Updated： December 19, 2017
Yakatabune Banquet Or How To Party Edo Era Style!
This post contains info on the history of Yakatabune and where and how to enjoy them around Tokyo! You'll want to ride one after reading this!
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Yakatabune (屋形船) is a type of traditional Japanese pleasure boat in which banquets are eaten. They have a roof and the banquet area has tatami flooring.
The yakatabune were first made during the Heinan Era (794-1185). They were made for artistocrastic families to enjoy sakura in the spring (cherry blossom viewing), tsukimi in early fall (moon viewing), and hanabi in the middle of summer (fireworks). The boats floating on the Sumidagawa river in Tokyo were particularly impressive with their gold and silver ornaments. The golden years of the yakatabune came to an abrupt end in 1682 (early Edo period) when the construction of large boats was prohibited under a series of laws aimed at preserving the power of the Edo Shogun. The tradition later revived and you can still enjoy taking a ride and dinning on a yakatabune!
Yakatabune Experience In Tokyo
Below are some of the best yakatabune cruises in Tokyo. All of them offer some refined Japanese cuisine and have an all-you-can-drink alcohol is included in their dinner course. The yakatabune is also traditionally a drinking experience, on top of being one of fine dining and seeing beautiful sceneries while cruising on the water. Note that reservations are required. The prices are about ¥10,000 per person, meal and cruise included.
Yakatabune seen from Odaiba
Funasei is most definitely one of the best cruises around. You board the ship from a place located near Shinagawa Station.
This yakatabune is particularly famous for its delicious tempura cuisine. You can have basic courses that start from ¥10,000. Prices are a little bit cheaper for children. The cruise is two and a half hours.
Not only do you get to eat fine Japanese cuisine and enjoy amazing views of Tokyo from the harbor, but you also get with the basic meal plan all-you-can-drink alcohol and soft drinks. Alcoholic beverages include beer, sake (hot or cold) and wines. There are all kinds of plans available. The cheapest one is a tempura bento meal that is just ¥5,000. You can add the all-you-can-drink option for just ¥1,250.
Harumiya is a company operating some of the slickest boasts in Tokyo Harbour. The place of departure for the cruises is located a 5-minute walk from the Kachidoki Station.
The interior design is a mix of traditional and modern. You sit on the floor, but there is a depression under the table to allow dinners to rest their legs. Sitting on a cushion for the course of a meal with no place to rest your legs can be a bit uncomfortable, even for some Japanese that are comparatively more accustomed to this style of dining.
You can have a lunch meal here for just ¥7,000 per person. The lunch includes tempura, a Japanese soup, fruits, pickled vegetables, sashimi and a seasonal dish. The lunch cruise is 1 hour and a half. For dinner, you can get a nine-item meal for ¥10,000. This includes all-you-can-drink alcohol. You can have KIRIN beer, shochu (Japanese spirit), wine and sake. There are some really fine exquisite dinners that can go up to ¥25,000 per person. The dinner cruise is 2 hours and a half.
Amitei travels along the Sumida river and passes Odaiba and Tokyo Sky Tree. Sakura (cherry blossoms) season is especially recommended! The company is located near the Ichinoe Station.
This is one of the oldest company in Tokyo offering yakatabune cruises.
As well as the amazing view, you can also admire the high-quality Japanese dishes like fresh sushi and tempura. They use selected seasonal ingredients so you can enjoy the seasonality in Japanese cuisine. The course shown above is a ¥10,000 per person dinner course, and as always, it's alcohol is all-you-can-drink!
Considering that you get a boat cruise, a Japanese traditional banquet-style meal and some free-flowing alcohol for many courses, the price for having a yakatabune cruise is really reasonable. It's definitely worth the try, especially during special events such as the cherry blossom season or during the summer fireworks.
- Japanese food culture enthusiast. Love to explore new areas and discover local specialties.
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