Observing Tokyo on the Sumida River Boat Tours
Taking a water bus on the Sumida River, one of the most famous rivers in Tokyo, is a great experience especially for tourists visiting Japan for the first time.
Shinya ICHINOHE on Flickr
My first journey on the Sumida River was by the boat "Himiko" designed by Matsumoto Reiji. Himiko is created with an exterior similar to a space shuttle and the explanation on the boat is implemented by characters Hoshino Tetsuro and Maetel, space ship servants from the manga series "Galaxy Express 999" by Matsumoto Reiji, which make tourists, especially kids really excited.
kazamatsuri on Flickr
It is said that the Asakusa-Odaiba direct line's Himiko boats are the most popular because of their luxurious and intelligent designs. From the first stop on Asakusa to the last stop on Odaiba, there are still many on-the-way stops along the river where tourists can freely get on or off to visit famous Tokyo sites such as Ryogoku, Hama Rigyu, Odaiba Park, etc. The fare for the two-hour round trip is about ¥2000. If you prefer sightseeing on other boats, the fare differs based on pier.
Hajime NAKANO on Flickr
It's also very interesting to stand on the second floor of the boat and look at more than 10 bridges with distinctive designs at the closest distance and skyscrapers brilliantly standing on the riverbanks.
Stuart Rankin on Flickr
If you visit Tokyo during cherry blossom season when they are in full bloom, you will be able to see the lines of cherry blossom trees brightly blooming under the sunshine. Even weekdays, there are still a lot of people coming to enjoy the romantic and fragile beauty of light, pinky cherry flowers. We saw a flock of seagulls joyfully soaring in the sky and followed our boat till our last stop on Ryogoku. Tourists were very happy to see those gulls flying and tumbling next to the boat. Sometimes they landed on the surface of the water and then flew ahead to perch on the bridge polls. Observing life from the boat floating along the Sumida River was very peaceful with the flock of wild sparrows joyfully playing under the sunshine, the boisterous shrills of big crows on branches, the cherry blossoms surrounding us, the picnickers eating their boxed lunches, the amateur artists sketching their portraits, etc.
Moreover, the tourists can shoot panoramic photos of the Asahi Building, Skytree Tower, The Rainbow Bridge, Fuji Film Building, etc. which could not possibly be taken if they travelled by subways or buses.
The Tokyo water bus (the company's name: Tokyo Cruise Ship co. Ltd) is a company of cruise ships mainly operating on the Sumida River and Tokyo Bay. Standing on the second floor of water buses can help tourists view the panoramic of Tokyo from the river, which can give you a special point on your trip to Tokyo.
Information About the Water Buses in Tokyo
The main boat lines for sightseeing are Sumidagawa Line, Shougun Line and Skytree Line. If tourists choose Sumidagawa line, it will take 40 minutes to from Asakusa to Hinode. On their way, tourists can see bridges with unique designs such as Azumabashi and Kiyosubashi. The sightseeing spots and remnants are also introduced through the loudspeakers on the boats, so tourists can understand about modern Tokyo and ancient Tokyo at the same time. As for Shogun Line where tourists can go around Tokyo bay by Gozabune Atakemaru boats which were modelled after the military boats created under the command of Tokugawa Iemitsu in 1632. Tourists can have meals on the boats or celebrate parties if the seats are reserved. Plus, if tourists take Skyline Line, they can certainly view Skytree—one of the highest broadcasting towers in the world and considered a symbol of Tokyo—from good corners on the boats. There are also rental services of audio explanations in English, Chinese, Korean and Japanese.
screenpunk on Flickr
Closest Stations to The Piers
If you would like to get on Tokyo water bus at Ryogoku Pier, you should take Asakusa subway line because Ryogoku Pier is about a 3 minute walk from Ryogoku subway station. To depart from Hinode Pier, the closest station is Hinode of Yurikamome line. Hamarikyu Pier, can be reached from Shinbashi station after 12 minutes walking.