Beautiful Sumidagawa River near Asakusa or Shinagawa Tokyo. Japan from a river view is truly lovely.
Honestly, when I hear the word "Yakatabune", what comes up in my mind first is; a night river cruise in a decent sized house boat with inner tables, legless chairs installed on a tatami floor in it, where, you are probably with your close friends or good colleagues at work, and will be served traditional Japanese cuisines; Sushi, Sashimi raw fish, and Tempura, and, of course, Sake; Japanese rice wine as well during a cruise, then you will also enjoy night views, and skylines downtown building seen from a boat....Sounds wonderful, doesn't it?
Though this is certainly something quite familiar with, typical about, or even a stereotypical image of "Yakatabune" when every Japanese people will think of, I don't think there are that many, who have really gone for such genuine experiences as the story above!!! Even for me as a Japanese, "Yakatabune" is still one of stuffs on my wish lists I ever want to try in the near future!
Well, given above, I would recommend, as a starter if you are really interested, and if you are around Tokyo, that you look for relatively small, and family owned kind of companies, which give "Yakatabune" cruising services in Sumida gawa River; one of the major rivers in Tokyo running through eastern part of Tokyo, and pouring into the Bay.
When I am asked to give a suggestion, I reckon you should take a look at this web site; "Yakatabune no Tatsujin" meaning "Yatabune house boat master", you will have good pieces of information about "Yakatabune" cruising services; Sorry that no translation page is avalable, but this one reall looks nice, and neat!!!
According to the site, there are 2 types of services available in general: that you share a boat with other passengers, or that you reserve a whole boat yourself for a night, and basically do what ever you like. With the former case, it'll cost 10,500 JPY for an adult with foods and beverages included !!! (sounds really good!), and with the latter, the price is the same but the group must consists of 10 or more people at a time.Mostly, you get on a boat from a station in Asakusa area, then sail down towards the Tokyo Bay, to a station in Shinagawa area, or to the one in Odaiba area, and come back vice versa.