Ferry Boat From Sapporo to Kyoto

There are more transportation options in Japan than Shinkansen and planes. If you like slow travel, you might consider traveling by ferry boat within Japan. This ferry runs between Otaru, a 30-minute train ride from Sapporo Station to Maizuru in Kyoto prefecture. It is run by the Shin Nihonkai Ferry. It leaves Otaru at 23:30 and arrives at Maizuru the next day at 21:15.

How to book it?

Visit Shin Nihonkai Ferry’s website for booking. The website is in English. There are a couple of room options. The only accommodations that have private bathrooms are the Suites and the Deluxe Rooms. If you aren’t in those rooms and need to shower, you would need to shower in the Onsen which is public and communal. Once you booked it and received a confirmation email, you should print out an e-ticket with a QR code. With that, you don’t have to check-in. You can simply board, all they need is the QR code.

We stayed in the State Room B – Western-style Twin room. It was very comfortable. It costs ¥21,600 yen per person. Here’s a video of our room.


This is where Japanese effectiveness comes in. From Sapporo, you can take a bus “1 Parte Chikko Sen” from Otaru station at 21:01. Bus station’s Google map: https://maps.app.goo.gl/z73cFmVtT9rYaehG7 . This bus only goes to the ferry pier when the ferry boat is there.

When you arrive at Maizuru Pier, either you will be staying there overnight or going to Kobe or Osaka. If you prefer to go to Kobe or Osaka, you will need to reserve a bus seat.

After arriving, we chose to not stay in Maizuru and to take a bus to Kobe. We booked bus tickets from NihonKotsu. You must have a reservation for the bus. We booked it online via their booking portal. Click the first option, which is “鳥取→大阪・神戸”. After that, select “舞鶴→大阪・神戸” as the destination. It’s basically just sending an email to them. After 15 minutes, they responded with a confirmation email. The bus fare from Maizuru to Kobe station is ¥2150 yen per person and takes 2 hours. As for payment, you can pay directly to the bus driver in cash.


Overall, the boat is well-equipped and very comfortable. There’s a shop that sells souvenirs, drinks, and food. Vending machines also sell drinks, food, and cigarettes. There’s an arcade game room. There’s a restaurant where you order from a tablet in English, but it is only open 3 times a day: for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There’s a public onsen as well.

We took the boat in winter, which is said to be the roughest time of the year to travel. Despite a snowstorm outside for the first part of the voyage, the boat was peaceful, calm, and barely rocked. It was easy to sleep and neither of us ever felt seasick.

This is one of the most mellow ways to travel and a great way to see Japan in a unique way. You get the opportunity to travel like a local and to travel the ancient sea lanes that connect this archipelago in modern comfort.

My Instagram Reel about this ferry boat ride: https://www.instagram.com/p/C3zhOarhMa2/

Thank you for reading. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

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