Best Things to Do in Sumida

Top 10 Things to Do in Sumida Ward in Tokyo

Sumida Ward in Tokyo is a district full of surprises, seamlessly blending the old and the new. Did you know that Sumida is the birthplace of the legendary ukiyo-e artist Hokusai, creator of the iconic “The Great Wave off Kanagawa”? Beyond the towering Tokyo Skytree, Sumida offers a unique mix of historical sites, bustling markets, and hidden gems.

Whether you’re exploring the lively Sumida Aquarium, enjoying a riverside stroll, or diving into the local art scene, Sumida promises an adventure that captures the essence of Tokyo’s diverse spirit.

Check also: 1 Day Itinerary in Tokyo: ASAKUSA+UENO

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1. Reach New Heights at Tokyo Skytree

Aerial view of SkytreeTokyo Skytree (東京スカイツリー) is a marvel of modern engineering and architecture. At 634-meters, it became Japan’s tallest tower at the time of its inauguration in 2012, offering unparalleled panoramic views of Tokyo from its observation decks. On a clear day, you can even catch a glimpse of Mount Fuji! The Skytree also houses the Tokyo Solamachi shopping complex, filled with a variety of shops, restaurants, and even a planetarium. 

A visit here is well worth spending the better part of a day between sightseeing, shopping, and dining, besides enjoying the views of course. Don’t miss the mesmerizing light displays that illuminate the tower each evening, making it one of the most recognizable symbols of Tokyo’s skyline.

More info: Tokyo Skytree: The New Symbol of Modern Tokyo

<<Get your Tokyo Skytree tickets here!>>

2. Dive into Underwater Wonders at Sumida Aquarium

Sumida Aquarium

Located within the Tokyo Skytree Town, Sumida Aquarium (すみだ水族館) is a fun aquatic adventure suitable for everyone. This modern aquarium features innovative, open-concept tanks that bring you face-to-face with a diverse array of marine life. Highlights include the mesmerizing jellyfish display and the impressive 350,000-liter tank that replicates the Ogasawara Islands’ habitat. 

The aquarium also has a dedicated area for Tokyo’s local aquatic species, providing an interesting look at the marine life that’s right outside the city. Interactive exhibits and close encounters with penguins and seals make this a must-visit spot for families and marine enthusiasts alike.

More info: Sumida Aquarium: the Modern Aquarium at Tokyo Skytree

See also: Best Aquariums in Tokyo

<<Get your Sumida Aquarium ticket or combo ticket Aquarium+Skytree here!>>

3. Stroll Along the Scenic Sumida River

Sumida River with boat cruiseThe Sumida River (隅田川) flows gracefully through Tokyo, branching out from the Arakawa River and joining course with the Shingashi River on the northern side of Kita Ward, and flowing all the way to Tokyo Bay, offering a picturesque setting for leisurely strolls and scenic boat cruises. Lined with parks, cherry blossom trees, and historical landmarks, the riverbanks are perfect for a relaxing day out. 

One of the most popular activities is taking a river cruise, which provides a unique perspective of Tokyo’s skyline and bridges. During the spring, the cherry blossoms create a stunning pink canopy along the river, attracting photographers and nature lovers. And if you happen to be here on the last week of July, you’re in luck as this is also the location for Tokyo’s most impressive Fireworks Festival! 

4. Step Back in Time at the Edo-Tokyo Museum

Edo Tokyo Museum[Note: The Edo-Tokyo Museum is currently closed for major renovations until 2025. Follow up with the website for updates on reopening schedule and occasional activities organized until the museum is re-opened]

The Edo-Tokyo Museum (江戸東京博物館) is a fascinating journey through Tokyo’s history, from its Edo period origins to its transformation into a modern metropolis. The museum’s life-sized replicas and interactive exhibits vividly illustrate everyday life in historical Tokyo. Among its highlights, there’s a full-scale model of Nihonbashi Bridge and a detailed replica of a Kabuki theater. 

You can explore the evolution of Tokyo through artifacts, models, and dioramas, which will give you insight into its cultural and social changes over the centuries. The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions, workshops, and lectures, so it’s one of the best places in the city for those interested in having a comprehensive understanding of the city’s rich heritage.

More info: Edo-Tokyo Museum: Experience the Great History of Tokyo!

