Sunday, July 17, 2016

Japan Domestic Ferry Experience - Shikoku Yawatahama to Kyushu Beppu

In 2015, I traveled to Japan using the JR pass. While I was traveling through Shikoku 四国 Yawatahama 八幡浜 to Kyushu 九州 Beppu 別府, I took the Uwajima-Unyu 宇和島運輸 ferry to go across the Seto 瀬戸 inland sea. I have dedicated this article for my experience of taking Japanese domestic ferry while traveling in Japan.
Japanese Domestic Ferry across Seto Inland Sea





- To read about my recommendations of affordable, Reasonable, Convenient hotels in Tokyo, visit: Affordable Cheap Reasonable Hotels in Tokyo
- To read about my recommendations of affordable and reasonable hotels in OSAKA, visit: Osaka Reasonable Affordable Hotel
- To read about my recommendations of reasonable, affordable, and convenient hotels in KYOTO, visit: Kyoto reasonable, affordable, and convenient hotels
- To read about my JR Pass Itinerary in 2015, visit: Project Shinkansen 2015
- To read about how to plan your trip to Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe, visit: Planning your trip to Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe in Japan



I woke up early to take the Matsuyama tram for JR Matsuyama 松山 station. Tram is equally punctual as the JR train counterpart.
Matsuyama local Tram



For some reason, the station staff reserved a seat at the cartoon-themed train cart. I think it was because of the availability of the seats left. I was a bit confused and embarrassed at first but I later found out the cartoon character is the famous Anpanman アンパンマン. I believe the cartoon-themed train cart is to celebrate author's birth place in Shikoku.
Anpanman train car in Shikoku



There are many cartoon-themed train carts in Japan. Anpanman themed interior was definitely an eye opener for myself. I highly recommend Anpanman fans to make reservation early in order to secure a seat in this popular train cart.
Anpanman themed interior train cart in Shikoku




Arriving at JR Yawatahama station after ~50 minute train ride on the Limited Express Uwakai line 特急宇和海.
Yawatahama JR station in Shikoku




Yawatahama is another one of the least traveled, off the beaten path, and non-touristy area in Japan. I took the taxi from the JR Yawatahama station to Uwajima-Unyu 宇和島運輸フェリー Ferry terminal because it was ~1.5 miles (2 kilometers) away.
Quiet town of Yawatahama in Shikoku




Arriving at Uwajima-Unyu 宇和島運輸フェリー Ferry terminal. There was a restaurant in the building, travelers can grab a quick bite while waiting.
Yawatahama Ferry Terminal in Shikoku




If you have a car with you, just pay the due and drive the car into the ferry for the transport.
Drive your car into the Japnese domestic ferry




Destinations were color-coded. I bought my ticket from the staff at the green Beppu ticket counter.
Ticket counter at Yawatahama Ferry Terminal




The ticket vending was in Japanese language only so I recommend speaking to the ticket counter staff for the purchase.
Vending machine for ferry ticket at Yawatahama Ferry Terminal




Plenty of seats at the ferry terminal while you are waiting.
Waiting area at Yawatahama ferry terminal




I bought a bottle of the famous Shikoku tangerine mikan juice from the souvenir shop before leaving Shikoku.
Shikoku Mikan tangerine juice


The second class ferry ticket cost 3100 yen in November 2015.
Japanese domestic ferry ticket



Boarding time for the Ehime えひめ ferry.
Japanese domestic ferry



View from the upper deck of the ferry was amazing.
Japanese Domestic Ferry




Large size windows offer the best views on the upper deck.
Japanese domestic ferry




Upper deck was the playground for children who came with their parents.
Japanese Domestic Ferry



This view is perfect for photograph and selfie opportunities.
Japanese Domestic Ferry


There was nothing fancy about this ferry but the interior was clean and serves its purposes.
Japanese Domestic Ferry



Snacks and beverages can be purchased at the ferry cafeteria.
Japanese domestic ferry cafeteria


Plenty of vending machines for travelers to choose from.
Japanese Domestic Ferry



Arcade games and slot machines were also available during the 3-hour ferry ride.
Japanese Domestic Ferry



Perhaps the most unique part of this domestic ferry was the communal sleeping deck. Pillows were free of charge but the blanket costs 100 yen to rent. The space for your sleep is on a first come first serve basis. Shoes off, of course.
Japanese Domestic Ferry Communal Sleeping Deck



Reliable and fast WiFi was provided during the ferry ride. Numerical password was on the bottom.
Japanese Domestic Ferry Free WiFi Internet


Because of the free WiFi, I was able to check-in in the middle of the ocean. Electricity outlet was also available for me to charge my phone while I was sleeping during the 3-hour ferry ride.
Checking in during the ferry ride in the middle of the Seto Inland Sea



There were plenty of seats like this.
Japanese Domestic Ferry



Island view during the smooth ferry ride was simply amazing.
Japanese Domestic Ferry. Seto Inland Sea



Approaching Kyushu Beppu ferry terminal. There were other domestic ferries.
Beppu Ferry Terminal



Arriving at Beppu ferry terminal.
Arriving by Ferry at Beppu Ferry Terminal



Like every other transportation hub in Japan, there will always be souvenir shops or food courts.
Beppu Ferry Terminal Building Souvenir Shop



I walked across the street for the Beppu Transportation center for land transportation such as bus and taxi.
Beppu Transportation Center



Souvenir shop again. Tourism information counter was next to the souvenir shop.
Beppu Transportation Center Souvenir shop and tourism information center



Tourism office staff informed me to wait at the bus stop #4 for the bus that is going to JR Beppu station.
Beppu Transportation Center Bus Stop



Signs and announcement were in English in the bus.
Beppu local commuter bus



After ~30 minute bus ride, arriving at JR Beppu station and obtaining detailed information about Beppu Jigoku "Hell" Onsen 別府地獄めぐり, I stored my luggage in the rental locker, then I was off for an onsen adventure in Beppu.
Coin locker at JR Beppu station





The above itinerary is an example of how to go about taking the domestic ferry in Japan. It was quite easy after checking ferry schedule and ferry terminal locations ahead of time. After arriving in Beppu, I was able to take my time to visit all the Beppu Jigoku Hell Onsen sites before sunset. After sunset, I took the leisure of soaking in one of the famous Myoban Onsen. After the onsen soak, I took the ~2-hour Limited Express Sonic train from Beppu to Hakata/Fukuoka to finish my day.





INFORMATION (mostly Tripadvisor pages and official pages)

Matsuyama

Yawatahama


Yawatahama Port - Ferry Company Uwajima-Unyu (Japanese official page, English translation available) 

Ehime Prefecture Yawatahama Okishinden 1586
TEL: 0894-22-2100
八幡浜港 - 宇和島運輸フェリー
〒 愛媛県八幡浜市沖新田1586

Beppu Port - Ferry Company Uwajima-Unyu (Japanese official page, English translation available)
Beppu, Oita Prefecture Oaza south 
TEL: 0977-21-2364 
別府港 - 宇和島運輸フェリー
〒 大分県別府市大字南石垣無番地

Beppu Jigoku Meguri
Kannnawa, Beppu-shi, Oita
TEL: 0977-66-1577
別府地獄めぐり
〒 874-0045 大分県別府市大字鉄輪559番地の1



Project Shinkansen 2015 (detailed itinerary, tips and recommendations for trip planning)



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