The other day, I was invited by a colleague to join the dinner cruise on the Yakatabune Harumiya.
Of course I said yes with out any hesitation. I have never been on the boat for a party before. It sounds very exciting.
For those of you who don’t know what a Yakatabune is. Let me explain to you,Yakatabune is a Japanese wooden boat. Nowadays, modern Yakatabune is mostly made from light and durable fiber plastic but keeping traditional details such as the lantern “miyoshi”. They are mainly used for tours and sightseeing.
FYI : There are more than 50 companies that operate Yakatabune in Tokyo area alone.
The meeting point is at Kachidoki station which is close by Tsukiji fish market. From Shinjuku, it took less than half an hour on Toei Oedo line. From exit A3, we need to walk a few mins crossing the bridge to the boarding point.
I was so looking forward to see Tokyo Sky Tree Christmas light up but unfortunately the weather was not good. It rained on day that day up to the point we were on board.
Departure time is 19.00. We arrived 15 mins before departure. It’s very important that you are on time since there are 40 other passengers on board. The service is up to 2.30 hours for dinner cruise. We should get back around 21.30.
Table are marked with name plates so we need to first find our table. As you can see, tables are Japanese style with tatami-matted flooring. Passengers sit on the floor just like a regular Japanese style ryokan.
This boat of Harumiya was brand news and said to be the biggest one in Japan.
Most customers were Japanese from other prefectures in Japan with few others from Spain, Russia, Switzerland and of course my colleague and I from Thailand.
If you don’t speak Japanese, do not worry. Entertainment on board were provided both in Japanese and English. Our host, Mr. Andy, was very kind. He spoke fluent English (seems like he has been spending some time overseas). Andy supplied us with the alcohol drinks throughout the course ;P On top of that, he can sing like a pro!!
Andy in action
Highlight of the meal would be freshly deep fried tempura. Each piece was served one by one starting with sea eel, small fish, lotus root, egg plants, prawn, squid and many more (which I couldn’t remember…blamed it totally on Japanese sake!).
Did I tell you tempura is my guilty pleasure? You need to try yourself to know what I mean.
The charm of Yakatabune
The best part would be the part we made friends with other passengers.
As the boat sailed on, we started eating and drinking. It can’t be helped to exchange conversation with people sitting in the next table, serving them beer or sake. Then it turned to the point which we exchanged business cards and talked about Japan experience (Japanese people often curious to know where you come from and what you find interesting about Japan, so prepare some of those topics).
The boat stop in Tokyo bay for us to take photos of rainbow bridge and Odaiba. There were some other Yakatabune (run by other companies) nearby as well. The night scenery was superb! It would have been very romantic to come with the love ones.
Oh, Andy told me that his crew often run a charter service for wedding reception, anniversary and other special occasions. I think it’s such an awesome idea to have a reception here.
After a few drinks, it’s natural we would want to use the bathroom. I didn’t expect much from toilet on the boat as long as it’s clean but this came as quite a surprise. The toilet was as clean as one of those 5 stars hotel.
Well done Harumiya!
If you are interested, cost per person is 10,800 yen. You can either reserve online here or contact Activity Japan for more information.