The only Tokyo sakura drive that suddenly turns into a cruise.

Our Japanese-language reporter Mariko Ohanabatake loves cherry blossoms. That’s not such a unique character trait, but what is unique is one of her favorite ways to see them: from Tokyo’s water bus.

We’re not using “water bus” to mean a boat that goes up and down the river on fixed schedule, either. Nope, Tokyo’s Sky Duck is an on-the-street bus that can also drive right into the water and become a boat.

▼ Ironically, through the sky is the only way the Sky Duck can’t travel.

Every spring, the Sky Duck alters its standard sightseeing course in order to take passengers around to some of the most beautiful, off-the-beaten-path cherry blossom views in downtown Tokyo, in an event it calls the Skyduck Tokyo Tokyo Skytree Course Sakura Week. Though the hint is sort of buried in the middle of that long name, yes, it does depart from the Sky Hop Bus Ticket office near the Tokyo Skytree.

The 90-minute drive/cruise starts by taking passengers around parks on the banks of the Sumidagawa River, with views of the sakura and Skytree together, so you’ll want to have your camera out and ready.

Because the vehicle’s bottom half has to function as a boat, you sit higher in the Sky Duck than in a conventional bus. As you drive along, the upper branches of the cherry blossom trees are at eye-level, making it feel like you’re floating through the flowers of Kinshi and Sarueonshi Parks.

But where things get really surreal is when the driver points the bus towards the Arakawa River…

…and drives right into the water!

There’s a bit of a splash as the Sky Duck enters the river, but after that, you’re treated to views you can’t get any other way.

Instead of tourist attractions, the river portion of the 90-minute course goes by lived-in residential areas, with people from the nearby apartment blocks relaxing and playing under the boughs of the cherry blossom trees.

▼ Local kids waving to the boat is an especially heartwarming part of the cruise, and the whole thing feels like the opening to a nostalgic old-school TV drama.

Eventually, the Sky Duck Mariko was on came back onto dry land. There was a pause in the journey as the vehicle got some quick cleaning done before heading back onto the surface streets, during which passengers can stroll around the pleasant park and stretch their legs.

Once it was ready, Mariko hopped back on, and after a few more cherry blossom tree-lined roads, they were back at the Skytree, where there’s easy train access to the rest of the city for anyone headed back home or off to do more sightseeing elsewhere in the city (or if you have plans to walk over to the Skytree and get lunch at the Kirby Cafe).

The photos seen here are from Mariko’s previous sakura season outing, since the flowers won’t be blooming in Tokyo for a few more weeks. Online reservations can already be made here, tough, for this year’s Skyduck Tokyo Tokyo Skytree Course Sakura Week here, with prices starting at 2,900 yen (US$21.50 ) for adults and 1,400 yen for kids, with the tours taking place from March 25 to April 5.

Related: Skyduck Tokyo Tokyo Skytree Course Sakura Week website
Photos ©SoraNews24
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