If you ever want to travel to Shikoku by ferry from Tokyo it’s not hard. First practice your Nihongo and allow time. After the frenetic Tokyo pace there is nothing better than joining a ferry for the slow rythmic ride to Japon’s 4th island.
Shikoku has been isolated to some degree till more recent times. It was once a hideout for monks fleeing hostile governments and since the 15th century has been a place of pilgramage. There is a 1600 km journey called the 88 Temples that pilgrams take, dressed in white, carrying staves and carrying a few essientials in a bag.
They visit the 88 temples (89 if you count the first that you come back to: The Buddist circle)
The first temple is near Tokushima however it is the custom to visit Koyosan first before heading on the 88 Temples walk of enlightenment.
In the early days many pilgrams simply died on the journey. Today some people do the journey by helicopter, others by air-coned car. However Interest is growing in walking the 1600km and the knowledge that is gained on that walk. I might do it myself one day.
The ferry ride puts you in a good frame of mind as you slowly travel through time and passing ships, ligthouses and whitehorses. I have no more than a dozen fellow passengers and it makes me wonder for how much longer the ferry will make this journey and it’s next port which is in Kyshue before returning.
For ¥9900 you get a 2nd class ticket that entitles you to sleep on the tartami mat with a blanket, sheet and Japanese style “pillow”. You share the sleeping floor with about 9 others. On my trip there were so few of us we had one of the dozen or so floors to ourselves. There is a shower and bathroom to share and there is a vending machine kitchen that serves hot food. ¥200 per meal !
The time drifts away on the ferry and it really slows you down just watching the other ships pass and the white horses dancing. The wind on the deck is strong and blows you along as you walk.
To catch the ferry you’ll need a ticket. I bought mine at a JR travel agent, you can buy it at the terminal but maybe weather or passenger numbers affect that chance. You can bring a car on board too if you’re bringing your car BACK to Japan.
From Tokyo (I bordered at Shinjuku) take the Rinkai Line to a stop called Kukusaiten-jijo. It’s a private line i.e. not JR from # 1 or 2 platform at Shinjiku. When you arrive at Kukusaiten-jijo you’ll find taxi and bus stand, swing round the bend to the right and there is a sign indicating a shuttle bus to the ferry terminal. It leaves there at 17:10, 17:30, 17:50 and 18:10. Don’t try to walk it’s too far and complicated. It costs ¥200. Maybe
a taxi is fine too.
The ferry boards at 6:40PM (18:40) for passengers without cars. If you don’t like vending machine food (why would you come to Japon?) you should bring some with you.