From the jam-packed transit system to the teeming walkways around hubs like Shibuya and Shinjuku, any trip through Tokyo is bound to be laden with crowds. Fortunately, foot and rail aren’t the only way to see the city. A plethora of waterways, both big and small, course through the city, awaiting curious and intrepid travelers. From river walks to ferry rides to cruises through Tokyo Bay, there are several ways to explore Tokyo’s watery side. This two-part article details a few of your options and provides a view of Tokyo that won’t be obscured by throngs of other people. It begins with a few suggestions of different river walks along the Meguro, Kanda, and Tama Rivers.  

This Nakameguro tour follows the Meguro River through the neighbourhood
Meguro River in Nakameguro

River Walks Through the City

Tokyo’s river system extends from Tokyo Bay reaching inwards towards the core of the city. The eastern part of the city in particular is rife with rivers to explore. However, a few prominent Tokyo waterways can be found on the western side of the city as well. Regardless of your choice, a walk along the river is the perfect way to spend a lazy weekend afternoon. Larger central rivers such as Meguro River are perfect for a small diversion. On the other hand, a river walk along the quieter and smaller rivers on the city outskirts can easily take a whole day.

Meguro River

The Meguro River affords one of Tokyo’s most scenic walks. Bracketed by walkways on both sides, a tour affords a view of the river’s beautifully landscaped corridors. The Meguro River cuts through the center of the city. It’s not as secluded as some of Tokyo’s other rivers, but it is one of the prettiest waterways. One advantage to exploring the Meguro River is its centrality. Easily accessible from major stations such as Gotanda or Nakameguro Station, you can incorporate a visit to the Meguro River walk into your pre-existing sightseeing itinerary without much of a detour. 

The Meguro River fills with blossoms in the spring.
The Meguro River fills with blossoms in the spring.

The river is also a prime spot for cherry blossom viewing and fills up with crowds of revelers as soon as the cherry blossoms start to bloom. If you’re looking to avoid crowds, then late March to early April is a good time to avoid. If, however, you don’t mind the crowds, the river offers an un-paralleled view of the blossoms as they fall to the surface of the water.

Your river walk along the Kanda River ends in Inokashira Park.
Your river walk along the Kanda River ends in Inokashira Park.

Kanda River

If you want something a little quieter, consider a walk along the Kanda River instead. Running through various residential portions of Tokyo, the Kanda river showcases some of the quiet everyday life of Tokyo residents. Best of all, the river exits into Inokashira Park. This means you can conclude your river tour by stretching out in Kichijoji. You can join the river from any station along the Inokashira Line, but if you feel like a longer walk, you can exit Eifukucho station and begin your walk from there.

Tokyo river walks are a great way to ditch the crowds.
Tokyo river walks are a great way to ditch the crowds.

Tama River

Separating Tokyo from Kanagawa, the Tama River flows from the mountains of Yamanashi prefecture out to the Bay of Tokyo. As a result, a tour of the Tama River can afford a view of Tokyo’s dense cityscape or the hush of the countryside. However, if you want to enjoy a leisurely day by the side of the river, consider joining visiting Futako-Tamagawa station. Here, the banks of the river are typically full of picnics, baseball matches, and families out enjoying the greenery on either side of the Tama River. There is also an epic annual fireworks show by the river here. Be warned, flooding is a frequent problem when water is high.

Other River Walks

These three rivers are only a small sampling of the many waterways running through Tokyo. Regardless, of which river you choose to visit on a tour of Tokyo’s waterways, you’re bound to see a different side of the city. Better still, many of them are frequently under-visited compared with the busy thoroughfares of the city center. If you’re looking for a little quiet and natural beauty on your trip, consider making a short stop at the side of the river.

Post by Japan Journeys