Officially part of Tokyo, the islands of the Izu archipelago feel like another world. Calm and rural, they have nothing in common with the skyscrapers and the commercial vibe of the capital. Some of the islands indeed are quite distant but quality of transportation is of high Japanese standard, making it a quick and smooth journey.
Reaching the islands is possible by either boat or air. Take a look at the map of the Tokaikisen shipping company for an easy summary. Located south-west of Tokyo the first island we meet is also the biggest, Oshima, at a distance of 108 km. Oshima and the next four islands are close to the mainland and sometimes called ‘the Inner Islands.’ And at the bottom of the map you see Hachijojima, which is about 290 km from Tokyo. Together with the two islands you pass first these can be called ‘the Outer Islands.’
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We always feel that for a real island experience you should travel by boat. Smell the ocean, feel the wind and get rocked by the waves (just a little). The Tokyo-part of the trip feels like a harbor cruise admiring the docks, outlying islands like Odaiba with its architecture and especially the Rainbow Bridge. Further out you pass small sea-defence islands and you can usually see the Yokohama skyline and harbor too.
To understand your options for boat travel, let’s go back to themap. Look at the red line; the high-speed ferry route, and the blue line going south all by itself; the large passenger ship-route. Those two boat-types are your options;
The High Speed Ferry
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Jet ferries make the trip extremely smooth, feeling more like a flight then a boat ride, but the average speed is still 80km per hour. After the doors close, a voice will ask you over the speaker to ‘please remain seated during take-off!’ How about that for a start! Next the engines rev and you see from your surroundings that you are now a couple of meters above the waves.
There is an upper and lower deck. The seats are comfortable which is good because you are supposed to remain in them during the trip. There are of course toilets and vending machines and a large video screen shows you all about the various islands in an entertaining way.
Your luggage you bring onboard yourself and it has its space. You can access it during the crossing. You cannot go outside but looking through the rear-windows at the impressive spray of foam and wake of the ship gives you a good impression of the power of this ship. Read all details and how it flies over the waves at Tokaikisen/jetship
Large passenger ships
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These stop at all the islands and run via two routes. They generally sail at night, departing Tokyo around 11pm and reaching the first islands early the next day. There are several cabin types for those who want a bed or futon and there are reclining seats if you want to spend a bit less. Coin-operated showers, a restaurant and of course the ubiquitous vending machines can make the journey more comfortable. Full details about the ships at Tokaikisen/large ship
- The Salvia-Maru leaves Tokyo about 10-11pm daily and serves all the Inner Islands in north-south order (Oshima, Toshima, Niijima, Shikinejima and/or Kozushima). Then it turns around to head back to Tokyo.
- The Tachibana Maru basically leaves Tokyo around 10:30pm and arrives at Miyakejima, Mikurajima and/or Hachijojima the next morning. That ship returns from the island to Tokyo the next morning.
*Ships may not be in service or may be cancelled due to oceanic conditions or schedules.
*Please check the operation status on THE OFFICIAL TOKAI KISEN WEBSITE on the day of departure.(Japanese Only)
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- New Central Air Service (Shin Chuo airservice) has flights from Chofu airport (from Shinjuku about 20 minutes on the Keio line). To Oshima (about ¥10,000 for a 25 minute flight), Niijima (about ¥14,000 for a 40 minute flight), Kozushima (about ¥15,000 for a 45 minute flight) and Miyakejima (about ¥17,500 for a 50 minute flight)
- ANA has flights from Haneda airport to HACHIJOJIMA only. One-way fares range from 10,390 yen to roughly 20,000 yen.
Travel times and indications of ticket fares
The rate will be adjusted according to the season. These fees are an approximation
- by Large Ship about 6 hours and about ¥10,000 for a round trip (2nd class seat)
- by high speed ferry under 2 hours and about ¥15,000 for a round trip
- by Large Ship about 8,5 hours and about ¥13,000 for a round trip (2nd class seat)
- by high speed ferry under 3 hours and about ¥20,000 for a round trip
- by Large Ship about 11 hours and about ¥20,000 for a round trip
(2nd class seat)
- no high speed ferry available
In the Japanese holiday season some extra routes may be available and note that during high season boats and even extra boats can be fully booked; booking in advance is highly recommended.
Weather can seriously mess up a travelers schedule. Although especially the high speed ferry is not so much affected by waves, understand that when a typhoon passes all boat travel could be altered or stopped entirely; keep an eye out on the forecast in typhoon season.
Takeshiba port- The Port of Tokyo
Most ships leave from the Takeshiba pier in downtown Tokyo. The nearest station is Hamamatsu-cho, served by two JR East lines: the circular Yamanote Line and Keihin-Tōhoku Line. It is also the terminus of the Tokyo Monorail line to Haneda Airport.
Getting to the pier is a 10-minute walk from the north-exit of the station. It is a modern complex with waiting hall and a restaurant. For a wider variety of meals you better have something before arriving at the pier.
travel via Atami
Look at the map again and you see that the red line also connects to Atami on mainland Izu peninsula. This is only 1 hour by high speed ferry and also cheaper. A ten-minute shuttle bus connects the railway station and the pier.
While not used by many travelers, this tip gives you a direct connection with the Fuji/Hakone region or even Osaka and Kyoto. Without backtracking to Tokyo. Because to/from Atami you can ride both the JR and some shinkansen lines. And Odawara, which has a beautiful Japanese castle and is the main access point to Hakone, is only a short train ride from Atami. So, be adventurous and follow this trail!
*Round-trip tickets to and from Atami Port cannot be booked online. Please call the Tokai Kisen Customer Center directly for more information.
TOKAIKISEN customer center: 03-5472-9999 (Office hours: 9:30am-6:00pm daily)
Shin Chuo Koku (airline) http://central-air.co.jp
*Although put together carefully and correct at the time of writing, transport information gets easily outdated. Always check in advance the relevant companies for schedule and prices on the dates of your trip.