The Sumida River starts in Kita ward and flows 27 kilometers (almost 17 miles) through Adachi, Arakawa, Sumida, Taito, Koto and Chuo wards into Tokyo Bay. It is spanned by 26 bridges. The oldest bridge dates from 1693, and was replaced by the Shin Ohashi Bridge in 1976.
The next oldest was built in 1659, replaced by the Ryogoku-bashi Bridge, very near the Kokugikan sumo stadium in Ryogoku.
This famous bridge featured in many paintings by the 18th/19th century ukiyoe artist, Utagawa Hiroshige. The bridges of the modern day Sumida are picturesque in the variety of their designs and the different, often vivid, colors each is painted.
The Sumida River is one of the hundreds of rivers throughout metropolitan Tokyo. The biggest bridges are on the Tama River and Arakawa River, but at the turn of the 20th century the Tokyo section of the Arakawa was diverted at Akabane, in Kita ward, to prevent flooding. The old course of the Arakawa, through seven of Tokyo’s wards, was renamed the Sumida.
|Sumida River, looking north at Maya-bashi Bridge (green) in foreground, Komagata-bashi Bridge (blue), Azuma-bashi Bridge (red), Tobu Isesaki train line bridge (gray truss bridge), Itotoi-bashi Bridge (blue); Asahi Beer headquarters at right (gold).|
There are several different river cruises on the Sumida available as a tourist attraction, between Asakusa and Hinode or Odaiba. They are expanding in number rapidly thanks to the completion of the Tokyo Skytree which makes for a major riverside attraction, both during the day and at night, when illuminated.
Each cruise offers the Tokyo visitor a fascinating cross-section of east-end Tokyo as revealed by life on the banks of the mighty Sumida. The Sumida River is also plied constantly by barges and ships of all kinds carrying oil, gravel and other products and commodities. Seabirds hover over and feed from the river well inland from Tokyo Bay.
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Rough Guide To Japan