All-you-can-drink on a cruise ship. Beautiful nighttime scenery. Music and dancers. Wearing a yukata... just tell me when you want me to stop. No? OK, here are the details:
The Nouryousen is a wonderful summer institution in Tokyo, taking you on a two hour cruise around Tokyo Bay, beneath the Rainbow Bridge, and past all the beautiful sights that this metropolis has to offer. Starting and ending at the Takeshiba Passenger Terminal (near Hamamatsucho), the cruise lasts from about 7pm until 9, and is a great way to spend a summer evening for only ¥2,500.
There is also a ¥1,000 discount for anyone wearing a yukata (light summer kimono) on weekday cruises (Monday through Thursday), but you’ll find plenty of people wearing them on the weekends as well just for the festival-like atmosphere.
The price of admission includes an all-you-can-drink plan that includes beer, some simple cocktails, and soft drinks. Snack food can be purchased at an additional cost, and includes everything from mixed nuts and french fries to typical Japanese festival food such as yakisoba (fried noodles) and karaage (fried chicken pieces). There is also a desserts corner to satisfy your sweet tooth (also at an extra cost). The C-Deck includes a separate restaurant-style dining room, which requires a separate reservation.
For the festive among you, the top deck often plays music throughout the night and is a great place to mingle and take in the Tokyo landmarks from a unique vantage point. The entertainment continues on the A-Deck's "Event Stage," which includes some rowdy music and an energetic dance by the ship's crew of "Yukata Dancers" who get the crowd jumping and dancing. Is it slightly tacky? Maybe, but it's all done in good fun and succeeds in creating a really nice, fun tone to the experience.
Or, if you prefer, the D-Deck includes a free seating area with comfortable reclining chairs to sit and chat in, and watch the sights through the window. There are multiple other spaces on board (both free and requiring reservation) where groups can gather together to meet or eat in a more secluded area. There are also special areas with facilities for wheelchairs and strollers.
Because the Salvia-Maru cruise ship has multiple decks, the Nouryousen runs rain or shine. While a rainy day will keep you off the top deck, don't let that dissuade you from going - the entertainment on the ship is worthwhile and more than makes up for having to tilt your head slightly upwards to see the sights from the lower levels' observation decks.
Some tickets may be available to purchase before boarding time, but call ahead to reserve yours if you want to be sure. Large groups are also welcome.