An alternative exploration – from Kyoto to Hokkaido by ferry

The ferry service connecting them a thousand kilometres apart


When mention about Japan, most travellers will think of either Kyoto or Tokyo.

Kyoto is known worldwide as a historic city where the landmark temples of Japan such as Kiyomizu-dera and Kinkaku-ji are here. On the other hand, Tokyo is a shopping heaven. Exploring the historic Kyoto followed by shopping in Tokyo sounds like the best vacation ever. However, such experience might not cast a lasting memory.

Perhaps you might think it is a pity not to visit Kyoto or Tokyo on the visit to Japan.

You “might be” right. Without showing the pictures from either Kyoto or Tokyo, how could your friends know if you have been to Japan? Are you feeling ashame? How could you have the best of both worlds by having a memorable trip and be proud of where you have visited?

There is a place up north – Hokkaido.

Hokkaido is a vast land area with low population. A pleasant place to slow down your footsteps and explore the surroundings. When Japanese think about lavender, blowing snow and seafood rice, they think about Hokkaido. The paradise for sensing the nature and the local delicacies.

To make the most of this holiday, make it an extraordinary one!

Have you ever thought of the best combination by visiting both Kyoto and Hokkaido in the same trip?

Most of us are familiar with the two. Nevertheless, not many are aware of the ferry service connecting them a thousand kilometers apart. The Maizuru port at the north of Kyoto and Tsuruga port (in Fukui prefecture) each has a daily ferry sailing to Hokkaido. A unique travel experience.

Sailing Schedule

Maizuru ~ Otaru

Depart Maizuru port 2350h
Arrive Otaru port 2045h (next day)

Depart Otaru port 2330h
Arrive Maizuru port 2115h (next day)

Tsuruga ~ Tomakomai

Depart Tsuruga port 0030h
Arrive Tomakomai port 2030h

Depart Tomakomai port 2330h
Arrive Tsuruga port 2030h (next day) 

Class of Services

Classes include Tourist A, Tourist S, State B, State A, Deluxe A, Junior Suites and Suites (State A and Junior Suites are only available on Tsuruga to Tomakomai route).

One point worth mentioning is that in State and Deluxe classes, there is option of Japanese tatami room for two or three guests in one room.

The ticket price depends on the class of service and travel date. For low season, the Tourist A class only cost JPY9,570 where in high season, the Suites would cost JPY54,000 (per bed). Further details can be obtained from the ferry operator website (in English):

Facilities on ferry

Restaurants, cafes, public bath (including steam room), convenience store, vending machines, Karaoke, smoking room, theatre, game room, massage facilities and self-service washing machines.


  • Restaurant: There are two in the ferry where reservation is required at Grill before boarding
  • Public bath: Shampoo and shower gel will be provided. There are coin locker facilities for JPY100. Guests with tattoo are not admissible.

Reservation method

Ferry ticket can be reserved via the website and hotline of the ferry operator or through any major travel agents up to two months in advance.

– Ferry operator Japanese  / English 

– Reservation hotline (Monday through Friday – 9.00am to 5.45pm)

  • Tokyo: 03-5532-1101
  • Osaka: 06-6345-2921
  • Nagoya: 052-566-1661
  • Sapporo: 011-241-7100


For discount on return ticket (10%), not applicable to high season, is not applicable to reservation made via the English website. Only through the Japanese website, hotline or travel agents.

How to travel to the port?

Maizuru Port

Take the JR Express train Maizuru from Kyoto Station to Higashi-Maizuru Station (final stop). The journey takes approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes (Total 8 departures per day – Free seating JPY3,340 / Designated seating JPY3,860). At Maizuru East Station, exit through north gate. Then a taxi ride of 7 minutes will bring you to the jetty.

Tsuruga Port

Take the JR Express train Thunderbird from Kyoto Station and get off at Tsuruga Station. The travel takes approximately 50 minutes (Total 18 departures per day – Free seating JPY2,840 / Designated seating JPY3,360). Bus service is available for travel to jetty on ferry operating days at 10.00pm departing from bus stop number 6 located beside the taxi stand (Adult JPY350 / Child JPY180)

Upon Arrival at Destination

Otaru Port

There is a bus service operating on ferry operating day at 9.30pm bound for Otaru Station (Adult JPY220 / Child JPY110 for a 30 min journey). Passengers require this bus service should inform the service counter on the ferry before 8.00pm of the same day).

Tomakomai Port

You could take a bus bound for Minami-Chitose Station for a journey of approximately 45 min (Adult JPY1,000 / Child JPY500).

Motion Sickness

Medication available at jetty or the store on the ferry.

I would like to have the medication for motion sickness:

Yoidome no kusuri o kudasai.


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