Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Yakatabune of the Mimuka River

Yakatabune, Mimuka River

Mimuka River.

The Mikuma River flows through Hita, in the mountains of Oita near the border with Fukuoka, and has been a transportation route since ancient times. It has also been a source of food, with eels and the ayu fish being popular still today.


In the summer months, It is the site for the traditional fishing method using trained cormorants to catch the fish, and visitors head out in pleasure boats to watch the scene.


The boats, called yakatabune, nowadays ply their trade most nights of the year as they have become one of the prime tourist attractions, especially for the many guests of the waterfront hot spring hotels..


Yakatabune have a long history, being used by the elite aristocrats of the Heian court to hold waterborne parties with plenty of sake drinking and poetry composition.


Yakatabune is often translated as "house boat", but in English, that implies people living onboard, whereas they are really like small Japanses restaurants, with tatami floors, low tables etc.


Around sunset each day the lanterns and electric lights on the yakatabune light up, and guests, usually wearing traditional outfits, arrive and are then taken out to the middle of the river for a few hours of fine wining and dining.


The boats are operated by half a dozen of the waterfront hot spring hotels, but I believe it may be possible to book seats without actually staying at the hotel, though I suspect the tickets are not cheap.



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