Walking along the Yata River and Aizome River | Discovering Hebimichi (the Snake Path)!


Long ago, the Shakujii River flowed from Oji to Shinobazunoike. The digital elevation topographic map makes this clear.

In modern times, the Yata River and the Aizen River came to flow here. However, both of them are now culverted.

The Aizome River culvert is a narrow, winding path known as the “Snake Path.” It looked interesting, so I walked along it.

Asuka Park Rail

I have been to Oji several times. I’ve been to Oji several times, but I’ve never ridden the “Asuka Park Rail”. Today, I am saying that I am going to walk along the Aizome-gawa River, but it is not an exaggeration to say that my real goal is to ride the Park Rail.


Park Entrance Station of Asuka Park Rail

After leaving the JR station, I headed straight for the park entrance station.

The snow that had fallen on January 22 was still on the ground.

The train car, “Ascargo,” arrived in a couple of minutes.


Cliff edge erosion of the Shakujii River

There were about eight of us riding together. I was the only one taking pictures in the car.

Below us, the Toden Arakawa Line runs along Meiji-dori Street. On the other side of Meiji-dori Avenue, there are yakitori restaurants and other stores, and behind them is the Otonashi Water Park.

At about the same elevation as where I am now, there is a building of Oji Shrine.

A long time ago, the Otonashi Park must have been at about the same elevation as here. The Shakujii River eroded the cliff edge and created the valley below.

However, only Meiji-dori Avenue is higher and flatter than Otonashi Park, so it must have been carved out by humans.



Ascargo is shiny. But I guess it’s hard to clean on the roof. It’s dirty.

Walking along the Yata River


Otonashi Bridge seen from Asukayama Park

Looking at the Otonashi Bridge from Asukayama Park.

Passing under the bridge from left to right is the flow path of the Shakujii River (not the diversion channel). But before the erosion of the cliff edge, it would have flowed in the direction on the left where the car on the left is headed.


The entrance to the Shakujii River diversion channel that runs underneath Oji Station

Before following the flow of the old Shakujii River (= Yata River and Aizome River), I greeted the entrance of the diversion channel that runs under Oji Station. I heard the sound of water flowing. Not without sound. (Another name for the Shakujii River is the Otonashi River. It means “soundless river.”)


Soapberry tree

There was a soapberry tree next to me.

Now that I look at the photo more closely, I see that it had berries on it, which are used for the black balls on the wings of battledore. I should have observed the real thing more.


National Printing Bureau Tokyo Plant

This is the Tokyo Plant of the National Printing Bureau. This is where the Bank of Japan notes are printed.

I was so distracted by the printing bureau that I missed the nearby Nishigahara Ichirizuka.


Former Furukawa Garden

I followed the road to the old Furukawa Garden. I had been in this garden about a quarter century ago. My impression at that time was that it was a garden with a difference in elevation.

Today, I realize that the difference in elevation was created by the flow of the old Shakujii River. For me, the best part of taking a walk is experiencing the sensation of fitting the pieces of a puzzle together over the years.



As you head south along the Old Furukawa Garden, you will be going downhill. If you look at the name of the intersection at its lowest point, you will see “Shimofuribashi (Frosty Bridge)”. There is no river nearby, but there used to be the Yata River, and this must be the name of the bridge that spanned it.

I turn left at the Shimofuri Bridge and feel like I am walking along the Yata River.


Walkway passing under the Yamanote Line

I thought I was going to cross the only crossing on the Yamanote Line, but it was an underpass one west of the crossing. It’s a little disappointing, but the pictures soothed me, so it’s okay.

Walking along the Aizome River

If I had just kept going past the Yata Bridge, I would have easily reached the “Snake Path (Hebimichi).”

However, I had already researched that the Snake Path was on the border of Bunkyo and Taito wards, so I started walking along the border of the two wards using my smartphone as a guide.

I found a narrow path on the border of the two wards, and as I walked along, thinking, “This is where the snake path leads,” I gradually lost my way.


Yomise Dori

As I was trying to get back to the original path, I came to a lively “Yomise Dori”.

Yomise Dori leads to Hebi Dori, so I was able to get back to my original path as I wished. However, I couldn’t fully enjoy the fun atmosphere of Yomise Dori because I strongly felt that it shouldn’t be so prosperous since it was supposed to be narrow. Ah, what a waste.


Remains of Biwa Bridge

In the meantime, I found a sign for the remains of Biwa Bridge. On the back of the sign, it said that it was the channel of the Aizome River, which was now a culvert. I was relieved.


Snake path

Found the snake path!

I realized how difficult it is to take a picture of a snake path, because you can’t see what’s ahead if it’s crooked, and you can’t tell how crooked it is if you can’t see what’s ahead.


Hail-like showers

The weather was unsettled, with occasional hail-like showers.


Straight snake path

As the snake path heads southeast, it suddenly straightens out. I wonder if it is no longer a snake path.
However, it is so narrow that it does not seem to be the border of a ward.


Streetcar with Ikenohata Children’s Amusement Park sign

After passing through the snake path, I found a streetcar with a sign that said “Ikenohata Children’s Amusement Park. It seems to be parked there to commemorate the old stop. It seems to have been cared for and is beautiful.


Shinobazu Pond

We finally reached Shinobazu Pond.

Speaking of which, what is the source of the water in Shinobazu Pond? Does it flow in from the Aizome River, which is a culvert? Or is it spring water?


Stairs near the Kiyomizu Kannon Hall

I climbed the stairs and headed for Ueno Station. These steps were also made by the old Shakujii River. I was deeply moved.


Plum blossoms in Ueno Park

The plum blossoms were in bloom. Spring is just around the corner.

Walking data

Course: JR Keihin Tohoku Line Oji Station -> Old Shakujii River -> JR Keihin Tohoku Line Ueno Station
Distance: 8.8km
Time: 2h14m