Tokyo Water sports – rowing under cherry blossoms

Colorful canoes on kyu nagakawa river
Colorful canoes on kyu nagakawa river

This 10th April was the annual spring open day at Edogawa Rowing Club.  Winter is gone. Colorful boats were floating gently in the spring breeze under the mellow sun. Viewers gathered around the river side in tents under the cherry blossom trees.

Edogawa – center for Tokyo Water Sports

Edogawa was a low lying area, riverine marshy land. In terms of industry there were log factories, boat building, fishing. Funabori railway station was a dock. Government revenue department had its customs checkpoint set up here. It’s a museum now.

Rowing under cherry blossoms
Rowing under cherry blossoms

Urbanization has changed much of this eastern fringe of old Tokyo. But some traditions lived on. Boating or its modern versions like rowing canoeing speed boating water scootering have taken the place. Aided by newly set up  lock gates and jetties the Kyu Nakagawa canal has transformed into a water sports enthusiasts training ground. School rowing and canoeing clubs set up tents on Sundays. So do the members of local rowing/canoeing clubs. Any body can be a member, age no bar. In fact the ever growing fitness craze among even longer living Japanese population sees a lot of grey haired men and women as members. Youngsters from the age of 12 (middle school/ Chu Gakkou ) can take to their own canoes. The school club members practice speed rowing in batches. Most club equipments such as boats / canoes / oars are kept in two storage areas under the two foot bridges connecting Komatsugawa and Ojima. Individual enthusiasts with their own row boats / inflatables  are also welcome. Cars with boats tugged behind or secured on top can park in a neighborhood car parking in Komatsugawa park.

Annual Spring Open Day – rowing under the cherry blossoms

Local clubs start their annual season every Spring. On a set day all clubs descend on to the area between the two bridges setting up tents, and information kiosks. New members are welcome to join. To help people experience the fun, the clubs offer free 30 minutes try it yourself offers. Each club has its own specialty. Some have row boats, some canoes, some rubber dinghies and others with wooden traditional ones. At one end competitions are held between club members. The competition boats are long traditional dragon boats with one yeoman playing a drum. The competitors in their team colors row their long boats in unison with the yeomans rhythm. Members friends and families cheer from under their tents by the river side.

Row boats and dragon boats for racing
Row boats and dragon boats for racing

Comparatively the introductory rides for new members bring in a different kind of excitement. Mainly crowded by just-attained middle school kids and their parents, it is a chance to test one’s abilities in water sports. Senior citizens with enthusiasm for new challenges also step in. Life vest, brief training, and assistance in water is provided by the club members.

Learners queue up
Learners queue up

The event timing being in spring, cherry blossom trees in bloom greet day’s visitors. The cherry blossoms, the colorful tents, carbon fiber boats and the cheerful crowd make for a festive day atmosphere. Food carts with tako yaki, and kaki gori complete the ambiance.

Anybody interested may contact Edogawa Rowing Club at below address.


For more modern adrenaline pumping competitions, like speed boat racing or water spootering, you can go to the nearby Boat Race facility on river Arakawa (station Funabori). The address is as follows.


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