Night views are a part of Tokyo that you can’t miss. One of the charms of big cities is the sparkling illuminations all over the city. Did you know there was a bicycle tour that lets you enjoy the illuminations and Tokyo’s best tourist destinations at the same time? Our editors participated in a 3-hour bicycle tour that goes around over 10 tourist destinations. We visited both well-known tourist destinations and not-so-well-known ones, and fully enjoyed Tokyo for 3 hours!
Introducing the tour
In this article, we will be participating in a bicycle tour provided by “Japan Attendant”. The tour goes around Tokyo’s popular tourist destinations during the night, using a shared bicycle service “Docomo Bike Share Service”, which is provided by NTT Docomo.
mAAch ecute Kanda Manseibashi is a popular shopping center.
All of the shared bicycles are electric-assist bicycles, so the bicycles will move even if you don’t pedal them that hard. You will be able to go uphill with a little effort, so the tour is also fit for beginners. You can reserve for the tour beforehand online, or if there are free spots, you can participate by going directly to the starting point, which is the Docomo Bike Share Cycle Station at mAAch ecute Kanda Manseibashi.
3-hour route introduction
This time, we participated in one of Japan Attendant’s most popular bicycle courses, “Tokyo at Night with E-Bike to Harumi Wharf”. The tour starts from Akihabara, and you cycle through Nihonbashi, Tsukishima, Tsukudajima, Harumi wharf, Tsukiji, Ginza, and finish at beautifully lit up Tokyo Station. In 3 hours, you get to see the most popular tourist spots in Chuo Ward and also visit a more deeper area like Tsukijima and Tsukudajima.
”Tokyo at Night with E-Bike to Harumi Wharf” Route Introduction
1. Start at “Docomo Bike Share Cycle Center” in Akihabara
2. See old stores at Nihonbashi
3. See the traditional Edo era Japan at Tsukijima and Tsukudajima
4. Enjoy the night view at Harumi Wharf
5. See Tsukiji, which is lively even though the fish market moved to Toyosu
6. Visit Ginza, one of the best shopping areas in Tokyo
7. The goal, Tokyo Station
If you feel that 3 hours might be a bit long, don’t worry, because you won’t be cycling the whole time. You will have time to eat melon bread and other snacks at Tsukijima, and you will stop at the tourist destinations to listen to the guide’s explanation and take pictures. You will get to see Chuo ward tourist destinations efficiently on a bicycle.
Bicycle Tour ”Tokyo at Night with E-Bike to Harumi Wharf”
17:45 The departure: Start at mAAch ecute Kanda Manseibashi
Without further ado, let’s begin our bicycle tour!
The tour starts at NTT docomo’s shared bicycle station in Akihabara mAAch ecute Kanda Manseibashi. The bicycle station has coin lockers, where you can leave all unnecessary belongings while you participate on the tour.
Departing with our electric assist bicycles!
We participate in the tour with three exchange students from Sweden. All three of them are currently studying at a Japanese university, and they are very interested in Japan. The atmosphere is very friendly as the tour begins.
At 17:45 o’clock, the sun is still out, and it is just starting to set. We can’t wait to see how Tokyo’s scenery starts changing.
18:00 1. Nihonbashi Muromachi Area
Our first stop is at Nihonbashi. On weekday evenings, the area is full of tourists and businessmen. We avoid crowded areas by cycling through narrow back roads. The area has been developing as both commercial and cultural area ever since the Edo era when it used to be a castle town.
Our first destination is Fukutoku Shrine, which is a shrine that Tokugawa Ieyasu is said to have also visited. The shrine worships Ukanomitama no Mikoto, the deity of rice. It is said that the shrine has benefits with winning the lottery, finding a good match, and travel safety. A shopping mall called Coredo Muromachi is located right in front of the shrine, so you can enjoy both modern and traditional Nipponbashi at once. The guide gives us an explanation of the manners and process of visiting a shrine before we visit the shrine, and we take a picture in front of the torii. We were surprised to find out that there is a historical shrine located in the middle of Nihonbashi.
