Hikawa Maru

You never think of it like this, but the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor began the effective destruction of virtually all of Japan's massive merchant marine. By the time the second of two American atom bombs had wrought its devastation to Japanese city and countryside, and the Empire of Japan lay a prostrate wreck before victorious Allies, only one prewar Japanese passenger ship was still afloat.

That was the HIKAWA MARU, one of three cute eleven thousand ton passenger and cargo liners built in 1930 for the Yokohama to Seattle run. Only white paint, a green line around her hull, and several big red crosses kept this baby from joining her sisters in any form of happy dispatch.


The Hikawa Maru was the only large Japanese Ocean liner to survive WWII.  She was built at Mitsubishi Shipyards for the Nippon Yusen Kaisha Line and served on the Yokohama - Seattle - Vancouver route.  The ship was popular among it’s guests and was even called “the Queen of Pacific” with a reputation of having great food.

On that route, she made 238 trips transporting 25 000 passengers until the war broke out on December 7, 1941.  The Hikawa Maru was commandeered by the Imperial Japanese Navy and turned into a troop transport vessel, and then a hospital ship. 

The Hikawa Maru was powered by B&W diesels capable of 11,000 hp which drove twin screws at a service speed of 17 knots.  Because she was not a war ship, she carried little armament and no AA protection.  Being the only large ocean transport liner to survive, the was sized by the U.S. government following the war.

She was turned back into a passenger transport vessel making various routs from Japan to North America.  Briefly between 1947 and 1953, she was used as a freighter transporting goods from Japan to the American East Coast.  She resumed passenger service during 1953 until 1960. 

The Hikawa Maru became a floating museum and hotel at Yokohama in 1961 to commemorate the centenary of the Port of Yokohama. Though she no longer serves as a hotel, the Hikawa Maru remains as a restaurant popular attraction site today.