No way will I try to give airline information -- check your travel agent or travel web sites for that -- but one increasingly interesting bit of information which is fairly hard to come by (in English) is about schedules for International Ferries from Japan to China, Taiwan, Korea, and Russia (and back). That's the information I've collected on this page. Most of the web sites listed below are almost entirely in Japanese or Korean.
In addition to numerous levels of accommodation quality and price, these international ferries all have large restaurants, cafes, game rooms, gift shops, etc, etc... maybe even a laundry and a japanese bath!
At the bottom of this page is a Map and Some
Links to further resources; some of them are in Japanese,
Korean, or Russian.
Click here to go to my page on the very useful Domestic Japanese Ferries.
A 'standard' Chinese Tourist Visa is now valid within 3 months of issue, for a 30-day visit. They can now be gotten in the U.S. or in Europe in 5 days or less (if you're near an embassy) -- so it might be easier to get this visa before you leave home, if they don't require 'onward tickets'. Both the Shanghai Ferry Company and China Express Line web sites say that Japanese Citizens (only) can get a Chinese visa on board! (for about ¥10,000 and a photo). For "foreigners", it can be more trouble to get a Chinese visa in Japan; but things are getting easier.
This site says it is the Consular office of the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo, but it no longer has information in English. EXCEPT, thankfully, ONE english page which is A Guide to Application for a Visa to China It used to take 4-6 weeks! but is now much shorter There are Chinese consulates in Tokyo, Osaka, Sapporo, Fukuoka, and Nagasaki. Here's a page with All their addresses.
Here's one travel company web site on Getting a Chinese Visa in Japan; they also say they will do it for you in 4 days or less. Since you will likely need be asked to show a ticket in and out of China in order to get a visa, it may be easiest to get your visa and tickets through an agency. You can often get reservations and tickets through the ferry companies themselves.
1. Shanghai, China to Osaka, Kobe, or Shimonoseki, Japan
Shanghai FerryCompany (English page!) runs a large modern ferry between Osaka and Shanghai weekly; the journey takes 2 days. The ferry leaves Osaka every Friday at noon, and leaves Shanghai every Tuesday at noon, arriving around mid-day two days later. The Schedule (click here) changes a bit from day to day. Here is the company's JapaneseHome Page
Prices are ¥20,000 for second class B (on the floor) -- around US$170; ¥22,000 for a second class room (bunk beds), ¥25,000 for a first class room (real beds), and four more higher classes from ¥38,000 to ¥100,000!
You may be able to book travel on the Shanghai Ferry Company by e-mailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org (in Japan). "You will be given a reference number and can pick up and pay for your ticket at the port." That's what one travel web site says, but I wrote to the Shanghai Ferry Company and they said: "We recommend that you go to JTB offices after arrival in Japan. They will sell you a Coupon and you can pick up your tickets in exchange for the JTB coupon at the ferry terminal on your embarking date... Please get Chinese visa before leaving your country." hmmm... There is also a link to an On-Line Reservation Page on the main page listed above...
1B. The China Japan International Ferry Co., Ltd. runs another ferry between Osaka and Kobe to Shanghai weekly; the journey takes 2 days. The ferry leaves Osaka OR Kobe on alternate weeks on Tuesdays at noon, and leaves Shanghai every Saturday at noon, arriving before noon two days later. (In dry dock -- no service -- May 6-14, 2003). Since Osaka and Kobe are less than 30 minutes apart by train, it should not make a great deal of difference for you.
A second class room (bunk beds) costs ¥20,000 per person, one-way (around US$170); first class is ¥25,000, and there are 2 higher classes up to ¥100,000 per person! E-Mail inquiries and reservations at email@example.com
1C. Shanghai - Shimonoseki: Since the end of 2006, the
Shanghai-Shimonoseki Ferry, Ltd. Company runs a ship (the Utopia 2) once a week between Shimonoseki Japan, and Taichang (Taicang), the port for Suzhou. Please note that Suzhou is almost an hour away away from Shanghai, but it is one of the most interesting cultural cities in China, staying there a little while is not a bad idea. But, in fact, Taicang is only a little farther from Shanghai and there should be some transport to Shanghai at the port, as well.