We arrived at historical Fukutoku Shrine.
We learnt the manners and visited Fukutoku Shrine.
■Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi Main Store
After we visit the Fukutoku Shrine, we head to Nihonbashi’s main road. There are many old stores and shopping centers located along the road, and it’s very lively compared to the other roads. As we keep cycling and enjoying the views, we see Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi Main Store, which is located opposite to Coredo Muromachi. Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi Main Store is known for its historical buildings. Many tourists visit the store to take pictures of the building and its art deco exterior. Unfortunately, we couldn’t stop to take pictures, but we enjoyed being able to see the shopping center’s classical exterior.
Looking at the building from the intersection in front of Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi Main Store.
Another Important Cultural Property, the Mitsui Main Building, is also located in Nihonbashi.
■Bank of Japan
Next, we head to the Bank of Japan. The Bank of Japan is Japan’s central bank, and it’s the only place in Japan that prints Japanese yen. It’s impressive to think that all of the Japanese yen that we have are printed here. The building is designated as Important Cultural Property of Japan, and it is said to have been the first Western-styled brickwork building in Japan. We weren’t able to take a picture in front of the building, but we took a picture in front of the Bank of Japan sign, before moving on to the next destination.
The Bank of Japan is still working.
The next stop is the historical Nihonbashi. We stop our bicycles in front of the bridge, and the guide tells us about Nihonbashi during the Edo period. We compare pictures of the Edo period Nihonbashi to the current bridge. Back then, Nihonbashi was a city that was bigger than Paris and London. Since the area was also close to water, products from all over Japan were delivered there, which made it the capital of distribution. Back then, there were many fish markets around the area, and it so busy that it was called the Venice of Asia.
A replica of Kilometre Zero on Nihonbashi bridge.
Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido Hoeido Edition “Nihonbashi (Morning Scene)” painted by Utagawa Hiroshige
The Swedish exchange students seem very surprised to see how the bridge has changed since the Edo period. The current bridge has an expressway going through it, so you couldn’t even guess what it used to look like. Getting to hear about the hidden history of Japan directly from the guide is one of the reasons why this tour is popular. We take a picture with the emblem of the Tokyo Olympics on the Nihonbashi bridge. On the pole you can see on the left side of the picture is a bridge plate written by Tokugawa Yoshinobu, the 15th shogun, and a sculpture of a lion holding the emblem of Tokyo.
Picture taken in front of the Tokyo Olympics emblem on Nihonbashi bridge.
18:45〜 2. Tsukishima-Tsukudajima Area
Next, we cycle through Chuobashi, a beautiful cable bridge that goes over the Sumida river and arrive at the famous traditional area of Tsukishima-Tsukudajima. It is currently 18:30 o’clock. It’s starting to get dark, and it’s starting to feel like night time.
Tsukishima was the first island in Tokyo bay built of reclaimed land in 1892. After that, they continued filling the land beyond Tsukudajima, and “Kachidoki” and “Shin-Tsukudajima” were born.
First, we take a look around the Tsukudajima area. This area is known as the area where tsukudani, an important dish in Japanese cuisine, was born. We cycle through the area and enjoy the feeling of the Edo period that is still visible in the area.
We stop to take a picture with Sekan Mikoshi, which is displayed at Tsukuda Machikado Museum. The museum displays the history and traditions of the Tsukudajima area.
Tsukudajima-lamp is lit because it’s starting to get dark.
Let’s continue on with the Tsukijima area. This area is famous as the home to the rival of Osaka’s Okonomiyaki, Monja Yaki. On Tsukijima Monja Street, there are over 40 Monja yaki shops that are lined up in one straight line. If you continue on into the back alley with your bicycle, you will be able to find the deep hidden attractions of Tokyo.
There are many stores on the street, most of them Monja restaurants.
