straight in the about 1.5 x 2 meter compartment.  I would definitely recommend the lower compartment!  Light controls, 4 channels of radio, temperature control – but no electrical outlet (nor in the club or dining car), so I had to use battery power for my laptop.

Otherwise, spotlessly clean compartment, fresh linen including a cotton daycoat (yucata) and slippers, clean (Western and Japanese) toilet and sink facilities.  There was a club-car with a flat screen closed circuit Japanese TV, phone booth and two showers.  The comfortable dining car served Western and Japanese style dinner menues with reservations required for the evening. I had the Japanese breakfast for 1600 Yen; there was also a Western one for the same price.

The train ambles along, this is not a Shinkansen.  In fact, sometimes the rumpling on the tracks jolts you awake!  The only real smooth ride is in the 53.85 km Seikan tunnel connecting the main island of Honshu with Hokkaido.  The fact that for 23.3 km you are actually 250 meters below sea level is not felt at all, there is no change in pressure – truly an engineering feat!  (Compare this with the England-France tunnel at 75 meters below sea level for 37.9 km).

See my post on the return trip Sapporo – Nagano on the Twilight Express.

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1 Comment

  1. Liebe Zenaida,

    Große Freude über Deine Berichte. Sei weiter so fleißig, denn wir wollen weiter von Japan lesen.

    Herzlichst Maritta, Eveline und Caroline

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