めちゃくちゃMechakucha Rotating Header Image

Suijo Bus to Asakusa

The Suijo Bus is a tourist ferry with a different few routes along the Sumida River and on Tokyo Bay, and is a great way to see Tokyo from another aspect that many people don’t see.  It’s a good reminder that Tokyo is actually a waterfront city, which is easy to forget when in many of Tokyo’s major districts. 

But Tokyo Bay is no Sydney Harbour, and you need to look for the subtle and smaller things to take maximum enjoyment.

The Suijo Bus at Hinode Pier

My Suijo Bus ride started at Hinode Pier, near Hamamatsu-cho station, and chugged up the Sumida River to Asakusa.  Rainbow Bridge was not far from Hinode Pier, although the rainy season haze made the view not that exciting.

Rainbow Bridge

The ride took around 40 minutes, first passing the back of Tsukiji Market (but since the tuna are not swimming around Tokyo Bay, there’s not a lot to see).  The river banks were lined with tall concrete buildings, many with a good view along the river.  If only the same could be said for the architecture of some of these buildings.  As we passed Ryogoku, a wall on one bank was lined with murals depicting sumo – since Ryogoku is home to Kokugikan sumo stadium.  Sorry, but I was sitting on the wrong side of the boat to get any photos of them.

We passed numerous canals feeding into the river, many of which seem to be used by service boats.  Old bridges create images of bygone days, whether industrial or even something a little more grand.  One of the bridges we passed under carries the Sobu train line to Chiba, which I used to ride often during my university exchange days – seeing this from a new perspective gave me a new sense of how this part of Tokyo fits together.

Bridges along Sumida River

Bridges along Sumida River

More bridges along the Sumida River

The architecture is not always beautiful.

Some of the architecture was not so inspiring

And some architecture is more temporary – here some homeless people have set up some fairly robust looking shelters.  I think that homeless peoples’ shelters have always been quite visible in Tokyo, but anecdotally, there seem to be more in recent times due to the state of the economy.

Some of the local homeless population have set up some very robust shelters along the river banks

As we reached Asakusa, one of Tokyo’s more infamous landmarks became visible.  This is the Asahi Beer head office, along with the sculpture of the golden, well, you work it out.

DSCN4267

Asakusa is old Tokyo gentrified.  Its most famous landmark is Kaminari-mon (Thunder Gate), at the entrance to Senso-ji.  It’s always busy on weekend, and there seems to be a higher density of foreign tourists here than anywhere else in Tokyo.  I had a quick manju from a street stall before fleeing.

Kaminari-mon in Asakusa

Sensoji in Asakusa

After leaving Asakusa, it was off to Nipponbashi.  This grand building is the original Mitsukoshi Department Store, and still the flagship store.  It was Japan’s first department store, built in 1914.  This area was once Tokyo’s central retail district, but has faded away since Ginza and other districts flourished.

The Mitsukoshi Department Store near Nipponbashi.  This is the Mitsukoshi original and flagship store, and was the first department store built in Japan in 1914.  The local subway station is even named after it.

This is Nihonbashi – Nihon Bridge.  In the Edo period, it used to be the official start of 5 major long distance roads in Japan, including the famous Tokaido to Kyoto. The current bridge dates back to 1911, but the vista is not helped by the 1960s overhead expressway running up the moddle of the river and which was built in the name of progress.

 

This is Nipponbashi, although not the original from the 1600s!

2 Comments

  1. JapanSoc says:

    Tokyo Tourism – under the Sumida River bridges to Asakusa…

    Spend a lazy afternoon in Tokyo by catching the SuijoBus to Asakusa, along the Sumida River….

  2. […] boats cruising along here before, but there are now “Suijo Buses” (not only Tokyo has a Suijo Bus) and other tourist boats that take people through the rivers and canals of Osaka.  The two kids […]

Leave a Reply