SHIZUOKA — Students at a Tokai University campus in this central Japan city can now commute aboard a cruise ship chartered by the school, enjoying views of Mount Fuji and feeling the breeze across the blue ocean as they make their way to campus.
The 340-seat medium-sized “commuter ship” began serving students at the university’s Shizuoka campus in the Shimizu District of Shizuoka city on April 5. According to school officials, it is rare for a university in Japan to charter a ship for its students’ commute.
The cruise service connects JR Shimizu Station and a pier near the campus in 20 minutes — about 10 minutes faster than taking the bus from the station. The initiative aims to improve access to the campus of the School of Humanities, which will be newly opened in the 2022 academic year.
Ship operations are contracted out to a local cruise line, and Shizuoka campus students, faculty and staff are eligible to use the service. The Cruiser will make approximately four round trips per day during the freshman term in line with class hours.
At a ceremony marking the inauguration of the service on April 5, Tokai University chancellor Kiyoshi Yamada told students, “The shuttle has brightened the way to the new Shizuoka campus.”
The first service was boarded by around 70 students from the university’s School of Marine Science and Technology. As the ship sailed south through the tranquil Orido Bay, which is farther from Shimizu Port, the cityscape of Shimizu could be seen on the right and Mount Fuji on the left. The students took photos of the landscape with their smartphones during what felt like a small trip and enjoyed the spring sea breeze under the blue sky.
Many students praised the launch of the service. “Commuting by boat is more convenient and less expensive,” said Hikaru Ogi, 19, a sophomore who lives alone in the city’s Suruga Ward. While the bus pass costs him more than 10,000 yen (about US$80) per month, the shuttle boat fee is about 8,000 yen (about US$65). “There are no traffic jams at sea. I’d like to take this ship so I won’t be late for class,” he said.
According to a university official, the shuttle ship will also encourage students to use commercial facilities near Shimizu Station and help revitalize the local economy in Shimizu. Satomi Tezuka, 19, a sophomore who lives near campus, also commented, “Taking the ship can expand the scope of my activities.”
(Japanese original by Rinnosuke Fukano, Shizuoka Bureau)