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Japan Overnight Ferries 2021/10/6 20:02
Like normal - when I think I understand one facet of Japan something jumps up and totally confuses me.

I've traveled in Japan extensively but have never stayed on overnight ferries. I understand the need for more outlying islands, but was surprised by the sheer number between major cities

This came to my attention when one youtube channel came up on my feed who specializes in traveling on Japan overnight ferries and showing the rooms and facilities.

As such - I don't understand where the passengers come from to keep so many ferries sustainable. Is it mainly people moving around Japan with a car (thus it being significantly cheaper) or something else? Sorry to ask - I just can't get it through my skull how it's financially viable when there are heaps of other faster options which are not too different in costs......
by mfedley  

Re: Japan Overnight Ferries 2021/10/7 05:44
There used to be more such ferry lines in the past. I think a majority of city-to-city ferry users use them with vehicles - motorcycles, cars and trucks - to move quicker over a long distance (move while you sleep). They also used to be a discount option compared to trains and planes. Due to cheap bus and plane tickets today, this is now not really the case anymore.
by Uji rate this post as useful

Re: Japan Overnight Ferries 2021/10/7 06:13
I have very fond memories of an overnight ferry from Hiroshima to Osaka that I took over 25 years ago (it must have been cheaper than train + hotel, otherwise I wouldn't have taken it as a student). This ferry even had a sento on it, which was a lot of fun, before sleeping in a big sleeping room with many other travelers (I dont remember anymore if the sleeping room was separated by gender, probably yes)
But, yes I think more recently it is travellers with motorcycles etc who take the ferries. When I was in Hokkaido 4 years ago there were a lot of travellers on motorcycles and I suspect that those who didnt rent a motorcycle in Hokkaido had come mostly by ferry from Honshu.
And then there are obviously the truck drivers for which this must be great way to continue moving while sleeping.
by LikeBike (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Japan Overnight Ferries 2021/10/7 07:27
Yes, there are lots of routes around Japan. I think it was last year when the topic came up here discussing Nagoya to Sendai. As an option, it was pretty cheap and as the person was not in a hurry, quite practical. Certainly a lot cheaper than car/bus/train and even many flight options.
You might find that passenger income is pretty small and that the ferry companies make most of their money from freight.
by JapanCustomTours rate this post as useful

Re: Japan Overnight Ferries 2021/10/7 07:36
It seems as though from comments made above it's mainly people on lower income, cars or moving lots of stuff that use the overnight ferries.

Would it be expected that they are significantly subsidized to make them financially viable?

For people who have traveled on them - do you see it as just another method of transport or an interesting and unique way to travel around Japan? I'm aware that this is a very subjective question.
by mfedley rate this post as useful

Re: Japan Overnight Ferries 2021/10/7 08:38
Shipping is very inexpensive in Japan. There is just less upfront costs compared to rail or road.

A lot of new trains and trams are move to there new locations by ships also.

Similar to the old overnight trains. Travelling somewhere 12 hours away and sleeping 8 hours of the trip makes practical sense. Saves a days travel.
by H (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Japan Overnight Ferries 2021/10/7 13:20
Yes, I think that ferries are a special way to travel around Japan.

Specially if you can stay / sleep in a common room with other travelers. These are normally tatami (or carpet) rooms with everyone sitting on the floor and it is quite easy to get into conversation with fellow travelers. Probably also because there is no internet, so time to talk instead of looking all the time at your smartphone. Plus sitting on the floor in socks already puts everyone in a relaxed state of mind.
I only took an overnight ferry once (Hiroshima - Osaka), but also Day ferries can be similar:


While on hyperfoils (where you sit in rows similar to train/plane) I did not make the same experience that you can easily speak with fellow travelers.
by LikeBike rate this post as useful

Re: Japan Overnight Ferries 2021/10/7 16:23
i see you found the "solo travel japan" youtube channel :-)
by Glimpigumpi rate this post as useful

Re: Japan Overnight Ferries 2021/10/8 02:03
I took a fairly short ( 3 1/2 hrs) day time trip from Hakodate to Aomori at the end of January 2020. I was sitting in the 'view seat' and the whole area was almost empty. I saw very few people, don't know about trucks and cars...

Maybe so empty as that was when the pandemic was getting more known.....

If you see the schedule they also run overnight....

by Maranyc rate this post as useful

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