Japan’s Night Trains: Sleeper Car Adventure: The Sunrise Izumo Express from Tokyo

Night trains! That’s right. Japan has a few of them left.From Tokyo, there is one that departs daily, and if you arrive in Japan with a JR Rail Pass you can ride it – with no additional cost. That means you save on a night at a hotel while enjoying the sights of the Japanese countryside. Talk about killing two birds with one stone!

Sunrise Izumo Seto Tokyo Station

Departing at 10pm daily, the Sunrise Izumo & Sunrise Seto is Tokyo’s last daily night train.The 14 car train chugs overnight to Okayama where it splits into two 7 car trains, one heading to the Shikoku Island and the other to the Sea of Japan. I decided to give this adventure a go heading towards the Sea of Japan.

Sunrise Izumo Tokyo Station

The cheap seats (which are really a semi-private flat area to sleep) are called the nobinobi zaseki.
My first impression was – woah! This is certainly no European couchette but that’s what makes it kind of fun and adventurous. It’s a style that seems very specific to Japan.

nobinobi zaseki bed

The size is little bigger than a capsule hotel but unlike the capsule, you get your own private window and only boxed in around your mid section. It’s about 220cm long so it should accommodate most volleyball and basketball players just fine.
There is a real working shower on the train!

nobinobi zaseki
The nobinobi zaseki is about 220 cm long which is more space than a capsule hotel! Too too bad!

I thought this was the most unique part of the train.
It’s requires buying a 320 yen ticket when first boarding (limited number available). Everything except the towel is provided.

sunrise izumo shower card
Buy the shower card when you first board. It’s 320 yen as on June 2015.

You’ve got 6 minutes to complete your wash cycle. You even sway back and forth with the train for the ultimate lather.
Unfortunately, there’s no dinning car.

sunrise seto

Buy an ekiben (boxed meal) at Tokyo Station. At 21:00, most of them are half price as stores clear their stock at the end of the day! I got myself a breaded pork cutlet box and had it for breakfast.
Buy all the water and beer you’ll need as well. The vending machine on board s certainly not cheap. A drink is 30 to 40 yen more than at the stations. 130 yen for 110ml of drinking water.

tokyo station train ekiben bento box

sunrise izumo lounge car

Why would you leave Tokyo, the city that seems to have everything?
What are the attractions of Izumo, Matsue, Yonago (San’in area)?
That’s easy!
☆ Izumo Taisha: One of Japan’s most important shrine
☆ Izumo soba
☆ Matsue Castle
☆ Horikawa Boat Tour
☆ Yonago Castle Ruins (great view!) and Beaches
☆ Eshima Ohashi
☆ Kaike Onsen
☆ Mt. Daisen
☆ … and loads more!

Well, there’s a whole country out there and if you want to get off the beaten path, you’ve managed to find the right train. Tottori and Shimane prefectures are two of the hardest to access from Tokyo (No Shinkansen) so you’ll be discovering places like Christopher Columbus. I am guessing your guide book is not bulging in this section.

Sunrise Izumo Schedule / サンライズ出雲 時刻表 :
▶︎ 22:00 Depart Tokyo 東京
▶︎ 22:23 Yokohama横浜
▶︎ 23:53 Fuji 富士
▶︎ 00:19 Hamamatsu 浜松
(Next day)
▶︎ 05:25 Himeji 姫路
▶︎ 06:27 Okayama 岡山
The Train splits here. Half goes to Shikoku Island for Takamatsu,
Half continues to the Sea of Japan towards Izumo.
▶︎ 09:03 Yonago 米子
▶︎ 09:30 Matsue 松江
▶︎ 09:58 Izumoshi 出雲市

nobinobi zaseki upper bed
The upper birth of the nobinobi zaseki section of the Sunrise Izumo train
sunrise seto
This is a compartment on the Sunrise Izumo. You have to pay extra to reserve it but if you want privacy, it’s worth it.

Notes:
★ Shower tickets – buy them as soon as you board. Limited number available. There’s a vending machine. 320 yen for 6 minutes.
*Bring your own towel.
★ No food on board. Buy your own breakfast, snacks, beer
BEFORE you board. There is a softdrink vending machine but the
prices are high.
★ JR Rail Pass is okay for this sleeper train but only for the Nobinobi Zaseki (のびのび座席) flat area. There are upgrade charges for compartments / cabins. Make a reservation at a JR ticket
office. It’s best to do this as early as possible esp on the weekends and holiday.

sunrise izumo corridor

The toilet on the sunrise izumo is spotless! Japan's night trains are very clean and comfortable.
The toilet on the sunrise izumo is spotless! Japan’s night trains are very clean and comfortable.
Here's the sink to brush your teeth.
Here’s the sink to brush your teeth.
The Sunrise Izumo night train
The Sunrise Izumo night train
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Creator and Producer 「ONLY in JAPAN」
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Reporter for NHK World "Tokyo Eye"
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