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Cruising Tokyo’s waterways

There are a number of rivers that flow through Tokyo with many of them joining up and emptying into Tokyo Bay. Each river brings their distinct charm to the neighbourhoods they are located in, like the cherry trees along the Meguro River, the spacious riverbanks along the Edogawa River and the Sumidagawa River in central Tokyo which is flanked by buildings. Despite the network of rivers and the city's location at the mouth of Tokyo Bay, one of the oft overlooked modes of transport within Tokyo is the water bus, or suijobus as it is known in Japanese.

With my cruise timetable in hand and fortuitous good weather, I headed out with a simple mission to see a bit of Tokyo from the waterline while making sure I did not miss out on some of the city's popular tourist spots. I started in Asakusa and took the water bus down to Odaiba. From there, I took another boat to Toyosu and finally the subway back to the "mainland". The resulting itinerary was a beautiful mix of traditional and modern which kept me sufficiently entertained with lots of different views, as well as allowed me to somewhat see the progression of the country.

The main route for the suijobus starts from Asakusa and heads down the Sumidagawa into Tokyo Bay, passing 14 bridges along the way. Fans of the Japanese manga and anime Honey and Clover would recognise this route from the series. The 50 minute direct ride from Asakusa to Odaiba offers visitors a different view of the city from the water, as well as lots of chances to view Tokyo Tower and Tokyo Skytree from various angles.

Two flagship boats, the Hotaluna and Himiko provide comfortable transport as well as experiences. The Hotaluna has an open-air upper deck while the Himiko is a fully enclosed futuristic looking boat. Commentary on the boat is only provided in Japanese which details the names of the bridges, when they were constructed and the nearby sightseeing attractions.

Starting in Asakusa, I took the water bus and cruised down one of the most central rivers in Tokyo, the Sumidagawa on a fine sunny day in May. My cruise ended in Odaiba where I took the opportunity to check out the man-made island offering a wide variety of shopping and entertainment.

After some sightseeing, I hopped on another boat for the nearby Toyosu. This second boat ride took only 15 minutes passing the future Olympic Village and the soon-to-open Toyosu Market, successor to Tsukiji Fish Market before arriving at Toyosu. From there, it was a little more sightseeing before heading to Yurakucho on the Yurakucho Subway Line and visiting the new Tokyo Midtown Hibiya shopping and entertainment mall which opened on March 29, 2018.

I ended my day pleased with the sights the cruise on the waterbus afforded as well as the spots I visited. Seeing the city from the river was quite the highlight of my day as we passed under the many bridges and saw some familiar Tokyo landmarks. It was a relaxing day out, one that can be extended or shortened as required and which could also be potentially agreeable for those who prefer not to walk too much. It was all in all a great day out, one I would definitely repeat again.