The fast-pace of Tokyo can often saturate the senses. For a gentler sightseeing option, tour Tokyo from the water. It’s a romantic view of this magnificent city, and you have several tours to choose from.
Sumida River Line
This is one of several “water bus” routes operated by the Tokyo Cruise Ship Company. The boats leave the Azuma Bridge in Asakusa every 30-40 minutes, from 10am to sunset. They arrive at the Hinode Pier about 40 minutes later. Along the way you will pass under 12 bridges. Sights include: the green-roofed Kokugikan, the main sumo arena; Tsukiji’s Central Wholesale Market, a massive fish and vegetable center; and a fire station/boat house for emergency vessels. There is an optional stop at the Hamarikyu Detached Palace Garden, an intriguing patch of green that incorporates tidal flows. One way fare is ¥760 for adults and ¥380 for children. Admission to the gardens is ¥300. This cruise may also be reversed, beginning at Hinode Pier. You can rent a hand-held audio guide for ¥300. It’s the same recording that is played on the ship’s speakers, but you can hear it better.
View Sumida River Cruise in a larger map
The Tokyo Cruise Ship Company has another cruise from Asakusa. It offers views of wind surfers and other more historical landmarks around Tokyo Bay. The Himiko, a spaceship-like boat designed by a famous Japanese cartoonist, leaves at 10:10am, 1:20pm and 3:15pm. The destination, Odaiba Seaside Park, is described in tourist literature as “a futuristic spot with cafes, refined restaurants, and amusement halls packed with advanced technologies.” Duration: 50 minutes. Cost: ¥1520 for adults, ¥910 for children.
TRAIN DIRECTIONS: to reach the Azuma Bridge, take the Ome Line to Tachikawa and transfer to the orange Chuo Line for Tokyo. Take this train all the way to Tokyo Station. Change to the Marunouchi Subway Line and go one stop to Ginza. There, change to the Ginza Line and go 10 stops, getting off at Asakusa. The Azuma Bridge is a one-minute walk from the Asakusa subway station.
To start at Hinode Pier, board the green Yamanote Line heading for Shimbashi and Shinagawa from Tokyo station. Travel three stops to Hamamatsu-cho Station, then walk 7 minutes to the pier. Access is also possible via a one-minute walk from Hinode Station of the Yurikamome Line out of Shimbashi. Telephone: Tokyo Cruise Ship Company at 0120 977 311. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Liz Ruskin updated prices, schedules and routes, August 2011; Photos by Kelly O’Donnell, March 2013 – see comment below.
Here are some other cruises we have listed. We need someone to research and update:
(Harbor Cruise Line)
There’s also a “Harbor Cruise Line,” a 50-minute ride passing underneath the Rainbow Bridge, both starting and ending at Hinode Pier; tickets are ¥800.
(Canal Cruise Line)
The “Canal Cruise Line” runs between Hinode Pier and the Shinagawa Aquarium via the Ohi Seaside Park. A one way ticket costs ¥800. The Shinagawa Aquarium, noted for its dolphin shows, is closed Tuesdays.
To see underwater life, take a boat from Hinode Pier to Kasai Sealife Park on the other side of the bay, near Disneyland and take the train back or vice versa. Running once an hour, the cruisers stop at Tokyo Big Sight (Ariake) on the way. One-way tickets are ¥800. Admission to the Tokyo Sea Life Park is ¥800 per adult, ¥300 per child. If going by train, get off at the Kasai Rinkai Koen Station on the Keiyo Line and head toward the large glass dome.
For those looking for an evening cruise, the Tokyo Cruise Ship Company also offers a “Restaurant Boat” on certain nights during the summer. As dates and menu vary, it is wise to call and make reservations according to your desires. The cruise leaves Hinode Pier at 6:30 pm and lasts about 90 minutes; just long enough to see Tokyo Bay at night! The cost is about ¥7,200 for adults (¥4,700 for children under 12). Diane Cressman, Ann Bowers 08/97