Welcome to the islands of Japan. Some of them are connected by bridges, but a lot of them are off on their own. Japan’s four main islands and its countless smaller islands aren’t always the easiest places to reach, but one of the cheapest and most convenient ways to get around is by ferry. Both high-speed and cruise ferries can get you to lots of convenient and popular destinations on Kyushu and Honshu.
The easiest way to purchase ferry tickets is to go to your local travel agency. Some ferry companies offer online booking, but it is in Japanese-only. Another option is to purchase the tickets on the spot at the port, but this may be a risky venture if it is a busy weekend or holiday period.
The most basic fare for overnight ferries offer fold-out mattresses and blankets in dormitory style lodging. Look for the 2等 kanji. More expensive bunk beds and private rooms can also be reserved but these fill up fast. Overnight ferries also feature cafeterias and a public bath.
Please note: The timetables and fares below are accurate only as of May 2017. We strongly recommend you visit the ferry companies’ actual websites or your travel agent for the most up-to-date timetables and fare prices.
Long-distance ferries depart from Matsuyama Sightseeing Port (Matsuyama Kankoukou – 松山観光港) in Takahama. Please be aware that this is a different port from Mitsuhama Port. The Sightseeing port can be reached by train (every 15 minutes from Shieki – 550 yen) or by bus. Trains and buses stop running at 9:00pm so if you find yourself arriving after this time you will have to take a taxi back to the city – about 4,000 yen.
Matsuyama Kokura Ferry (to Kokura, Kyushu)
- Runs overnight from Matsuyama to Kokura and Kokura to Matsuyama, 21:00 to 05:00.
- Send a booking request online (not usually necessary unless it’s a national holiday weekend).
- Fares range from 15,430 yen for private rooms to 5,450 yen for public decks, and increase during busy seasons. See the different rooms here.
There are two types of ship:
- Cruise Ferry – 3,600 yen one way, 2.5 hours to Hiroshima (foot passengers and vehicles)
- Super Jet Ferry – 7,100 yen one way, 1 hour to Hiroshima (foot passengers only)
At present (4/2018) there is a special discount for both ferries if you present a foreign passport at the cash desk (one-way ticket only).
Mitsuhama-Ihota-Yanai (Yamaguchi) ferries
- Runs multiple times everyday
- 3,600 yen one way, 2.5 hours to Yanai (foot passengers and vehicles)
You can reach Yawatahama Port by taxi from Yawatahama JR station. It only costs about 1000 yen and takes about 5-10 minutes depending on traffic. If you are up for it, you can also walk there. The port is about a half-hour walk.
Orange Ferry (to Oita)
- Day and night boats from Yawatahama Port to Usuki – timetable here.
- Second class fares 2,310 yen.
- Usuki Bound – 2,310 yen (second class), 2 hrs 30 mins
- Beppu Bound – 3,100 yen (second class), 2 hrs 50 mins
From Niihama & Toyo
Toyo Port is located on Route 196 between Komatsu and Toyo. It can be reached by taxi from Nyugawa JR station, costing around 2,000 yen. You can also get there by bus from Matsuyama JR Station. It takes 1 hour and 30 minutes and it costs 1,230 yen by port limousine bus. The bus leaves Matsuyama JR Station at 20:40 and arrives at Toyo Port at 22:30. The returning limousine leaves Toyo Port at 06:00 and arrives at Matsuyama JR at 07:33.
Niihama Port is located near Takihama station. There is no express train to this station however, so an alternative is to hail a cab from Niihama JR Station. It costs about 2,000 yen. From Niihama Port, you can get a cab by picking up the taxi telephone in front of the ticket window. It automatically dials a taxi company, just tell them your name and where you are.
Orange Ferry (to Kansai)
- Toyo-Osaka – 6,690 yen (second class dorm-style room), 22:30 – 06:10
- Niihama-Kobe – 6,690 yen (second class dorm-style room), 16:30 – 23:50