Unfortunately, the schedule is not very convenient. It leaves Shimonoseki every Monday at 1pm, arriving in Taichang at 5pm on Tuesday. It will be getting late by the time you go through customs and get to Suzhou (let alone Shanghai). The return leaves Taichang at 3am (!!) on Wednesday, arriving at 9am on Thursday in Shimonoseki. WARNING: Their Japanese site says it leaves at 10 PM Tuesday, arriving in Shimonoseki at 8:30am Thursday.
I have not been able to find out the fares; this seems to be mainly a container (freight) ship... so although it can hold about 400 passengers, schedules may occasionally be delayed by loading freight.
Their main office in Japan is: 1-10-64 Higashi-Yamato-machi, Shimonoseki. Phone +81-832-32-6615 / Fax +81-832-32-6616. Here is their
Home Pagein Japanese
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2. Tientsin, China to Kobe
Tientsin (or Tianjin) is on the coast just southeast of Beijing (about 70 minutes by train) and is the main port for Beijing.
The China Express Line, runs a ferry from Kobe to Tientsin on Fridays at 11am; returning from Tiensien on Mondays at 11am. Both arrive at 2pm local time two days later. (Their web page has their schdeule page and fare page (only)
availablein English; be sure to check it for current schedule times and general information). At the bottom of this Japanese page are: Photos of rooms and ammenities.
Fares are ¥26,000 for second class B (21 people on the floor), around US$260; ¥27,000 for a second class room (16 bunk beds), ¥30,000 for a first class room (6 real beds), ¥34,000 for Special First class room with 2 beds; ¥64,000 for a single room. You get a discount on round-trip fares. These are the "busy-season" rates; subtract about 20% for "off-season" -- October to June! E-Mail inquiries and reservations at firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Tsingtao, China to Shimonoseki, Japan
Tsingtao (or Qingdao) is farther south of Beijing than Tientsin; it's not really close to anything but itself. It's about 11 hours to Beijing by train, or 2 hours by airplane. Shimonoseki is at the eastern tip of the main island of Honshu in Japan. It is right across the Japan Sea from Pusan, Korea, and there are regular ferries there from Shimonoseki. The closest cities are Fukuoka/Kokura.
The Orient Ferry company runs ferries from Shimonoseki to Tsingtao on Thursdays and Sundays at 2pm, arriving at 3pm local time, the next day. They run from Tsingtao to Shimonoseki on Tuesdays and Fridays at 8pm, arriving in Shimonoseki at 10am, two days later. Here is their
SchedulePage in Japanese,  -- with some English notations; you should be able to decifer it. Or here is an english page with limited information on this route from the Port ofShimonoseki.
Fares are ¥19,000 for second class B, around US$160; ¥22,000 for a second class A room, ¥32,000 in a first class room (6 real beds), ¥40,000 for Special First class room;
4. Taiwan to Okinawa and Nagoya, Japan
UPDATE 2009: The following information is no longer valid. Arimura Sangyo has gone out of business and there is no longer any ferry service between Taiwan and Okinawa.
The Arimura Sangyo Line runs two long distance ferries from Nagoya, Japan, to Osaka, continuing to Naha (Okinawa), Miyako Island, Ishigaki Island, and terminating in either Keelung or Kaoshung, Taiwan. Keelung is on the northern tip of Taiwan, near Taipei; Kaoshung (I think it's now officially spelled Kaohsiung) is on the far south tip of Taiwan, far from other cities. (See the Map, below.) This is the Arimura Timetable in Japanese; the left column is Sunday, then Monday, etc.; the rows are: Nagoya, Osaka, Naha, Miyako, Ishizaki, Keelung and Kaohsiung. Two times in the same location are arrival and departure. Schedules are as follows:
Lv. Nagoya 11am Saturday --> Arv. Osaka 21:50pm --> Lv. Osaka 00:50 Sunday -->A second ferry runs to Kaoshung:
Arv. Naha 07:30 Monday --> Lv. Naha 20:00 (8pm) Monday --> Arv. Keelung 18:00 Tuesday
Lv. Nagoya 10:30 Wednesday --> Arv. Osaka 21:50pm --> Lv. Osaka 00:50 Thursday -->In the above, south-bound trips, I left out the times for the stops at the intermediate islands. Note that on the return, north-bound trips, the ships do not stop in Ishigaki, Miyako, or Osaka.
-->Arv. Naha 07:30 Friday --> Lv. Naha 20:00 (8pm) Friday --> Arv. Kaoshung 06::00 Sunday
Return Schedules are:
Lv. Keelung 20:00 Tuesday --> Arv. Naha 14:00 Wednesday --> (1 day layover!) -->
-->Lv Naha 22:00 Thursday -->Arv. Nagoya 07:00 Saturday.
