Adrift in a Sea of Spirits
A fixture on Tokyo
Bay and major rivers that run through the city, yakatabune (literally, “house boats”) are essentially floating restaurants that could be described as the Japanese version of pleasure cruises. Dating back to the Edo Period (1603-1868), these large watercraft generally offer high-quality Japanese cuisine such as tempura as well as all-you-can-drink beer, sake, and shochu. Diners sit at low-slung tables on tatami mats. Most cruises last from 2 to 4 hours and cost anywhere from 10,000 yen per person depending upon the type of food and optional services, which can include karaoke and geisha performances. A variety of different cruise routes are also available depending upon the operator, so be sure to pick one that best suits your needs. A particularly good time to book one of these boats is during one of the summer fireworks festivals, as they provide unparalleled views of the action while you sit back and relax.