Local Japan: Welcome to Edogawa-ku, Tokyo
I’m pleased to work together with Japan Room Finder to bring you this guide of Tokyo’s Edogawa Ward.
Known as part of Tokyo’s shitamachi, or the downtown area, Edogawa Ward is also fairly international. In fact, it’s one of the 23 wards with the highest number of registered foreign residents.
Edogawa Ward, especially its Kasai area, has become known throughout Japan as Little India for its concentration of Indian nationals. You won’t be hard-pressed to find authentic Indian cuisine here!
As shitamachi, you may find the locals much more approachable and friendly than in the center of Tokyo.
Where is Edogawa Ward?
Edogawa Ward is one of the 23 special wards of Tokyo Prefecture. However, it is the easternmost area of Tokyo and separated from the Chiba cities of Ichikawa and Urayasu by its namesake river, the Edogawa River, and Kyu-Edogawa River.
Edogawa Ward also borders Sumida Ward and Katsushika Ward. Nakagawa River serves as the boundary for Koiwa, in the north part of Edogawa Ward, and Katsushika Ward
In addition to these natural boundaries, Edogawa Ward itself is divided by several rivers. Across the Nakagawa River and Arakawa River lies Hirai, the westernmost frontier of Edogawa Ward. Hirai is separated by Sumida and Koto Ward by the Kyu-Nakagawa River. The Shin-Nakagawa River diverts from the Nakagawa River in the north and runs down the middle of Edogawa Ward.
From Skyscrapers to Trees – My Story
Geographically, Edogawa Ward is much like my hometown in the Southeastern United States, a peninsula crisscrossed with bridges new and old.
Back in the States we depend a lot on cars for transportation across the rivers, but here in Edogawa, public transportation is efficient and reliable, and a bicycle is all you need to get around the city.
When I met my now-husband, I lived in Nishi-Shinjuku, in a high rise apartment building surrounded by skyscrapers. Nishi-Shinjuku, an area with hotels, office buildings and home of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, is bustling with people on a weekday, but on the weekends and holidays, the streets are virtually empty.
I experienced a bit of “culture shock” when we moved to Edogawa Ward. Obviously, my physical surroundings were different- no more concrete jungle of towering buildings, traffic, and endless flow of men in black suits.
Here, everything is so green, and there’s so much color, especially in the springtime. Back in Nishi-Shinjuku, the only color I saw was the rainbow assortment of taxis that whizzed up and down the streets!
Even though I work with children, I was surprised to see children in my after work hours. It was only on occasion that I caught a glimpse of a child in Nishi-Shinjuku, and normally those sightings were limited to children entering and leaving hotels with their parents or playing in Shinjuku Central Park. But in Edogawa Ward, there is no shortage of children.
We chose Edogawa Ward because of its reputation as a family-friendly area. There seems to be an image of Japanese fathers working late and never spending time with their children. Here, I routinely see fathers playing with their children, catching insects or fishing or playing sports. These sightings are not limited to the weekend. It’s not rare to see a father frantically cycling across a bridge on the way to drop off his child to daycare.
Edogawa is a paradise for families with plenty of schools to attend and parks to enjoy. The municipal government is very motivated to protect the health of its residents. Every year, free physicals are available for residents under 40 years of age. Additionally, cancer screening tests and special dental exams are also available free of charge.
Just because it’s a family friendly area doesn’t mean that there’s nothing for singles or travelers. Choosing to live in Edogawa Ward is a great option for budget-conscious persons because rents are generally less than those closer to the center of Tokyo.
If you like nature, this is the place for you. If you suffer from allergies, don’t worry, I do too!
Aside from the open spaces, one of the great advantages of living in Edogawa Ward is that there are few high rise buildings, so Mount Fuji and summer firework displays can be seen from many areas of the ward. In April, I had an awesome time doing o-hanami with my family far away from the crowd of Shinjuku Gyoen, Ueno Park, and the like.
Travelers can benefit from staying in Edogawa Ward as direct bus access to/from Narita and Haneda Airport to Edogawa’s main stations means that travelers won’t have to worry about carrying their luggage on the train and navigating Tokyo’s impossible train and subway system. Plus, staying in the shitamachi area of Tokyo will give you a chance to experience life as a local and make new friends!
What to Enjoy
Within Edogawa Ward, there are numerous parks, and access to rivers means you’ll have plenty of opportunities for water sports.
Kasa Rinkai Koen is one of the biggest parks in Tokyo. Within its grounds are Tokyo Sealife Aquarium, Sea Bird Sanctuary, the Diamond and Flowers Ferris Wheel (second tallest in Japan), hiking trails, spaces for barbecue, and a beach.
The observation deck of Funabori Tower is free of charge and offers wonderful views of Tokyo Bay and central Tokyo as well.
Tokyo Subway Museum offers a unique look at the history of the tokyo’s subways and has a train conducting simulator as well.
If you are looking for entertainment outside of Edogawa Ward, there are many interesting spots to visit within a reasonable distance.
The most notable attraction near Edogawa Ward is Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disneysea. Either can be reached in just under 25 minutes. If you’re unable to make it to Maihama, nightly fireworks shows can be seen from certain areas of town.
Other attractions within a reasonable distance are Kameido Tenjin, Ryogoku Kokugikan/Sumo Hall, Edo Tokyo Museum, Sumida Aquarium, and Tokyo Sky Tree.
Ready to Visit? – Getting Around
Although the various areas of Edogawa Ward are separated by rivers, the city is fairly flat, making it easy to get around by bicycle. Plus, the ward has very few tall buildings, giving you amazing views as you bike over any bridge.
The city is trying its best to reduce the number of discarded bicycles by offering a rental bicycle service. 26 inch wheel bicycles can be rented daily, or for one or three month periods.
1 day- 210 yen
1 month – 2,060 yen
3 months – 6,170 yen
Having a baby, I personally prefer to use the Toei buses to get around town. Toei buses are orange and green in color. A one day bus pass is only ¥500, or you can purchase a Toei bus and Toei train pass for 700. The wi-fi is complimentary and efficient.
Another bus company that services the area is Keisiei. They are distinguishable from the Toei buses by their navy blue color. Keisei also operates Shuttle Seven, a hot pink bus (yes, really) that offers express service to Kasai Rinkai Koen Park, Tokyo Disneyland, and Tokyo Disneysea.
The train lines run parallel to each other and do not connect with one another within Edogawa Ward. Buses and bicycles are the most reliable modes of transportation around town, but for access to areas beyond the city limits, you’ll want to use the train. Edogawa Ward is served by the following train lines:
Line – Area Served
JR Sobu (Local) Line- Hirai, Koiwa
JR Keiyou Line- Kasai Rinkai Koen
Keisei Main Line- Keisei Koiwa, Edogawa
Toei Shinjuku Line – Funabori, Ichinoe, Mizue, Shinozaki
Tokyo Metro Tozai Line – Kasai, Nishi-Kasai