Tokyo is hot and sticky in summer and you just want to escape. Sure, you can hang out in the air conditioning, but then you’re missing the sense of the season. Instead, escape from the heat with a pleasant evening on the water–a cruise in Tokyo Bay.
There are lots of ways to get on the water in Tokyo, from the water bus that plies the Sumida River transporting passengers between Asakusa, Hinode Pier and Odaiba, to the Nihonbashi sightseeing cruise I’ve already written about, to kayaking adventures. And there are dinner cruise options ranging from the cruise liner-like Vingt et Un to traditional yakata-bune.
But Samurai Cruises are something just a little bit different.
First, there’s the boat itself. Nearly 50 meters long in dramatic red and gold, with a faux sail, Atakemaru is modeled on a ship commissioned by the third Tokugawa shogun, Iemitsu, in the early 17th century. The interior contains a bar, dining booths and a theatre on the deck level and another dining room as well as external viewing decks above. Everything is decorated on the theme of the Tokugawa shogunate, right down to curtains with the Tokugawa family crest. Yes, it’s a pleasant environment from which to enjoy a cruise.
Samurai Cruises offers short (approx. 40 minutes) day cruises around Tokyo Bay, as well as a 75 minute sunset cruise and a 2 hour dinner cruise, all departing from Hinode Pier (10 min. walk from JR Hamamatsucho station or 2 min. walk from Hinode station on the Yukamome line). The latter two cruises include lively song and dance performances in the theatre–a memorable highlight of the experience.
The itinerary of the cruises is just right. Guests board and enjoy food and drink as the boat sets sail. They wander the ship and wind up on the back deck as it sails under the Rainbow Bridge past Odaiba on the port and the Oi wharves on the starboard. On the sunset cruise, the sky and buildings begin to glow as the sun drops. At night, the lights of the city twinkle.
And then it’s time for the performance to begin so everyone settles into the theatre. Although the performance is mostly in Japanese, foreign visitors can still appreciate the energy and quality and can even understand enough to participate in the 3-3-7 rhythmic clapping and raising their hands to wildly repeat “wa-shoi” at the appropriate moment.
Before you know it, the boat is back at Hinode and it’s time to say good-bye to this wonderful boat and its friendly crew. The trip has been so delightful that you’ve completely forgotten the heat. But even back on shore you continue to feel refreshed and energized by your excursion…and maybe even look forward to doing it again!
For more information on Samurai Cruises, visit their website.