Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Cruising down the Sumidagawa from Asakusa to Hinode Pier

Subways are an easy and fast means of getting around a city and when it comes to Tokyo
the subway is one of the most efficient and certainly the cleanest that I have ever seen.  
The Tokyo Metro runs on time to the last second and even though the cars are so crowded during 
rush hour,  all  are surprisingly spotlessly, faultlessly clean.  
However, subway systems while fast and convenient, also keep you underground and while you are scooting around the metropolis, you never see any of the sights.

When in Tokyo I sometimes take a scenic and relaxing option to the subway.  The Tokai Kisen Company runs comfortable and spacious ferry boats that ply the Sumidagawa, Tokyo's main river 
that flows through the city and empties out into Tokyo Bay.  While there are various routes and 
even sightseeing cruises,  water buses ply the river from Asakusa to Hinode Pier, just 
a couple of stops from the Park Hotel,  my base when in Tokyo.

You get on the ferry from a station at the foot of the Azumabashi, the bridge that links Asakusa 
to  the other side of the Sumidagawa.
Like the subway, the water bus is efficient and always runs on time.  It's a bit slower though -- 
it takes about 45 minutes to go from Asakusa to Hinode, a trip that would have taken less than thirty minutes via subway.  Most of the people who ride the water bus are those who have time on their hands like housewives with young children, retired senior citizens and tourists like myself.  

There are two levels on the ferry, you go down a short staircase if you want to sit below.  I love the gleaming brass touches and the polished marble tiled floor which reminds me of old fashioned ships. 
The Water Bus also has a sleek, futuristic looking ferry boat that looks like a huge anime water bug but I have never ridden that.

There are safety reminders in both Japanese and English.

Because it is winter,  the boat's stern has been closed off with glass windows.  During summer, this part of the boat is kept open and is a nice place to sit and escape from Tokyo's heat and humidity.

We leave  Asakusa Pier on time and quickly pass through the Eitabashi.  Bashi means bridge in Nihongo so if you call it Eitabashi Bridge you are actually saying the Eita Bridge Bridge.

The Tokyo Sky Tree can be seen from the water bus and is one of the key sights that defines the city skyline.

Bright yellow orange towers hold up the cables on the Shin Oohashi.  Hashi has the same meaning as bashi in Nihongo and both are used as suffixes to denote bridges. 

There is no one sitting on the stern with us -- all the passengers are in the warmer upper deck, preferring to take in the views through the closed windows.  It's nice and quiet where we are and a perfect time to just relax and enjoy the ride as the water bus glides smoothly through the river.

All too soon, we reach the mouth of Tokyo Bay where the Sumidagawa ends.  Sea gulls and ducks float serenely on the water.

The ferry docks at Hinode Pier where passengers are waiting to take it back to Asakusa.  
I almost wish the trip had lasted just a few minutes more.  For just a little more than 700 yen, we 
were able to stretch our legs, unwind and enjoy the expansive views of different areas of Tokyo, 
both old and new. 

It's about a  400 meter walk from the pier to the Hinode station of the Yurikamome line which will take you towards either Toyosu or Shimbashi.  
If you ever get tired of the subway and have an hour to spare, take the water bus.  
It is an excellent way to see a bit of Tokyo from a different point of view.

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