This time in Japan we took only three trains. We did not have Japan Rail Pass, which is a must if you want to go around Japan, as trains are expensive like in Switzerland. Unfortunately in Russia you can only get this rail pass in Moscow and we were a bit far away from it. You cannot get it in Japan.
1) From Wakkanai to Sapporo – a simple diesel train with the omnipresent seats that you can put in the direction of the train. It was a 5 hour ride for 60euros/person.
2) From Sapporo to Kyoto – The Twilight Express night train bound to Osaka. Pulled by two diesel locomotives (at least in Hokkaido), had several classes, going from the queen size bedroom with huge LCD to a 4-berth compartments where you have individual curtains to increase your privacy.
We were in a 2-berth compartment for which we paid around 200euros/person for the 20hour ride. There was a gourmet restaurant, a wagon as living room, couple of drink machines and two showers. The Japanese trains are nice but lacking some features of the Russian trains – there is no towel included in the pack; it misses small shelf to put your small belongings; there was no timetable posted to see where big stops would be; there was no way to turn off the never-ending announcements in japanese that started at 6am; there was no samovar with hot water to do coffee (and, being Japan, there should have been also a microwave); there was still a – almost empty – smokers wagon of 4-berth compartments, while the rest was full.
3) From Kyoto to Hakata (Fukuoka) – the state of the art from the Shinkansen trains, the so called Nozomi N700 which goes up to 300km/hour. It took three hours to do 500km. It was completely full in the non-reserved wagons, but after Osaka we got a seat. Inside it is 3 seats on left and 2 on the right side of the train. There is a smokers compartment in one of the wagons and also drinks machines somewhere. It was 120euros/person.