The Sunrise Express is also a living piece of history. Sleeper trains were once a common way to traverse Japan, but they dwindled with the rise of bullet trains and domestic flights. Luxury sleeper trains still operate on limited runs, but the Sunrise Express is the only regularly scheduled sleeper train left in the country—operating daily with affordable ticket prices.
A Sunrise Express ticket reserves a bunk space or private room. The cheapest accommodation is the nobi nobi zaseki (stretch and relax seat)—a semi-private carpeted bunk.
Private rooms are more expensive but afford dedicated luggage storage spaces and beds. Options for these rooms include:
- Sunrise Twin (Room with two twin beds)
- Single Twin (A bunk bed room)
- Solo (Small room with one twin bed)
- Single (Room with a single bed)
- Single Deluxe (The most expensive room with a single bed, desk and sink)
A Japan Rail Pass covers the entire cost of a nobi nobi zaseki and provides a discount for private rooms.
The Sunrise Express maintains shower rooms, which passengers can use by buying a shower card from a ticket machine (Single Deluxe rooms provide a card in an amenities bag). Each card grants a six-minute shower.
Other amenities include drink vending machines and lounges with window side tables and chairs. No food is sold on board, so passengers must bring their own.
Discover New Destinations
When the Sunrise Express departs Tokyo, it consists of 14 cars. Upon making a stop in Okayama, half the cars are uncoupled and the train splits into the Sunrise Seto and Sunrise Izumo.
Sunrise Izumo offers access to Japan’s least populated—and most underrated—prefectures: Shimane and Tottori. Nature lovers flock to Tottori for its sand dunes and mountain climbing. Shimane, meanwhile, is called the Land of Myths because many of Japan’s oldest Shinto legends are set here. Destinations like Izumo Taisha—a shrine dedicated to matchmaking—and Yomotsuhirasaka—the entrance to the underworld—keep these legends alive today.
Sunrise Seto’s final stop is Kagawa—the Udon Prefecture. Local farm-to-table Sanuki Udon is the most famous udon variety in Japan, and trying a bowl of these noodles is a must on most visitors’ itineraries. Kagawa is also home to world-famous destinations like Naoshima—an art museum island.