Off the Beaten Path in Tokyo: Sumida River

Tokyo’s Sumida River (隅田川) branches out from the Arakawa River at Iwabuchi and flows directly into Tokyo Bay. It passes through the Tokyo wards of Kita, Adachi, Arakawa, Sumida, Taito, Koto, and Chuo. The river meanders for 27 kilometers and runs under 26 bridges which are spaced about a kilometer per bridge. Some of the more popular bridges are the Ryogoku-bashi which was built in 1932, the Nihon-bashi that dates all the way back to the 17th Century, and the Tsukuda Bridge which was built in 196 (the first bridge built after WWII).

Sumida River at night | Ian Muttoo

The Sumida River was the original route for the trade and commerce industry, and it played a major part in the success of Tokyo. The best way to experience the allure and history of the Sumida River is by joining a river cruise, of which there are several options. The ride gives you a glimpse of the rich history of Japan’s diverse culture, and how the Japanese commerce and industry developed because of the river, making the city the center of a thriving trading port.

Although there are several places to begin the cruise, a great starting point would be the Hinode Pier on the Yurikamome line. You can take a scenic route to Asakusa and Sensoji Temple, and bask at the gorgeous sights as you pass by the Hamarikyu Japanese Gardens. Taking the Sumida River Line route will let you escape the hustle and bustle of city life and transport you back in time through the lush greenery and tranquil waters.

You can also explore the river by taking the Himiko Water Bus. This cruise can begin by showing you the old atmosphere of Edo along Asakusa and you can cap your day off by exploring the shops and amusement parks in Odaiba. The Himiko boats are constructed to look like futuristic vessels that allow you an unobstructed view through their large wall to wall windows. As the sun sets, the lights on the ship will add to the aura of mystique and enchantment.

Himiko Water Bus | jetalone

What to See Along the Sumida River

The river cruise will allow you to see some of the famous sights in Tokyo, such as the Tsukiji Fish Market, the Kokugikan, which is the Tokyo Grand Sumo Tournament Arena, and the Asahi beer headquarters. The Sumida River Fireworks Display, one of the most popular fireworks festivals in Japan, is held around the middle of every year and is not to be missed. It can be viewed downstream of Sakurabashi Bridge to upstream of Kototoibashi Bridge, and from downstream of Komagatabashi Bridge to upstream of Umayabashi Bridge.

Sumida River Fireworks Festival | localjapantimes