Updated in January ’23.
Going by land from Honshu to Shikoku’s western end or vice versa can be quite time-consuming and somewhat expensive, as cars and buses have to cross the seemingly endless chain of Geiyo Islands and there is no rail connection from that part of the island.
If you want to travel to Hiroshima or the island of Miyajima, taking the ferry is a cheaper and speedier alternative, not to mention a very scenic one. The Sento Inland Sea is usually rather calm, as it’s protected by islands on all sides, so you shouldn’t have any problems, even if you’re prone to sea sickness.
Sorting out the details of what option to take can be a bit bothersome, so I’ve compiled everything you need to know about boat travel between Matsuyama and Hiroshima.
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Available trip options, prices and schedules
The Setonokai Kisen Company connects the port of Matsuyama Kankoko on Shikoku to Hiroshima in southern Honshu with two distinct ferry services. A pricier speed boat service and the slower but cheaper car ferry. If you’re not in a hurry, I suggest the latter option, as the price difference is quite significant for a little over an hour that the faster option saves you, plus it gives you a little more time to enjoy the scenery from the boat.
The Matsuyama Super Jet Speed Boat takes only about 1¼ hours to whizz you to your destination and costs 7,800¥. There are 12 daily boats going either way, 6 of them stopping in the city of Kure along the way. The first ferry leaves Matsuyama at 7AM, the last one at 8.30PM. From Hiroshima, the first boat leaves at 7.30AM, the last one at 9PM. You can check out the entire schedule here.
The slower cruise ferry takes about 2.5 hours and will set you back 4,500¥ per person, 12,000¥ per car (incl. the driver). There are 10 boats a day with the first one leaving Matsuyama at 6:25AM, the last one at 8.10PM, while the boat in Hiroshima departs at 5.45AM, the last one at 7.45PM. All of them stop at Kure port along the way. See the entire schedule here.
How to get to the port in Matsuyama Kankoko
Kankoko Port (also referred to as “Matsuyama Tourist Port”) is located to the north-west of Matsuyama centre and can easily be reached by taking the Iyotetsu Shuttle Bus from either the Matsuyama JR Train Station (20 mins./750¥) or the Dogo Onsen tram station (40 mins./940¥).
The latter option is handy, as plenty of hostels and guesthouses are located in that area, so you might have to start from there. You can check the current schedule here.
Alternatively, you can take the Iyotetsu Suburban Train Line, from the Matsuyama Train Station to the terminus at Takahama Station, from where you can walk for 10 mins. or so north along the water to the ferry port.
How to get to Hiroshima Ujina Port
Ujina Port in Hiroshima is the southern terminus for the city’s Number 1, 3 and 5 tram lines. The most direct line to/from Hiroshima Train Station is Line Number 5 (about 30 mins./200¥). You’ll find Hiroshima’s Tram Map here.
Continuing to Miyashima Island
At Hiroshima Ujina Port, you also have the option to continue to the beautiful island of Miyashima in Hiroshima Bay, to enjoy the nature, check out the famous Itsukushima Shrine and spend time with the cheeky deer populating the area. The high-speed ferry from Hiroshima Ujina Port takes only about 30 mins. and costs 1,900¥. The schedule can be found here.