Before I start writing about known Japanese tourist traps like Kyotos Kinkaku-ji, Tokyo Tower or Mt Fuji, here’s something completely different.
Last year I went on a ‘night factory cruise‘. A night cruise through the harbours of Yokohama and Kawasaki. It was impressive and I recommend it. I like boat trips and visiting harbours. I’ve done in Amsterdam and in Rotterdam. That’s why I wanted to do something similar in Japan. I knew it existed, by bus and by boat. But this type of industrial tourism was a rather new phenomenon in Japan. It had been in the news, including interviews with disapproving employees of factories included in the cruises.
How to book a night factory cruise
At the time that I was looking to book a cruise like this, it was only possible by phone and thus in Japanese. One solution to this problem was to have your hotel concierge make the reservation, or to approach a tourist information office. That’s what I had in mind. A few days before my departure I searched for options once again and hit on Tabione.com, a Japanese tour operator. They had added a few ‘night factory cruises’ to their line up on the English language part of their website.
Literally on my way to the airport I booked one of their cruises. I picked the “Yokohama Night Factory Cruise” on a ship called “Persona” because the time and port of departure were convenient to me. The boat departed from an easily accessible pier in Yokohama, and on return it was easy to get back to Tokyo as well.
The check in desk turned out to be outside the pier building. Shortly before departure, they put down a little table with one guy sorting the tickets. I was still inside the building at that time and ended up at the end of the queue for the boat. So check in advance where to line up for your departure if you want a good spot on the boat.
When I did walk up to the table the guy addressed me by my name. “Aaah, Caroline-san!”, he said. I was the only non-Japanese on board, that’s why. All the other people in line were young Japanese couples. You’d expect a boat full of photography nerds on a tour like this. But in Japan everything is different and these night cruises are considered perfect for ‘date nights’.
The tour commentary was completely in Japanese without English translation. So I didn’t really find out which factories I was looking at. But the amazing Blade Runner-esque landscape made up for that.