Cruising along the waterfront of Tokyo on a covered pleasure boat (yakatabune) is a great way to enjoy the cityscape and dive into Japanese culture while feeling like old Japanese nobility. A dinner cruise on these traditional boats will not only acquaint you with Shinagawa and the surrounding area but you’ll also get a taste of Japanese cuisine and entertainment.
Whether you decide to take a river cruise during the day or at night, you’ll be delighted by the sights and experiences of a yakatabune.
What is a yakatabune?
If you’ve walked along the Odaiba waterfront, chances are that you may have seen a yakatabune. These beautiful Japanese-style covered houseboats are often lit up on the waters at night, abundant with festive patrons. Relax as you gaze upon the splendor of Odaiba, Tokyo Tower, Skytree, and Rainbow Bridge on this leisurely boat ride.
The history of yakatabune dates back to the Heian period (794-1185) when aristocrats of the day enjoyed the scenery of the four seasons while they read poetry, played music, and generally entertained themselves. It was a glamorous event where one loosened their purse strings to display their noble background and skills.
Today, these boats have been equipped for modern times and no longer cost a small fortune as they did long ago. Soak up the Japanese atmosphere in comfort; whether you prefer floor seating, chairs, or sunken floor seating (horigotatsu), many yakatabune provide seating choices based on your preferences. The comfort extends to the air conditioning on board, western-style toilets, and even karaoke machines, depending on the ship. Popular for more private affairs, you can also rent semi-private partitioned rooms on some boats.
As for food and drink, come prepared to enjoy your fill. Sate your appetite on traditional yakatabune foods, like freshly fried tempura and other Japanese foods; you can also request vegetarian or halal meals depending on the reservation company.
To protect passengers with the latest virus-prevention measures each ship has implemented the best countermeasures to ensure safety and health.
Hand washing, disinfectant, and masks are required by staff and boarding passengers. The air onboard is frequently changed and open windows allow for a fresh and constant flow. Guests can adjust the windows to their preference.
Other on-board safety measures include: fewer passengers allowed to reserve tables, temperatures taken before boarding, acrylic boards separating the tables and open seats beside you to prevent crowding, installed ozone generators, and an increased number of ventilation fans on the ship.
To make a reservation, please contact the concierge of any yakatabune or corresponding hotel:
- Zeal Cruising
- Koukichimaru (Japanese)
- Mutsumimaru (Japanese)
- Oedo (Japanese)
- Maruyu (Japanese)
- Oyamamaru (Japanese)
- Iwata (Japanese)
Please come and try a yakatabune cruise in Shinagawa and experience how extraordinary Tokyo is!