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The Nankai Ferry

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For those planning a trip to mainland Japan, the Nankai Ferry connecting Tokushima and Wakayama might not be their first choice of transport. But there are many merits to taking the ferry that warrant it a second look.

Perhaps most importantly, a trip by ferry offers a quick journey of just two hours in either direction, making it faster than both the highway buses and travelling by car. This is especially important during peak hour traffic when congestion in the Kobe and Osaka areas can tend to cause long delays in travel. Not so for the ferry, which bypasses all of this for a smooth trip from A to B no matter the situation on the roads.

Another advantage is that the ferry ports are strategically placed in some of the most well-connected areas of their respective prefectures. The port in Tokushima City is a quick bus ride from Tokushima Station and then to a variety of locations both in and outside the prefecture. Meanwhile, the port  in Wakayama sits right next to a train line that heads directly to Namba in Osaka, and connects to the train to Koya-san for those on the Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage.

The Nankai Ferry "Tsurugi" as it passes by Awaji Island.

The ferry also allows for a level of comfort not enjoyed by other methods of transport. Passengers have plenty of space to lie down and take a nap while aboard, or go for a walk around the ship and even get a drink or a bite to eat! Combined with a set of three televisions throughout the deck, the two hours you spend on board will pass by very quickly.

Last but not least, good news for those wanting to drive while they’re abroad. For an additional charge you can take cars, motorbikes and other vehicles on board. Yet another opportunity to take a rest from driving or riding and save up your energy before you hit the other side. But be careful, as you need to make a reservation for vehicles, so call ahead in advance to let them know you’re coming.

Of course, taking the ferry is not without its downsides. Rough weather can sometimes force the boats to remain in port (although the bridges connecting Shikoku to mainland Japan are sometimes closed for the same reasons) and those susceptible to motion sickness can feel a bit queasy when the seas are choppy. But on the whole, the ferry is a very handy method of transport for those heading across the seas to mainland Japan. Next time you’re planning a trip, why not give it a go?

Ferry Times:

Tokushima – Wakayama
3:25 – 5:25
5:55 – 7:50
8:15 – 10:10
11:00 – 13:00
13:30 – 15:40
16:35 – 18:35
19:00 – 21:05
22:00 – 24:00

Wakayama – Tokushima
2:40 – 4:50
5:50 – 7:45
8:30 – 10:30
10:50 – 13:00
13:40 – 15:50
16:30 – 18:30
19:20 – 21:20
21:35 – 23:25

Tickets cost 3,800 yen for a round trip for adults, and 1,900 yen for elementary school children and below. Prices for vehicles differ according to the size of the vehicle, but a concise price list, along with directions on how to get to the ports and other information can all be found on the Nankai Ferry Homepage at the following address: www.


19 responses »

  1. Hi, I am wondering if this ferry timetable from Wakayama to Tokushima is up to date?

    I will be coming from Kansai airport with my family and want to go to Shikoku and this looks like a better way to go, rather than by bus.

    Do we need to book tickets ahead of time or is it possible to buy on the day?

    It’s hard to find the information in English online so thank you in advance!

    Is it worth staying overnight in Tokushima or should I head off to Takamatsu?

    I wondered if the festival is on in Tokushima when I come (24 Sept.) It would be good to see the puppet show as I have young children.

    We have 4 – 5 nights on Shikoku, and I am looking forward to it. We may do the bike ride across 6 islands, if we have the energy(!!)

  2. Hi there! Yes, this time table is current, and you can buy tickets the day of your departure, no problem. You will first have to take either a train or a bus from Kansai airport to Wakayama station, which is right next to the ferry port.

    If by the festival you mean the Awa Odori festival then you have unfortunately missed it by a few weeks, but the Awa Odori Kaikan (walking distance from Tokushima station) has performances and lessons in Awa Odori every day. This building is also connected to the ropeway that goes up Mt. Bizan, which is fun and affords a great view of the city from the top. If you haven’t seen this site, it’s a great tool:

    Shikoku is a gorgeous, though infrequently visited area of Japan, so I hope you enjoy your trip!

  3. I see that the last question regarding the time-table for the ferry from Wakayama to Tokushima was from Sept. 5th 2010. Could you tell me whether this schedule has changed since that time?

    I believe you said that there was no need to reserve ahead to take the ferry. Does that also apply if one is traveling with a car?

    Lastly, would you happen to know if the Nankai Ferry also accepts credit cards (Visa, Mastercard etc) as payment?

    We will be traveling to Shikoku in May 2012 and look forward to exploring the island with a rental car.

    Thank you in advance for your help and information.

  4. Hi there, after looking it up the time table does appear to have changed, and it is now:

    Tokushima to Wakayama

    Wakayama to Tokushima

    If you are going by car then you need to make a reservation, and you can do so over the phone by calling this number: 088-636-0750. Depending on the size of the car it will cost around 5000 yen if it’s under 3 meters long, and it gets more expensive the larger it is.

    Also it is only possible to pay by credit card if you are boarding with a car, so you’re in luck!

    Take care!

  5. Thank you very much for your prompt and detailed answer to my questions.
    This will help us very much with our plans.
    All the best, A&A


    Hi there, do you happen to know if the ferry timetable is the same on a Sunday, or if it runs at all?
    Many thanks,


  7. Howdy, sorry this reply is so late! Yes the ferry operates on weekends too, same time schedule.

  8. Hello to every , since I am truly keen of reading this website’s post to be updated daily. It includes fastidious information.

  9. Hello!
    I was wondering to go from Koyasan to Naoshima passing by Wakayama-Tokushima-Tkamatsu. I would take the last train from Koyasan to Wakayama and then the first ferry to Tokushima at 2.40am. Do you think it’s safe to spend a couple of hours in Wakayama between the railway station and the ferry station?
    Any other suggestion is welcome!
    Thank you!

  10. hello,
    me again. Do you know if the timetable is still de same? i’m trying to understand something on the nankai ferry website…but i can’t!
    Thank you!

  11. Thank you for another informative site. The place else could I get
    that type of information written in such an ideal means?
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    glance out for such information.

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  14. Is the ferry schedule still up to date? I would like to sail from Wakayama to Tokushima on a Sunday in May 2015, but cannot find any English-Language schedule. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  15. So it’s been a while since there were posts on this, but I am also wondering if you know if there is parking at the ferry area so you don’t actually have to take your car. I assume it would cost money. Do you know about parking options or prices near there? In Chicago we had a park and ride system. Still haven’t figured out if that is a thing in Japan. I live on Shikoku so I can usually bring my car anywhere on Shikoku with no problem, but I don’t need it in Wakayama nor do I want to pay to have it ferried over then just leave it parked at my friend’s house all weekend.

  16. Hi we will be travelling to Wakayama via Tokushima in early April. Is it convenient for travellers to board the ferry with luggage bags ? Is there a place for check-in ? What is the sea condition during April ? Thanks

  17. How much tickect fee for car ferry?

  18. How much for 1 way only from Wakayama to Tokushima for the passenger only no car?

  19. Viboon Engkagul

    Is JRPass eligible to be used with Namkai ferry to cross from Wakayama to Tokushima?

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