Getting Around

Japanese Buses and Ferries

While trains were mostly used when traveling across (or I should say, along) Japan, starting from Okinawa Islands to Rishiri Island, there were a few exceptions where I had to use other means of transport.

Buses and ferries in Japan are clean, efficient and very modern as one could possibly expect. Okinawa Island was reached by plane from Taipei, Taiwan. Again, mainland Japan was reached by plane to Fukuoka.

Takashiki Island and Rishiri Island were reached by ferry, while to Wakkanai I took an overnight coach from Sapporo.


I arrived at the station 3 hours earlier to collect my ticket and check out the surrounding area. It is a quiet and warm place with big TV and vending machines.
The transaction had been made and seat secured. Although I had made a reservation by phone some three weeks earlier I didn’t need to. There were still seats available on the bus. They had my details as I asked the reception in Okinawa and Nagasaki to contact the bus company and book a seat on my behalf.
A bit of entertainment. Japanese soap opera or something. It was getting late and I was tired after a long train journey from Tokyo.
The bus seemed to have been designed for this type of night journeys. These inclined seats each could be separated by a curtain. You had a blanket and pillow at your disposal.
I could practically sleep in an almost lying position. The journey lasted 6h and covered the distance of 370km (230 miles). Almost all passengers were senior Japanese citizens with the exception of two young  Russians.

BUS STATION – Wakkanai

The bus terminal in Wakkanai is located inside a huge office building, probably shopping mall. When I got there I only saw one other person. A young female Russian traveler. Most of the waiting time I spent on munching and watching TV. The place is warm and well lit. A real refuge if the weather outside was freezing and rainy.
The side entrance to the bus terminal. Inside there you had a waiting area, TV set, ticket counter, and detailed time tables. The final stop for buses arriving in Wakkanai was the Ferry Terminal entrance. Some 2 miles away from this place. Arrivals amd departures are from two different locations.
The ticket counter was closed only to be opened one hour before the first night buses were due to depart.
Bus timetable in both Japanese and English. Mine departs at 23.00
Rishiri Island lies near Russian territory.  Up north you have those controversial Kuril Islands. Therefore Wakkanai town has got a significant Russian influence. Road signs are in three languages, Japanese, English, and Russian.


Wakkanai ferry terminal at 6am was were quiet and adjacent shops still closed. I had two more hours to kill before boarding time.
The main hall and big souvenir shops at the end. The sell some of the finest, yet expensive merchandise. Confectionery amd alcohol gift ideas only to be found in this part of Japan.
The stairs to the upper floor where the boarding starts.
Boarding area with gates to ferries.
Gate to the Ferry going to Rishiri. Two more destinations from Wakkanai on the other side of the hall.


The ship set sail. Slowly but surely I was getting closer to Mt Rishiri. The weather was sunny stormy. At this time of the year, the adversary sea waves could make the trip having to be canceled for safety reasons. It rarely happens but still.


The basic option included carpet and TV. The boat was rocking a lot. I had better lie down before falling in on somebody. I had a real challenge covering just three meters to the socket wall to plug in my phone.
The ferry had kind of first class and second class, which basically meant comfy seats or comfy carpeted floor.


Rishiri Island terminal.


Approaching Takashiki Island on a sunny day. Although it was around Easter weekend most of the passengers were flip flop and shorts wearing holiday makers going snorkeling or scuba diving.
One of the connecting ferries on Takashiki Island.
Harbour area on Takashiki Island with surrounding uninhabited islands.
Not too crowded as these were frequent routes. The weather was ideal for water activities, I, however, had different plans.
Safety first.



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