Sumida Park is a large green space in the Asakusa area with attractive natural scenery, riverside strolling paths, and a variety of public facilities. This park is an enjoyable place to take a break or have a picnic and if you feel like you need to escape from busy city life or simply breathe some fresh air, this is the place to come.
Sumida Park was created as part of reconstruction efforts in Tokyo after the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923. Previously private land, it was opened to the public in 1931 as the first public riverside park in Japan. The park is unusual in that it is located on two sides of the Sumida River with the western part of the park in Taito ward, and the eastern part in Sumida ward. These two sides of the park are linked by the Kototoi Bridge and the Sakurabashi Bridge.
Inside Sumida Park are around 700 cherry trees which are planted on both sides of the river. This makes the park a very popular cherry blossom viewing location in late March and early April. In other seasons plum blossom and hydrangeas can also be enjoyed here. There are a number of public facilities on the west side of the park which include a Tully’s café near the southern entrance; a large children’s playground with swings, slides, and climbing frames; and a sports center with tennis courts and a large outdoor swimming pool.
There is also an unusual artwork on the western side of the park which is quite popular.
This strange bowl-like structure has many holes in it. Look through the different holes and you can see a different view each time.
On the east side of the park is a traditional stroll garden with a pond, an ancient shrine, and a fishing pond.
The two big events in this park are the cherry blossom festival in the spring and the Sumida River Fireworks Festival which is held on the last Saturday in July.
Sumida Park Area Tour
There are a number of sites of historical and cultural interest around Sumida Park and on both sides of the river. These sites are not as famous as big local tourist attractions like Sensoji Temple and Tokyo Skytree, and for that reason they do not get as busy or crowded. Taken together with a stroll through the park they provide a pleasant and peaceful alternative tour of the Asakusa and Sumida River area that could easily occupy a few hours in the morning or afternoon. Here is our suggested route:
- The west side of Sumida Park is very close to Tobu Asakusa Station. Enter the park here through its southern entrance. Get a drink at Tully’s café if you are thirsty and then enjoy a leisurely 10 minute stroll through the park taking in the river views on your way.
- Exit the park and visit Honryuin Temple. This is a small but picturesque temple where you can sometimes get free daikon radishes.
- From Honryuin Temple walk 3 minutes to Imado Jinja Shrine which is famous for its lucky “maneki neko” cats.
- From Imado Jinja walk 5 minutes to Sakurabashi Bridge. This is a popular cherry blossom viewing location in the spring. Cross the bridge and visit Kofukuji Temple to admire its unusual Chinese style architecture.
- From Kofukuji Temple walk 5 minutes to Mimeguri Shrine and make a brief stop to see its unusual statues. From there it is a 1 minute walk to Sumida Heritage Museum where you can learn about local history.
- Reenter Sumida Park and visit Ushijima Jinja Shrine. Be sure to pat the statue of the “patting cow” for good health and good luck!
- Walk around the park pond and exit the park. Outside the park you will see a statue of Katsu Kaishu, a famous local samurai. From there walk to Asahi Beer Tower and enjoy a drink or a bite to eat in one of its dining facilities. Located on the 21st and 22nd floors these restaurants offer a great view over the city.
From Asahi Beer Tower you can either walk back across the Azumabashi Bridge into Asakusa, or continue your explorations by walking 14 minutes to Tokyo Skytree.
Sumida Park is located on both sides of the Sumida River a short distance to the north of the Tobu, Toei, and Tokyo Metro Asakusa stations. Here is a map showing its location.
Article and original photos by Michael Lambe. All rights reserved.