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Ferries in Japan

Japan flag. Ferry Travel In Japan

Japan Ferry Routes | Osaka-Kobe-Matsuyama-Beppu | Niigata-Otaru | Nagoya-Sendai-Tomakomai | Maizuru-Otaru | Kobe-Osaka-Naha | Tokyo-Okinawa

Ferries in Japan フェッリー

Osaka-Beppu Sunflower ferry in port.

If you have time on your hands sailing by ferry in Japan can be a great way to cover long distances.

Japan is made up of four main islands but there are hundreds of other islands scattered in the archipelago with the islands of Okinawa over a 1000km to the south. Japan's Inland Sea also has many small islands such as Shodoshima and Naoshima easily and cheaply reached by ferry.

The main routes of practical use to visitors would be from Osaka/Kobe (on Honshu) to Beppu/Oita (on Kyushu), Niigata on the Japan Sea coast to Otaru/Sapporo (Hokkaido) and Sado Island, Nagoya and Sendai to Tomokomai in southern Hokkaido and the ferry routes connecting Fukuoka in Japan with Busan in Korea and the boats to Naha in Okinawa from Tokyo, Osaka and Kagoshima. (*There is no longer a ferry service from Nagoya to Okinawa)

The cheapest accommodation on Japan's ferries is in often cramped, communal, large tatami-mat rooms. The Hokkaido routes usually have women-only sections.

There is also a range of more expensive private first and second class cabins, and even suites, on board. Bicycles, motorbikes and cars also travel for an extra fee.

Ferry reservations are necessary at weekends and on public holidays.

There is a good canteen style self-service restaurant, a shop and a variety of vending machines on all boats, but the prices are marked up considerably, so those on a tight budget might consider buying food and drinks outside before boarding.

Entertainment consists of TV, the views from the deck, movies, computer games and a free Japanese bath.

Jetfoil, Niigata Port.Car Ferry to Sado.

Jetfoil and car ferry are the two options for getting to Sado-ga-shima by boat from Niigata Ferry Terminal

Ferry Routes


This overnight ferry is ideal if you wish to take your car from the Kansai region of Osaka, Kobe or Kyoto to explore Shikoku or Kyushu.

Osaka - Kobe Matsuyama Beppu (for Oita)
18:50 6.20
21:00 22:25 10:00
Beppu - Matsuyama Kobe Osaka
17:00 5:30 08:40
19:00 06:20

Economy fare: 7,030 Yen
Reservations: 06 6572 5181/06 6613 1571; Matsuyama 089 967 7180


Niigata - Otaru    
10:30 next day 04.10
Otaru - Niigata    
10:30 next day 05:30

Economy fare: 5,250 Yen
Reservations: 06 6345 2921 (Osaka HQ)/025 273 2171 (Niigata)/0134 22 6191 (Otaru).


The Nagoya-Sendai-Tomakomai ferry is a leisurely way to get to Sendai in the Tohoku area of Japan from Nagoya and then on to Hokkaido. The port of Tomakomai is within easy reach of Sapporo by public transport (bus and train) or by car.

Nagoyai - Sendai
20:00 next day 17:45
Sendai - Nagoya
12:20 next day 09:20

Taiheiyo Ferry
Reservations: Nagoya 052 398 1023; Sendai 022 259 021
Boats are every other day.

Sendai - Tomakomai (70 mins by train to Sapporo)
20:00 next day 10:45
Tomakomai - Sendai
19:00 next day 09:20

Maizuru-Otaru (For Sapporo)

There are train connections to the port of Maizuru in Kyoto Prefecture from Kyoto, Osaka and Fukuchiyama.

Maizuru - Otaru (for Sapporo)
23.30 2 nights later 04.00
Otaru - Maizuru (about 2 hours by train from Osaka)
10.00 next day 17.00

All ferry services are daily except Niigata-Otaru (No Monday service).

Economy fare: 9,020 Yen
Reservations: 022 263 9877 (Sendai)/011 281 3311 (Sapporo).

For further details on other routes and services contact:
Japan Long Course Ferry Service Association in Tokyo:
03 3501 0889


The Kobe-Osaka-Naha ferry leaves from Rokko Island in Kobe via Nanko Ferry Terminal in Osaka and Naze in Kagoshima, on to Okinawa.

Kobe - Osaka - Naha (Okinawa)
14:00 -- 18.30 three days 08:30
Naha - Osaka - Kobe
16:00 (or 18:00) three days 10:00

A-Line runs ferries from Kobe and Osaka to Naha. The journey takes 3 days.

Contact: Osaka 06 6341 8071; Naha 098 860 1900


Tokyo - Naha (Okinawa)
17:00; 21:30 three days 16:00; 21:00
Naha - Tokyo
10:00; 20:00 (or 20:30) three days 09:30; 16:00

There are six or seven monthly sailings from Ariake Port near Odaiba in Tokyo to Naha in Okinawa. The journey takes three days and is run by A-Line. The ferry sails via Shibushi in Miyazaki Prefecture, Nase and Yoronto in Kagoshima Prefecture, please check the A-Line website for further details.

Nagoya to Sendai ferry.Nagoya to Sendai ferry economy sleeping berths.

Shimabara-Kumamoto Ferry

Read more about using Japan ferries here

Guide Books on Japan