How to Get To the Oki Islands in Shimane Prefecture by Ferry from Sakaiminato and Shichirui Ports
Whether you are a first-timer or an experienced ferry-traveller, hopping on a ferry to the Oki Islands is sure going to be a different experience. Read the article below to find out how to get to those remote islands, the Oki Islands in Shimane Prefecture!
The ferries that will take you to the Oki Islands are operated by Oki Kisen Ferry Line. There are two types of ferries that operate between the main island of Japan and the islands: the large ferries, which can also transport vehicles, and the fast ferry Rainbow Jet, which is a hydrofoil.
This is your guide to travelling to the Oki Islands by the large ferries. Click here (external site) for the ultimate guide to travelling to the islands by the fast ferry Rainbow Jet.
First, meet the ferries
Other than foot passengers, the three large ferries also carry vehicles to the islands. Learn more about how to take your car on the ferry here (external site).
Next comes the procedure
1. Plan ahead
We recommend taking the following ferries to your destinations, so you can get there asap!
*The timetables below are for spring~autumn season, excluding obon holiday.
To travel to Saigō Port / Okinoshima Town:
Take Ferry Oki which leaves Shichirui Port (Shimane Prefecture) at 9am. It takes approximately two and a half hours to get to your destination. The alternative is to take Ferry Shirashima which leaves Sakaiminato Port (Tottori Prefecture) at 2:25 pm. However, it will take four hours to reach your destination.
To travel to Beppu Port / Nishinoshima Town:
Both Ferry Kuniga (leaving Shichirui Port at 9:30 am) and Ferry Shirashima (leaving Sakaiminato Port at 2:25 pm) will take you to Nishinoshima Town in about two and a half hours.
To travel to Hishiura Port / Ama Town:
Ferry Kuniga (leaving Shichirui Port at 9:30 am) will take you to your destination in around three hours. If you are planning to take Ferry Shirashima (leaving Sakaiminato Port at 2:25 pm), please make a change for the inter-island ferry at Beppu Port of Nishinoshima Town.
To travel to Kurii Port / Chibu Village:
Ferry Kuniga (leaving Shichirui Port at 9:30 am) will take you to the easy-going island in two hours. If you are planning to take Ferry Shirashima (leaving Sakaiminato Port at 2:25 pm), please make a change for the inter-island ferry at Beppu Port of Nishinoshima Town.
If you are travelling to the islands from Shichirui Port in the morning:
Both Ferry Oki and Ferry Kuniga will depart for the islands from Shichirui Port in the morning. After purchasing your tickets, please make sure to follow the signs inside the building and go to the respective boarding gates.
2. Go to the port
There are connecting buses from JR Matsue Station (Shimane Prefecture) and JR Yonago Station (Tottori Prefecture) to Shichirui Port and Sakaiminato Port.
You can also take the JR train to Sakaiminato Port.
If you are taking the JR train to Sakaiminato Port, we strongly suggest that you take an earlier train. Not only will you have time to check out the port area, you can also grab some lunch or pick up some snacks for your crossing, and you will not have to dash off the train and run for your ferry!
If you are driving to the port, please arrive at the port ahead of time and make sure you are at the right port for your ferry! There are free parking areas at both ports.
3. Purchase your ticket and hop on board
Enter the ferry terminal building and fill in the passenger boarding form (external site). You can also download the form and fill it in beforehand, but don’t forget to bring it with you!
Once the form is ready, proceed to the ticket counter and pass your boarding form to the staff. You can pay for your ticket with credit card or cash.
After collecting your tickets, please proceed to the second floor of the terminal building and queue outside the boarding gate. Boarding commences 15 minutes before the scheduled departure time. Please show your ticket to the crew when you board the ferry. Your ticket will be collected when you get off the ferry, so keep it safe in your pocket or wallet!
*The tickets are only available at the ticket counter and you can only pick up your ticket on the day of your scheduled crossing.
*No bookings are taken for Standard 2nd class tickets.
4. Relax and enjoy your crossing
One thing in particular that makes your ferry journey to the Oki Islands more unforgettable, is that the Standard 2nd class room and Special 2nd class room are huge rooms without chairs! Passengers get to pick their own spot on the carpeted area—your “seat” on the ferry!
If you have purchased a ticket for the Standard 2nd class room, after getting on the ferry, go to the room that says “2等客室” (ni-tō kyaku-shitsu). Find a spot you like, take off your shoes, walk on to the carpeted area, lie down and relax! There are some chairs or sofas on the second floor of the passenger deck for those who would like to have a chair seat.
The Special 2nd class room is just opposite the Standard 2nd class room and they are on the same floor of the passenger deck. If you would like an upgrade to the Special 2nd class after purchasing your Standard 2nd class ticket at the ticket counter, simply go to the “特２等客室” (toku-ni-tō kyaku-shitsu) and pay the balance in cash. A member of the crew will go around the room to collect the fare shortly after the journey starts. You can also ask the staff directly at the information counter on the ferry.
You can also go on to the deck outside for some fresh air and the beautiful scenery of the journey. There are some benches on the second floor of the passenger deck, towards the stern (rear) of the ferry. For safety reasons, passengers are not allowed on the deck outside if it is a rainy or windy day.
Here are some tips on how to enjoy your crossing with the ferries.
The ferries are very packed during high season, especially during the week of Obon. Instead of squeezing on to the carpeted area, you can also ask the crew for a bamboo mat (goza) and find an empty space in the corridors.
There are some pillows and blankets available for you to use onboard (inside the rooms). You do not have to pay to use the pillows, but the blankets are JPY 30 each. You can pay directly to the crew or insert the coins into the designated box. Please return the pillows and blankets after use.
5. Disembark and start your island journey!
Announcements will be made when the ferry is approaching the ports. Please gather your belongings and get in line for disembarkation. The crew will collect your ticket from you when you get off the ferry. And voila! You’re at your destination!
For more information about the Oki Islands in Shimane Prefecture, please visit our official English Website!
Author: Cleo Wong