This was a nice little cruise. I think the sake tasting is a pretty cool concept. I don't really drink, so I can't comment on the sake itself, but the boat ride otherwise was very nice.
The weather was pretty much perfect. Given the ideal conditions, there was really nothing here for me to complain about. I liked the open feeling of sitting on the deck.
The dried seafood was also nice. It's a bit similar to jerky, so it's on the saltier side, but I liked it. You could probably eat it as is, but grilling it definitely makes it softer and easier to chew.
All in all, I had a good experience. The captain and his wife were very friendly.
This time, we’re going to go for a boat ride around Japan's city of water, Osaka. We’re taking a unique ship that was designed to feel like home, Ofune Camome. There are a few courses available, but we’re going to try their Sake Tasting Cruise, which started in March.
From Temmabashi to Hachikenyahama Pier
First, we need to get to the closest station, Temmabashi (also written as Tenmabashi). You can get there using the Keihan Line or the Tanimachi Line. It's easier from the Keihan.
▼But we started from Higashi-Umeda, so we took the Tanimachi Line.
▼Once you get to Temmabashi, head towards exit 2, near the Keihan Line. From the ticket gate, you should be able to see a sign pointing to McDonald’s. Keep going straight until you can’t anymore, and take a left. Go up the escalators and then the stairs on the right. You should start to see the McDonald’s in front of you. Exit 18 is right next to it.
▼If you go outside and walk left, you should see the river and the pier shortly.
Hachikenyahama Pier is on the bigger side and has a few places to dock. Ofune Camome is normally all the way on the right, but depending on other boats, it may be somewhere else.
▼The pier. Their usual spot's in the center right of the picture.
▼Captain Nakano, waiting at the entrance with the Ofune Camome flag. He'll lead you down to the boat, so you don't have to worry about getting lost. What a nice captain!
Listen to the safety precautions before boarding.
We get to the boat and on the deck are cushions and a couple of small tables with grills on them. It only seats 10 people, but there's a very quaint atmosphere that makes it feel different from other ships I've been on. I'm really looking forward to the cruise.
Before getting on, Ms. Yoshizaki, who's also a captain (just not today), will discuss important information. First, she'll explain how to use the inflatable belt packs. And after that, she'll talk about the route. The course is an hour and a half and goes all around Osaka, to Temmabashi, Nakanoshima, the Kyocera Dome, and the Glico Man along Dotonbori.
▼Listening to the explanation
Time to push off!
Earlier, I noticed some things dangling from afar. I was wondering what they were, but when we came in closer, I could see they were dried seafood (eel, squid, sea bream, octopus, and firefly squid) hanging from a line over the deck. I thought it was so funny, I couldn’t help but laugh.
▼It does leave an impression, doesn’t it?
The main feature of the Sake Tasting Cruise is of course, being able to sample 3 different bottles of sake. Along with that, you also get to enjoy grilling and eating the dried seafood. Like the sake, the kind of seafood will depend on supplies during different seasons and from different regions. You can look forward to having something new every time. Today's sake is from Akita prefecture. If you like one of the bottles, you can also get refills for ¥500!
▼3 kinds of sake, all from a single brewery in Akita
▼Captain Nakano gives us a shout to let us know we’re off!
Even though we'd just left, everyone’s eyes were drawn to the dried seafood and sake.
▼Ms. Yoshizaki didn't waste any time opening the first bottle. (Like a proprietress at a traditional Japanese hotel)
Now that the drinks are ready, it's time for the snacks! We cut the dried seafood into smaller pieces, and place them onto the grills. They smelled good before, but the heat really brings out their aroma. It’s definitely making my mouth water.
▼Kanpai (Cheers) !!
▼Use the scissors to cut the seafood!
Get grilling and take in the sights.
▼The weather was perfect! The gentle breeze and warm sunlight just couldn’t be beat! Too bad I forgot my sunglasses...I definitely should’ve brought them!
▼Oh! We can’t forget about the captain! He’s kind of removed from the rest of us, but he’ll explain a bit of what we’re seeing.
Here, we’re going to pass through the Dotonbori floodgate. It's pretty cool seeing it in action!
