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Sushi, Snacks & More: Sampling 8 Local Treats on Tokyo’s East Side via the Tokyo Sakura Tram (Toden Arakawa Line)!

Sushi, Snacks & More: Sampling 8 Local Treats on Tokyo’s East Side via the Tokyo Sakura Tram (Toden Arakawa Line)!

Date published: 8 August 2018
Last updated: 21 September 2018

The Tokyo Sakura Tram (Toden Arakawa Line) is one of the few remaining trolleys in Tokyo connecting the eastern part of the city with its center. This historic old line evokes memories of a time long ago when the city was crisscrossed by trolleys. Along this tram course there are several delicious places to visit and experience food that has been favored by local residents for decades and which can only be had there. They also make great gifts. The tram offers a one-day ticket for only 400 yen that allows you to get on and off the tram as often as you like—which is perfect for sampling the gourmet dishes offered at places found along the path of the tram.

What is the Tokyo Sakura Tram (Toden Arakawa Line)?

What is the Tokyo Sakura Tram (Toden Arakawa Line)?

The Tokyo Sakura Tram (Toden Arakawa Line) runs from Minowabashi (in Arakawa-ku) to Waseda (in Shinjuku-ku) stretching 12.2 km and having 30 stops along the way. It is called “Toden” for short. In the heyday of trams there were at one point 41 traversing the city, but as traffic conditions changed, they gradually disappeared and today the Tokyo Sakura Tram is the last remaining one. It got its moniker in 2017. During the spring and autumn it is also famous for the roses that bloom along its tracks.

Gourmet Spot #1 - Minowabashi: Omura Pan makes bread the old-fashioned way without any additives

Gourmet Spot #1 - Minowabashi: Omura Pan makes bread the old-fashioned way without any additives

The starting terminus of the Toden is Minowabashi. One street back from the station is the Joyful Minowabashi shopping district with its many shops evoking a time long past, such as the Omura Pan bread shop. The third-generation owner uses no additives in his products and it is so popular that after the lunch hour his showcase is practically empty. Especially popular are the croquette buns, curry buns, and ham cutlet buns (135 yen each). These are all made in the shop’s own deep-fat fryer. The tonkatsu (pork cutlet) bread (180 yen) is favored by older customers because it is soft and easy to eat.

Upper right: the popular curry buns Lower right: Jam-filled buns, an (bean paste) donuts, and other sweet buns that have a strong fan base
  • Omura Bakery
    オオムラパン
    • Address 116-0003 東京都荒川区南千住1-29-6/1-29-6, Minamisenju, Arakawa-ku, Tokyo, 116-0003, Japan
    • Nearest Station 1-minute walk from the Tokyo Sakura Tram (Toden Arakawa Line) Minowabashi stop
    • Phone Number 03-3891-2957

    Hours: 9:00 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.
    Closed: Wednesdays

Gourmet Spot #2 - Minowabashi: Savor the flavor of senbei rice crackers grilled by hand at Sakura Senbei

Gourmet Spot #2 - Minowabashi: Savor the flavor of senbei rice crackers grilled by hand at Sakura Senbei

Sakura Senbei is only a two-minute walk away from the Minowabashi tram stop and has been in business here continuously for over 70 years. Using only domestic rice as an ingredient, it makes senbei by hand in the old-fashioned unrushed method of yesteryear. In March 2018 it showcased its senbei at a world confectionery event held in New York. The flavor of its senbei is noticeably different from that which is mass produced, the rice flavor lingering in the mouth after just a bite or two. It is easy to taste the difference between it and the mass produced type. We recommend the atsukatayaki (thick, hard grilled style) that cost 100 yen each. These are made with twice the amount of rice as a standard senbei cracker. This traditional Japanese treat makes an excellent gift or souvenir.

In addition to the standard soy-sauce flavor, other senbei flavors are also available such as curry, shrimp, garlic, and sugar. The shop also has softer types of senbei that older people can enjoy as well as some types that are twice as hard as normal senbei.
  • Sakura senbei
    桜せんべい
    • Address 116-0003 東京都荒川区南千住2-1-3/2-1-3, Minamisenju, Arakawa-ku, Tokyo, 116-0003, Japan
    • Nearest Station 3-minute walk from the Tokyo Sakura Tram (Toden Arakawa Line) Minowabashi stop
    • Phone Number 03-3807-2803

    Hours: 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
    Closed: Wednesdays and Thursdays (open on holidays and closed the following day)

Gourmet Spot #3 - Kajiwara: You must try the Toden Monaka at Akemi

Gourmet Spot #3 - Kajiwara: You must try the Toden Monaka at Akemi
Upper left: The Toden Monaka (bean-jam filled wafers) in the shape of a Toden trolley car. The wafer is made from mochi and has a light texture while the an (bean jam) center made with corn flour (mixed with white rice powder) has a chewier texture. Lower right: The confection called “Kajiwara no Watashi”. The shape is that of the old-style ferryboats that were used in the old days to ferry people across the Sumida River which is near the Kajiwara station.

