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For suggestions on how to continue your journey, see Alternatives.

Since I neglected to take a photo as we were approaching Maizuru, here's a picture of the general area (it's actually of Miyazu, just up the coast). Once the ferry docks, you're faced with the "down" side to the Shin-Nihonkai Ferry: a tortuous series of local trains that you need to take in order to get back to the Kansai area. It's not nearly as long as the ferry was, so sit back with your alcoholic beverage of choice and enjoy the ride - and the conclusion of your long Hokkaido journey.

OK - you're too sharp-eyed for me, and you know this isn't the Shin-Nihonkai (New Japan Sea) Ferry, Japan's premier long-distance ferry. Picture something about five times this size, with carpeted walkways, chandeliers in the lobby, spacious bath, and even a disco (thankfully unused). On this trip, they were showing movies non-stop. We needed the distraction - it's a LONG ride (more than two days). But the ferry gets you all the way from Otaru on Hokkaido to the middle of Honshu -(either Tsuruga or Maizuru north of Osaka) for the astonishing price of about 9,000 yen (even bagged bikes about 2,700 yen extra). A Pacific side ferry would cost more than twice that amount. Understandably, this ferry is absolutely mobbed in summer; reservations are a must.