|

Tokyo cruise offers a step back in time

by Yoshiaki Miura

Staff Photographer

A new Tokyo Bay samurai-themed cruise ship fashioned after those used by feudal lords back in the Edo Period (1603-1868) promises tourists visiting the nation’s capital an interesting contrast between modernity and tradition.

The Atakemaru, which is 49.7 meters long and 486 tons in weight, is modeled after ships used by the daimyo feudal lords who served the Tokugawa shogunate under the sankin kotai (alternate attendance) system — a policy implemented by the shogunate to strengthen control over the regional lords by having them alternate their places of residence between Edo (present-day Tokyo) and their regional homes.

Okayama-based transport firm Ryobi Holdings launched the Atakemaru in March. The ship’s exterior is colored in bright red and yellow, while the Tokugawa emblem adorns its interior, which is decorated using traditional hand-crafted wood and other traditional items.

Guests can savor a scenic view of Tokyo Bay on a day cruise or enjoy dinner and traditional stage performances on a night cruise. For the convenience of foreign tourists, the ship is equipped with chairs instead of Japan’s famous floor-based seating.

On a recent cruise, passengers aboard the ship included tourists from the U.S., Russia, Canada, China and Malaysia.

The operator aims to boost the samurai ship’s customer numbers ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Starting this summer, it plans to hold parties with participants clad in kimono, and on Jan. 1, it is organizing a special cruise to view the first sunrise of the new year.

Also planned is a rakugo traditional storytelling show, the operator said.

‘Oedo Enbugeki’ actors perform a traditional Edo Period stage show aboard the Atakemaru. | YOSHIAKI MIURA
‘Oedo Enbugeki’ performers, clad in traditional kimono, are popular with guests, many of whom are from overseas. | YOSHIAKI MIURA
Among the views guests can enjoy on a night cruise are the Rainbow Bridge in Tokyo Bay, which is illuminated, and a nightscape featuring the capital
Among the views guests can enjoy on a night cruise are the Rainbow Bridge in Tokyo Bay, which is illuminated, and a nightscape featuring the capital’s skyscrapers. | YOSHIAKI MIURA
The Atakemaru leaves Harumi Pier in Tokyo Bay. Cruises with various service options and time schedules are available.
The Atakemaru leaves Harumi Pier in Tokyo Bay. Cruises with various service options and time schedules are available. | YOSHIAKI MIURA
Foreign tourists enjoy food and drinks while conversing with
Foreign tourists enjoy food and drinks while conversing with ‘Oedo Enbugeki’ stage performers. | YOSHIAKI MIURA

For more information, call 0120-532-150 or visit www.gozabune.jp. This occasional series explores neighborhoods of interest in photographs.