Centuries ago in Japan, yakatabune were the pleasure boats of wealthy merchants, aristocrats and military leaders, and they were lavishly decorated, often with tatami mats and low tables for dining. Nowadays, these traditional wooden longboats are seeing a revival as private entertainment vessels for groups to enjoy Tokyo’s night scenery over food and drinks.
However, this doesn’t mean yakatabune are off limits to casual tourists. Yakatabune Amitatsu, which has been in business for over a century, also caters to couples and smaller groups on one of their eight ships, all equipped with a sky deck. Make a booking for the Odaiba-Skytree Cruise, which takes you from Tokyo’s heritage centre, Asakusa, to the modern pleasure island Odaiba. The two-and-a-half-hour cruise comes with a bar and a Japanese dinner that includes tempura and sashimi, and there’s a vegetarian option, too (pre-book during reservation).
In spring, Amitatsu also offers a special sakura tour that takes you to some of Tokyo’s most picturesque riverbanks, all flanked by cherry blossoms.