It's a refreshing alternative to the ubiquitous Tokyo summertime beer garden - a beer party on a boat. The boat is quite big, with a capacity of 1500 partygoers spread out over six decks, including an event stage and dance floor, private party spaces and dining areas. The beer is standard-issue lager, but it's all you can drink for the duration of the two-hour cruise, for a set price of Y2500. If you're not a beer drinker you can opt for wine, cocktails or soft drinks instead.
"But why is it called the 'Yukata Cruise'?" you ask. Well, if you're willing to wear a yukata for the evening, and it's a weeknight (Monday through Thursday), the price drops from Y2500 to Y1500. As a result, a good percentage of party people come dressed in traditional summertime garb, adding a very festive feel to the proceedings.
The boat sets off every evening at 7:15pm (boarding and drinking start at 7) from Takeshiba Pier, near Hamamatsucho station. It then steams down Tokyo Bay past the Rainbow Bridge, Odaiba and Haneda Airport before turning around and heading back to dock again at 9pm. While you're onboard you can watch the J-pop-fueled yukata dance show in the event space, or just hang out on the open-air upper deck and enjoy the cool breezes and the changing view. At 8:30 the dancefloor opens to the public and the music switches to R&B and Motown.
Inexpensive snacks are available at various spots throughout the boat, or if you prefer to sit down while you eat you can opt for the cruise dinner plan (Y3705 per person for food and drink, for groups of four or more). As with beer gardens, the beer cruise is more fun if you bring your own group with you, and various discounted party plans are offered on the website to encourage this. The cruise is scheduled to run every night of the summer, this year (2012) from July 2 to September 23.