Photo: SoraNews24
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Osaka to Fukuoka for less than ¥4,000? It’s possible with Japan’s overnight ferry

10 Comments
By SoraNews24

For long-distance travel in Japan, most people’s default choice is to take the Shinkansen, since Japan’s bullet train network is often faster and more convenient than flying. By land and by air aren’t the only options, though, as Japan also has a network of long-distance ferries, like the one operated by Meimon Taiyo Ferry that sails between Osaka and Fukuoka prefectures.

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Two ferries set sail from each port daily, departing at 5 and 7:50 p.m. These are overnight voyages, but each still gets you to your destination early enough for a full itinerary that day, arriving respectively at 5:30 and 8:30 in the morning. The overnight trip also saves you the cost of booking a hotel for the night, and speaking of saving cash, an economy-class ticket on the 5 p.m. ship, with a discount for online reservations, currently costs just 3,980 yen, about 10,000 yen less than a Shinkansen ticket covering the same distance.

For those departing from Fukuoka, the ship leaves from Shinmoji Port in Kitakyushu City. The closest train station is Kokura Station, and from the north/Shinkansengchi exit there’s a free shuttle bus for the 40-minute ride to the port.

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After arriving at the port, passengers check in at the first floor, and from there it’s on to the ship.

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While the port terminal building itself is nothing fancy, the ship’s entrance hall is surprisingly classy, and the vessel offers some pretty nice amenities, which we’ll get to in a second.

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First, though, let’s check out our economy class seat/sleeping space.

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As the name implies, the economy ticket gets you the bare necessities of a sleeping mat, pillow, blanket, and some shelves. There’s also a mirror, if you’re lucky enough to get the corner spot.

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But really, while you’re awake you’ll probably want to spend most of your time in the other parts of the ship. For starters, there’s an outdoor observation deck, where we watched the port retreat into the horizon as we set out to sea.

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The sailing course takes you through Japan’s scenic Seto Inland Sea, and while the evening departure means the sun will set not too long after departure, the ferry sails under a number of scenic bridges which connect Japan’s main island of Honshu with the smaller island of Shikoku, and the staff posts a schedule of when you’ll be passing by them if you want to see them lit up against the nighttime sky.

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In addition to shower rooms, there’s a Japanese-style daiyokujo communal bath, open until 10 p.m., which has a window for you to gaze out at the scenery through while you soak.

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You can also catch some nice views from the dining area, and if you haven’t brought your own food aboard, a dinner/breakfast plan is offered for 1,600 yen.

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Dinner is the star here, with over 40 items to choose from, including katsuo tataki (seared bonito) and chikuzenni (stewed chicken and root vegetables). Alcoholic beverages are even available for an additional charge.

Breakfast, meanwhile, is a lot less extravagant, but considering the 5:30 a.m. arrival means you’ll probably be eating before 5, something simple and light is probably best.

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Other onboard facilities include a store selling souvenirs and toiletries and vending machines.

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And a game corner.

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Complimentary safety boxes and coin-operated lockers are also available if you have any valuables you want to stow in them during the trip.

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Obviously there aren’t any traffic jams to worry about when traveling by sea, and we arrived at Osaka’s Nanko Ferry Terminal right on time at 5:30 the next morning.

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The ferry terminal is right across the street from Ferry Terminal Station on the Nanko Port Town train line, from where it’s a 45-minute ride to Namba, Umeda, or Osaka stations in the heart of downtown.

At 12 hours of sailing time, the Meimon Taiyo Ferry isn’t for people who need to make the Osaka/Fukuoka trip as quickly as possible. If you’ve got time to spare, though, it’ll give you a unique experience, extra room in your budget once you arrive, and the whole day ahead of you.

Related: Meimon Taiyo Ferry website

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

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© SoraNews24

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

10 Comments
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I see they've gone all out to prevent the spread of the corona virus.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Unless it's a room, this trip is a non-starter in the age of COVID.

You can't keep mask on while sleeping. So you must book a room to get a sleep.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Unless it's a room, this trip is a non-starter in the age of COVID.

You can't keep mask on while sleeping. So you must book a room to get a sleep.

I may be wrong but it appeared there are plexiglass partitions between sleeping spaces. These ferries will be sailing long after this pandemic is behind us.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@Desert Tortoise

I may be wrong but it appeared there are plexiglass partitions between sleeping spaces. 

And how is this plexiglass supposed to protect you from the asymptomatic COVID patient sleeping next to you? The whole room is filled with coronavirus and you will get infected staying in that shared room.

The only way to travel safe during pandemic is in a private room. If you can't afford a private room, then travel on Shinkansen instead. At least a Shinkansen ride is only a few hours long and you can keep your mask on during this time.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

too cheap-too risky get infected-too early to use.

i stick to car and highway-always better

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A good way to travel at least pre covid. Ferries also from Kobe Port. Less chance of being involved in a major expressway accident.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I did the Oita-Hiroshima and Oita-Osaka route before. It is a nice experience. I bought the absolute cheapest ticket so you just have an area of green carpet to lay on. Basically I would say you consider it an all-nighter and go with friends and few bottles of rum and enjoy yourselves on deck. The scenery of the Japanese islands at night is amazing. Highly recommend unless you expect a good night's sleep.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I took similar trips on the overnight Beppu-Osaka Sunflower Ferry. Similar to the above comments accommodations are quite basic and privacy is all but non-existent.

However, if you consider it as saving one night's hotel stay, it can be a quite reasonable way to travel indeed.

That said, no way I'd do it in the COVID era.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Love traveling on these ferries. Took them all the time pre-covid. They all used to stop in Matsuyama too so could go to Osaka, Kobe, Hiroshima, Kita-Kyusu and Oita for super cheap and in a relaxed way. If you spend about 2,000 yen more you can get your own bunk in a room with about 6 bunks with curtains.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Flights from Tokyo to Fukuoka are less than 4000 yen often.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

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