Ferries in Japan

Ferries in Japan フェリー

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 Tomakomai in southern Hokkaido and the ferry routes connecting Fukuoka in Japan with Busan in Korea and the boats to Naha in Okinawa from Osaka and Kagoshima. (*There is no longer a ferry service from Nagoya to Okinawa). There are also ferries connecting Tokyo with Tokushima on Shikoku and Kitakyushu on Kyushu. Ferries also link Wakkanai on Hokkaido with the offshore islands of Rebun and Rishiri.

The Japan Ferry Pass 21 offers 6 journeys on 14 routes over 21 days for 21,000 yen.

Shimabara-Kumamoto high-speed ferry, Japan.
Shimabara-Kumamoto high speed ferry, Kyushu
The high speed Jet Boat ferry.
The high speed Jet Boat ferry between Hiroshima and Matsuyama

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 often 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.

Ferry Routes

Osaka-Kobe-Beppu

This overnight ferry, the Sunflower, is ideal if you wish to take your car from the Kansai region of Osaka, Kobe or Kyoto to explore Kyushu. The journey takes approximately 12 hours.

OsakaBeppu (for Oita)
19:05 (Sun-Thurs)06:55
19.55 (Fri-Sat)07:45
BeppuOsaka
18:45 (Sun-Thurs)06:35
19.35 (Fri-Sat)07:35

Cheapest economy fare: ¥10,400; peak rates during the Obon holidays in August.

Osaka Nanko Port Cosmo Ferry Terminal
Tel: 06 6613 1571

Access: From Suminoe Koen Station on the Yotsubashi Line or Cosmos Square Station on the Chuo Line of the Osaka subway, take the Newtram to Trade Center Station. The Osaka Nanko Port Cosmo Ferry Terminal is a five-minute walk.

Reservations: Bookings can be made up to two months prior to the date of departure and can be made online (see below). Tel: 0120 56 3268

For full details visit www.ferry-sunflower.co.jp

KobeOita
19:00 (Sun-Thurs)06:20
19.50 (Fri-Sat)07:20
OitaKobe
19:15 (Sun-Thurs)06:35
19.30 (Fri-Sat)07:55

Cheapest economy fare: ¥10,400; peak rates during the Obon holidays in August.

Kobe Port (Rokko Island)
Tel: 078 857 1988

Access: Take the Rokko Liner from JR Sumiyoshi Station or Hanshin Uozaki Station and get off at Island Kitaguchi Station from here a shuttle bus leaves for the ferry terminal.

Osaka-Shibushi (Kagoshima)

OsakaShibushi (Kagoshima)
17:55 (Mon-Fri)08:55
17.55 (Sat)09:40
17:00 (Sun)08:55
ShibushiOsaka
17:55 (Mon-Fri)07:40
18.30 (Sat)08:50
17:00 (Sun)07:40

Cheapest economy fare: ¥11,800; peak rates during the Obon holidays in August.

Osaka Nanko Kamome Ferry Terminal
Tel: 06 6612 2311

Access: From Suminoe Koen Station on the the Yotsubashi Line or Cosmos Square Station on the Chuo Line of the Osaka subway, take the Newtram to Ferry Terminal Station. From here take an Osaka city bus for Nanko Minami-6-chome and get off at Kamome Futo Mae. There are also buses from Kitakagaya Station on the Yotsubashi Line for Nanko Minami-6-chome.

Nagoya-Sendai-Tomakomai

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.

Nagoya - Sendai
19:00 next day 16:40
Sendai - Nagoya
12:50 next day 10:30

Taiheiyo Ferry
Reservations: Nagoya 052 582 8611; Sendai 022 388 8757; Sapporo 011 281 3311
Boats are every other day. Reservations can be made two months prior to boarding.
There is a direct Meitetsu bus from Meitetsu Nagoya Station to the Nagoya Ferry Terminal (35 minutes) leaving at 17.20 and arriving at 17.55. Alternatively take an Aonami Line train to Noseki Station from Nagoya Station and then a city bus.

Sendai - Tomakomai (70 mins by train to Sapporo)
19:40 next day 11.00
Tomakomai - Sendai
19:00 next day 10.00

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)
12.30 Approx. 20-21 hours 20.45
Otaru - Maizuru (about 2 hours by train from Osaka)
23.30 next day 21.15

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

Shin Nihonkai Ferry

Cheapest economy fare: from ¥9,570 depending on the season
Reservations: 03 5532 1101 (Tokyo)/011 241 7100 (Sapporo)/06 6348 1120 (Osaka).

