Must-See Spots on the Toden Arakawa Line, Tokyo's Nostalgic Streetcar



Must-See Spots on the Toden Arakawa Line, Tokyo's Nostalgic Streetcar


Streetcars used to be very common in Tokyo. However, due to the progress of technology and the progressive migration of trains from above to under the ground, they have almost disappeared. Only two streetcar lines are currently left: the Tokyu Setagaya Line and the Toden Arakawa Line.
There's something deeply nostalgic in seeing a vehicle with such a retro look still running the streets of Tokyo. If you're up for the ride, here are some of the best spots that you can visit using the Toden Arakawa Line!

About the Toden Arakawa Line

That 'ding ding' sound that the car makes when it leaves the station will bring you into the atmosphere of Tokyo's downtown, the shitamachi. The streetcar runs from Minowabashi Station in Arakawa Ward to Waseda Station in Shinjuku Ward. The complete ride is 12km long and takes about 50 minutes.
Toden Arakawa Line

There's a streetcar every 5-6 minutes. One ride is 170 yen and the day pass is 400 yen. You can buy the ticket from the conductor when you board the car. Use the front door when you get on and pay for your ticket. Use the back door when you get off.
the day pass

Waseda Station: A Stroll in the Surroundings of the Prestigious Waseda University

This is our starting point. Get your day pass and prepare to see a different Tokyo from a nostalgic train.
Waseda Station

A lot of Japanese politicians, celebrities and actors come from Waseda University. If you get off here you can go and visit the campus. Also, the cafes around the university are the perfect place to have a nice breakfast before departing again.
Waseda University campus

Walking around Waseda gives you a taste of the Japanese university life. In Japan, like in other countries, places around universities are usually cheaper. Just scout around and you'll find restaurants where you can fill your stomach for a more than reasonable price.
Walking around Waseda gives you a taste of the Japanese university life

Kishibojinmae Station: The Shrine for Easy Childbirth

Next let's stop at Kishibojinmae Station. About a 3 minute walk from the station is Kishimojin Shrine. The goddess of easy childbirth is enshrined here. A lot of people come to this old shrine to pray for easy childbirth. You can buy an omamori amulet specifically for this purpose here.
Kishibojinmae Station

Amulets for easy child birth
Amulets for easy child birth

On the shrine's grounds there are two old shops that sell traditional sweets. You can treat yourself to some dango riceballs at Daikokudou, or buy some dagashi (cheap candies and snacks) from Kamikawaguchiya

Also worthy of note is the sacred tree. I visited in winter so all the leaves where gone, but I was able to admire the magnificent trunk. The locals like going for a walk around here.
sacred tree

In a retro wooden building on the road leading to the shrine is the Zoshigaya tourist information center. Here you can get free pamphlets and guides to Toden Arakawa and Zoshigaya.
the Zoshigaya tourist information center

Koshinzuka Station: The Senior's Paradise, Sugamo Shopping Street

Continuing eastward from Kishibojinmae for about 13 minutes, you'll arrive to Koshinzuka Station. Here you'll find Sugamo Jizo-dori Shopping Street, affectionately called 'Grandma's Harajuku'. It appeared in a lot of Japanese TV shows and thanks to its rise in popularity a lot of younger people and travelers started visiting too.
Koshinzuka Station

Why is the street called Jizo-dori (the street of Jizo)? The main attraction of this area is Koganji temple, home of the Togenuki Jizo (splinter-removing Buddha). It is said that visiting this temple helps cure ailments. The shopping street that developed around this temple is about 800m long and hosts around 200 shops and establishments. If you like the shitamachi atmosphere, I really recommend you visit this street.
sugamo Jizo-dori

This store specializes in red underwear and it's the most popular shop on the street. In Japan the color red is associated with health and energy. Therefore, red underwear is a popular item among the elderly. Aside from red underwear they also have other garments like socks and hand towels, all in red. What's more, everything is made in Japan! You can get them as a present or just for yourself, too.
red underwear


Maruji | マルジ
Address: 4-21-11, Sugamo, Toshima, Tokyo
Hours: 10:00am - 6:45pm
Irregular holidays 3 days a year
Access: 6 min. walk from Koshinzuka Station on the Toden Arakawa Line

Recommended restaurant: Konaya
Konaya is famous for their curry udon. The small shop always has a line outside. Their udon has even been sold in convenience stores as a limited item. You can order toppings like fried shrimp or mochi to go with your meal.
Konaya Sugamo branch


