Osaka Brand Committee
Biolgical field
Water city
Have a Seat Near the River-- Launching the "Kitahama Terrace" Project (Part 3)
Have a Seat Near the River-- Launching the "Kitahama Terrace" Project (Part 2)
Have a Seat Near the River-- Launching the "Kitahama Terrace" Project (Part 1)
Tourism in the Water Capital--Connecting and Expanding via River Cruises
Cherry Blossom in the Water Capital--A Beauty That Has Returned After a Long Winter of Hardship
Living in the Water Capital--Improving Water Quality to Make Osaka a Better Home (Part 2)
Living in the Water Capital--Improving Water Quality to Make Osaka a Better Home (Part 1)
Enjoy a Cup of Tea at the Water Capital--New Restaurants Transform the Riverfront into a Destination for Fine Dining
Future View of the Water Capital--A Prologue to Revitalization
Osaka Kaleidoscope
Water city
#6 Tourism in the Water Capital--Connecting and Expanding via River Cruises

The long-awaited opening of the new Hachikenyahama Port

 This spring, the newly renovated Hachikenyahama Port opened on the Okawa River as a new symbolic hub for tourism in the water capital. Just as a kanji character for port ("minato") is composed of two parts that mean "water" and "town," the new Hachikenyahama Port is directly linked to Tenmabashi Station on the Keihan Line and is expected to serve as a new connecting point between the land and the sea of Osaka.
 In the past, Hachikenyahama flourished as a terminal for major water transportation that connected Osaka and Kyoto, such as Sanjikkoku-bune boats and steam boats. It was also a starting point of the route for the Kumano pilgrimage, which was so popular until modern times that it was often said that there was a stream of pilgrims that resembled marching ants heading toward Kumano. At that time, boats and ports were important means for long-distance travel.
 "Dai-Osaka Kanko," a promotional video that the former Osaka City Electricity Office made in the early Showa Period, shows a small sightseeing boat named Suito (Water Capital) cruising through the city. In the video, after loading passengers near Yodoyabashi, the boat breezes through tourist points, from the Japan Mint to the Central Public Hall to Nakanoshima Park, along with a narration by an attendant called a "Marine Girl." It was also the sightseeing boat that supported tourism in the city during the Dai-Osaka era.

A picture of Hachikenyahama from the early Meiji Period that shows an inn, willow trees, and street lights. An office of the river police was located nearby. "Yodogawa Orai " (Koyo Shobo)

Yodogawa steam boat in the early Meiji Period. It connected Hachikenya and Fushimi three times a day. Painted by ukiyoe artist Hasegawa Sadanobu (the first). Kobe City Museum

A scene from "Dai-Osaka Kanko" that captures the Suito cruising near Nakanoshima.

Also a scene from "Dai-Osaka Kanko," showing passengers boarding Suito. The young woman in a uniform in the center is a "Marine Girl."

A sightseeing boat as a major drawing card for Osaka tourism

 In recent years, water transport companies have joined local efforts to take tourism in the water city to the next level. Ipponmatsu Kaiun is one of them:
 "It all began with our strong desire to revitalize Osaka," says the company official about the reason why they started sightseeing cruise services. One major challenge was to develop a boat that can be operated at anytime through the so-called "water corridor," where rivers and canals run and surround the central area of the city, regardless of the water level. The company designed a new boat that can lower its height when it goes under a low bridge. In spring 2003, in collaboration with JR West and the Osaka Convention & Tourism Bureau, the company launched a series of "Naniwa Tanken Cruises," whose highlight is a live guide service by popular rakugo storytellers. The cruise has gradually become popular as the city continues the promotion of its water capital project. Today, the cruise boasts a high operating rate, filling over 80 percent of the capacity on average. Among the over 25,000 passengers that use the boat annually, about 80 percent of them are tourists from outside Osaka, including many repeat visitors. "Osaka is behind other cities, such as Kyoto, Nara, and Kobe, in an effort to attract tourists," says the official of Ipponmatsu. "It will be our great pleasure if our Naniwa Tanken Cruise becomes a trigger to encourage more people to visit and stay in Osaka."
 Last October, a promotion council named Osaka City Cruise was formed by eight local companies, including Osaka Suijyo Bus that runs water bus services, Osaka Mizukaido 808 (NPO) that operates yakatabune (houseboat) cruises and amphibian bus tours, and other cruising companies. With the support by Kansai Electric Power, JR West, and other major, Osaka-based businesses, as well as public institutions, the Osaka City Cruise has started as a grand project that brings citizens, local businesses, and local government together to improve the attraction of Osaka as the water capital. "We now have a nice river port, but it is useless without good boats," says one of the members of the council. "What each of us does may be small, but we are aware that all of us are playing an important role in rejuvenating Osaka. We are determined to unite our efforts to promote the water capital."
 Available tourism components on land are now linked by river cruising boats via the ports, and this provides quite a unique factor to Osaka tourism. The development of the river cruising industry can also generate new possibilities of forming a collaboration between city tourism and the bay areas, as well as surrounding major cities such as Fushimi and Hirakata.

A scene from the opening ceremony for Hachikenyahama Port on March 29, 2008. It is these ships and boats that are supporting the growth of the river cruising industry in Osaka today.

The newly opened Hachikenyahama Port. The port is directly linked to Tenmabashi Station (on the ticket gate floor) of the Keihan Line.

 One of the attractions of Osaka is its friendly atmosphere and relaxed hospitality. Visitors come to Osaka with the expectation of meeting and communicating with people. River cruises can provide tourists with a great opportunity for such an experience. People gather on the deck and have fun together on the boat. This should be the way that tourism heads in the water capital.

April 24, 2008
Takuji Kobayashi
member of the board of directors, Suito Osaka-Mizubenomachi Saisei Project

●Osaka City Cruise

 A promotion council formed by eight local companies, most of which are cruise ship companies. Members include Ipponmatsu Kaiun, Ipponmatsu Kisen, Osaka Suijyo Bus, Osaka Yakatabune, Osaka Mizukaido 808, Captain Line, BANPR, and Mikami Yusen. (only available in Japanese)

●Town Management Organization "Fushimi Yume-Kobo"

 Town Management Organization "Fushimi Yume-Kobo" The Town Management Organization aims to promote the revitalization of businesses in the Fushimi area. Area guide maps and jikkoku-bune and sanjikkoku-bune cruise timetables are available on the website.
Fushimi Port once flourished as a hub for the sanjikkoku-bune route that connected Kyoto and Osaka. Teradaya, a historic inn at which Ryoma Sakamoto was a regular guest, is located along the route.

●Kagiya Museum

 Kagiya was formerly an inn for travelers of the sanjikkoku-bune route that connected Kyoto and Osaka during the Edo Period. The building has been transformed into a museum that introduces the history of Yodo River transportation. Water buses and yakatabune (houseboats) have conducted several test cruises, gradually tightening the connection between Osaka and Hirakata via the Yodo River. available in Japanese)

Author Profile
Takuji Kobayash
While working as a landscape designer, Kobayashi participates in various activities to stimulate community development and discover and utilize local attractions at the eye level of citizens. He is a member of the board of directors of the Suito Osaka-Mizubenomachi Saisei Project (Mizube NPO) and also a representative of the Amenicity Osaka Network. Licensed professional engineer (architecture: urban and local development, architectural environment).