When you ride the Toden, you really should get the Toden Monaka (144 yen each) at Akemi for souvenirs to take back home with you. From around 1970 the various Toden lines began to disappear one after the other and fearing that the Arakawa Line would also succumb to such a fate, the previous generation owner of Akemi wanted to preserve its memory and created this confection for that purpose. This confection not only preserves the flavor of a traditional confectionery form, but also the spirit and mood of the area and its affection for the tram. During the year more than 30 different types of Japanese-style sweets are offered and among them are those having themes such as cherry blossoms and famous local places.

  • Akemi Seika
    都電もなか本舗 菓匠 明美
    • Address 114-0004 東京都北区堀船3-30-12/3-30-12, Horifune, Kita-ku, Tokyo, 114-0004, Japan
    • Nearest Station 2-minute walk from the Tokyo Sakura Tram (Toden Arakawa Line) Kajiwara stop
    • Phone Number 03-3919-2354

    Hours: 10:00 a.m. - 7:30 p.m.
    Closed: Mondays (open on holidays and closed the following day)

Gourmet Spot #4 - Oji Ekimae: Sushiya no Yasuke offers authentic makizushi (sushi rolls) for casual eating

Gourmet Spot #4 - Oji Ekimae: Sushiya no Yasuke offers authentic makizushi (sushi rolls) for casual eating

When you get off at the Oji Ekimae stop be sure to visit Sushiya no Yasuke. It has been serving take-out sushi for more than 40 years and among its many regular customers are families who have been coming regularly for over three generations. You will be amazed at the size of the portions at the reasonable prices charged. The neta fillings bulge from the large sushi rolls and are very filling. The negitoro (minced tuna and onions) are 260 yen each, the sea urchin rolls are 380 yen each, and the salmon roe 280 yen each. Other types of neta filling are also offered. The tamagoyaki (rolled omelet) used in the sushi rolls (380 yen each) is cooked here and sold to other shops as well.

In addition to sushi rolls there are other types of selections to choose from such as nigirizushi (hand-formed sushi) and domburi (neta served on bowls of rice). These are all displayed at the front of the store so you can indicate the ones you want to order. I also recommend the gari (thinly sliced and vinegared ginger) that comes with the sushi.
  • Sushiya no Yasuke
    寿し屋のやすけ
    • Address 114-0002 東京都北区王子1-5-11/1-5-11, Oji, Kita-ku, Tokyo, 114-0002, Japan
    • Nearest Station 2-minute walk from the Tokyo Sakura Tram (Toden Arakawa Line) Oji Ekimae stop
    • Phone Number 03-3914-9511

    Hours: 10:00 a.m. - 7:30 p.m.
    Closed: Mondays (open on Mondays that fall on national holidays and then closed the following Tuesday)

Gourmet Spot #5 - Koshinzuka: Sugamo Tokiwa Shokudo offers delicious set menus using carefully selected ingredients

Gourmet Spot #5 - Koshinzuka: Sugamo Tokiwa Shokudo offers delicious set menus using carefully selected ingredients
Upper left: A sashimi combination that is changed daily. For an additional 270 yen it is served with rice, miso soup, and nukazuke (pickles made by fermenting vegetables in rice bran) Lower left: Popular potato salad Right: Ebifurai (fried prawn) set

The Sugamo Tokiwa Shokudo offers a selection of hearty set menus. This shop has been delighting local residents with its delicious handmade dishes for the past thirty years. Using only the freshest ingredients, it boasts its homemade pickles which have a long tradition. One very popular menu is the ebifurai (fried prawns); two 20 cm long prawns served on a bed of chopped cabbage with rice and pickles on the side (1,030 yen). Another is the sashimi moriawase (assorted sashimi plate) that uses different ingredients each day (760 yen). The potato salad (320 yen) is also always popular. A free second bowl of rice is also offered with each set meal. There are also half-size “mini assorted” dishes, so it is possible to enjoy several different types of dishes at the same time. There is also a menu available in English. And you can also order box lunches for takeout.

  • Sugamo Tokiwa syokudo
    巣鴨ときわ食堂
    • Address 170-0002 東京都豊島区巣鴨4-33-2 藤川ビル 1F/4-33-2, Sugamo, Toshima-ku, Tokyo, 170-0002, Japan
    • Nearest Station 2-minute walk from the Tokyo Sakura Tram (Toden Arakawa Line) Koshinzuka stop
    • Phone Number 03-3576-2269

    Hours: 10:00 a.m. - 10:30 p.m. (last order); Saturdays, Sundays, holidays 9:00 a.m. - 10:30 p.m. (last order)
    Closed: Open daily

