By Chris Barnes
While it won’t get you from Point A to Point B quite as quickly as the train, the Tokyo Cruise Ship service (also called the Suijou Bus, or Water Bus) is the way to travel in style along the Sumida River from Asakusa. With their fleet of 11 ships on 7 routes, you can travel between 12 locations in the Tokyo Bay area, including Asakusa, Hinode Pier in Shinagawa, Hamarikyu Pier in Hamarikyu Garden, Odaiba Seaside Park, Tokyo Big Sight or Palette Town in Odaiba, and Kasai Rinkai Park.
The futuristic cruise ship Himiko is the face of the fleet, running on the Asakusa-Odaiba Direct Line. Designed by Matsumoto Leiji, the famous artist behind the manga Galaxy Express 999, characters from the series stand on Himiko’s inner deck. Other ships, such as the sophisticated Jubilee and the new samurai ship Atakemaru are also popular.
Fares are based on distance and range from 200 yen for a 5-minute trip (for example, from Hinode to Harumi Piers) to 2,000 yen (for the 70-minute ride from Asakusa to Toyosu). Atakemaru, the newest route and ship, features an “ordinary” rate of 1,000 yen for adults (1,500 for a round-trip) on its route from Hinode to Odaiba, but also has a “special room” rate of 1,500 yen (2,000 round trip) that allow you to enjoy a more comfortable ride for the 40-minute trip. Bento boxes may be reserved in advance for groups of 20 or more.
One thing to watch out for is that the water bus services end relatively early in the evening, and if you are looking to spend time at your destination, you may wish to take the train back to your lodgings. However, there’s nothing quite like a summer day on the river, passing under the Sumida Bridges. Refreshments, even alcohol, are available on the water buses and a guide will provide information about the area as you cruise. It’s a relaxing and enjoyable way to travel, and will give you a view of Tokyo that you simply can’t find anywhere else!
Was this article helpful?
When I was young, I dreamed of going overseas and having a great adventure. By the time I was in university studying Japanese, I knew that place would be Japan. After three years teaching and learning Kansai-ben in the one and only Osaka, I returned to Canada. Lately I've enjoyed blogging and writing stories about my second home, so that others can share the places I knew and loved - I'll definitely go back there someday soon.