Japan // Tokyo //

Tokyo’s last tramline


Tokyo once had an extensive tram network, of which only the 12km Toden Arakawa line (都電荒川線) remains, running north from Waseda to Minowa-bashi. The most interesting section is the short stretch from Kōshinzuka Station, a fifteen-minute walk northwest of Sugamo Station, from where the line heads southwest towards Higashi-Ikebukuro, rocking and rolling along narrow streets and through Tokyo back yards. Most of the original tramlines were private enterprises – the Arakawa line was built purely to take people to the spring blossoms in Asukayama Park – and have gradually been replaced with subways. Now the last of the chin chin densha (“ding ding trains”), as they’re known from the sound of their bells, the Arakawa line, will probably survive for its nostalgia value if nothing else. Tickets cost ¥160, however far you travel; you pay as you enter. Station signs and announcements are in English.

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