Thursday, January 8, 2009

56. Transportation Review: Toden Arakawa Line

The Toden Arakawa Line, which originated in 1913, is one of only two remaining streetcars in Tokyo. It operates from Waseda Station in Shinjuku Ward, cutting through Toshima Ward and Kita Ward; before terminating at Minowabashi Station in Arakawa Ward.
On most of the 12 kilometer journey it runs along its own tracks; but it also runs along Meiji Dori between Asukayama Station and Oji Eki-mae Station. The entire ride takes about 50 minutes. It is a slow, and leisurely ride through some interesting sections of Tokyo's 'Shita-machi' (the traditional 'downtown').
Some interesting stations for explorations include:

*Waseda - home of Waseda University, one of the top private universities in Japan. The campus is open to the public and is covered with many trees.

*Zoshigaya - Zoshigaya Cemetery and Gokokuji Temple

*Koshinzuka - Sugamo, the 'Harajuku' of the elderly

*Asukayama - Asukayama Park and it's museums

*Arakawa-yuenchimae - Children's amusement park

*Minowabashi - very 'downtown' atmosphere with once popular shotengai covered shopping arcade

A ride along the Arakawa Line costs a flat 160 yen, no matter how far you go. I recommend buying the 'Ichinichi Josya Ken' for 400 yen. With this ticket, you can hop on and off the train as much as you like for one day.

To see a map of the streetcar (with connecting train lines), use this link:
Exploring along the Arakawa Line is a great, inexpensive way to spend the day!