It is possible to take a water bus on the Sumida River, and while this is a good way to see Tokyo from the water, I set out to see if it was possible to walk along the river. Getting off the subway at Monzen-nakacho, I first had a hearty lunch and visited a shrine before walking west towards the river. Already here, I came across several smaller canals with greyish apartment blocks and trees that were starting to show autumn colours. Continuing further west, I ended on a T-junction where I turned right, with the impression that the river should be close. A strong smell of coffee accompanied me, and when I saw a staircase on the wall on my left, I decided to climb it - to find myself looking down on a surprisingly wide river which I immediately knew was the Sumida I had been looking for. Even better: there was a staircase leading down, and I was soon walking a wide promenade along the river.
I wanted to walk north, towards Asakusa, but first, I wanted to have a closer look at the bridges I saw on my left. A peculiar building on the other side of the river struck my eyes: a rectangular building with a huge square open space inside, through which I saw some colourful houses behind. This is Yomiuri Building - a multi-leveled expressway crossed the river just behind it. Behind this one, I saw two more: Eitaibashi bridge, a suspension bridge in the foreground and a white cable-stayed bridge in the background. Even though the promenade continued further south, I had to decide to turn north - the skies were darkening and I knew a long walk was still ahead of me. So, I turned around, having a better view now of the dark blue Eitaibashi suspension bridge. Continuing north, it suddenly dawned on me how quiet the walk was: there was almost no one else around, and an unexpected kind of peacefulness surrounded me. No noise - other than that of the occasional bird racing through the sky. Even though I was in the middle of one of the largest cities in the world, it almost felt like I was walking in a village.
Walking further north, I sometimes had to cross bridges over side rivers of the Sumida River before I could continue. To my surprise, the promenade continued as well; moreover, I saw that there was a promenade on the other side of the Sumida river, too. When I reached the Shuto expressway after crossing a side river with locks protecting the Sumida against flooding and returned to the promenade, I stood still to enjoy the views. Here, several things come together. Above me, I could hear traffic racing across the river over the expressway, without ever seeing a vehicle. On the other side of the Sumida, neon lights were being lit on top of modern buildings, and the last light of the day was disappearing fast from the sky. The river itself was quiet: at this time, there were almost no boats passing through. At my feet, the promenade, which from this point onwards counted several homeless Japanese. Here, the slowly deteriorating economic situation of this once powerful economic giant becomes clear. Japanese men, looking healthy and not even old, living in boxes on the street. Unexpected in Japan - perhaps. Amazingly, the organized Japanese character even shows with the homeless: their boxes were neatly set up, perfectly square, while I saw a pair of shoes orderly lined up at one side of the box. While above my head, and all around me this metropole continued living at breakneck speed, the reality under this bridge was different. Night was falling over the city as I continued further north. Sumo wrestlers in the iron fence protecting pedestrians against falling into the water of the Sumida reminded me of passing close to the mighty Kokugikan sumo wrestling arena. Where before the walk had been very quiet at times, the frenzy of Asakusa was impossible to avoid, near the promenade I saw colourful flags and windmills with lights. The promenade continued, but I was getting very hungry after walking along the Sumida for hours, and the promenade ahead looked pitch dark. It was time to cross the river over the Azuma bashi bridge for a delicious meal at a sushi bar.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Sumida river walk (Japan). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Sumida river walk.
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