5. Celebrate Art at The Sumida Hokusai Museum

Sumida Hokusai MuseumDedicated to the life and works of famed Ukiyo-e artist Katsushika Hokusai (葛飾 北斎, 1760-1849), The Sumida Hokusai Museum (すみだ北斎美術館) is a treasure trove for art enthusiasts. Hokusai, renowned for his iconic woodblock print “The Great Wave off Kanagawa,” spent much of his life in Sumida. The museum showcases a vast collection of his prints, sketches, and personal items, offering a deep dive into his artistic journey. 

Frequent temporal exhibitions make it worthwhile to visit once in a while, while interactive exhibits and multimedia presentations enhance the experience, so it’s also accessible and engaging for all ages. The museum’s modern architecture, designed by Kazuyo Sejima, is a work of art in itself, reflecting the innovative spirit of Hokusai.

More info: Sumida Hokusai Museum: Enjoy Ukiyo-e Art in Tokyo!

6. Learn About Sumo Culture in Ryogoku

Ryogoku ArenaRyogoku (両国), known as Tokyo’s sumo district, has a rather interesting cultural experience centered around Japan’s national sport. The Ryogoku Kokugikan National Sumo Arena (両国国技館) is the heart of this neighborhood, hosting major sumo tournaments three times a year. Here you can watch thrilling matches and visit the Sumo Museum inside the arena to learn about the sport’s history and traditions. 

Outside the arena, the streets of Ryogoku are dotted with sumo stables, where you can catch a glimpse of wrestlers training during morning practice. The area is also popular for its sumo-themed restaurants where you can try culinary specialties like chanko nabe, and also find sumo-related souvenirs in the area shops, providing an immersive experience into the world of sumo wrestling.

More info: 10 Best Things to Do in Ryogoku & How to Watch Sumo in Japan

<<Book here for Tokyo Sumo Tournament Tour in January, May and September!!!>>

7. Relax in Nature at Sumida Park

Aerial view of Sumida ParkSumida Park (隅田公園), stretching along both sides of the Sumida River, is a picturesque urban oasis perfect for relaxation and recreation. This park is especially famous for its cherry blossoms, drawing huge crowds during the sakura season for hanami (flower viewing) parties. 

But beyond the cherry blossoms, the park is a beautiful retreat year round, with beautifully landscaped gardens, walking paths, and stunning views of the Tokyo Skytree. It’s an ideal spot for a leisurely stroll, a picnic, or simply unwinding amidst nature. Seasonal events and festivals are frequently held here, making it a lively destination throughout the year.

8. Find Inner Peace at Ushijima Shrine

Ushijima Shrine with its triple torii gateLocated within Sumida Park (牛嶋神社), Ushijima Shrine is a historic sanctuary dating back to the Heian period. This Shinto shrine is dedicated to the deity Susanoo-no-Mikoto, known for his protective qualities. The shrine’s tranquil atmosphere, beautiful architecture, and lush surroundings make it a perfect spot for a peaceful urban retreat. 

A unique feature of Ushijima Shrine is the triple torii gate, a rare architectural element that adds to its charm. Here you can participate in traditional rituals, explore the shrine grounds, and experience a slice of the local spiritual heritage in this quiet corner of Sumida.

9. Explore Traditional Aesthetics at Former Yasuda Garden

Former Yasuda GardenThe Former Yasuda Garden (旧安田庭園), located near Ryogoku, is a beautifully preserved small traditional Japanese garden that dates back to the Edo period. It features a central pond, stone bridges, and meticulously landscaped flora, creating a harmonious space. 

The garden’s design, with its carefully placed rocks and flowing water features, reflects the aesthetics of classical Japanese landscaping, while seasonal changes bring different flowers and foliage, making it a picturesque spot year-round. It’s a perfect spot for history enthusiasts, nature lovers, or those who are simply looking for a peaceful retreat.

10. Have Fun with Historical Trains at the Tobu Museum

Tobu Museum

The Tobu Museum (東武博物館) is a delight for train enthusiasts and families alike, showcasing the history and the different technologies used throughout the history of the Tobu Railway. Here you can explore a range of exhibits, including real train cars, simulators, and interactive displays. 

Highlights include the full-scale diorama of the railway system and the hands-on driving simulator that lets you experience the thrill of operating a train. The museum also features a play area for children, making it an educational and fun destination for all ages. Whether you’re a rail fan or just curious, the Tobu Museum awaits you with an engaging journey through Japan’s railway history.

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Written by

Photographer, journalist, and avid urban cyclist, making sense of Japan since 2017. I was born in Caracas and lived for 14 years in Barcelona before moving to Tokyo. Currently working towards my goal of visiting every prefecture in Japan, I hope to share with readers the everlasting joy of discovery and the neverending urge to keep exploring.