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TokyoTreat Japanese Snacks BlogCity on The Water: Five Notable Rivers in Tokyo

City on The Water: Five Notable Rivers in Tokyo

Thuy FangThuy Fang
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March 27, 2024
Tokyo at night, a city on the water.

Tokyo is recognized as a city on the water, where rivers play a vital role in shaping the daily lives of its residents. From providing scenic beauty to serving as essential sources of city water, they reflect the harmonious relationship between nature and urban life in Tokyo. Let’s explore the five most famous rivers in the city.

Sumida River

Sumida River is a lively waterway flowing through the heart of Tokyo. It starts in the north and flows east through various city wards such as Kita, Adachi, Arakawa, and Chuo before reaching Tokyo Bay. It begins from the Arakawa River and gets city water from smaller rivers like the Kanda and Shakujii rivers. 

What makes the Sumida River truly special are its iconic bridges, each painted in vibrant colors. From the striking red of the Azuma Bridge to the serene green of the Umaya Bridge, these bridges add a colorful touch to the urban landscape along the riverbanks.

Buildings on the Sumida River.
The Asahi Building is on the Sumida River. Image via Shutterstock

Despite the modern developments and bustling city life, the Sumida River retains its original charm. You can find great and calm places there for picnics or enjoy the view. Especially on summer evenings, you can feel the river even more peaceful with the sound of frogs and cicadas mixing with the gentle splashing of water. 

The Sumida River isn’t just a picturesque location; it’s also home to numerous attractions and activities. Sumida Park has over a thousand cherry trees blooming beautifully in spring. In addition, you can also take a boat ride on a unique Japanese boat called yakatabune. And let’s not forget about the Sumida River Fireworks festival, a dazzling spectacle that lights up the skies every July. 

Meguro River

Meguro River flows through three big Tokyo wards: Setagaya, Meguro, and Shinagawa. Stroll along the river between Nakameguro and Gotanda Stations. You’ll see lots of trees and plants, and it’s also near the fun Nakameguro neighborhood with yummy restaurants and cool bars. All of that brings a sense of comfort and relaxation.

Meguro River during cherry blossom season.
The Meguro River has some of the most beautiful cherry blossoms in the city. Image via Shutterstock

There are many intriguing spots close to the river, such as the Meguro Museum of Art, where you can admire fascinating artwork created by Japanese artists. Not to mention, the most remarkable feature of the Meguro River is its cherry blossoms. More than 800 cherry trees that grow along the riverbanks burst into gorgeous pink blooms, creating a stunning view.

One of the highlights of the Meguro River’s cherry blossom season is the Nakameguro Sakura Festival. This festival occurs when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom, usually around late March to early April. During this time, the riverbanks come alive with paper lanterns strung along the river. Additionally, the Meguro River transforms with a fantastic light display in the winter.

Are you looking for some snacks to enjoy while strolling along the river? Check out TokyoTreat! TokyoTreat delivers limited-edition Japanese noodles, snacks, drinks, and sweets right to your door so you can enjoy the latest treats directly from Japan!

Arakawa River

Arakawa River, also known as the Ara River, flows for 173 kilometers through Tokyo and Saitama Prefecture. It originates from Mount Kobushi in Saitama and eventually flows into Tokyo Bay. The river has a rich history with attempts to control flooding dating back to the Edo period. After a big flood in 1910, they built a 22-kilometer drainage canal to stop floods. Today, the Arakawa River gives Tokyo most of its city water.

Although the Arakawa River has been extensively modified for flood control, it remains a critical natural habitat and recreational area. It’s the habitat for diverse plants and animals, making it a peaceful place for people to relax and have fun. Nearby, there’s the Arakawa Museum of Aqua, where you can discover the river’s past, how they control floods, and the fauna and flora there.

The Arakawa River at night.
This river flows from Saitama all the way down to Tokyo Bay. Image via Shutterstock

A special place along the Arakawa River is the Arakawa Iwabuchi Seki Green Space, a park built on the river. Here, you can do fun things outside, see beautiful views, and relax by the peaceful water. The park has paths for walking and biking, places to have BBQs, and a large area to see cherry blossoms in the spring.

One of the best things about Arakawa River is the Itabashi Fireworks Festival, which is held yearly. This fantastic event has impressive fireworks like the shakugosun-dama and the stunning “Niagara Falls” fireworks. People can find free spots along the riverbanks to secure a good viewing spot. 

Tama River

Tama River is considered one of the longest rivers that flows through Tokyo, Yamanashi, and Kanagawa Prefectures. It’s 138 kilometers long and covers an area of 1240 square kilometers. It starts in the Yamanashi foothills and ends at Tokyo Bay.

People boating down the Tama River.
You can go canoeing in this river! Image via Shutterstock

The river offers lots of green spaces and sports fields along its banks. This makes it a favorite destination for picnics and outdoor fun. You can rent bikes, ride along the flat trail, or have a family picnic in nearby parks. Furthermore, it’s even accessible for people in wheelchairs or strollers. In spring, sakura makes it one of the best spots in the city to enjoy without massive crowds. Moreover, the Tama River is also a great place to watch fireworks in summer.

Edo River

The Edo River starts as a branch of the Tone River in Noda City, Sekiyado district. It flows through areas like Nagareyama and Matsudo before reaching Tokyo Bay. Its nearly 60-kilometer journey marks the borders between Tokyo, Chiba, and Saitama Prefectures. It was part of the Tone River long ago but was changed in 1654 to keep floods away from the capital, Edo (now Tokyo).

Edogawa River on a clear day.
This river is between three different prefectures. Image via Shutterstock

In the past, this river served as a vital route connecting northern and eastern Kanto to Edo. It was a busy waterway transporting goods from cities along the Pacific coast to Edo. And Japanese people also cultivated lotus roots along its banks. While it’s no longer used for transportation, it provides city water for industries and helps drain the crowded Tokyo area.

The Edogawa Fireworks Display is An exciting event by the Edo River. Many people gather by the river yearly to watch beautiful fireworks in the sky. Plus, you can see markers every 250 meters along the river, showing how close you are to Tokyo Bay.

Why is Tokyo a wonderful city on the water?

In conclusion, Tokyo stands out as a beautiful city on the water thanks to its remarkable rivers that play essential roles in daily life. These waterways supply crucial city water, serve as transportation arteries, and offer recreational spaces for urban people. What are your thoughts on Tokyo’s rivers? Leave a comment below and share your experiences!

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