The Sumida River, similar to the Seine in Paris or the Thames in London, was crucial to the commercial development of old Edo (Tokyo’s name during the days of the shogun). It was also the best way to travel from Edo to Asakusa, which was more than an hour’s walk outside city gates. Asakusa has been wildly popular for day trips through the centuries, mainly because of Sensoji Temple, founded almost 1,000 years before Edo was born.
Today, traveling by boat is still the most dramatic way to arrive in Asakusa, which you can do on the Sumidagawa Line cruise at either Hinode Pier (about a 1-minute walk from Hinode Station) or from Hama Rikyu Garden (Station: Shiodome or Shimbashi; note that boarding the bus in Hama Rikyu requires admission ticket to the garden). There’s also the Odaiba Direct Line to Asakusa that leaves from Odaiba Seaside Park (station: Daiba). Of course, you can also do it in the opposite direction, from Asakusa to the three destinations. Futuristic boats called Himiko and Hotaluna that travel between Asakusa and Hinode or Odaiba cost more.
The 40-some-minute cruise to Asakusa provides a different perspective of Tokyo, including barges that still ply the busy waterway, apartment complexes, warehouses and superhighways. The boat also passes under a dozen or so bridges, each one different and described by the running commentary (personally, I prefer my own music and earphones to accompany the changing vistas). At the end of the trip is Sumida Park, famous for its cherry blossoms in spring. On the last Saturday in July, the Sumida River Fireworks display, launched from barges, has been attracting crowds for more than 250 years.