Cruising Tokyo’s waterways

Tokyo city views with Tokyo Tower and Tokyo Skytree in the same picture

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.

Started at the centuries old Asakusa district
Forgotten waterway
Unicorn Gundam protecting the bay

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.

Eitai-bashi Bridge with Tokyo Skytree in the back
Chuo-ohashi Bridge

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.

The futuristic Himiko docked at Odaiba
The design of the Himiko and onboard commentary was inspired by the Japanese manga Galaxy Express 999 by Leiji Matsumoto

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.

The iconic Kaminarimon Gate
Nakamise Shopping street which leads to the pagoda and Sensoji Temple
Asahi headquarters and the Tokyo Skytree juxtaposing modern architectural views with traditional Asakusa
Housing along the Sumidagawa
Unloading docks at Tsukiji Fish Market
A copy of the gift from France to the USA in the foreground and the Eiffel Tower-inspired Tokyo Tower in the background
Rainbow Bridge, Tokyo city and Tower Tokyo
One of the few beaches in Tokyo, but swimming is not allowed here due to water pollutants

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.

Second boat to Toyosu with Rainbow Bridge at the back
Future site of the Olympic Village
Toyosu Market
Unexpected view of Tokyo Skytree on the way to Toyosu
Visitors enjoying the sunny day out in front of Lalaport Toyosu
Underground entrance to Tokyo Midtown Hibiya
Love the color scheme here which also reminded me of the interior at Hankyu Umeda in Osaka
Quirky stores and retro designs in a modern mall
Rooftop terrace at Tokyo Midtown Hibiya offers greenery and park views
Godzilla welcomes you to Tokyo Midtown Hibiya

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.

Looking down the bustling Nakamise Shopping Street
Saying goodbye to modern Odaiba
Imperial Palace and the east garden from the roof terrace at Tokyo Midtown Hibiya