Gourmet Spot #6 - Koshinzuka: Mizuno – the shop that originated Shiodaifuku

Gourmet Spot #6 - Koshinzuka: Mizuno – the shop that originated Shiodaifuku

If you enter the Sugamo Jizo-dori shopping arcade after getting off at the Koshinzuka stop and walk down it about 10 minutes you will come to the Mizuno Japanese confectioner that for the past 80 years has been selling shiodaifuku (a soft, round, slightly salted rice cake stuffed with sweet bean jam) which it originated. The tsubu an (lumpy bean paste) has a salty flavor that subdues its natural sweetness which is perfectly matched by its soft mochi casing (130 yen each). Normally there are 15 to 20 varieties to choose from and occasionally seasonal items as well. The shop interior has not changed during the past 80 years and preserves the quiet, relaxed atmosphere of an old Japanese tea house. In addition to the sweets offered at the front of the store it is also possible to order light meals, like ramen. In the summer kakigori (shaved ice with various flavored syrup toppings is served (from 350 yen).

In addition to the famous shiodaifuku, the mamedaifuku which includes beans is also popular (upper right) Lower left: yokan (sweet bean jelly) is especially popular during the summer
  • Mizuno
    みずの
    • Address 170-0002 東京都豊島区巣鴨3-33-3/3-33-3, Sugamo, Toshima-ku, Tokyo, 170-0002, Japan
    • Nearest Station 10-minute walk from the Tokyo Sakura Tram (Toden Arakawa Line) Koshinzuka stop
    • Phone Number 03-3910-4652

    Hours: 9:00 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.
    Closed: Open daily

Gourmet Spot #7 - Otsuka Ekimae: Bongo uses a rich selection of ingredients in its onigiri (rice balls)

Gourmet Spot #7 - Otsuka Ekimae: Bongo uses a rich selection of ingredients in its onigiri (rice balls)

When the previous generation owner established this onigiri specialty shop in 1960 he played the bongos and he took that for the name of the shop hoping that its name would “ring loud and far” to attract customers and that is how the name of the shop, Onigiri Bongo, came about. His wish came true because the shop quickly gained a reputation not only among local residents but with visitors from afar for its onigiri, long lines of eager customers forming from its earliest days. It is possible to sit at a counter and place orders just like at a sushiya where you can watch the onigiri being prepared. The onigiri burst not only with flavor but ample portions of ingredients which number more than 50 types. The most popular is the standard salmon flake (250 yen). Takeout is also possible, so don’t be discouraged if it is crowded when you visit.

Specially selected Niigata Koshihikari rice is used as it produces fluffier and softer rice that perfectly goes with the selected ingredients.
  • Onigiri Bongo
    おにぎり ぼんご
    • Address 170-0004 東京都豊島区北大塚2-26-3 金田ビル 1F/Kaneda Bld.1F, 2-26-3, Kitaotsuka, Toshima-ku, Tokyo, 170-0004, Japan
    • Nearest Station 3-minute walk from the Tokyo Sakura Tram (Toden Arakawa Line) Otsuka Ekimae stop
    • Phone Number 03-3910-5617

    Hours: 11:30 a.m. - 12:00 a.m. (open on holidays)
    Closed: Sundays

Gourmet Spot #8 - Kishibojinmae: The Akamaru Bakery

Gourmet Spot #8 - Kishibojinmae: The Akamaru Bakery
Upper left: Original custard pudding; Lower left: Shiberia (bean jam sandwiched between Castella cake); Right: freshly baked cream buns

The Akamaru Bakery has been operated by the same family since the 1920s. This shop has a comfy atmosphere long-appreciated by local residents for its unhurried and careful preparation of bread products. A trademark of the bakery is the Akamaru Rusk (290 yen) but equally popular are the cream buns (145 yen including tax) and the custard pudding (145 yen including tax). The latter has an orthodox custard flavor that is simple and refined evoking nostalgia in older customers with a sweetness that makes one want to eat it every day. There is a corner in the shop where you can sit and enjoy these delicious items.

Upper right: tuna & egg sandwiches, the duck meat .sandwich is also good. The items quickly sell out during the afternoon on weekends.
  • Akamaru Bakery
    赤丸ベーカリー
    • Address 171-0032 東京都豊島区雑司が谷1-7-1/1-7-1, Zoshigaya, Toshima-ku, Tokyo, 171-0032, Japan
    • Nearest Station 5-minute walk from the Tokyo Sakura Tram (Toden Arakawa Line) Kishibojinmae stop
    • Phone Number 03-3971-6624

    Hours: 10:30 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
    Closed: Thursdays

Toden gourmet foods: loved by many people, endorsed by local residents!

Shops along the Toden line are acclaimed by all the local residents as being solid pillars of the community. These are shops that exude the warm hospitality and affection of those communities and which are noted for their delicious products offered at very reasonable prices. When you have a day to spare, by all means take the time to visit these remarkable shops that line the Toden line and enjoy the wares they offer.

*Unless otherwise stated all prices include tax

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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