Tokyo was once a city that lived by its rivers and canals. During the Edo period almost all commerce came to the capital on waterways. As wheeled transport, particularly the railways, grew, the rivers and canals declined.
In recent years, the city’s main river, the Sumida, has been cleaned up to an extent, and river traffic is on the increase again. A little-seen A view of Tokyo is available on the river trip from Hama Detached Palace Garden to Asakusa in Northern Tokyo. The boat squeezes though a gate in the sea wall into the open water where the Sumida river meets the salt water of Tokyo Bay.
Hinode Pier is the first stop – it is also possible to start from here, and to take a number of other trips around Tokyo Bay. From Hinode the boat starts back up the river, passing first between Tsukiji and Tsukuda island, which escaped the worst of the World War II bombing and remains a center of old Edo culture. During the trip the boat passes under 12 bridges, each painted a different color. It is still possible to glimpse people in the narrow parks that line most of the banks beyond the sea walls. Near Asakusa there are long, low boats that also take out groups for lantern-lit evening cruises.
Sumida River Trip
Map 5 C4, 4 F3. 4 about every 40 mins; from Hama Detached Palace Garden 10:20am–4:20pm; from Asakusa 9:45am–3:45pm