Sumida-ku : The Best Area To Stay In Tokyo, Japan

Just where is the best area to stay in Tokyo if you are a...

✔ Solo traveler
✔ First time in Japan
✔ On a really tight budget

Last September was my first time to travel to Japan. It is not my first time to travel solo though. Like many of my previous trips, I planned and prepared for it very poorly..

I decided to change hostel just after I arrived in Narita Airport. While sitting on a bench waiting for the train that would take me to Tokyo, I connected to free Wi-Fi and started browsing other hostels on Booking.comBooking.com had always been my most trusted and my most favorite site for securing a nice place to sleep during my trips. Uh, yeah, also, this is an affiliate link. But I really like booking.com.

The Best Area To Stay In Japan

The Tokyo Metropolitan Area is huge. It is also one of the most expensive cities in the world! As Shinjuku and Shibuya are on top of the list of most recommended area to stay in Tokyo for tourists.. I decided to stay away from those areas because the hotel/hostel prices in these areas are expensive!

After reviewing and comparing prices, locations, photos, and all that jazz.. I ended up at a hostel located in Sumida, Tokyo!

OK, Sumida.. Never heard!! What's in Sumida?? Is that far from the city center!? Is it still Tokyo? Let's answer these questions in this blog post!

Sumida-ku is located at the northeastern part of Tokyo. It was founded in 1947 and now home to 257,300 people. I stayed for 6 days and 7 nights at a hostel called Oak Hostel Fuji located in Sumida, Tokyo.

I initially booked for 5 nights at Oak Hostel Fuji but extended for 1 more night on my 7th day in Tokyo. I loved the hostel's ambiance, location, and its price is just right for my budget.

Oak Hostel Fuji


Common area of Oak Hostel Fuji

This is where Oak Hostel Fuji's guests hangout. It looks empty at noontime but it can get a bit crowded around 20:00-23:00 -- the best time to meet fellow travelers and make new friends.

I would also like to say kudos to the Oak Hostel Fuji staffs. They were able to help me with my following dilemma:
  • They let me borrow an umbrella on the day of my visit to Tsukiji Fish Market as there was a slight shower in the morning. Saved me pennies instead of buying my own umbrella :-)
  • They suggested a cheaper option on sending my box of Japanese goodies to the US for a friend. It is via air that's cheaper than sea cargo! ;-)
  • Lastly, they helped me find out the expiration dates for each box of goodies I bought which I sent to the US :-D
A bit gloomy in the morning. This is the view from the roof deck of Oak Hostel Fuji.

5 Reasons Why Sumida is the Best Area to Stay in Tokyo

  1. Crossing the bridge of Sumida River in the day is magical
  2. The Tokyo Skytree shines like a diamond at night
  3. Traditional (Sensō-ji Temple) and modern (Tokyo Skytree) attractions are just a few steps away
  4. Direct train access from Narita Airport  via Keisei Railway to Oshiage 'SKYTREE' Station or Asakusa Station
  5. It is quieter and less crowded in this part of the city

Other tourist attractions near Sumida-ku Area

I always prefer going to high-rise buildings with observation view deck in the afternoon right before sunset. If there's no long queue to get to the top of the building, I will be able to see the beauty of the entire city at day and also at night if the timing is right.

Entrance Fee : ¥1,030 - 4,000
Operating Hours : 08:00 - 22:00
Train Station Access : Tokyo Skytree Station via Tobu Skytree Line or Oshiage station 'SKYTREE' via Hanzomon Line
Photo source : Tokyo Skytree website

2. Sumida Park / Sumida Garden

I really enjoyed this serene and calming view of the Tokyo Skytree and Sumida River viewed from this riverbank.
Entrance Fee : Free
Operating Hours : Always open
Train Station Access : Asakusa station via Asakusa line
The Tokyo Skytree from Sumida Garden overlooking the Sumida River.

Spotted a young Japanese couple dressed in Kimono near Sumida Garden buying drinks from vending machine. Youngsters in Kimono and rickshaws are common to see around Sumida Park.

