Tokyo has a long history of waterfront entertainment and offers a plethora of options where conversation and drinks flow. We’ve rounded up some of our favorites to help you find what kind of tour floats your boat.
Samurai Ship Gozabune Atakemaru
The Gozabune Atakemaru (pictured top) is a replica of a ship commissioned by Iemitsu Tokugawa in 1632. Both the original and its replica display an air of opulence and comfort, but while Tokugawa’s pleasure boat was also used for war, the modern day version is simply for fun. The ship offers a great view of Tokyo Bay at night along with a dinner show featuring performers from the famous Shiki theater company. The stage show is interactive, creating a fun and lively atmosphere for all ages.
More info at www.samuraiship.tokyo
Named for Mizuhanome, a water goddess, Mizuha is a charming little brown boat in a retro style. Owner Miho Sato is the ship’s guide and gives a unique insight into Tokyo and its history in impeccable English, while her husband steers the ship along its course. Sato’s in-depth knowledge coupled with her dry humor make the tours fun, fascinating and a great learning experience for even the most knowledgeable Tokyoite. The boat seats about 10 people and is available for shared or chartered cruises.
More info at www.funaasobi-mizuha.jp/english
Tokyo Water Taxi
The idea for Tokyo Water Taxi came about after the Great Tohoku Earthquake, when the owners witnessed how hard it was for many to walk home through the crowded streets. By freeing up the waterways, it would be easier to effectively transport those who needed it most. In more peaceful times, visitors can charter the boat for a trip down the canals and rivers of Tokyo – and even out to Tokyo Bay. Guests can choose either their own custom route, or go with one recommended by the captain. Top tip: ask about stopping by a riverside bakery to pick up an extra treat on your trip.
More info at water-taxi.tokyo
For the ultimate traditional river experience, look no further than the classic yakatabune. These tatami-floored boats have been a part of Tokyo’s river culture for hundreds of years, reaching the height of their popularity in the Edo period where they were used for cherry blossom viewing parties and private haiku readings alike. The cruises offer great views of the Sumida River and Tokyo Bay, but it’s their epicurean efforts that are their true claim to fame. Dinners are extravagant offerings of sashimi, tempura and other seasonal delights, with some boats cooking everything on board.
More info at www.yakatabune-kumiai.jp/en
Kojo Yakei Tours
Head out of Tokyo down to harbor cities Kawasaki and Yokohama and you’ll find a cruise that’ll take you to another world. Kojo yakei tours (literally “factory night view” tours) give visitors an exciting insight into industrial areas traditionally thought of as eyesores, now appreciated for their aesthetics. Drift past smokestacks churning out steam, illuminated by colossal industrial plants as they churn away through the night. These tours are especially recommended for photographers looking to capture beauty in unexpected environments.
More info at www.tabione.com/en/factory_cruise