What an interesting experience a visit to the Nippon Maru is. Docked just in front of Sakuragicho Station (Yes!), directly below the Landmark Tower, this beautiful schooner really brings a touch of class to the entire Minato Mirai area.
Like most ships, she has quite a history. Built in 1930 (that makes her over 80 years old!) as a training ship, she has been used to do just that: In her 54 years of service, almost 12,000 cadets learned the ins and outs of sailing on her. She also put in her miles, having sailed the equivalent of 45.5 trips around the globe. That is just short of 2 million kilometers!
After her retirement in 1984, Yokohama City made space for her in Minato Mirai—what a stroke of genius that was! She is now open to the public, who are free to walk up and down her decks, read about her history in more detail, and see what life on a ship is really like.
The ship itself is gorgeous, with big white sails, wooden decks that shine with polish, and ropes and knots and other ship stuff that is very impressive. There are even volunteers on board to answer your questions, and explain how the various parts of the ship actually work. Below deck, we can walk through and view a Cadet’s Room, the Officer’s Day Room, the Officer’s Saloon (cheers!), the Bridge, and so on.
Through out the year, numerous events are held, the most impressive being a Full-sail Exhibition where the ship’s beautiful white sails are unfurled to the sky and blow in the wind. It is quite a sight, especially when you realize that she is sitting square in the middle of one of Japan’s most famous hotel and shopping areas! Other events include Brass Band Concerts given by local high schools or amateur bands, and even a flea market—how fun is that?!
Of course, your enjoyment of the ship and all of these events will depend on how lucky or unlucky you are with the weather. But if is a sunny day, go there and enjoy yourself for 30 minutes!