By Rod Walters
Matsuyama is just across the water from Hiroshima. In fact, on a clear day, you can almost see Hiroshima from Matsuyama. The two cities are connected by the Cruise Ferry for passengers and cars, which takes a leisurely two and a half hours. The ferry sails between Matsuyama Tourist Port and Ujina Port in Hiroshima. The Inland Sea is generally calm so the ferry ride is relaxing.
Although small, the ferries offers a lot of facilities for your comfort. At the front of the boat is a spacious cabin with large picture windows which provide a good view of the islands and other shipping on the Inland Sea. There are individual seats, and a selection of lounge seats suitable for groups or individuals who feel the need to spread out a bit. There are also flat carpeted areas provided with pillows and blankets where you can have a snooze. Simple seating is provided on deck, and there are tables at the back of the boat. Space is also available for nursing mothers. The facilities on each boat vary to some extent, but there are massage chairs, exercise machines, restaurants serving noodles and coffee, souvenir shops and drinks vending machines. The food and drinks are reasonably priced. The toilets are clean and comfortable, and there’s a fold-down table in the ladies’ toilets for changing babies’ diapers. There are also a few power outlets on board for recharging mobile devices.
The Cruise Ferry leaves at irregular times (see the timetable). Every sailing stops at Kure, except for the first sailing from Hiroshima. From Matsuyama to Hiroshima costs 3,500 yen for adults and 1,750 yen for children. Advance booking is not generally necessary. It costs 7,000 yen to put your car on the ferry if your car is up to 3 m long. Longer vehicles cost more. This price includes one driver.
If you’re entering Shikoku from the mainland with a car, or if you’re traveling on a budget, the ferry is one of the best ways to cross the Inland Sea. After a stay in Matsuyama or other parts of Ehime, you can return by the same route, or go back to Hiroshima Prefecture via the scenic Shimanami Kaido. If you’re heading towards Tokyo or Osaka, you can take a train through Takamatsu to Okayama on the mainland. Alternatively, if you’re heading to Kyushu, you can take a night ferry to Kokura in north Kyushu, or you can sail to southern Kyushu from one of the Uwakai ports.
The ferry company Ishizaki Kisen also provides compact car rental for 6,300 yen for up to 12 hours, and 8,500 yen for up to 24 hours. The cars seat 5 people at a pinch. Call (089) 951-6123 between 8:00 to 17:00.
At Matsuyama Tourist Port, the Cruise Ferry docks at the pier along the elevated walkway to the left of the main entrance, and at Hiroshima Ujina Port at Dock 10.
If you want a faster crossing for passengers only, try the Super Jet.
Name in Japanese
松山～呉～広島クルーズフェリー Matsuyama — Kure — Hiroshima Cruise Ferry
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I was born in Bristol, England, and I came to Japan in 1991 … which means I’ve lived half my life in this island nation on the other side of the world. The theme of my career in Japan has been communication. I started as an English teacher, and moved into translation as I learned Japanese. I worked at a well-known electronics manufacturer, facilitating their multinational communications before I became a freelance translator. As such, I translated a lot of tourism-related information. It was obvious to me that most of this isn’t sufficient to convey the excitement and wonder of Japan. In 2011, I established Knowledge Travel Partners, an inbound tourism consultancy. After living in several regions of Japan, I settled in Ehime where my wife is from. It’s on the southern island of Shikoku facing the beautiful Seto Inland Sea, Japan’s Mediterranean. The pace of life here is slow and peaceful, but we do like to throw a raucous festival now and again.