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

Niigata-Otaru

Niigata - Otaru
10:30 (Daily except Mon) next day 04.30
Otaru - Niigata
10:30 (Daily except Mon & Sun) next day 06:00
19.30 (Sunday) next day 15.30

Shin Nihonkai Ferry

Cheapest economy fare: ¥6,480
Reservations: 06 6345 2921 (Osaka HQ)/025 273 2171 (Niigata)/0134 22 6191 (Otaru).

Tsuruga-Tomakomai

Daily ferries connect Tsuruga in Fukui Prefecture with Tomakomai in Hokkaido in 19-21 hours.

Tsuruga - Tomakomai
01:00 next day 20.30
Tomakomai - Tsuruga
23:30 next day 20:30

Shin Nihonkai Ferry

Cheapest economy fare: from ¥9,570 to ¥16,350 (in peak August Obon season)

Tsuruga-Niigata-Akita-Tomakomai

The Tsuruga-Niigata-Akita-Tomakomai ferry sails once a week on Monday and takes 31 hours approximately. The return from Tomakomai-Akita-Niigata-Tsuruga sails on Saturday.

TsurugaNiigataAkitaTomakomai
10:00 (Mon) 22.20 (Arrive)
23.30 (Depart)
05.50 (next day; Arrive)
07.00 (Depart)
17.20
TomakomaiAkitaNiigataTsuruga
19:30 07:45 (next day; Arrive)
08:45 (Depart)
15:30 (next day; Arrive)
16:30 (Depart)
05:30 (next day)

Shin Nihonkai Ferry

Cheapest economy fare: from ¥9,570

Niigata-Akita-Tomakomai

Ferries sail from Niigata via Akita to Tomakomai from Monday to Saturday and from Tomakomai to Niigata via Akita Monday to Saturday. journey time is about 18 hours.

NiigataAkitaTomakomai
23.15 05.50 (next day; Arrive)
07.00 (Depart)
17.20
TomakomaiAkitaNiigata
19:30 07:45 (next day; Arrive)
08:45 (Depart)
15.30

Shin Nihonkai Ferry

Cheapest economy fare: from ¥6,480 Niigata-Tomakomai; from ¥4,530 Akita-Tomakomai

Akita-Tomakomai

Ferries sail from Akita to Tomakomai Tuesday-Sunday and from Tomakomai to Akita Monday to Saturday. Journey time is about 10 hours, 20 minutes.

Akita Tomakomai
07.00 17.20
Tomakomai Akita
19.30 07.45

Oarai-Tomakomai

Ferries sail from Oarai port near Mito in Ibaraki Prefecture to Tomakomai in Hokkaido.The journey takes around 19 hours.

Oarai Tomakomai
18.30 13.00 (next day)
08:45 14:00 (next day)
Tomakomai Oarai
19.30 07.45 (next day)
09:45 01:45 (next day)

MOL Ferries (Tel: 0120 489850)

Cheapest economy fare: ¥8,740.
Oarai Passenger Reservation Center: 029 267 4133
Tomakomai Passenger Reservation Center: 0144 34 3121

Tokyo-Tokushima-Kitakyushu

Ferries sail from Tokyo to Tokushima in Shikoku and to Kitakyushu in Fukuoka Prefecture, Kyushu. Tokyo-Kitakyushu by ferry is around 34 hours.

Tokyo Tokushima (Shikoku) Kitakyushu
19:30 (Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs, Sat) 13:20 (next day; Arrive) 14.20 (Depart) 05.40
19.30 (Fri) 14:20 (next day; Arrive) 15.20 (Depart) 06.20
18.00 (Sun) 13:20 (next day; Arrive) 14.20 (Depart) 05:40
Kitakyushu Tokushima Tokyo
19:00 (Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs, Sat) 9:30 (next day; Arrive) 11.30 (Depart) 05.40
19.30 (Fri) 9:30 (next day; Arrive) 11.30 (Depart) 06:20
18.00 (Sun) 9:10 (next day; Arrive) 11.10 (Depart) 05.40

Ocean Tokyu Ferry (Tel: 0570 055048)

Cheapest economy fare: ¥15,750 (Tokyo-Kitakyushu); ¥11,510 (Tokyo-Tokushima), ¥8,800 (Kita-kyushu-Tokushima).
Tokyo Ariake Port, Odaiba
(Tel: 03 3528 1011)

Take the Yurikamome Line to Kokusai-Tenjijo-Seimon Station or the Rinkai Line to Kokusai-Tenjijo Station to get to Tokyo Ariake Port (Tokyo Ferry Terminal).

