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Best Train Lines for Living in Tokyo: The Tozai Line

What makes living on the Tozai line so great? 

By 5 min read

When seeking an apartment in Tokyo, the most important decision you must make is location, location, location. Firstly, the train line you’ll be on and the commute or rush hour.

Are neighborhood restaurants, supermarkets and parks adding to your standard of living, and how close are they? All these are crucial factors when considering your home base. The Best Train Lines for Living in Tokyo gives a quick overview of these points, hopefully making it easier for you to decide.

Today, we’ll rundown the capital’s link to Chiba through central Tokyo: the Tozai line.

Overview

Photo:
From east to west.

The Tozai line (東西線, Tozai-sen) is a metro line that connects Tokyo and Chiba, and its name derives from it running from the East to the West: the East-West Line. The track is owned by Tokyo Metro and is one of the metro lines that still run overground for nearly half of the line, totaling a distance of 14km.

There are 23 stations on the line, served by local, rapid and commuter express trains. Major stations include Otemachi, Nihonbashi, Iidabashi, Takadanobaba, Nakano and Nishifunabashi. However, the line also comprises smaller stations, ranging from busy business districts to quieter residential neighborhoods.

The commute

Photo:
Easy transfers from the JR Chuo Sobu line to the Tozai line can be made at Nakano station.

Originally built to serve as a bypass for the Chuo Rapid Line and Sobu Line to ease up traffic, the Tozai line is the only Tokyo Metro line extending into Chiba and central Tokyo. The fastest line for ease of access between Central Tokyo and Chiba is the busiest line on the metro network.

We won’t mince our words; it can get crowded on this line, particularly during commuting hours,  but the line’s accessibility makes the commute much more bearable due to its speed and ease of access to the city.

Popular neighborhoods

Besides its accessibility from the East to the West, the Tozai line is filled with points of interest.

Nihonbashi

Photo:
A bustling business district.

Literally named ‘Japan Bridge’, Nihonbashi is in the center of Tokyo, just west of Tokyo Station. A business district with a history dating back to the Edo period, its name comes from the iconic bridge connecting two sides of the Nihonbashi River. This bridge was built in 1603 and was also Japan’s first one.

Nihonbashi today is still the starting point of the five major roads across Japan, and distances to and from Tokyo are still measured from here. Nihonbashi blends the traditional with the modern and is home to scores of old stores such as wagashi, dashi and department store Takashimaya.

Takadanobaba

Photo:
For cheap eats and relaxing after work.

Takadanobaba, whose name is derived from “Takada’s horse grounds” because the area is an actual riding site from the Edo period, is for the foodies. Apart from its many ethnic restaurants ranging from Chinese to Burmese to Vietnamese and Indian, it is also where only the best ramen shops survive due to the cluster of ramen shops here.

With Waseda University and Gakushuin University nearby, Takadanobaba is a big hangout spot for college students, hence restaurants, bars and cafes at reasonable prices.

Kagurazaka

Photo:
A more traditional side of Tokyo.

Historically known for its old geisha houses and large French community, Kagurazaka’s cobbled alleys, collection of restaurants and proximity to Iidabashi, where the former moats of Edo Castle sit, are all elements that make the neighborhood perfect for a leisurely walk.

Kagurazaka is one of the six Geisha districts (hanamichi) still active in Tokyo, retaining that cool historical vibe. Due to the French influence, there are also a ton of French eateries and patisseries around the area. Don’t forget to stop by Akagi Shrine, whose 2010 refresh was designed by the famed architect Kuma Kengo.

Best three Tozai stations for living in Tokyo

Nakano

Photo:
It’s a great place for anime fans and collectors alike.

Just 10 minutes away from Shinjuku is Nakano, also known as one of Tokyo’s most densely populated areas. There are options for everything in Nakano and scores of shops and supermarkets for daily necessities, as well as fashion boutiques and a highly popular and packed restaurant scene.

With its quieter suburban vibe away from the main shopping arcade, it’s one of the most convenient yet affordable stations you can find.

Average apartment price

1K: ¥90,900 / 2LDK: ¥211,000

Local attractions

  • Nakano Broadway: shopping complex with tons of quirky sub-culture stores
  • Nakano Sunmall: 255 meters long covered shopping street with shops of every category you can think of, from restaurants to jewelers to fashion boutiques, game centers and others

Monzennakacho

Photo:
Say a little prayer before heading off to work.

A part of old Tokyo downtown, Monzennakacho is a favorite for food lovers looking for nostalgic options. With its waterfront vistas and beautiful cherry blossoms during Spring, it’s an incredible area to take walks and have new experiences in the side streets and old-school restaurants with a long history to them.

Despite the ease of access to Tokyo Station, its quiet, suburban vibe makes it a perfect living space for those wanting a more local vibe.

Average apartment price

1K: ¥101,500 / 3LDK: ¥271,800

Local attractions

  • Tomioka Hachimangu: The largest Edo-period shrine dedicated to the Shinto deity Hachiman.
  • Tatsumi Shindo: A nostalgic entertainment district with a narrow alleyway lined with tiny bars and restaurants.

Nishikasai

Photo:
For a relaxing afternoon outdoors.

A suburb of eastern Tokyo, just a quick 16-minute subway ride away from Tokyo station, Nishikasai is also perfect for families with children, with tons of options for International Schools around the area. With a rising local Indian and Chinese community, there are also a lot of ethnic supermarkets and restaurants with much more reasonable prices than central Tokyo and giant malls for all of your shopping needs.

For those wanting a larger space for cheaper rent but unwilling to compromise on commute time into central Tokyo, Nishikasai is the best area for you.

Average apartment price

1K: ¥69,400 / 3LDK: ¥195,600

Local attractions

  • Kasai Rinkai Park: the largest park along the shores of Tokyo Bay, you can spend a full day exploring and having a picnic here.
  • Edogawa Natural Zoo: the only zoo in Tokyo with no entrance fee to see those cute animals

Love living on the Tozai line? Let us know in the comments!

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