Rest your body and wallet as you travel half-way across the country in your sleep.
A while back, we took a look at an extremely convenient overnight bus service that allows travelers to get from Tokyo to Osaka while catching up on sleep and saving a night’s worth of hotel fees. But what if, after seeing the sights of Osaka, you find yourself wanting to keep moving west and see what the island of Kyushu has in store?
One of the most economical ways to do so is ferry operator Ferry Sunflower’s Dangan Ferry, or “Bullet Ferry,” plan. As an overnight boat voyage, the Dangan Ferry doesn’t match the maximum velocity of the Bullet Train/Shinkansen, but it does allow you to keep in constant motion while travelling half-way across the country for an extremely low price.
Travelers on the Dangan Ferry plan can choose from one of three routes. Two start in Osaka, with one heading to Oita Prefecture’s Beppu (which boasts some of Japan’s most popular hot springs) and the other to Shibushi in Kagoshima Prefecture. The Third Dangan Ferry route sails between Kobe and Oita City.
All routes are identically priced on the Dangan Ferry plan, and if you opt for a communal room with sleeping mats, you’ll pay just 10,000 yen (US$91) for the complete round-trip (5,000 yen for children). To put that in perspective, traveling by train from Osaka to Beppu would cost over 16,000 yen one-way.
▼ The accommodations may not be luxurious, but with the money you save you’ll have more left over with which to pamper yourself once you reach your destination.
▼ If you’re willing to splurge, 12,340 yen (6,160 for kids) will get you passage in a room with bunk beds.
As a matter of fact, the Dangan Ferry plan (for which reservations can be made here) is about half the price of Ferry Sunflower’s own standard tickets. The one catch is that you have to make your return trip on the boat leaving the night of your arrival. Travelers on the plan depart at night, arrive in their destination the next morning, spend the day there, then hop on their return vessel that evening, arriving back at the port where their journey began the following morning, two days after their initial departure.
Still, with the boats arriving in Kyushu between 6:20 and 9:40 in the morning (depending on route and date), and leaving to return to Osaka or Kobe between 5 and 7:35 p.m., you’ll have several hours in which to hit up a hot spring, dine on local delicacies, or otherwise get a taste of what Kyushu has to offer.
Follow Casey on Twitter, where he wishes he could always be travelling while he’s sleeping.