In part thanks to all the Olympics-related construction happening out by the bay, Tokyo’s waterfront areas are undergoing a quiet revival, with new restaurants, cafés, hip hotels and other exciting hangouts popping up here and there along the capital’s rivers and canals. Led by the inclusive Mizbering project, which aims to make the most of recently relaxed regulations and a growing interest in reviving our dear city’s reputation as an aquatic metropolis, this welcome trend has also resulted in the emergence of several exciting after-dark destinations. Read on for our picks of the most romantic waterfront hideouts in Tokyo right now.
If you are after some old-school charm in Futako-Tamagawa, dodge the new and imposing Rise shopping complex and instead head east to find this lone four-storey house hidden out by the Tama River. It houses a great French restaurant and the top two floors have terrace seating with great views of the gently flowing river and the trains zipping by along the Denentoshi line. Order the steak fillet with foie gras (¥1,389), pick out a bottle of wine (from ¥2,300) and take in the cool evening breeze. Just don’t be surprised by the minimalist service: food tickets are bought at the ground-floor kitchen, and the staff will call you over a speaker when your dishes are ready for pick-up. The out-of-the-way, out of this world, location means it’s worth the effort of fetching your own food.
Grab a seat by the huge windows at this hip café perched partially above the Sumida River for spectacular views over lit-up Azumabashi, the Skytree and the golden, uh, turd on the roof of the Asahi Building. If you’re really lucky, you might be able to snag one of the tables on the small terrace and feel like you have the city all to yourself. Meursault’s 20-strong cake selection and eclectic drink menu are almost as dizzying as the views. Hot tip: this is probably one of the best places in the area for catching the annual Sumida River Fireworks.
Nihonbashi, the bridge that gave an entire central Tokyo district its name, is steeped in history as it was once the starting point for the five main routes that connected Edo with the provinces. Today the best place to admire the lit-up structure and the canal running underneath it is from the terrace seats at this classy Japanese restaurant and bar, named after its address and extremely popular among local businesspeople who stop by for a tipple after work. For a quieter experience, grab one of the stools by the counter and dig into the Madai no donabemeshi, a rice dish with red sea bream cooked in a clay pot – the perfect companion to a couple of sake shots. Get there early for the happy hour (3-7pm), when draft beer, nihonshu and cocktails can be had for just ¥300 a pop.
Press the intercom at the front entrance of one of the newer buildings overlooking the Sumida River in Kuramae and you’ll gain entrance to an elevator that’ll take you up to Privado, an appropriately ‘private’ bar that is, in our book, one of the most impressive date spots in all of eastern Tokyo. In addition to a top-drawer margarita, you’ll find a plentiful selection of vintage whisky and cigars. Book in advance for access to one of the few terrace tables, which provide attractive vistas out towards the Skytree. For a change of pace, check out ‘ping-pong bar’ Ribayon on the fourth floor of the same structure, or head down to the eclectic Cielo y Rio restaurant and café that occupies floors one and three.