With only two remaining tram lines to date, I fear that these picturesque street cars will soon be considered as obsolete mode of transportation. So before all of the changes takes place, I took a day out to ride one of the city remaining tram and made several stop along the way to see Tokyo’s seldom visited, yet best neighborhood.
Toden Arakawa Line which operated since 1974 is the only survivor of the once dominant “Tokyo Toden” street car system. With a total distance of 12.2 Kilometer route between Minowabashi and Waseda, the street car passes by on small railway dissecting Tokyo quiet, residential neighbourhood.
The best way to enjoy a day of unlimited ride is to purchase the 500 yen one day pass. In case you are wondering, the tram idea seems to be vintage but it accepts PASMO/Suica card (rechargeable train fare card) nonetheless.
The Toden Arakawa Line might be a tourist fascination for people like me, but it remains as an important means of transportation for residence of surrounding neighbourhood of Higashi Ikebukuro, Oji, Arakawa to name a few.
Across the Asakuyama tram station is Asakuyama Park. A spacious park populated by families on a weekend break. What better way to enjoy summer than to play at the water fountain. A small cable car is operational for free to lift up parents plus baby on strollers, elderlies and disables from the main street up to the elevated portion of the park.
Across the park is Oji Inari Shinto shrine. Nothing spectacular about the shrine, but the small park and ponds where you can relax and dip your feet is so enticing particularly on a hot and humid afternoon.
From Asakuyama on board the Toden tram I made my way to my next stop – Arakawa Yuenchi mae station to visit another old and small, yet treasured amusement park.
Built on the ground on what used to be a brick factory and officially open as an amusement park in 1950, the Arakawa Amusement Park is one of the reasons apart from riding the tram on why you should consider this type of exploration as an activity for kids.
Contrary to the happy, energetic place of Arakawa amusement park, I boarded the tram once again and went straight to the quiet neighbourhood around Toden-Zoshigaya station to visit Zoshigaya Cemetery.
For my last tram stop, I headed straight to the last station to visit one of the country’s most prestigious private institution of higher education- Waseda Station for Waseda University.
I must confess, my curiosity about the university alumni/author Haruki Murakami and how he modeledl the campus setting on his novel “Norwegian Wood” after Waseda University has made me put visiting the university on the places I need to see in Tokyo.
From Okuma auditorium to Okuma Shigenobu (Waseda University founder) statue in the middle, the high walls of the surrounding buildings with students inside and few roaming around, such a nostalgic feeling to walk around the campus. I kind of miss those long hours stuck in the library, studying for my Calculus exam- kind of miss my university days.
After spending a day hopping in/out the tram and visiting the residential area of Tokyo along the line, it is my prevalent hope that Tokyo Metropolitan Bureau of Transportation will continue to operate and keep the Toden Arakawa street car up and running.