Overview of Tokyo’s rivers

This is an ongoing project to document the full list of rivers, former rivers, and green roads of Tokyo. See also my main site: thetokyofiles.com

I. Overview of Tokyo area rivers

We start with a view of the Tokyo river basin, from “Greater Tokyo, Japan”, coordinated by: The National Institute for Land and Infrastructure Management – Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport of Japan (NILIM-MLIT) (PDF)

Tokyo river basin map

That map describes four river basins:

  • Tonegawa 利根川 (Tone River)
  • Arakawa 荒川
  • Tamagawa 多摩川 (Tama River)
  • Sagamigawa 相模川 (Sagami River)

An additional basis not included in that map is the Tsurumigawa 鶴見川 river basin in Kawasaki, which is to the south of the Tamagawa basin (PDF):

This gives us five river systems in the greater Tokyo area: Tonegawa, Arakawa, Tamagawa, Sagamigawa, and Tsurumigawa. Stemming from these rivers are a large number of smaller rivers and streams: Wikipedia list of Tokyo rivers (Japanese)

The following map, with Tokyo shaded in white, provides a good overview of the many rivers and streams in the city (source):

For those interested only in central Tokyo, the following map shows the rivers of old Edo (source):

In the map we see (clockwise from left):

  • 玉川 (or 多摩川)  = Tamagawa
  • 千川上水 = Senkawa (Sengawa) Josui (1696)
  • 神田上水 (1590) = Kandagawa-josui, formerly Koishikawa [below here is a 水門 suimon, a floodgate or sluice]
  • 神田川 = Kandagawa River
  • 隅田川 = Sumidagawa
  • 亀有上水 (1659) = Kameari (Honjo) Josui, aka 本所上水,「本所(亀有)上水」
  • 三田上水 (1664) = Mitagawa
  • 青山上水 (1660) = Aoyama josui canal
  • 玉川上水 (1654) = Tamagawa josui canal
II. About this blog

The purpose of this blog is to map and describe all of the rivers and streams in the Tokyo area. The entries will start with a reference letter/number corresponding to a location on an annotated map. For example, the first entry, (R1) Nogawa River 野川, appears on the following map as “R1”.

III. Green roads and underground rivers

Many of Tokyo’s rivers were diverted or submerged underground over the years, but they still play an important role in the water drainage systems of Tokyo. I wrote about this topic in a previous post: Walking on water: the underground rivers of Tokyo 東京の地下河川や運河の地図

The list of former rivers is documented in the following map, which was prepared using visual confirmation from Google Streetview, aerial photographs from circa 1945-1950, and maps published in 1948 by the U.S. Army Map Service, 1945-1946, which are available on the University of Texas’s website.

The key:

  • Purple = a road, path, etc with little or no visible water; some of these are pedestrian paths and some allow cars.
  • Green  = a “green road” with either visible water, significant trees, or other aesthetic flourishes that distinguish these from regular
  • Blue = current river