Saturday the 23rd of May marked this yearâ€™s annual Biwa boat cruise and what a delight it was. We set sail at dusk in the balmy evening aboard the Michigan paddle steamer on Lake Biwa. Truly picturesque.
First a group-picture at the port that your author only just managed to arrive in time for due to scheduling conflicts – truly the tourists of Gion move at a relaxed pace, before we lined up in a mostly orderly fashion and boarded our glittering vessel. From this point we scattered finding different places to spend our three hours, some to the top deck to experience the breeze and view, others to the gallery where the live band would eventually play. More still found the cocktail lounge throwing back to the 1960s with its plush green interior and the rest securing various seats and leaning spaces to watch the coast roll past. Rarely did we stay still for long. The Michigan is as much fun to explore as it is to party on.
Two bars – one for basic drinks and various items of a fried nature and the other for cocktails and more aged spirits were there to nourish us and keep us well and truly marinated. The band that played for us was both skilled and energetic with the kind of look that one of your more embarrassing aunts might call â€œdashingâ€. The staff were helpful and friendly; for example they understood exactly what your author meant when she couldnâ€™t remember the word muscat and resorted to calling her drink â€œthe pink oneâ€. Finally of course the weather was spectacular, clear skies, a gentle breeze and mild temperatures meaning that none of us saw our poised and polished looks ruined by awkward sweat patches and over-zealous â€œwind-blownâ€ looks.
All dressed to impress and we certainly did scrub up well. Ladies flitting across the decks, dresses and jewels fluttering in the breeze and gents striding about in suits and swagger. Something about boats brings out the pirate lords in all of us perhaps? Compliments and well-wishes washed around us on our well-chosen finery while old friends caught up on fresh gossip. Maybe it was the weather or drinks but there was very little negativity on that lake adventure.
When we docked en mass we made our way to the delights of Kyotoâ€™s nightlife, we found bars and clubs and restaurants about to encourage our escapades. When we all finally retired in the wee hours of the mourn I believe few of us were left unsatisfied.
We danced, we laughed, we talked, we drank and were merry. There is no other way to describe the night other than an enjoyment. Not spectacular or life-changing sure but sometimes a night well spent with friends is worth more than any kind of â€œjourney.â€ For those on board, hopefully it will be a JET experience to treasure.