Yakatabune dining boats using biofuel start test run in Tokyo Bay

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike, center, is seated on a yakatabune dining boat that runs on a Euglena-based biofuel, on the Sumida River in Tokyo on Tuesday.

A project to operate yakatabune dining boats with a biofuel made from algae was launched in and around Tokyo Bay on Tuesday.

According to the Tokyo metropolitan government, it is the first time in Japan to use a biofuel to run a dining pleasure boat, a popular tourist attraction representing Tokyo’s traditional culture.

The project was planned mainly by the metropolitan government and Tokyo’s pleasure boat cooperative association to make use of yakatabune to promote a biofuel made from the algae called midorimushi, or Euglena, which reduces the burden on the environment.

The fuel used is a mixture of light oil and the biofuel based on the algae and vegetable oil. It was developed by Euglena Co., which manufactures health food using Euglena.

Although the fuel generates carbon dioxide when burned, the algae absorbs the CO2 through photosynthesis. Thereby it is said to be an effectively-zero-emission fuel.

The fuel is being used by three pleasure boats in a test operation for about a week.

The vessels depart from the Asakusabashi area on the Kanda River in Tokyo’s Taito Ward, cruise to the Odaiba area in Minato Ward via the Sumida River and return to the starting point in about 2½ hours.

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike was on board one of the boats on Tuesday.

“When you think about the global environment, you become aware that biofuels are expected to play a very important part,” Koike said. “The combination with yakatabune embodies an encounter between tradition and innovation.”