At Tsukishima, we head to a popular melon bread specialty store called “Freshly-Baked Melon Bread Tsukishima Kyuei”. You can see the autographs of many famous people on display at the store.
Here, we take a 20-minute break. The guide gives one famous melon bread to each participant.
Kyuei’s Melon Bread.
The freshly-baked melon bread has a gentle sweet scent. The bread is crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. The Swedish men love Japanese melon bread, and they say they often try different kinds of melon bread. They seem to love the Kyuei melon bread’s crunchiness. While we talk with the other participants, the guide gives us big pieces of fried chicken they bought at a different store. After a sweet bread, the fried chicken tastes juicier than ever. It tastes good after cycling.
Impressed by freshly-baked melon bread.
The guide decides on what snacks will be served on the day. The price of the snacks is included in the tour price. After the break, we head to our next destination.
19:30〜 3. Harumi Wharf
The next one is the main destination of the tour, Harumi wharf. Harumi wharf is a place where boats load and drop off travelers and items. Harumi wharf (Harumi Passenger Ship Terminal) was created to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Tokyo Bay. Gorgeous cruises from Japan and other countries use the terminal. Tokyo looks sparkling in the darkness.
Harumi wharf’s beautiful night scenery.
Harumi wharf at night is famous for its night view. You can see the Rainbow Bridge and Tokyo Tower all at once. We enjoyed the view from a deck near the gulf.
The wharf is also a popular photography spot. In the middle of the artificial lake, you can see an art piece called “Fubaiginran”, which gives a futuristic taste to the pictures. This is the perfect spot to take a stylish picture of Tokyo night. If you manage to take a picture in the right angle during a windless moment, you can get a picture that has a beautiful reflection on the artificial lake’s surface.
”Fubaiginran” is an obect in the articifial lake at Harumi wharf.
The Swedish exchange students were very impressed by the view. They said they haven’t been to many tourist destinations yet, and that it was their first time at the Harumi wharf. We took pictures in front of the rainbow bridge and Fubaiginran and enjoyed our time there.
Enjoying the beautiful night view of Tokyo.
Harumi wharf is a popular date spot that couples often visit with a car, and it’s located an over 30-minute walk from the closest station. With a bicycle, you can easily visit the wharf. The Tokyo Olympics Athlete’s Village will be located near Harumi wharf, so we were able to see the village in making on our way there.
20:00~ 4. Kachidoki bridge/Tsukiji area
After visiting Harumi wharf, we start heading to the Tsukiji area. On our way there, we cross the Kachidoki bridge, the last bridge that goes over the Sumida river before it reaches Tokyo Bay. Unfortunately, it was under construction, but it’s known as the biggest bascule bridge (a bridge that opens up to let boats go through) in Japan, and it’s designated as Important Cultural Property of Japan. Usually, it’s beautifully lit up during the night.
The bridge is currently under construction, but usually it’s lit up beautifully.
Next, we toured around Tsukiji. Even though the fish market moved to Toyosu, there are still stores left, and you can see stores open here and there during the night. All the closed shutters create an interesting atmosphere.
The last place we visit in this area is the Tsukiji Honganji Temple. The temple is one of the biggest temples in the Tokyo area, and it’s also a well-known tourist spot. The temple has also been designated as an Important Cultural Property of Japan. The main hall’s exterior was inspired by Indian architecture, and it looks spectacular.
The night time light up of Honganji Temple is beautiful.
The temple gets lit up during the night, and the lit main hall among the darkness gives out a feeling of a different world. The temple is open only until 17:00 so we can’t go inside, but the temple is lit up until 21:30. It looks completely different during the night, and we enjoyed the view so much that we forgot that we were in Tokyo.
20:30〜21:00 5. Ginza/Tokyo Station
It’s starting to get close to the end of the bicycle tour. We start heading to Tokyo Station through the Ginza area.
