The Arakawa Line Is The Streetcar You Desire
By Lynda Deaver
A truly unique way to experience Tokyo, the Arakawa Line is the only remaining Tokyo Toden streetcar line. This streetcar line spans from the shitamachi of Minowabashi, through both residential and commercial areas and finally to the Toden Waseda Station.
A ride along all 12.2 kilometers of tracks takes 53 minutes and at 400 yen for an all day pass, a romantic afternoon streetcar journey costs less than a bowl of ramen.
Riding the Arakawa Line
The Arakawa Line has 30 stations, which means that it has enough attractions along the way to fill a book. Who gets on and off at each stop will give a hint about the stop; an older crowd getting on with groceries from the shopping arcades near Minowabashi Station, families with little kids getting off to go to the amusement park at Arakawa-yuenchimae Station and couples with deparment store shopping bags getting on at Otsuka Station.
Those with a day pass and a full day to explore will want to get off at as many stops as possible. Those without much time can check out some of the most recommended sights along the Arakawa Line, listed below.Photo by takeshisz
Joyful Minowa [Japanese]
Stops: Minowabashi Station and Arakawa-ichumae Station
Joyful Minowa Shopping Arcade is home to the 280-yen bento shop, 10-gyoza-for-300-yen shop, and a wealth of recycle shops and grocers. If the discount stores don’t entice you, perhaps the specialty Japanese sweets, tea and miso shops will.
Arakawa Amusement Park [Japanese]
Open: 9:00-17:00 (excluding Tuesdays, New Year, etc.)
Stop: Arakawa-yuenchimae Station
With a petting zoo, fishing pond and lots of rides, Arakawa Amusement Park is one of the places you can’t miss along the Arakawa Line if you have children. Entry is only 200 yen for adults and free for elementary and junior high kids on weekdays (100 yen on Sat., Sun., holidays), and the rides use a reasonably priced ticket system.
Toden Omoide no Hiroba [Japanese]
Open: 10:00-16:00 (only Sat., Sun., holidays)
Stop: Arakawa-shakomae Station
The Toden Omoide no Hiroba is a small plaza dedicated to past Tokyo Toden lines and trams. In this plaza you’ll find maps, historical displays and two of the old streetcars from the Showa Period.
Asukayama Park [in Japanese]
Stop: Asukayama Station
Asukayama Park has train-themed playground equipment and, more importantly, space to run around. If you’re looking for some culture with your dose of the outdoors, you can visit the three museums on the grounds: The Paper Museum, the Kita City Asukayama Museum and the Shibusawa Memorial Museu.
Stop: Higashi-ikebukuro-yonchome Station
Sunshine City is a popular shopping and entertainment center in the Ikebukuro area. With aquariums, restaurants and countless stores, you could easily spend an entire day at Sunshine City.
Walking the Arakawa Line
If you have time and good shoes or wheels, my personal recommendation is taking a stroll along the Arakawa Line tracks. Much of the tracks are easy to follow, although you may momentarily lose them in the residential areas between Asukayama Station and Sugamo-shinden Station.
Foodies will love stumbling upon restaurants such as Yuru Cafe Kirara near Takinogawa-itchome Station. Train enthusiasts will enjoy trying to catch a glimpse of all four series of Arakawa Line trams (the 7000, 8500, 9000 and 8800). Additionally, photographers will have the opportunity to take photos of the streetcars in settings from flowering residential areas to dazzling city lights.
For sightseeing on the tracks but off the beaten path, take a ride on the Arakawa Line.
*Use exact change or IC card (Suica/PASMO)
Adults: 170 yen (IC card: 165 yen)
Children: 90 yen (IC card: 82 yen)
Toei Streetcar One-Day Economy Pass (streetcar only)
*Buy on the train or at the Arakawa Office
*Request the “Ichinichi Josha Ken” when speaking with staff
Adults: 400 yen
Children: 200 yen
Toei One-Day Economy Pass (any Toei transportation)
*Buy inside any Toei/Toden bus or train or at any Toei/Toden station or office
*Request the “Toei Marugoto Kippu” when speaking with staff
Adults: 700 yen
Children: 350 yen