Experience popular Japanese culture on a yakatabune boat! Report on yakatabune in Urayasu, only 20 minutes away from Tokyo

If you want to experience traditional Japanese culture, enjoy Japanese food, and spend a fun time with your family and/or friends, “yakatabune” may be a perfect choice. On a yakatabune traditional Japanese roofed pleasure boat, you can enjoy various kinds of Japanese culture in a few hours, including the Japanese interior of the boat, authentic Japanese dishes, traditional music, and even karaoke. Also, you can enjoy a great view from the boat, especially a gorgeous night view.

About “yakatabune”

Yakatabune is a kind of traditional Japanese boat for people to have fun eating and partying. The floor of yakatabune is traditionally covered with tatami mats, so you should take off your shoes before getting on, making you feel as if you are in a traditional Japanese house. Yakatabune used to be one of the kinds of entertainment for aristocrats in olden times, but it then gradually spread to commoners. While it is common that one yakatabune boat is chartered for a group of 10 or more to have a party, a share-ride yakatabune, which can accommodate more than one group of people on board, has also become available.

Recommended yakatabune course

Although yakatabune is known to be one of Tokyo’s sightseeing features, this time we will introduce how to enjoy yakatabune in Urayasu City, Chiba Prefecture, which is only 20 minutes from Tokyo by train. Yakatabune in Urayasu is less known compared to that in Tokyo; therefore, it is less crowded. And best of all, it is great to be able to see a night view of Tokyo Disney Resort close-up!

Attractive aspects of yakatabune in Urayasu

I joined a share-ride yakatabune boat tour held on the night of October 22 (Sun), 2023. For a share-ride yakatabune, an application of a small group of at least two people is accepted, so it is easier for individuals or small groups to join a tour.

This time, I joined a tour by a “funayado” (operating company of yakatabune) named “Yoshinoya,” which is located five minutes on foot from Urayasu Station on the Tokyo Metro Tozai Line. The company has been in business since the Meiji period (1868-1912) and is one of several old and historic funayado companies around Urayasu Station. As Urayasu used to be a fisherman’s town, it served as a place for people from Edo (current Tokyo) to visit to enjoy yakatabune riding and fishing.

On the tatami mats on the floor of the boat, tables and chairs are arranged nicely for individual groups, so you won’t have to worry about not being good at sitting on tatami.

On the day of my tour, there were about 18 participants. The photo shows two international students, one from Korea and one from France. They said that they joined the tour because they wanted to experience Japanese culture. Since the tour I joined included a free yukata (cotton kimono)-wearing service on request, many of the participants were wearing yukata.

Once all the participants got on board, the boat departed! Kyu-Edogawa River, which connects to Tokyo Bay, had gentle waves, so the boat didn’t wobble very much. On that day, as a special event, a live performance of “ohayashi” was offered – a type of music played at traditional Japanese festivals and which has been designated as one of the intangible folklore cultural assets of Urayasu City.

During the performance, some participants tried playing the drum! With the unique rhythm of ohayashi from the beating of a Japanese drum, everyone on board got into the spirit. Even though we were strangers, we could enjoy ourselves all together naturally once we were on the same boat. That’s definitely one of the attractive aspects of yakatabune!

In about 20 minutes after the departure, our boat rested at anchor at Tokyo Bay. From the boat, we could see Tokyo Disney Resort (TDR) beautifully illuminated. If you are lucky, you may be able to see fireworks from TDR.

On the opposite side of TDR, we could also see the big Ferris Wheel of Kasai Rinkai Park and TOKYO SKYTREE!

There were many other boats near our boat and we could hear boisterous voices of people on the water, which made us feel like as if we were having fun together with all the boats around ours! It was an exciting experience!
As the boat usually stays there for about one hour, you will have plenty of time to take photos even after eating.

On the way back to the funayado, we could see the Tokyo Disneyland Hotel close-up.

Food on yakatabune

Another appealing aspect of yakatabune is food. For our tour, the meal started with sumptuous dishes of boiled crab and sashimi. We had an all-you-can-drink service including alcohol.

One of the appetizers was asari clams boiled in soy sauce, which is one of Urayasu’s specialty dishes. The sweet-salty taste of soy sauce and sugar goes really well with alcohol.

The most famous specialty dish served on yakatabune must be freshly-cooked tempura! Various kinds of seasonal ingredients were cooked in the kitchen on the boat. I enjoyed the tempura of fugu fish, which is well known as an expensive delicacy. I heard that fresh marine products caught at Tokyo Bay by fishing boats operated by Yoshinoya are used for the dishes they serve on yakatabune.

As each item of freshly-cooked tempura is served one by one, you can always enjoy hot, crispy tempura. The number one rule is to enjoy freshly-cooked tempura before you go to the outside part of the boat to see a view!

The tempura of white-meat fish, such as smelt whitings and conger eels, was nice and fluffy, so I felt like I could just keep eating them!

Services on yakatabune

Yakatabune is often equipped with karaoke machines, so if you like you may be able to enjoy karaoke on board. For some tours like our tour, live performance of traditional entertainment is offered instead of karaoke.

For the facilities of the yakatabune we took, a separate Western-style toilet was equipped for both men and women. Many of yakatabune boats are nicely equipped so that people can spend time comfortably on board, while keeping some traditional aspects, allowing you to enjoy the traditional features while making your tour worry-free.

Recommended season for yakatabune

Many people may think yakatabune is a summer thing, to cool down and watch fireworks in summer; however, the best season is actually from autumn to winter. This is recommended because you can get a better night view with clearer air on more days from autumn to winter. Inside the boat, you won’t feel cold even in winter.

How to apply for a yakatabune tour

In Urayasu City, the 3-hour yakatabune tour course we joined this time costs 12,000 yen for adults (junior high school students and older) and 6,000 yen for children (elementary students and younger), which includes a boarding fee, food, and all-you-can-drink service.

Urayasu City has been offering a share-ride yakatabune tour regularly from December, 2023 to March, 2024, so please check the website below for the schedule! You can make a reservation at the official website for Urayasu Tourism Convention Association.


Please make a little side trip from Tokyo to get on yakatabune in Urayasu to fully enjoy traditional Japanese culture!

The information herein is as of December 2023
I am Ayumi from Chiba Prefecture. I love sweets. I majored in Japanese history in my university. I have visited many historic sites from the ancient days to the modern days on my trips. I have visited about 100 castles of various sizes. I am also obsessed with visiting “anime pilgrimage sites,” the locations featured in popular anime and manga.

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