Hikawa Maru (氷川丸) is a Japanese ocean liner that was built for the Nippon Yusen KK line by the Yokohama Dock Company. She was launched on 30 September 1929, and made her maiden voyage from Kobe to Seattle on 13 May 1930. She is one of three sister ships, all named after important Shinto shrines, Hikawa Shrine being located in Saitama. The other two, both lost in the war, were Heian Maru and Hie Maru.
The service provided on the ship was famous for combining splendid food and beautiful art deco interiors. She was often referred to as the Queen of the Pacific. Charlie Chaplin and Kano Jigoro (founder of Judo) are amongst the ship’s more notable former passengers.
In 1941, before Japan’s entry to the World War II the Hikawa Maru was used by Jewish refugees escaping the Nazis via Japan. Reuben Goossens reports Zorach Warhaftig’s experience about the ship. Zorach together with his family left from Yokohama on the Hikawa Maru on 5 June 1941 for Vancouver, Canada. He describes the trip as “a summer vacation and with the war seeming to be so far away” although, he said “I didn’t have a peaceful mind because of the strong responsibility I had to help the Jewish refugees with the troubles they faced.”
After Japan’s entry to the war Hikawa Maru became a hospital ship, and as a result, she ultimately survived the Allied campaign against the Japanese merchant fleet. After the end of the war she was used by the U.S. for troop repatriation until 1947. Afterwards the Hikawa Maru was returned to Japan and carried cargo between Japan and the US.
In 1954 she was taken out of service, but following a refit she returned to carrying passengers across the Pacific. Falling passenger numbers due to the growth of air travel led to the eventual termination of the service in 1960.
In 1961 Hikawa Maru became a floating youth hostel and museum permanently berthed at Yokohama.
In December 2006 the Hikawa Maru museum was closed and doubts about her future were raised. Happily, NYK Line began the restoration of the Hikawa Maru in August 2007, and the ship was reopened to the public on 25 April 2008, the vessel’s 78th birthday.
Everybody come to watch the Hikawa Maru, even little rabbit
How to go there?