Ferry Travel In Japan
Ferries in Japan フェッリー
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 and car ferry are the two options for getting to Sado-ga-shima by boat from Niigata Ferry Terminal
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.
Economy fare: 7,030 Yen
Economy fare: 5,250 Yen
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.
There are train connections to the port of Maizuru in Kyoto Prefecture from Kyoto, Osaka and Fukuchiyama.
All ferry services are daily except Niigata-Otaru (No Monday service).
Economy fare: 9,020 Yen
For further details on other routes and services contact:
The Kobe-Osaka-Naha ferry leaves from Rokko Island in Kobe via Nanko Ferry Terminal in Osaka and Naze in Kagoshima, on to Okinawa.
A-Line runs ferries from Kobe and Osaka to Naha. The journey takes 3 days.
Contact: Osaka 06 6341 8071; Naha 098 860 1900
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.