▼The water lets ships know that the floodgate is in operation.
Attention comes back to the grills. At the same time, everyone is anxiously waiting for the second round of drinks. The seafood looks like it's dancing as it shrinks. The line is getting lighter and lighter. The food makes it easy to just keep drinking. Or maybe it's the sake that makes it easy to keep eating!
▼Ms. Yoshizaki, talking about the second bottle of sake.
Entering Dotonbori, the most exciting place in Osaka.
With snacks in one hand, and a drink in the other, you can really take it easy sightseeing. It's completely open on the deck, so you can see everything in full view.
▼There are a lot of bridges and pathways. You can really get a good look at them from below. If you're into bridge structure, this might just be for you.
Before we realized, we were already in Dontonbori. There were so many people on the streets. We waved to them and they all waved back. It sure warms the heart, doesn’t it? Maybe it was because of the dried seafood hanging from the line, but there were quite a few people doing a double take when they saw us passing by.
▼Waving to the people (Left) Entering Dotonbori (Right)
▼Looking straight up at the Glico Man! At this distance, it really is huge! I guess that’s why it's so iconic.
Feel the breeze and just relax
It gets quieter as we move away from Dotonbori. It's early March, so there's a gentle spring breeze. Here, we try the third and final sake! This one had a nice, refined taste.
▼Going on strong with the sake
Some birds like to rest in this area. You can occasionally see them running across the water. The inspiration for the name Ofune Camome actually comes from one of these birds, the black-headed gull, or yurikamome in Japanese. They come south for a short break from the cold winter in Siberia. The name was given with the hopes that passengers would be like these gulls, and enjoy a relaxing time in Osaka before moving on.
▼Some birds taking a rest.
▼A black-headed gull.
Ms. Yoshizaki then gave us some water and tea, in these containers with the Ofune Camome logo on them. It’s important to stay hydrated after all that alcohol. You can take them home if you don’t feel like drinking them right away.
▼Cute, and easy to carry!
We were having so much fun talking that we were already back in Temmabashi before I knew it. The cruise is 90 minutes, but it felt like it was over in an instant. I wanted to stay for a little while longer.
Friendly reminder. Don't forget to take your trash with you when you leave!!
▼Just as I was thinking “I don’t want this to end,” we could start to see the pier.
Time flies when you’re having fun, it’s almost time to part ways
Today’s experience was simply the best. When I usually go out, it’s in the middle of a crowded city, where I can’t really relax. But with this cruise, I was able to take things slow and just chat with some new friends. It was a refreshing change of pace.
▼We started off as strangers, but by the time we got back, we were all friends!
▼A much-needed break!
One of the charms of this boat is that it was designed to be different from the usual cruise ships. With help from a carpenter, the deck was converted into a living room. They went for cushions rather than regular seats. This gives it a more casual atmosphere and lets guests stretch their legs. It feels like you're just lounging around at home and not out on some ship.
By the way, Captains Nakano and Yoshizaki are actually married, and together, they operate their house on the water. No wonder it had such a mom and pop feel to it. It’s like they invited us into their home.
▼In the end, seeing their smiles was really heartwarming.
・8 passengers max for each plan
・There is a small toilet onboard in case of emergency, but we recommend that you go before departure.
・The cost includes the boarding fee, guide, inflatable belt pack(rental), accident insurance, and tax.
・Depending on weather, construction, or boat condition, changes may be made to the course or operation may be suspended.
・In case of likely changes or cancellation on our end, we will contact you by 5pm the day before. Final decisions will be made by 3 hours prior to departure. In case of rain, we recommend rescheduling to another date.
・There is no cancellation fee incurred if due to rain.
・Feel free to bring food and drinks aboard. We just ask that you please take the trash with you when you leave.
・Follow the captain/staff’s instructions while the boat is in operation, when boarding/disembarking, and in emergency situations.
・Please do not stand up during boat operation
・Please wear the inflatable belt pack. (Worn around the waist and inflates upon pulling the cord).
・The captain reserves the right to refuse service to persons they deem to be a danger. For example, people who are heavily intoxicated or carrying dangerous items.
・Please arrive on time.
・Please be aware of the weather and dress appropriately.