Konaya Sugamo branch | 古奈屋 巣鴨本店
Address: 3-37-1 Sugamo, Toshima, Tokyo
Hours: Mon. - Fri 11:00am - 4:30pm (L.O.4:00pm). Saturday, Sunday and holydays 11:00am - 6:30pm (L.O.6:00pm)
Access: 9 min. walk from Koshinzuka Station on the Toden Arakawa Line

Oji Station: The Lucky Foxes of Inari Shrine

A 10 minute ride from Koshinzuka will take you to Oji station. From the streetcar windows you can see Asukayama Park on one side and the road leading to Oji Shozoku Inari Shrine on the other side.
Oji Station

Here are the Oji Inari Shrine and Oji Shozoku Inari Shrine. Oji has a relation to fox mythology and to the famous Kitsunebi legend. This legend is also represented in the One Hundred Famous Views of Edo by Hiroshige. According to the legend, foxes from all over the Kanto region gathered under an enoki tree on the last day of the year and paid their respect to Oji's Inari shrine. Today, a fox parade is held in Oji every year on December 31st. During this parade people thank Inari for the past year and pray for the year to come.
Oji Inari Shrine

Oji Inari Shrine was larger than I thought, and here I found some unusual lucky charms. If you write your prayer on the fox's belly and put it behind the stone of prayers, it might come true. It's also ok to bring the charm home with you.
lucky charms


Oji Inari Shrine | 王子稲荷神社
Address: 1-12-26 Kishimachi, Kita, Tokyo
Visiting times: free
Access: 7 min. walk from Oji-ekimae Station on the Toden Arakawa Line

If you can't make it to the end of the year parade, you can visit a shop called Yamau next to Shozoku Inari Shrine. They mainly sell Japanese pottery and kitchenware, but they also stock a lot of kitsune goods. There is a nice assortment of handkerchiefs, wallets, masks, chopstick rests and more.


Yamau | ヤマウ
Address: 2-32-2 Oji, Kita, Tokyo
Hours: 10:00am - 10:00pm
Closed on Sundays
Access: 6 min. walk from Oji-ekimae Station on the Toden Arakawa Line

Meijido is a bakery that dates back over 120 years. Even in Tokyo's shitamachi it's hard to find such an old bakery. The shop on the first floor stocks Japan's favorites like curry bread and croquette bread, as well as other kinds of bread like baguette and focaccia. You can order to take out or enjoy your bread on the second floor with a cup of coffee.


Meijido | 明治堂
Address: 1-14-8 Oji, Kita, Tokyo
Hours: 1F bakery 6:30am - 9:00pm. 2F café 9:00am - 7:00pm
Closed on Sundays
Access: 5 min. walk from Oji-ekimae Station on the Toden Arakawa Line

Asukayama Park has been a popular spot for cherry blossom viewing since the Edo period. 600 cherry blossom trees grow inside the park. From late March to early April the park fills with people having picnics and admiring the flowers. If you're planning to see the cherry blossoms in Tokyo this year consider this shitamachi spot!
Asukayama Park

Arakawa-Shakomae Station and Arakawa-Yuenchimae Station

Let's hop back on! In just 5 minutes you can get from Oji to Arakawa-shakomae station. This is where the train depot is. Car storing, changing of conductors and car maintenance all happen here.
Arakawa-Shakomae Station

Toden Omoide Hiroba (Toden Memorial Square) opens on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. This place showcases pieces from the golden age of streetcars. The white one on the top left was in use 50-60 years ago. If you visit when it's open you'll be able to go inside the cars and take pictures!
Toden Omoide Hiroba

The next station is  Arakawa-yuenchimae, home to the Arakawa Amusement Park. This park has been open for over 60 years. The entrance fee is only 200 yen but if you have the streetcar day pass you can get in for free. Note that the attractions inside have a separate fee. Aside from the attractions, the park also has an animal area and a mini museum dedicated to streetcars. It's a perfect place for families, so you'll see a lot of happy kids running around.
Arakawa Amusement Park Entrance gate

From this Ferris wheel you'll be able to admire a view of Tokyo's shitamachi from above.
Arakawa Amusement Park Ferris wheel


Arakawa Amusement Park | あらかわ遊園
Hours: 9:00am - 5:00pm
Holidays: please see the official site
Access: 3 min. walk from Arakawa-yuenchimae Station on the Toden Arakawa Line
What did you think about Tokyo's nostalgic streetcar? Get your day pass, hop on and discover lesser known parts of the big city!

*This article is based on a coverage made on February 11, 2017.
*Available products in the shops might change depending on the period of your visit.

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