My Tokyo Guide
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Updated: August 30, 2023
The watercraft which come and go through Tokyo’s rivers and along the waterfront range from small dinghies to massive liners. There are almost as many boats as there are ways to enjoy them, from the water bus, with a design from the not-too-distant future, to the yakatabune pleasure boats which brim with the spirit of old Tokyo. Trying out the many riverboat cruises is just one way to enjoy your time in the city.
A network of riverboats, or water buses, serve Tokyo Bay and the Sumida River connecting Odaiba and Asakusa. The different cruise lines follow slightly different routes, but all offer prime views of Tokyo landmarks such as TOKYO SKYTREE, Rainbow Bridge, and the unusually-shaped Asahi Group Headquarters Building. Taking the route from Kasai Rinkai Park to Odaiba, you will be able to see the Tokyo Gate Bridge, Tokyo Bay, and planes arriving and departing from Haneda Airport.
Regular Water Bus Routes
Manga and anime artist Leiji Matsumoto was inspired by the image of a teardrop when designing this futuristic-looking cruise boat.
Also the work of Leiji Matsumoto, Hotaluna was designed to look like a spacecraft. The design includes a viewing deck, and at night the ship lights up the Sumida river with a firefly-like luminescence.
Go back to old Japan in a yakatabune. These uniquely Japanese party boats are a reminder of Tokyo’s forgotten past. At night, when the paper lanterns are lit, the riverboat takes on an eerie, ethereal atmosphere of the old city. Not only available for private rental, but some Yakatabune offer shared tours.
As dusk falls, dinner cruises set sail along the Sumida River and out to Tokyo Bay for views of the glittering skyline. There are a variety of cruises and operators, but dinner cruises tend to be popular and will need to be reserved in advance.
Photo: The Cruise Club Tokyo Inc
Tokyo’s waterways are a fantastic way to reach popular places in the city. Cruise the rivers and bay, free from traffic or train transfers. Regularly scheduled boats connect Odaiba and Asakusa, and you can board from tourist destinations in between. (As of June 2023, you can depart at Hama-rikyu Garden but you cannot board there.) Only by boat will you enjoy stunning sights like passing beneath Tokyo’s Rainbow Bridge.
Cruise Ships & Waterbuses