A Ferry to Fukuoka

One of the exciting aspects of our South Korea and Japan trip was working out how to get from one country to the other. Our entry point on our five week trip was Seoul and our exit point back home was from Tokyo, so to avoid doubling back our best option was to get from Busan, out last Korean destination, to somewhere in the south of Japan, from where we would then make our way north to Tokyo.
Our first impulse was to fly from Busan to Nagasaki, but airfares were $400 + and eight hours long with stops in Seoul and Tokyo, so we ruled that out. There is a direct flight from Busan to nearby Fukuoka for around $200, but in the course of our investigations we discovered ferries also run between the cities, only take half an hour longer than the flight, and cost half as much.

First View of Japan

I’ve always enjoyed riding on ferries, so I was ready to sign up at first sight. Arriving in Japan at Fukuoka would mean a little doubling back for us, between Hakata and Nagasaki, but this was acceptable.
The only issue now was booking our seats. This was not as simple as booking airfares, as it could not be done online. As we would be traveling during a peak time (the day after New Years Day), we knew we needed to book in advance, and to take full advantage of our 14 Day JR pass we needed to leave exactly on that day.

We consulted this helpful visitkorea.com website and got the phone number details for the KOBEE ferry. If you have any Korean friends, this is a good time to have them handy, as although the operator spoke english quite well, we still ended up with a basic misunderstanding that led to a delayed confirmation email.
Alternatively, they may offer to complete the booking for you via email, but we did not trust sending our information in this way. Getting to the ferry was fairly easy, but did involve a short walk wheeling luggage from Jungangdong Station.

Checking in was painless, and before you knew it we were on board and leaving port.
The Kobee ferry is actually a hydrofoil. This means it is basically a jet engined powered vessel that skips along the top of the ocean on a pair of ski’s. One of the reasons I like ferry trips is because of the photo opportunities possible from the outside decks, but due to its speed and movement going outside is not possible and indeed any movement within the cabin is a bit dicey.
It’s not that the trip is that bumpy, it was fairly smooth actually when you are seated, it’s just you are traveling so fast that walking around can be a challenge, similar to walking between carriages on a fast moving train. I did manage to get a few acceptable shots from the window however, including the shot above of Iki Island, which was my first view of Japan.

Tochoji Temple - Fukuoka

We arrived in Fukuoka around lunchtime and took a taxi to our hotel, as there weren’t any trains and we were too tired to figure out the buses. It had also started to rain, which was a positive sign of warmer weather, as it was usually too cold to rain in Korea where we had just spent the last two and a half weeks.

Although we had used Airbnb exclusively and successfully for accommodation on our jaunt around South Korea, we decided to use hotels for the first part of our Japan trip, as it just seemed a bit easier. We only had one night in Fukuoka and three in Nagasaki and had managed to find cheap rooms located close to the main train stations fairly easily, so just went with that.
We used the map view on Hotels.com to find places close to the station, then compared them individually to see if they were suitable. APA hotels must target this demographic, as we were able to find rooms within five minutes’ walk for under 8000 yen per night in both cities.

Hakata Station - Fukuoka

We arrived in Fukuoka around lunchtime and took a taxi to our hotel, as there weren’t any trains and we were too tired to figure out the buses. It had also started to rain, which was a positive sign of warmer weather, as it was usually too cold to rain in Korea where we had just spent the last two and a half weeks.

Although we had used Airbnb exclusively and successfully for accommodation on our jaunt around South Korea, we decided to use hotels for the first part of our Japan trip, as it just seemed a bit easier. We only had one night in Fukuoka and three in Nagasaki and had managed to find cheap rooms located close to the main train stations fairly easily, so just went with that.

We used the map view on Hotels.com to find places close to the station, then compared them individually to see if they were suitable. APA hotels must target this demographic, as we were able to find rooms within five minutes’ walk for under 8000 yen per night in both cities.

Fish Roe Ramen

Japanese Temple

After lunch we went for a walk and visited a local temple, then went to a large shopping centre. Japan has an interesting new year’s sales promotion ‘Fukubukuro’ where they sell ‘lucky bags’ containing a selection of random merchandise at a heavy discount.
We figured most of the items would be excessive stock, but the prices were attractive for some of the big brand items such as cosmetics, clothes and handbags. The next morning I got up early and went for a walk, visiting another temple. There was some kind of festival happening, and I noticed people buying these golden arrows.
I later found out these were called Hamaya and are acquired as a New Year’s tradition to ward off evil.

Later we purchased our own from the Meiji Shrine in Harakuju, which was fun to bring back on the plane as it did not fit into our luggage!
At around lunchtime we caught the train to Nagasaki.

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One Response

  1. Tayme Canencia July 5, 2015

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