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Tokyo’s Last Remaining Streetcars

The Toden Arakawa Line operates a fleet of streetcars that are the last of their kind in Tokyo. The line started operations back in 1911 and faced closure in the 1960’s due to the influx of automobiles on the roads after WWII that saw the number of streetcar riders drop off dramatically. Thanks to some of the local residents, who resisted the closure of the lines in their neighborhood, you too can enjoy a nostalgic trip on the Toden Arakawa Line, affectionately know by the locals as the chin-chin densha, or “ding-ding train”, a name derived from the bell rung twice at each crossing, through some of Tokyo’s older neighborhoods.

In 1942 there were 41 streetcar routes operating in Tokyo and almost 2 million people used the streetcar transportation network daily at its peak in 1943. Eventually most of the lines were closed and replaced with the more modern subway and train transportation system that we see in the city today. In October of 1974 the Toden Arakawa Line was born when two of the remaining routes were merged. Today you can travel the 12.2 kilometer route between between Minowabashi and Waseda in around 50 minutes (route map).

Why not combine a journey on Tokyo’s newest subway line, the Fukutoshin Line, to Nishi-Waseda with a nostalgic trip back to Minowabashi on one of the last remaining streetcars in Tokyo? The fare is nostalgic too, it only costs Y160, about US $1.50, per person to ride any portion of the Toden Arakawa Line.

Sights along the Toden Arakawa Line include the beautiful campus of Waseda University where you can visit the Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum that specializes in materials related to the history of the theater and arts in Japan, the Kishimojin (map), home to a beautiful 600 year old Ginko tree, the Arakawa Amusement Park and the Susanoo Shrine which are all included in Tokyo Tourism’s guide to the Toden Arakawa Line.

Image Credit: Wikimedia, TokyoStockExchangeWithStreetcar1911 & Flickr, Toden Arakawa Line