Have you ever wondered where those narrow party boats you see cruising on Sumida river and in front of Odaiba at night come from? Well, here’s two of the companies at home in Tokyo’s Asakusabashi district, the Tanakaya and the Suzukiya let their classic Tokyo style party boats, the yakatabune (屋形船), to groups and companies that have something special to celebrate. At night dozens of them gather at scenic spots in Tokyo harbor where they are served by a small armada of ships delivering food, necessities and of course, booze. I have always wondered where they go during the day, and now I know. After all my years in Tokyo I have still never been invited on one of these, but some day I hope I will be! At over 10 000 yen per head (usually this includes all you can eat and all you can drink) per evening it is a little out of my budget at present, and you usually need to be a group of over 20 for them to even bother! I’m sure there are also cheaper boats and arrangements for smaller groups but I have never had reason to investigate. Maybe some well traveled reader can tell us of their yakatabune experiences in the comments section?
Visiting Yokohama with friends last week I just had to take a detour to one of my favorite Yokohama landmarks, the Osanbashi and the International ship terminal there. Sort of blocking our view though, was the biggest ship I have ever seen, the simply gigantic Costa Victoria. The name might ring a bell if you remember the more unfortunate Costa Concorida that capsized of the coast of Italy earlier this year. The Costa Victoria really towered above the usually quite huge Osanbashi, even though we missed out on the view of Yokohama Minato Mirai, we were impressed by the ship instead. Funny thing was, on the other side of the pier, another huge ship was resting at anchor, but I forgot her name (last photo of the blog post). I wonder if anyone on these ship reads this blog?
More snapshot shot through the thick plexiglass window of the Sumida water bus craft traveling on one of Tokyo’s many rivers one cold February afternoon. It’s just so good to get a radically new perspective on the city I live in and to realize that Tokyo has a lot of bridges and tide gates! I recommend this short trip for anyone wanting to visit Asakusa or Odaiba while in Tokyo. One thing that I didn’t notice before editing these photos were the number of funky apartment buildings overlooking the river. They look so impossible thin in these photos! My favorite might be the first one. Enjoy!
One of the most often overlooked sightseeing spots of Tokyo must its rivers! Tokyo is riddled with rivers large and small, but the best place to start for the purpose of seeing Tokyo from a new perspective must be the mighty Sumida River and the Sumida River Cruises, especially if you get one of the very price worthy Sumida Water Buses of where there are several different varieties, lengths and routes! You can check out their English web site here. When I went earlier this year (February) I took these pictures from the embarkation point at Hamarikyu Gardens up to Asakusa Pier. I can really recommend this, even though as a photographer I should have tried getting on one without the thick plexiglass windows! It would make it easier to get decent snapshots. No matter how often I take these river trips though, I never stop wondering how a city like Tokyo can be so underdeveloped along its waterfronts? Here is a massive business opportunity I think! I’ll post more snapshots soon, but I think one of my favorites is in this series, the last one of course! Enjoy!