~Japan travel~ Over-night bus ranking: Discover the best cost-effective options!


When you think of “high-speed buses” or “night buses,” what comes to mind?

Affordable? Cramped? Uncomfortable?


Well, you’re right!

While they may not be synonymous with ultimate comfort,

they do offer a budget-friendly alternative for those seeking a relatively comfortable ride without breaking the bank.

If you’re thinking,

“I can’t afford the Shinkansen! I’m looking for an affordable bus with decent comfort,”

then this article is for you.

Join me, who frequently commuted between Osaka and Tokyo on night buses,

as they introduce the top-ranked, cost-effective night bus companies they discovered.

Key Points of This Article: A Comprehensive Guide to Night Buses

Comparative Overview of Night Bus Companies


Introducing the Featured Bus Companies☟

Bus Company(Personally)☆Evaluation
Blue Liner★☆☆☆☆
Grand Grace★★★★☆
Night Liner★★☆☆☆
Sunshine Express★★★☆☆
VIP Liner★★★★☆
Sakura Express★★★★★

★1…Unfiltered reviews…

*This opinion is based on my personal experience, and it’s important to note that individual experiences can vary. It’s true that there are instances where I may have had a negative experience with a particular bus. I appreciate your understanding.

I will honestly discuss the positive and negative aspects of each bus company.

☟In detail

Blue Liner ★☆☆☆☆

I would not like to ride the bus again in the future. (Although it could have been just an isolated incident.)

  • Positive Aspects
  • Free water provided
  • Seats equipped with power outlets
  • Footrest available (although they are too narrow to fully stretch your legs)
  • Negative Aspects
  • Overly bright lighting at service areas (being woken up forcefully every two hours)
  • Excessively cold temperature (the air conditioning was too strong during your summer ride, making it difficult to sleep)
  • Failure to address noisy passengers (despite the lights being turned off, there were disruptive individuals who were not reprimanded, which made the journey quite exhausting)

I had difficulty sleeping due to the bright lighting at service areas and the conversations of other passengers.

Please note that these are my personal observations and experiences. It’s important to consider that each ride can vary, and other passengers may have different experiences.

Grand Grace ★★★★☆

I have experienced using both “GrandGrace” and “GrandGrace Standard,”

and I highly recommend “GrandGrace” without a doubt.

It is significantly more spacious and comfortable.

Regarding “GrandGrace”:

  • Positive Aspects
  • Privacy curtain, footrest, and power outlets available for each seat.
  • Ample legroom.
  • Fully reclining seats (since all seats are already reclined, there is no need to worry about bothering or being bothered by passengers in front or behind you, making it a comfortable experience).

I always sleep in an upright position to be considerate to the person behind me, so the fully reclining seats were fantastic!

  • Negative Aspects

Simply put, the price is high.

Night Liner ★★☆☆☆

  • Positive Aspects
  • Complimentary tea service.
  • Free blanket rental.
  • Negative Aspects
  • Inability to charge devices via power outlets.
  • Excessive heat that made it difficult to sleep (even though it was autumn, the reason for the intense heat remains a mystery).
  • Firm seats that caused significant discomfort and frequent awakenings due to pain in the buttocks.

I thought my buttocks were going to split…

Sunshine Express ★★★☆☆

It seems like what comes to mind for many people is “THE Night Bus.”

It’s known for being inexpensive and cramped.

  • Positive Aspects
  • Often offers the lowest prices.
  • Offers a high frequency of trips, making it easier to secure last-minute reservations.
  • Privacy curtains between seats.
  • Negative Aspects

・Cramped space

When the person in front reclines their seat, it can be quite uncomfortable.

VIP Liner ★★★★☆

I have used both “VIP Liner” and “VIP Liner Grancia,” and I must say that Grancia was absolutely exceptional!

About “VIP Liner”:

  • Positive Aspects
  • Privacy curtains and footrests between seats.
  • Spacious legroom for a comfortable journey.
  • Provides small pillows and blankets.
  • No announcements or disturbance during rest stops (although it may vary depending on individuals, I personally prefer not to be disturbed, so it was comfortable for me).
  • Negative Aspects
  • Slightly higher price compared to the lowest fare (around ¥500 to ¥3000 difference).
  • Departure and arrival times may be delayed compared to the scheduled time (this can vary depending on the specific bus, but during my trip, the arrival was about 30 minutes late).

