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Kayaking in Tokyo

Kayaking in Tokyo – An Unforgettable Experience

By Jessica Pender Jul 3, 2023

Planning your trip to Japan and want to do something unique on your trip? You should go night kayaking around Tokyo Skytree!

What is Night Kayaking?

Kayaking in Tokyo

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Take all the fun of kayaking (traveling on a small boat with a double-bladed paddle) and add beautiful sunset views and evening ambiance. When those views are of urban Tokyo, it’s hard to find a more unique experience to have during your trip to Japan!

Notes for Beginners

Getting into a kayak

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You don’t need to be experienced in the water to enjoy this activity! I had been kayaking prior to the tour, but beginners are completely welcome! This style of night kayaking takes place in local streams and rivers, with minimal waves, currents, and traffic. The smooth water allows you to focus on taking in the view!

If you are nervous about kayaking for the first time, don’t worry! The guide will give your group a tutorial at the beginning on water safety, how to kayak, and any additional information. In addition, many tours allow you to decide whether you kayak alone or in a tandem boat with a partner.  Lastly, life jackets are supplied and always required, so there are additional safety measures for less confident swimmers.

What to Bring and What to Wear

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If you’re planning to go kayaking for the first time but have no idea what you should bring, don’t worry! Here’s a short list of some items that I found helpful:

  • Water shoes or rain boots
  • Sunglasses (for golden hour)
  • Camera
  • Rain jacket
  • Athletic clothes or clothes you don’t mind getting wet
  • Waterproof bag for your phone and valuables

Depending on the company, you may be able to rent gloves, waterproof bags, and more gear if necessary. However, all boats, lifejackets, and other equipment are provided, so you don’t need to bring oars with you on the train!

The Kayaking Experience

Kyū-Nakagawa River

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I personally used Zac Sports Club, but you can find various tours and guides available on AirBnB, Klook, and individual tour websites. Tours usually range from 2-3 hours, depending on the route and difficulty level. Typical prices range from ¥5,000-15,000.

The route that we took was along the Kyū-Nakagawa River, along the canals to the Tokyo SkyTree viewing point. We started our briefing around 5 pm and were in the water by 5:30 pm. This was great as we had time before the sunset to get acclimated to the kayaks! In addition, by the time we set off on our journey to SkyTree, it was golden hour, so we got some great photos!

Along the way, there is an interesting mixture of wildlife and city life – we saw herons and fish, as well as kei trucks and bicycles on the path alongside the river.  Our group definitely stood out in our fluorescent vests; we got a lot of stares and waves!

En route to Tokyo Skytree, we had pitstops determined by our guide. We went under a train as it crossed a bridge, we watched fishermen, and we had fun racing each other as well. The route was a fantastic way to see nature without leaving the city. 

After we took our pictures of Skytree, we turned around the way we came! Although it was the same route, it was still very interesting; at this point, the sun had set, and so street lights, shop fluorescents, and decorative lamps had been turned on, creating a vibrant atmosphere. There was always something to marvel at!

At last, once my arms had turned into jelly, we arrived at the original dock and returned our boats and our gear to the company van. 

Go Kayaking in Tokyo!

Night Kayaking in Tokyo

Photo credits: Author

Kayaking in the rivers surrounding Tokyo Skytree at night was one of the most unique experiences that I’ve ever had in my 10+ years living in Japan!  While it was physically exerting, I had a lot of fun seeing Tokyo from a new perspective and exploring its waterfronts. In addition, it was very interesting speaking with our tour guide to hear about all the places in Japan that he had visited by water! I would definitely recommend booking a kayaking tour with a group of friends to see Tokyo, whether it be at day or night! It is an experience that not many have had.

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Featured image credits: Author