Low TownFukagawa is on the edge of an old district of Tokyo once known as Shitamachi (下町 ~ literally: low town).
In the Edo-era, the Shogun and the upper classes of Japanese society took the high parts of Tokyo towards the mountainside (an area known as Yamanote). The merchants and the peasants took what was left — low lying ground by the sea that was exposed to attack and prone to floods.
These delineations still exist in Tokyo today. Fukagawa is working class and has been for 300 years.
Water Fight FestivalThe Fukagawa Hachiman Matsuri is one of Tokyo's best summer festivals.
It's a fairly standard Japanese festival — mikoshi teams carry the gods through the streets and festival food is enjoyed by all. The one twist is that it's also a giant water fight.
The festival is held on the 3rd weekend in August when Tokyo is insufferably hot. It's no fun carrying 2000 kilogram mikoshi in 35°C temperatures. The water fight helps to cool things down.
Urban RenewalFukagawa is a quiet neighborhood. Time stands still here. Tokyo was built up and torn down and built up again while Fukagawa stood still.
The area is one of the few spots in Tokyo where you can find 100+ year old architecture. The area is also known for its large parks and temples. Property values have been rising in Fukagawa for over a decade. It's become a popular spot for young artists to open small galleries and young entrepreneurs to open cafes.
Fukagawa Edo MuseumThe Fukagawa Edo Museum recreates old Tokyo (when Fukagawa was just a fishing village on the banks of the Sumida river). It's one of the best historical museums in Tokyo.
The museum includes a dozen full scale Edo-era houses and shops. It's well done with plenty of small touches designed to transport the visitor back in time.
Every hour the village cycles from morning to night (occasionally they throw in a thunderstorm or blooming sakura to simulate changes in weather and season). Actors reenact scenes from the Edo-era.
It's one of the best museums in the city for kids and history buffs.
Location MapFukagawa is to the east of Tokyo Station across from the Sumida River.
It's just north of Monzen-Nakacho Station on the Tozai and Oedo train lines.
The Fukagawa Edo Museum is closer to Kiyosumi-shirakawa Station. Check a Tokyo train route finder for directions from your location.