Daily Life

Far Canal! Had No Idea Boating Is This Much Fun!

Tokyo is a city built on rivers and streams, and much of its history is built around waterways, yet it took until last weekend to finally enjoy a really decent yakatabune boat ride.

I’ve been here for decades and been on cruises and even ridden in yakatabune, which are long, flat boats with tatami mat rooms used mostly for sightseeing cruises, but I hadn’t really cruised on one.

I’d always associated them with geisha asobi, parties with geisha, and raucous, bawdy boat trips (and a look at the cruise options available will show that I’m not wrong), but that’s not really my thing these days.

But I shouldn’t have put it off for so long!

Blessed with fantastic weather, Mrs. Kangaeroo and I got on a boat ride run by Yamadaya, a yakatabune cruise operator, and headed down the Arakawa River.

We were on a fishing cruise that would take us through the Arawaka River Lock gate into the Naka River, where we would try to catch gobies, and then head back again to join the Sumida River and ride into Asakusa.

It was a truly spectacular time! The water glistened in the beautiful sunlight and going through the lock gate was a very interesting experience, watching the water be drawn out and fill until we had reached the appropriate level for the river we were headed for (and getting a nice shower while passing through the gate).

Incredibly, there was a torrential downpour not long after we had stopped in the Naka River, but we were protected by the yakatabune, so sat and watched while rain pounded the water, giving us a dazzling show that looked like pretty little diamonds dancing on the surface.

Fishing was fun, if not successful. Only the Kangaeroos failed to catch a goby, and I didn’t even get a bite.

We could take solace in both becoming adept at breaking worms in two with our fingernails and spearing their guts with the hook.

True to brand, I got to eat while having done nothing with the Yamadaya crew frying up the captured gobies tempura-style and sharing them equally among all participants.

Heading toward our final destination beneath the Asakusa Turd, we were chased by a storm that created an amazing sight in the sky. The rain clouds let just a single square of blue sky. It was an incredible phenomenon.

Reaching Asakusa, we went to our hotel, the Gate Hotel Asakusa-Kaminarimon (where we were served by an employee with the delightful name of Noel, written using the kanji for angel <天使>), which gave us a fabulous view of the one-time heart of Tokyo entertainment (and still a hugely popular tourist destination today).

We did all the touristy walks, taking in Kappabashi and Sensoji Temple, then retired to our hotel for the night to munch on delicious eel onigiri rice balls.

We woke early the next morning, stuffed ourselves stupid on the breakfast buffet and got on the train to head to Misaki Port on the Miura Peninsula.

Misaki is known as the maguro no machi, Tuna Town, and has a huge fish market. It’s a quaint little port and soon after arriving, we got on a tourist cruise boat called the Nijiiro Sakana-go (rainbow-colored fish boat).

The Nijiiro Sakana-go was great fun as we chucked out potato chips to seagulls chasing after us, who gladly gobbled them down.

The boat also has portholes beneath the surface providing wonderful views of the schools of fish in the area.

Back in town, we gave up the idea of cycling to nearby Jogashima because of the stifling heat and instead caught a bus there.

It was a little sad as the hamlet was lively but its main thoroughfare was largely shuttered. It’s centerpiece lighthouse was largely fenced of and the garden overgrown, giving it a somewhat dystopian feel all-too-common for so much of rural Japan.

I’d cycled through Miura early in the pandemic and it seemed to have been livelier then, but that may just been selective memory. We didn’t stay in Jogashima long, though.

Returning to Misaki, we went to Misakikan Honten for an absolutely exquisite set dish.

We’d been able to do the whole second day on a pretty amazing deal called the Misaki Maguro Day Trip Ticket.

For 3,760 yen we got a return trip from Shinagawa (central Tokyo) to Misaki, free bus travel in the area, a tuna-based meal to be chosen from among dozens of participating restaurants, and the boat trip.

It was fantastic and we had a marvelous day that capped off a fantastic weekend.

Unfortunately, reality called and we had a dinosaur waiting at home, too (with a newly arrived egg, to boot).

So we headed back to Kangaeroo Corner (and the neighbor gave me a ribbing over the deteriorated lawn, now nothing more than a pile of dust after having been green and lush until the start of the summer).