The Sumida River flows through Tokyo, running 17 miles (27 kilometers) around the city and passing under 26 bridges. It branches from the Arakawa River at Iwabuchi and flows into Tokyo Bay. The river is a great place to go on a boat cruise passing under the colorful bridges, viewing the Tokyo Skytree and the Tokyo Tower, going past Shinto shrines and getting closer to Tokyo’s river born heritage where the vibrant river systems served as the arteries through which its commerce flowed from the Edo period to the present day.
You can take advantage of the river cruises while visiting Asakusa where you can sail down the river to the Hamarikyu Gardens. Alternatively, you can cruise across Tokyo Bay, traveling from old-fashioned Asakusa to the modern amusements of the man-made island of Odaiba. The Tokyo Cruise Ship Company offers various types of cruises to choose from: http://www.suijobus.co.jp/index.html.
Among Sumida’s 26 bridges, the major ones include:
The Ryogoku Bridge: The present bridge dates back to 1932 having replaced the bridge built in 1659. This bridge was immortalized many times by Utagawa Hiroshige, a well-known Japanese Ukiyoe artist.
The Eitai Bridge: Dates back to 1924 when it replaced a bridge that was constructed there in 1696.
The Senju Bridge: Dates back to 1921 and replaced a bridge constructed in 1594, which had served as the only bridge across the river for a long period of time.
The Sakura Bridge: One of the newer bridges dating back to only 1985.
The Kototoi Bridge: Dates back to 1928 and was reconstructed at the location of the bridge which originally linked two nearby temples, the Mimeguri-Jinja and the Matsuchiyama-shoden.
The Azuma Bridge: Dates back to 1931 and replaced the bridge which stood at that location since 1774. This bridge is closest to the Asakusa Station and the Kaminari Gate.
The Komagata Bridge: Dates back to 1927 and takes its name from the Matsugata Temple dedicated to the patron goddess of horses.
The Umaya Bridge: Dates back to 1929 and replaced the bridge that was built in 1875.
The Kuramae Bridge: Dates back to 1927 and is 570 ft. long and 70 ft. wide. It includes six traffic lanes and wide sidewalks. Large stone piers support the arches and the bridge decks.
The Shin Ohashi Bridge: Dates back to 1976 and replaced the bridge that was originally built in 1693.
The Kiyosu Bridge: Dates back to 1928 and was modeled after the Deutz Suspension Bridge in Cologne, Germany.
The Chuo Bridge: Was constructed in 1994 and is the newest of all of the bridges which cross the Sumida River.
The Tsukuda Bridge: Dates back to 1964 and was the first bridge built after World War II, crossing the river from the Tsukiji to Tsukishima.
The Kachidoki Bridge: Dates back to 1940 and was constructed to commemorate the victory of the Japanese Army at Lushun during the Russo-Japanese War. This bridge is the only drawbridge on the Sumida River but it has not been raised since 1970.
As you are cruising the river and passing under the various bridges, see if you can identify the ones listed above.
Each year on the last Saturday in July, The Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival takes place. The festival is a revival of the celebrations that were held during the Edo period. Similar events take place at the same time of year at other locations throughout Japan. The great summer festival atmosphere that accompanies the fireworks draws close to a million celebrants, many of whom are dressed in yukatas. Folks stroll around in Asakusa, especially around Sensoji Temple and patronize the food vendors and game stalls lining the streets. In addition, many of restaurants in the area provide outdoor seating where you can enjoy delicious food while watching the fireworks.
The best places to view the fireworks display are right along the Sumida River itself. One area stretches from the Sakura Bridge to the Kototoi Bridge while another is located downstream of the Komagata Bridge stretching down to the Umaya Bridge. It is advisable to get there early as these prime spots are taken up rather quickly.
One of many floating restaurants on the river where patrons can sit on tatami enjoying good food & drink
The Tokyo Skytree and the Asahi Beer buildings along the Sumida River
Tokyo’s unique architecture