Japan is an archipelago that is accessible either by air or by sea. Millions of people from different parts of the world travel to the country by air. But have you ever thought of visiting Japan by boat? It is actually a convenient and affordable way to get to the country if you are looking for an alternative to flying. If you find air travel to be expensive or maybe dangerous, you can hop on a ferry and visit Japan from some of its neighboring countries. At the moment, Japan can be visited from China, South Korea, and Russia by ferry or cruise.
South Korea and Japan’s long historical and economic ties have made sea travel between the two countries quite easy. It is actually cheaper to travel from South Korea to the Western end of Japan by sea than by air – you would not have to shell more than 10,000 yen. You can travel leisurely in an air-conditioned coach with beautiful views for such a small price.
There are three major ports in Japan that provide ferry services to and from Busan, South Korea: Hakata Passenger Ferry Terminal (博多港) in Fukuoka (福岡), Shimonosekiko Kokusai Terminal
(下関港国際ターミナル) in Shimonoseki (下関), and Osaka Port International Ferry Terminal (大阪港国際 フェリーターミナル) in Osaka (大阪).
High-speed ferries between Busan and Fukuoka run daily. One of which is the BEETLE that takes three hours and runs twice every day. It costs just a little over 13,000 yen for a one-way trip from Fukuoka to Busan. Another ferry is the Camellia Line that takes a minimum of 6 hours from Busan to Fukuoka and operates daily.
If you do not care about the duration of the voyage, you can hop on Kampu Ferry which runs between Busan and Shimonoseki for as little as 9,000 yen but takes approximately 12 hours. There is also PanStar Cruise that runs between Osaka and Busan.
See? Reaching Japan by boat from South Korea seems to be an interesting and affordable option.
Russia is most definitely the closest neighbor of Japan. Russia’s Sakhalin and Japan’s Hokkaido (北海道) are just a few miles apart from each other. The two countries have even planned the Sakhalin-Hokkaido Tunnel which is supposed to connect these two regions. However, terrible weather conditions together with worsening ties have made sea travel between Russia and Japan difficult.
Now, ferries are running only on a trial basis to help connect the families that were separated during the Invasion of Sakhalin in the Second World War. These families make constant visits between Sakhalin and Hokkaido every year. The ferries usually run between Wakkanai and Korsakov in August and early September. One-way trips cost around 18,000 yen and the travel time could take four to five hours.
Every year, more than a million Chinese people visit Japan; and to some of them, riding a boat seems to be an interesting option. There are ferries that run between Shanghai and Osaka or Kobe (神戸) every week. It usually takes almost two days to reach Japan from China via the famous XIN JIAN ZHEN ferry which operates once every other week.
There are also ferries that run from Shanghai to Nagasaki (長崎) and Fukuoka mostly by private companies. For example, the theme park Huis Ten Bosch (or Little Holland) in Nagasaki attracts thousands of visitors from China through a direct ferry.
Now, you are not worrying about missing a flight, are you? You have a much affordable and cooler option to reach Japan i.e. by boat. Plenty of luggage allowance, awesome views, affordability, more space – these are just some of the advantages of taking a boat instead of an airplane.