Not much has been written over the years, on this site or elsewhere, about Japanese ocean liners. In fact, when one thinks about transpacific travel, the lines that most readily come to mind are Canadian Pacific, American Presidents and Matson. Still, at least in the years leading up to World War II, Japanese liners were major players on the Pacific.
Embedded below is a short video of a surviving pre-war Japanese liner, Nippon Yusen KK Line’s Hikawa Maru, which has been preserved as a floating museum in Yokohama harbor. The liner was launched on 30 September 1929, and made her maiden voyage from Kobe to Seattle on 13 May 1930. According to a Wikipedia listing, ”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.” Prior to Japan’s 1941 entry into World War II, Hikawa Maru also apparently played a role in helping Jewish refugees escape Nazi Germany.