Osaka-Kitakyushu

Meimon Taiyo Ferry operates ferries between Osaka and Shin Mojiko (near KitaKyushu)

Osaka Shin-Mojiko
17:00 5:30
19:50 8:30
Shin-Mojiko Osaka
17:00 5:30
19:50 8:30

Meimon Taiyo Ferry

Cheapest economy fare: ¥6,270

From Suminoe Koen Station on the the Yotsubashi Line or Cosmos Square Station on the Chuo Line of the Osaka subway, take the Newtram to Ferry Terminal Station.

There are free shuttle buses from JR Kokura Station via Moji Station to Shin-Moji Ferry Terminal. The bus from JR Kokura Station takes 40 minutes and 20 minutes from Moji Station.

The buses leave JR Kokura Station at 15:40 and 18:40.

Hankyu Ferry also operates Kansai-Kitakyushu ferries from Rokko Island in Kobe to Shin-Moji and from Izumiotsu in Osaka Prefecture south of Osaka city to Shinmoji.

Kobe Shin-Mojiko
18:30 (Mon-Thurs) 7:00
20:00 (Fri-Sun) 8:30
Shin-Mojiko Kobe
18:40 (Mon-Thurs) 7:10
20:00 (Fri-Sun) 8:30
Izumiotsu Shin-Mojiko
17.30 (Daily) 6:00
Shin-Mojiko Izumiotsu
17.30 (Daily) 6:00

Hankyu Ferry (Tel: 093 481 6581/078 857 1211)

Kobe-Osaka-Naha

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

Shichirui & Saksai-minato-Oki Islands

Both car ferries and high speed jetfoils operated by Oki Kisen sail from both Shichirui Port in Shimane Prefecture and Sakai-minato Port in Tottori Prefecture. The Oki Islands Archipelago is a group of four inhabited islands and 180 uninhabited islands 40-80 kilometers north of the coast. See the Oki Islands access page for further details.

You do NOT need to book your ticket for the ferry, but you MUST book a seat on the fast ferry. Please refer to the Oki Kisen home page for more details. www.oki-kisen.co.jp

High speed Rainbow jetfoil to the Oki Islands, Japan.
High speed Rainbow jetfoil to the Oki Islands

Sukumo (Kochi Prefecture) - Saiki (Oita Prefecture)

The Sukumo (宿毛市) to Saiki ferry sails between Sukumo Port in western Kochi Prefecture and Saiki (佐伯市) in Oita Prefecture, south down the coast from Oita city and Beppu. The distance is about 80km between the two ports and the sailing takes about 3 hours and 10 minutes. Presently the basic second class one way fare is 2,630 yen. The ferry can take 60 cars and 12 trucks on each sailing. Bicycles and motorbikes can also be carried for an extra charge.

Services are operated by Sukumo Ferry www.sukumoferry.com

Sukumo Port (Tel: 0880 62 1100); Saiki Port (Tel: 0972 22 7345)

Sukumo - Saiki
00:30 03:40
08:00 11:10
16:00 19:10
Saiki - Sukumo
04:10 07:20
12:00 15:10
20:50 00:00
Sukumo-Saiki Ferry, Japan.
Sukumo-Saiki Ferry © www.sukumoferry.com

Tokyo-Okinawa

Unfortunately there are no longer sailings from Ariake Port near Odaiba in Tokyo to Naha in Okinawa. The journey took three days and was run by A-Line. The ferry sailed via Shibushi in Miyazaki Prefecture, Nase and Yoronto in Kagoshima Prefecture.

Please check the A-Line website for other routes operated by the company.

Shimabara-Kumamoto slow ferry at sea, Japan.
Shimabara-Kumamoto ferry, Kyushu
Nagoya to Sendai ferry.
Nagoya-Sendai-Tomakomai ferry deck
Nagoya to Sendai ferry economy sleeping berths.
Nagoya-Sendai-Tomakomai ferry sleeping quarters

Shimabara-Kumamoto Ferry

Japan Ferry Articles

Read more about using Japan ferries here

Hiroshima-Kure-Matsuyama ferries

Guide Books on Japan


Goods From Japan to your home or business.