Ginza is well known as Tokyo’s luxury shopping district. But besides the many luxury stores and restaurants, the area also has a lot of famous tourist destinations.
We first headed to Kabukiza theater. It's a kabuki theater that is known as the palace of kabuki, a traditional form of Japanese theater. There are kabuki theaters all over Japan, but this is the only one where they have a show almost every day. Going to see kabuki theater is a perfect way to commemorate your Tokyo trip, but we only stopped to look at Kabukiza’s gorgeous lighting and to take a picture. Then, we started heading to our next destination.
We took a picture in front of the beautifully lit Kabukiza theater.
Next, we visited Ginza street, a gorgeous shopping area. Similar to New York’s 5th avenue, Ginza is known as a luxury shopping area, and many tourists visit there to shop. Ginza is also known for having the most expensive land in Japan. We stop our bicycles along the road, and the guide makes us guess the land prices. The exchange students seem surprised by how expensive the land is. We enjoy Ginza’s atmosphere and sparkly streets, and then start heading towards our goal, Tokyo Station.
There are many tourists in Ginza during the night time.
■The goal: Tokyo Station
After visiting the Ginza area, we cycle through the Hibiya area and take a picture in front of the Tokyo Station building.
It’s almost 21:00. We end our 3-hour tour and say goodbye to our tourmates.
Tokyo’s symbol, the Tokyo Station is the goal.
We didn’t feel that tired after the tour because our bicycles were electric-assist bicycles, but we did feel proud of ourselves for touring Tokyo with a bicycle during the night. The lit-up Tokyo Station looked beautiful, and it seemed to sparkle even more than usual.
Tokyo Station is beautiful when it’s lit up.
After the tour ends, you can either finish the tour at Tokyo Station or head back to mAAch ecute Kanda Manseibashi. If you want to end your tour at Tokyo Sation, you can return your bicycle at a shared bicycle center near Tokyo Station Marunouchi.
We were able to see Tokyo’s various famous destinations, and the tour was very enriched all the way to the end.
The best parts of the bicycle tour
What did you think about the Tokyo night bicycle tour? Last, we would like to let the editors who participated in the tour to tell you what they liked about the tour.
Explaining about Tokyo rivers on Chuo Ohashi bridge.
1. You get to feel the real Tokyo!
It’s hard to see and feel the overall atmosphere and the distances between the areas if you take the train or car. You get to see the uniqueness of each area, all the narrow backroads and the pieces of history spread around the city.
2. You get to enjoy the main tourist destinations and Tokyo during the night!
You get to enjoy the main tourist destinations and Tokyo during night time when there aren’t many tourists. You also get to see lit up buildings and illuminations and experience a Tokyo that is completely different from the one you see during the daytime.
3. You get to see over 10 tourist destinations in a short time!
The tour goes through over 10 main tourist destinations efficiently in just 3 hours.
Mr. Sato, the representative of Japan Attendant, says that “Tokyo at Night with E-Bike to Harumi Wharf” is one of their most popular tours. They have various tours, like ones going through places featured in anime, but many of their clients want to enjoy Tokyo during night time. One of the popular daytime tours that they have is the Asakusa area tour, that goes around Asakusa Temple and Tokyo Skytree.
The guide explaining about the tourist destination.
Japan Attendant also provides an activity called “karate chop”, where you get to change to karate uniform and experience true karate. One of the Swedish exchange students who toured with us participated in the karate chop, and he seemed very happy looking at the pictures of the experience.
Refresh yourself by doing a karate chop!
Depart look for a new Tokyo on bicycles!
At first, we were worried that it might be exhausting to cycle around Tokyo for 3 hours, but it was very satisfying to be able to tour over 10 tourist destinations and eat delicious snacks. This tour is perfect for those who are in Tokyo for the first time and want to enjoy the night time Tokyo and see all the tourist destinations. You will be impressed with the parts of Tokyo that you don’t get to see often, like the residential areas and narrow roads. You should try the bicycle tour too.