Being in Tokyo during hanami season means lots of rain. Lots of lovely pink flowers too, but really, enough rain to dampen spirits and put kinks in plans. We made it through a weekend of drizzle and depressing weather forecasts. We had very low hopes for Monday.
But Monday showered (heh) us with some much needed sunshine and blue skies! We were booked for a Sky Duck tour that morning, and we were so lucky that the weather cleared just when we really, really hoped with all our finger-crossing powers that it would. It was a little foggy still and the ever-dampening forecast called for showers in the afternoon, but for the two hours of our tour, the weather held up!
It was such fun. The tour was conducted in Japanese and we probably missed out a ton of information, but the tour guide armed us with plastic duck beak whistles so we were well-entertained (by ourselves, ahem) and occupied with the sights we passed as the vehicle (bus?) drove through Kameido. When you’re travelling in an amphibious bus at lunchtime in Tokyo, you tend to get a lot of people waving at you. Kameido looked to be a lovely retro piece of Tokyo. It would be nice to head back and explore the area on foot next time.
As we neared the Nakagawa River, sakura trees came into sight. Gasps were heard. Cameras went off. It was quite a beautiful sight. After the crowds at Shinjuku Gyoen, it was especially refreshing to see sakura trees in their unmolested state.
We were then prepped for the duck part of the tour – a safety demo was given by the captain and we were shown where the lifejackets were. After that, we did a few rehearsals of the rallying cry we were supposed to make as our bus entered the water. The young female guide was so full of energy that, despite us not understanding most of what she said, we were able to participate quite appropriately when needed.
As we cruised along the Nakagawa River, we both remarked to each other that it must be nice to have such a river to have lunch at, enjoy a moment of solitude, and experience the hanami without feeling an incessant need to take a photo. We passed picnics, sleeping fishing uncles, a shy couple and curious passerbys. When we were back on land, we took a toilet break and some time to walk along the banks of the river, snap photos and pose with sakura trees (sorry).
The return journey was more waving and poorly translated (by me) snatches of trivia :)
If you’re interested in going for the tour, advance reservations can be made via the website. You will get a confirmation of your booking via email, and you will have to present that to the staff on the day itself.
1. Choose between Sky Bus Tokyo and Sky Duck services by clicking on the relevant logo. The Tokyo Sky Tree tour is under Sky Duck. Sky Duck tours are only conducted in Japanese, but they welcome foreign visitors.
2. Choose the tour course. There are two different courses available for the Sky Duck Tour. One starts from the Tokyo Sky Tree (東京スカイツリー(R)コース) and continues on to Kameido. The other starts from Kameido (亀戸コース). Both courses will include a short ride in the Nakagawa River.
3. Information about the course selected in (2). The Sky Tree course begins opposite the Sky Tree station. The tour continues through to Kameido, and enters the Nakagawa River near the Higashi-ojima station. After a brief tour on the river, there will be a toilet break before the tour heads back to the Sky Tree through Kameido. You will not be allowed to alight from the vehicle during the tour and the tour takes approximately 100 minutes.
4. Ticket prices: Adult – 2,900 yen. Child – 1,400 yen
5. Boarding area. The boarding area/bus stop is in the carpark next to the ticket collection booth.
6. Date of tour. Reservations can be made a month in advance.
7. Number of participants: 大人 – Adult.
8. Number of participations: 小人 – Child.
9. Click to search for availability.
10. Pick an available time slot. Click on the corresponding 予約する button to continue.
11. Enter your full name. English characters are ok!
12. Provide your telephone number. Please make sure that you can be contactable via this number on the day of the tour.
13. Enter your email address.
14. Confirm your email address.
15. Overview of tour details.
17. Click this button to continue. Should you want to amend details of your tour, click the other button.
I don’t have screens further to this process, but I think it’s a confirmation of the details provided. After making your reservation, you should receive an email. Arrive about 20 minutes before the tour is scheduled to depart, show your email to the staff in charge, make payment and visit the washroom!