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Aomori-Hakodate ferry

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I am looking at transport options for our February visit to transfer between Honshu-Hokkaido. Train seems the obvious option but ferry is significantly cheaper and departure times are more convenient for us. Has anyone taken this ferry, if so what is it like? Is there a bar/restaurant on board?

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Just used the Hakodate to Oma ferry for a trip to Aomori this past long weekend. I haven't used the Hakodate to Aomori ferry before though. All the ferries I've used in Japan have been clean, had a shop to buy snacks, beers, souvenirs etc, and most have a restaurant serving the basic noodles and curry rice etc, the longer ferry routes have more to offer.

 

Unless you're travelling with a car, the ferry ports are often quite inconvenient in terms of location and forward transport options. Also, it's worth considering that if it's a winter trip, the weather across the straits is very unpredictable and often very windy, so cancellations are not uncommon.

 

 

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There is a ferrry from Niigata and from Maizuru in HOnshu to Otaru on Hokkaido.

 

I went on the Maizuru one a few years ago. cost about 9000yen and i had a bed. trip time was about 24 hours ~midnight to midnight.

 

nihonkai ferry.

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I've taken the ferries A LOT over the years. Here are a few tips. Take the Pacific side ferries in the winter and the Japan Sea side in the summer. Taking the Nihon Kai in the winter is dirt cheap and there's a reason....It's a $hit ride. The two times I took it from Otaru to Niigata it was so rough you couldn't stand up and 14 or 15 hours when you're sea sick is like an eternity. I think I'd almost rather be waterboarded or have my fingernails pulled out.

Most of our trips are from Oowarai in Ibaraki to Tomakomai. It takes about 20 hours leaving at 7pm and arriving in the afternoon the next day. We always get a suite room which is really nice but a little more expensive. There is a pretty decent dinner and breakfast buffet.

 

Anyway, ya...we took the Hakodate to Aomori ferry many years ago and I remember it being pretty short like 6 or 7 hours. That stretch of sea between the islands is pretty exposed and can get a little bumpy but it's not too bad.

The longer the trip... the nicer the boat.

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ah yes, the pacific side makes more sense in the middle of winter.

I went mid-march and it was nice weather..

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Done the nihonkai route from Niigata to Hokkaido a few times in winter and it's always been fine. Cheap, clean and the beds are comfortable enough.

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I've taken the ferry from Oarai to Otaru twice when I was back in Japan, both times were great experiences (and super easy). Had the wife make the reservation of course, but after check in you are directed to a lane and wait until you are called to drive up. (unless you don't use a car, then you wait in the terminal like an airport).

 

Once you park grab everything you need because you aren't allowed back there afterwards. Head on up to the check in counter and get your room assignment. There are different options - a main room of about 30 people where you will sleep on the floor/futon, generally occupied by Japanese military or truck drivers. You can get a shared room which has about 6 bunks, but you'll have to hear people coming in and out sometimes. There are other options for rooms by yourself, but I'd only recommend purchasing that if you plan on going with friends/family.

 

There is a buffet on the boat as well, serving dinner and breakfast (not included in ticket). Get there early so you can get a table. There was no bar on the ferry I took but there were beer bending machines and a lounge area. You can head out on deck and see nothing but ocean as well...lots and lots of water, lol. Great during the warm months though! The ship I was on had a cold storage locker, but only about 12 and they filled up quick.

 

Overall it was a fun ride. Make sure to get some motion sickness meds if you get seasick as there could be rough waters. Bring snacks and your own drinks to save money, they don't have issues with bringing any of those items on board.

 

Definitely worth it once in your life, I enjoyed it! Being able to bring the car was a plus as well. Enjoy your trip!

 

The ferry I took (Sunflower):

 

http://www.sunflower.co.jp/english/

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Yes...that's the one we always take, too Norcal. Just booked Ooarai to Tomakomai for Dec. 25th and return on Jan. 2nd. We usually make it a longer trip but I can't be away from my dog(s) that long.

 

We usually get the family washitsu room. The western room with the 4 bunk beds have mattresses that are hard as rock....like sleeping on a pool table. One time before our daughter was born my wife and I took the ultra suite room.....that was NICE!!!!

 

Also, if you bring your own food like we do.. the window sill in the room has a lot of space and when you close the sliding shutters it will keep things like salad, milk, sandwiches etc nice and cold.

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Just booked Ooarai to Tomakomai for Dec. 25th and return on Jan. 2nd. We usually make it a longer trip but I can't be away from my dog(s) that long.

 

Why not bring them on the ferry with you?

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I don't think you can. Even If I could I wouldn't. 20 hours is just to long to be confined.. especially a breed like the Border Collie. Also, we'll be staying at my wife's hotel and there's no where to keep him.

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You can -- there is a pet room with cages, which you can visit in the evening and morning, and let them out of the cage to walk around a bit inside the room.

 

But the hotel issue once you arrived would be a problem.

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That's cool Metabo...thanks. I was going to have my wife inquire about it tomorrow actually. Ya..no where to keep him once we get there.

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You can take your dogs on the ferry, just make sure you reserve a space. I brought both of my dogs with me, no issues. You cannot see them from about 8 or 9 PM to around 6 or 7 AM, the rest of the day you can go in and out whenever. Forgot the price but I'm sure the Japanese site will list it (or call). Also, I could only take my dogs out in the pet room, nowhere else. There is a little space for them to walk around and stretch their legs, but that's about it. Only about an 18 hour trip though, so they were fine :)

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Thanks Norcal...Great to know!! Now you guys have my wheels turning trying to figure out how I can take him along. It would save me quite a bit in kennel costs if I could.

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Thanks Norcal...Great to know!! Now you guys have my wheels turning trying to figure out how I can take him along. It would save me quite a bit in kennel costs if I could.

 

It's tough. We took our pup via that ferry, which was the easy part. (Though would have been easier if our dog were trained to pee on pet sheets. Instead, she stubbornly held out until we disembarked and she found grass.) Finding hotels/lodges/pensions where we could stay with pet in tow was much more difficult.

 

But you're visiting your in-laws, right? Surely they are not pet-haters?

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Well, my mother-in-law has moved into a small suite just big enough for her....she's 85 and has an in home nursing attendant. We'll stay at the family business hotel but we have a policy of keeping to the hotel rules in front of the staff and other customers. So, no dogs. Other than that I guess I could carve out an igloo in the corner of the parking lot where we pile up the snow and live like an Inuit for a week.....burrr...

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