Lv. Kaoshung 12:00 Sunday --> Arv. Naha 14:00 Monday --> Lv Naha 18:00 Monday-->
-->Arv. Nagoya 07:00 Wednesday.
Cheapest second class fares to Keelung/Kaoshung are around ¥35,000 (US$290) from Nagoya; ¥33,000 from Osaka; ¥18,000 from Naha. Osaka to Naha, Okinawa is ¥17,300 in second class. Prices go up from there. E-Mail inquiries at email@example.com
This same schedule is shown on the English web page for the Tokai Kyowa shipping company. This page shows no fare information and may be the cargo end of the business(?). The page also shows domestic routes from Nagoya to Sendai to Tomakomai, Hokkaido (every other day), and Nagoya to Tokyo to Sendai to Kushiro, Hokkaido (twice a week).
Most Europeans, Americans, Canadians, Japanese, Malaysians, Costa Ricans, and OZ/NZ folks can visit Taiwan for 14 days with NO VISA. But there is no extension. Two weeks is probably enough for a quick spin around a few major sites. But, if you may want to stay longer, then get a real 30-day visa. According to
TECRO's Site, (see below) the same nationalities can get a "30-Day Landing Visa" on arrival in Taiwan, by paying US$60 (or US$124 for US citizens!).
Alternatively, Taiwan tourist visas (14, 30, 60-day, single/multiple) can be gotten via the
TaipeiEconomic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) in Tokyo (it's in Shirokanedai-5, on the Namboku subway line, tucked in behind the "National Park for Nature Study"). Telephone: (81-3) 3280-7811: e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org. The above web site has changed and is now only in Japanese! This is the new English site of TaiwanDiplomatic Missions, with several links for consular missiona and visa applications. Here's the site for TECRO U.S.A.It has offices in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Guam, Honolulu, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and the main office in Washington, D.C.
Costs for Taiwanese visas from TECRO in the U.S.A. are $36/$72 for single/multiple entry -- EXCEPT for U.S. citizens who pay an extra $100!
Korea: These links lead to Enlish pages of the
Korean TourismOrg, Ferry Information, and Port ofPusan (Busan). Both are in English and will lead to schedule and fare information.
5. Pusan, South Korea to Shimonoseki, Japan
Pusan is at the southern tip of the Korean Penninsula, with easy bus connections all over the country. Shimonoseki is at the eastern tip of the main island of Honshu in Japan. It is right across the Japan Sea from Pusan, and this has long been the preferred cheapest route for "resident" alien tourists to leave Japan and get their visas renewed (yeah, I've done it twice). The closest cities to Shimonoseki are Fukuoka/Kokura.
The Kampu Ferry and Pukwan Ferry companies runs ferries every night from Shimonoseki to Pusan, and Pusan to Shimonoseki leaving either place at 19:00 (7pm) and arriving at 08:30am. The Pukwan (Korean) and Kampu (Japanese) boats run on alternating nights. You need to get to the dock at least two hours ahead of sailing. The Pukwan web site is only in Korean, Kampu in Japanese. On board, the ferries tend to accecpt the currency of their home country for shopping, vending machines, etc.
Fares are ¥8,500 in ordinary second class, ¥12,000 first class, and ¥18,000 special class.
6. Pusan, South Korea to Hakata, JapanPusan is at the southern tip of the Korean Penninsula, with easy bus connections all over the country. Hakata is the port of Fukuoka city at the far north of Kyushu island (not all that far from Shimonoseki). It is a terminus of the fast Bullet Train.
6A. The Camellia Line runs ferries three nights a week from Hakata to Pusan. They leave Hakata at 5pm Sundays and Wednesdays, and at 7pm on Fridays, arriving in Pusan at 08:40 the next morning. From Pusan, they leave at 7pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, arriving in Hakata at 08:00am the next morning; except from November through February they leave at 6pm and arrive at 8am. (Go figure!)
Fares are ¥9,000 in ordinary second class, ¥10,500 in Japanese-style first class, ¥12,000 in Western-style first class; ¥14,000 in Special Class twin room and ¥16,000 in a Special Class single.
