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Yakatabune — on the Water in Tokyo — in Special ‘FamTour’

September 10, 2013 Destination North Asia No Comments Email Email

The waters on the Sumida River in Tokyo grow crowded especially during the summer months when fireworks events grace the skies, making riding in a yakatabune all the more exciting.

Yakatabune — loosely translated as roof-shaped boat or houseboat — are private boats with low ceilings that today hold parties that include food and drinks. They are popular especially for the sakura or cherry-blossom viewing season, end-of-the year parties, fireworks viewing and the casual reception following the official wedding reception where friends and family can do away with formalities. The flat boats are inconspicuous except for their red paper lanterns that decorate the edges of the roof and glow brightly at night, creating a classical feel.

A yakatabune makes its way out to Tokyo Bay.A yakatabune makes its way out to Tokyo Bay.

In the eighth century, the boats were used only by aristocrats in Kyoto, then later were used in Tokyo by the country’s feudal rulers and rich merchants when the capital shifted from Kyoto in 1603, the start of the Edo Period in Japan’s history. Many of the boats then were lavishly decorated, heightened by competition among merchants.

The boats today, featuring low tables and shoji sliding doors, have guests sit on tatami floors while being served traditional Japanese cuisine and beverages.

As part of the hospitality of the JATA TABIHAKU Travel Showcase 2013, hosted foreign media and buyers will be able to participate in a familiarization tour or FamTour called “Classic Edo” or Classic Tokyo that includes a chance to experience the yakatabune, considered a fixture of Tokyo Bay.

The average cost for an experience on the boat starts from 10,000 yen per person for two to three hours that take guests along the Sumida River and onto the Tokyo Bay to view the city, including the Rainbow Bridge, Tokyo SkyTree and more. Tours for lunch and dinner are available depending on the season.

Meanwhile, the FamTour will also include a visit to Kiyosumi Garden, kimono experience, Geisha entertainment on the yatakabune, a Japanese magic show at Japanese Ryotei in Mukojima, a visit to Kanda Myojin Shrine and Kanda House.

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