About “VIP Liner Grancia”:

  • Positive Aspects
  • Privacy curtains between seats.
  • Full reclining without affecting the person behind (the seat slides forward, ensuring ample space for the person behind).

This was absolutely fantastic! It was such a joy to recline fully!

  • Automatic reclining with a button.
  • Extended legroom (perfect for a sound sleep).
  • Consideration for seat changes.
  • Minimal lighting and no announcements during rest stops.
  • Negative Aspects
  • Higher price (I paid around ¥4000 on a weekday during the off-peak season).
  • Slight gap when closing the curtains, which could be a bit bothersome.
  • Minimal lighting and no announcements during disembarkation (I almost missed my stop due to being sound asleep).

Grancia was truly, truly wonderful! It felt like traveling in a capsule hotel!


Sakura Express ★★★★★

This bus company, “Sakura Kotsu,” operates not only under that name but also under different bus names like “KiraKira-go” and “SA○○ Bus.”

Since I have used their services multiple times, please be aware that certain services may vary depending on the specific bus. Here are some observations:

  • Positive Aspects
  • Footrests available.
  • Reasonable legroom (although it becomes narrower when the person in front reclines).
  • Equipped with power outlets.
  • Fabric coverings to prevent heating from the floor and to ensure armrests don’t get cold (excellent consideration).
  • Affordable reservations can be made through the official website.
  • Seats are often available (compared to Sunshine Express).
  • During rest stops, they inform passengers of the bus’s license plate number (which is helpful when it’s difficult to identify the bus).
  • They provide a 3-minute warning before lights are turned off, gradually dimming the lights (which is convenient as sudden darkness can be unsettling).
  • If there are vacant seats, they may guide passengers to other seats or arrange seating alternately, making it easier to recline.

Unbeatable cost performance! The attention to detail is exceptional! Recently, I almost exclusively choose Sakura Kotsu for my travels.

  • Negative Aspects
  • Lights during rest stops are slightly bright.
  • No partition curtains.
  • When boarding at Kyoto Station, the boarding location is different from other buses, so please pay attention!


While I have mentioned services that I found positive, it’s possible that some are part of the bus company’s manual while others are unique to certain drivers.

Different buses may offer different services, so please keep that in mind.

  • Positive Aspects

The seating comfort, pillows, and spaciousness are moderate.

  • Negative Aspects

The fares are often ¥1000 or more expensive compared to the cheapest options.

Please note that the quality of service may vary depending on the bus driver.

While I have mentioned services that I found positive, it’s possible that some are part of the bus company’s manual while others are unique to certain drivers. Different buses may offer different services, so please keep that in mind.


Top Three Cost-Effective Recommendations


And so, My favorite bus companies are as follows.

  • No.1: Sakura Express

This is the epitome of cost-performance! With often the lowest fares, you can enjoy relatively comfortable travel.

Lately, I’ve been using Sakura Kotsu (Sakura Transportation) exclusively.

  • No.2: VIP Liner

It may not live up to the name “VIP,” but you can travel comfortably at a reasonable price.

  • No.3: Grand Grace

For those days when you want a solid sleep, even if it’s a bit pricier, I recommend Number 3: Grand Grace. It’s a luxurious option!

Top Three Recommended Booking Website


I check all three websites for the lowest fares!

  • Sky Ticket

With SkyTicket, you can easily search multiple bus companies at once.

The calendar display allows you to see at a glance when the lowest fares are available.

You can also find discounted airfare and hotels.

  • Rakuten Travel

The biggest advantage of Rakuten Travel is that you can earn Rakuten points.

I think I use Rakuten Travel for booking the most because they often have the lowest fares.

When you have a lot of Rakuten points or during promotional periods, you may be able to book at a discounted rate using points!

When I have accumulated Rakuten points for a limited time, I book through Rakuten Travel.

  • Bus bookmark

Sometimes, Bus Bookmark offers extremely low prices compared to SkyTicket and Rakuten Travel.

In the past, when there were unsold seats for the night bus on the same day, I was able to book for 2,800 yen on Bus Bookmark while other sites were offering it for 6,000 yen.

The site is user-friendly, with options displayed, allowing you to choose the departure location with just one click or even move to the next day easily. Personally, I find it the most visually appealing among the three sites.



How was it? Thank you for reading until the end.

I’m glad if this has been helpful in solving your concerns about finding affordable and comfortable night buses.


please consider using these resources as a reference for your next journey!


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