Thursday, October 1, 2009

61. Transportation Review: Tokyo Shitamachi Bus

The Tokyo Shitamachi Bus is a new bus service for the touristy 'downtown' sections of the city. The bus runs back and forth between Tokyo Station and Ryogoku and costs 200 yen per ride for adults (100 for children). They also offer a one-day Toei Bus pass for 500 yen (250 for children), which includes some really good discounts at locations along the route. The pass is good for the Shitamachi bus, and all other Toei buses.

The bus itself has been designed in a retro style, with a large round window on both sides of the back. If you ride the bus, sit beside one of these windows for the best views. Pay or show your pass when you get on the bus, press a button before the stop you want, to get off. Be sure to grab the two English brochures on the bus, they contain a lot of helpful information and good maps.

There are tv's on the bus with English subtitles and stops are announced in a number of different languages. Buses run daily at 30 minute intervals from 9:00 am to around 6:00pm. If you go from end to end, it takes about one hour. The ride is pretty slow, but it gives a good view of the area.

Bus stops are marked in Japanese and English with a sign that says 'tokyo shitamachi bus'.

Here are the stops:

1) Tokyo Station (Marunouchi North Exit)
2) Nihombashi Mitsukoshi
3) Sudacho (Akihabara) - on weekdays and Saturdays
Manseibashi (Akihabara) - on Sundays and holidays
4) Ueno Koen (park) Yamashita / Ueno Station
5) Kikuyabashi (Kappabashi Dogugai Street)
6) Asakusa Kaminarimon
7a) Ryogoku Station
7b) Toei Ryogoku Station (Edo-Tokyo Museum)

I highly recommend this bus to tourists (and locals alike), especially for an entire day of sightseeing in Shitamachi. 500 yen for a day pass (with discounts at locations along the route) is an excellent deal!

*By the way, the Ryogoku Station bus stop is just outside and down the street a little from the West Exit. Just behind the bus stop is a tiny tourist center with really good walking maps of Ryogoku. The maps do not have any English writing on the outside of them, but the map inside is labeled in Japanese and English. Currently the outside of the brochure is burgundy with mostly white printing and a wood block print picture. Be sure to get one!