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I'm planning my trans-mongolian/siberian trip and I'll end up in Beijing. I want to know if it's possible to reach Japan without flying (ideally Tokyo).

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up vote 11 down vote accepted

There are ferries between at least these points, China on the left, Japan on the right:

Here's some other links with overviews and details:

Oh and I almost forgot my favourite! If by "mainland Asia" you want to include Siberia, there is even a ferry from Sakhalin to Hokkaido!

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Wow. Amazingly detailed answer, thanks a bunch ;) I'm of two minds on how I will make the trip, but right now I'm thinking I'll take a boat from Russia to Japan and then return to mainland Asia via China :) – victoriah Nov 6 '11 at 20:54
It was a pleasure! There are also ferries to/from Vladivostok though - should I include those? I don't think of it as Asia but I guess it technically is, in any case it's all in the same answer with the Sakhalin info. – hippietrail Nov 6 '11 at 21:02
I was pretty much referring to the entire sea coast on the east side of the Urals, imo eastern Russia counts as "mainland Asia" for the purposes of this discussion. Feel free to make the answer as comprehensive as you like, I'm sure it's helpful for people reading this in the future ;) – victoriah Nov 6 '11 at 21:03

Alternatively, you could take the ferry from Tianjin to Incheon (South Korea), spend some time in Korea, wind your way down to Busan, and then take the ferry to Japan from there. See this excellent post for information on the ferry to Japan from Korea.

I recently met a German guy in Korea who was traveling around the world without airplanes, and that's what he did.

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