3. Senso-ji Temple

According to Japan-Guide.com, Sensō-ji is the most popular, colorful, and oldest Buddhist temple in Tokyo. The temple is flocked by tourist during the day but past nine in the evening, you'll enjoy the beauty of the temple at night when it is lit up. (Also, the Tokyo Skytree is stunning from Senso-ji Temple.)

Entrance Fee : Free
Operating Hours : Always open (Main Hall : 06:00-17:00 only)
Train Station Access : Asakusa station via Asakusa line

During the day, Sensō-ji Temple is flocked by Buddhist and tourists.

Sensō-ji Temple lights up at night. No crowd, all yours.
A lot of souvenir shops and Japanese sweets are available from Kaminarimon or "Thunder Gate " up to Sensō-ji temple.

4. Asakusa Public Hall

Very near from Sensō-ji Temple is the Asakusa Public Hall where Kabuki shows are held. For schedule and tickets of shows, please check out this websites : Kabukiweb.net and E-tix.jp

Entrance Fee : ¥ 3000 - ¥ 9000
Operating Hours : Depends on shows schedule.
Train Station Access : Ryogoku Station via JR Sobu Line or Toei Oedo Line

Photo : Japan Times
5. Sumida Cruise

Entrance Fee : ¥ 780 - ¥ 2040
Operating Hours : Please check Suijobus.co.jp
Train Station Access: Asakusa station via Asakusa line

Photo source : Tokyo Source
6. Azuma-bashi Bridge

Very colorful and lively bridge in Sumida, Tokyo.
Entrance Fee : Free
Operating Hours : Always open
Train Station Access : Asakusa station via Asakusa line

7. Komagata-bashi Bridge

Entrance Fee : Free
Operating Hours : Always open
Train Station Access : Asakusa station via Asakusa line

Isn't this bridge adorable?

8. Kanto Earthquake Memorial Museum / Yokoami-cho Park tokyoireikyoukai.or.jp/

Entrance Fee :
Operating Hours : Memorial Hall - 09:17:00 (Holidays and Monday - Cloased) / Park - Always open
Train Station Access : Ryogoku Station via JR Sobu Line or Toei Oedo Line

Found old Japanese men in this park sketching the Kanto Earthquake Museum. I actually approached this man in the photo and told him he's drawing is very impressive. He couldn't speak English but I think he was a bit flattered.

9. Edo-Tokyo Museum

Entrance Fee : ¥ 300-600
Operating Hours : Closed until March 31, 2018 for renovation.
Train Station Access : Ryogoku Station via JR Sobu Line or Toei Oedo Line

  1. One of the several old towns and Japanese palaces miniature models.
  2. Japanese Tourists. I had a chance to chitchat with an old Japanese lady who is part of a group tour. 
  3. Japanese kids on their educational tour. I asked them why the sushi model is too big and with that size, it can't be eaten in one bite (refer to photo #2). I enjoyed the short conversation with them!
  4. Err.. random Japanese man in front of an old Japanese Kabuki Theater façade.
  5. Watashi wa inside a traditional Japanese house taking a selfie.
  6. A typical Japanese house interior in the 1960's.
10. Sumo Museum / Ryogoku Kokugikan (Sumo Hall) http://www.sumo.or.jp/En/

Just beside the Edo-Tokyo Museum is Sumo Museum and the Sumo Hall where sumo wrestling tournaments are held.
Entrance Fee : Museum : Free / Sumo Hall Tickets : ¥ 3800 - ¥ 38000
Operating Hours : Museum - 10:00-16:00 ; Closed on Saturdays, Sundays, and Holidays  / Hall - Opens at 08:00 up to the last match around 18:00.
Train Station Access : Ryogoku Station via JR Sobu Line or Toei Oedo Line

Since it was my first time in Japan, I probably won't be staying in Tokyo in my next visits. But should I miss Tokyo, I'd still probably find myself a place to stay in Sumida or Asakusa which are both in the lovely outskirts of Tokyo. I miss Tokyo already!!