6B. The Japan Railways Kyushu also run ferries on this route from Hakata to Pusan! Here's the English version of the Japan Railways Beetle site. They run a very fast boat -- a double-hydrofoil called "the Beetle" (foto, right), which takes less than 3 hours! It now runs seven(!) times a day (2006). From Hakata (Fukuoka) to Pusan, departures are at 8:45, 9:30, 10:15, 11:10, 14:30, 15:00 and 15:45, taking 2 hours, 55 minutes to Pusan. The return trips leave Pusan at 8:45, 9:30, 10:00, 13:00, 14:00, 15:00 and 15:45. Except on about one third of the days, the 10:15 from Hakata and the 13:00 boat from Pusan do not run. Check-in at least 45 minutes before departure. JR has run this hydrofoil for about 10 years now.
Fares on the Beetle are ¥13,000 one-way and ¥24,000 round-trip. That's not all that much more than on the old overnight boat! And it's easy to get to Hakata on the bullet train. (But then you'd miss out on all the atmospheric camaraderie -- "pass the saké" -- of hana-fuda playing truckies and folk-singing students until the wee hours of the morning in the Ordinary Second Class common room. Ah, yes...)
7. Pusan, South Korea to Hiroshima, Japan
A new service was begun in 2001 between Pusan, South Korea and the large city of Hiroshima, Japan, on the Inland Sea. The Pukwan Ferry company runs this passenger service every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, leaving Pusan at 5 pm, and arriving in Hiroshima at 9am the next day. It takes 16 hours. The ship leaves Hiroshima every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday at 5pm.
See the above links to Korean Tourism information for schedule and fare information.
8. Pusan, South Korea to Tsushima, Japan
Tsushma is a large island in the straits between Japan and the Korean Penninsula.
The Dae-A Express Shipping company runs ferries from Pusan to Tsushima; it takes 2 hours 30 minutes (is there a 1 hour time change?). The small "Sea Flower" boats leave Pusan at 10:20am arriving in Izuhara port on the south end of Tsushima at 12:50. The return leaves Izuhara at 14:00 (2pm), arriving at Pusan at 14:30 local time. They appear to be running every Sunday and Wednesday, and every other Saturday.
A second route goes from Pusan to Nita port, at the north end of Tsushima. It takes only 1 hour 20 minutes. These boats go Mondays and Fridays, leaving Pusan at 10:30, arriving Nita at 12:00, and leaving Nita at 15:00, arriving in Pusan at 16:30. It seems to use the same Sea Flower boat.
Fares are ¥7,500 and ¥8,200, one-way to Izuhara and ¥6,500 and ¥7,100 to Nita. There are internal Japanese ferries from Hakata (on Kyushu) to Izuhara and Nita.
9. Korsakov, Russia to Wakkanai (Hokkaido), Japan
Korsakov is at the very southern tip of Sahkalin Island, which is next to the Russian mainland, but far from either Vladivostok or Khabarovsk. I don't know why you'd want to go there. Wakkanai is at the very far northeast tip of Hokkaido, a very long way from Tokyo, and even very far from Sapporo!
The Higashi Nihon Kai Ferry company runs ferries on this route two or three times a week between early May and mid-October. In July and August they run Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from Wakkanai and Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturdays from Korsakov, but the days vary. They leave at 10:00am from both ends, arriving at Korsakov at 17:30 and Wakkanai at 13:30. (There is a 2 hour time difference). The trip takes 7.5 hours.
The fare is ¥20,000 in second class; ¥25,000 in first; and ¥30,000 in special class. Round-trip fares are just ¥10,000 more for each class.
10. Vladivostok, Russia to Fushiki (Takaoka), Japan
Vladivostok is on the Japan Sea, near Korea and China and is at the terminus of the Russian section of the Trans-Siberian Railway, at the far eastern extreme of Siberia. It is a one-week train ride to Moskow, leaving every odd-numbered day. Takaoka is not too far from Kanazawa on the Japan Sea coast; the actual destination port is called Fushiki.
The FESCO company runs ferries from Vladivostok Saturdays at 18:00 (6pm), arriving in Fushiki on Mondays at 9:00am. It returns on Wednesdays at 18:00, arriving on Friday at 9:30 am in Vladivostok. [Warning: the Fesco page seems to only work well with Internet Explorer.]
The fare is about ¥28,000 cheapest to ¥88,000 for the most expensive. I don't have any more detailed information at this time. The same company reportedly runs another ferry from Vladivostok to Niigata city.
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