Japan Trip: Part 1 – Overnight Ferry


We found this quote online: “Trust that when the answer is no, there is a better yes down the road.” This has been true for many things. Our original plan to come to Korea in August 2013 was ruined by bad fingerprints and look where we are now. Great schools, fantastic apartment and a crazy little techno valley city that feels like a smaller city within a city of millions.

Last time we blogged about our long weekend, we had plans vaguely in place to go to Toyko. We found some decent flights, so we were really happy. The problem was the prices were going up every day. We didn’t have enough money in our home bank account so the option was wire money home and wait about 2 days (With the time difference) or try to use the Korean bank card online.

The Korean bank card didn’t work, we went to the bank to fix it… long story short, it didn’t work, it won’t work and it will never work. And it was too late to wire money to our cards because the price went up to a whopping $900. Even with cookies cleared and incognito browsers the flights suddenly got expensive.

We could have almost flown home for the price of the flights to Toyko – Japan is only 2 hours away! So that was a big fat “no” to Tokyo… and Kyoto. And really anywhere in Japan. So we considered giving up on Japan completely.

Then we remembered we live on a peninsula that may as well be an island and there are ferries here.  So suddenly new doors had opened. But to where, we didn’t know. Most ferry lines took the direct route toHakata/Fukuoka. We didn’t know where the heck Hakata/Fukuoka was or why it took two names (same city). We didn’t know anything about this bottom-most island of Japan aka Kyushu. In fact, after very careful analysis of Kyushu island, the only place we recognized was Nagasaki.

So the options were to go to random-rural-Japan via ferry, or not go at all.

This ended up being the “better yes down the road.”

We live in landlocked Daejeon so we had to take a 2.5 hour train ride to the port city of Busan. We would take an overnight ferry to Hakata (aka Fukuoka).

This was actually all we really saw of Busan

We arrived in Busan at about 4 pm. There was nothing to do so we waited around until about 7 when we could finally board the ferry.

People had an either really aggressive or very brilliant way of queuing. They just left their bags in a line then went off to go shopping or sit around. It guaranteed your place in line without having to stand there for the whole hour. For us, we didn’t have luggage, just backpacks, so we had to lean ours against other peoples. Its a whole level of trust and leaving baggage unattended that just would’t work in the US.

The queue to join the ferry.

Japan is only 2 hours away by high speed boat, but we were taking a shipping container/overnight ferry combo thing. We boarded at 7 pm but sat in port until about 11 pm. We explored the boat and settled into our room.

A view of the boat

The room could have conceivably held ten people. There was a communal TV, shoe cupboard, and 10 bed areas for sleeping. In the corner was a changing area.

We got lucky and only had to share the room with two other people! They were a young  Korean couple that laughed at us and stared openly whenever we did anything. Still better than sharing it with 10 people!


We used this time to have a rather pitiful dinner of ramen on the floor. There was a restaurant on board, as well as a convenience store. We didn’t now this so we bought the sad ramen before boarding. DSC00533


Finally the boat took off… or set sail … or whatever verb applies to it rumbling its way from Busan. It was rather gentle rocking that would put any sane man to sleep. So we pulled our bedding out and went to bed. It was great knowing when we woke up, we would be in Japan.

Chris prepares the “beds”. We were really happy we brought our own camp pillows.

One thought on “Japan Trip: Part 1 – Overnight Ferry”

  1. Very interesting . . . a great idea rather than flying! I’m anxious for part 2 of your journey! Hey, your uncle Jess won a trip to Costa Rica (top sales in his territory at work) so we go the week
    before Thanksgiving. So glad spouses could accompany the employee . . . this is a place I have
    on my bucket list! Want to try zip lining in the rain forest. My son Adam is home from Australia for 2 weeks so we’ve been enjoying his company. He has some awesome footage on his Go-Pro (I think that’s the name of the camera its really little) . . . from their trip to Phuket and Bangkok. They
    are amazing. His significant other put music to it which makes it feel like your’re watching a movie. Anyway, be safe and will be looking forward to part 2 of your Japan adventure!

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