A river is not the first thing people think off when you say Tokyo but the city like many others around the world is built around one. Like the others you can take a river cruise along it to get a completely different perspective of the city too.
I took a afternoon Sumida river tour, which included entry to the Tokyo World Trade Centre and a bus tour around a few tourist attractions in the ticket price online which seemed to be the same price as booking it on location (but you can pay with your own home currency). It’s available on Wednesday and Sundays currently.
The tour starts with entry to the world trade centre observation deck 152M above the ground. You can get a great view of Tokyo tower (above) from here, even if the weather is poor like it was on the cold November day I went. Be quick to have a look around though, the 20 minutes here goes fast, especially if you want to take a few nice photos and enjoy the view. It’s one of the better places I’ve viewed Tokyo from, and really gives an idea of just how big the city is.
Next everyone is shuffled onto a bright yellow bus like a herd of sheep for the first time. I wasn’t aware it was a bus tour at this time as I booked it online but I was thankful I wouldn’t be walking out in the rain. We was driven through Ginza and to the Imperial palace, which I’ve covered a bit before, so I won’t go into detail, but you get a outside view from one angle in the 40 minute allowance.
After the view of one long side of a wall and a cheerful looking guard in his enviable shelter we returned to the yellow bus of tourism and made way to Asakusa, one of the nicer looking and packed parts of Tokyo. I can’t remember the amount of time we got here but as it’s easy to spend half a day here, it wasn’t enough, which would be my biggest criticism of the tour. The main road to Sensoji (Asakusa temple) has too many good smells and attractive colours to walk in a straight line to make it to the temple, not to mention there is always a queue there to get in. If you look right when you arrive it’s also the first decent chance to spot Tokyo Sky Tree.
Then it was time for the grand finale, the river cruise itself. The meeting point is opposite the Asahi building, which has the golden sperm on top which is supposed to look like the frothy top of a beer and prepare for the journey. The boat itself is quite modern inside, I had a look around everywhere, and the best view is definitely from the back. The front is blocked off a bit, the side offers only one side view. The bottom area (for me anyway) was filled with people smoking, and the top with tourists. The back has a open window, so its much clearer to view outside and see both sides of the river from.
I went with the afternoon tour which meant the river cruise was in the dark. The good news is you get to see all the lights on at night, something Tokyo is good at doing. There is a morning tour which I’m sure gives a different feel entirely for the river cruise as it will all be via daylight as I suspect a few more boats will be out on the water.
Finally back on land (walking past the magnificent old fishing boat below), the bus was there to greet us and take us the short drive back to the start. The tour price also includes hotel pick up and drop off but you need to change bus to do this, making it very good value for money overall and well worth doing if you’re short on time but want to soak up a few major sights in a afternoon.