The Tokyo Sakura Tram (Toden Arakawa Line) - also simply called the Toden - is a streetcar managed by the Tokyo Metropolitan Bureau of Transportation. This train runs parallel to regular vehicle traffic in some sections, a unique and unusual sight now rarely seen in Tokyo. Because of the many cherry blossom sights visible along the railway line, it is popularly nicknamed the Tokyo Sakura Tram. And in fact, along the Toden Electric Railway, you can see not just the cherry blossoms, but also roses in full bloom during spring and autumn. Because of this, it is a popular photography spot. So now, let’s introduce some of the popular Rose Viewing Spots!
What is the Tokyo Sakura Tram?
The Tokyo Sakura Tram (Toden Arakawa Line) is a streetcar running 12.2 km in length (30 stops) and connects Minowabashi Station (Arakawa Ward, Tokyo) to Waseda Station (Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo). Although there were as much as 41 similar lines in its peak, these numbers gradually declined due to the development of other transportation networks. Today it is Tokyo’s only remaining tram line. It was given the nickname "Tokyo Sakura Tram" in 2017.
■ Ticket Information
The fee is 170 yen for adults (IC card - ¥165), and 90 yen for children (IC card - ¥82).
The Toden 1-Day Pass is ¥400 for adults. You can also purchase a ¥700 1-Day Pass which allows you to ride not only the Toden but also the Toei Subway, Toei Bus, and the Nippori-Toneri Liner.
Toden 1-Day Passes can be purchased in-car on the day of riding, or in advance at the Arakawa Train Business Office, or at the train station ticket windows. (Subject to change.)
Metro 1-Day Passes can be purchased on the day of riding at the automatic vending machines at any Tokyo Metro Station, on the Toei Bus (after 4AM) and inside the Toei train cars, as well as the vending machines at each station along the Nippori-Toneri Liner. For advance purchases, you can get them at most Toei Subway Station Offices (some exceptions), at the Toei Bus City or Branch Offices, at the Arakawa Train Business Office, and at the commuter pass sales offices of the Toei Subway, Toei Bus, and the Nippori-Toneri Liner.
■Riding the Toden
1. You can confirm the destination at the stop before boarding. (Destination names are displayed on the front upper part of the vehicle.)
2. Enter from the front and pay fare upon boarding. It is a one-car train with a one-person crew. Make sure to move towards the back when boarding as to not crowd the front.
(For 1-Day Pass holders, present the ticket to the staff to confirm the printed date.)
3. To get off, confirm that it's the right stop by looking at the name on the screen, and notify the driver by pushing the buzzer before arriving at your stop.
4. Exit from the rear of the vehicle.
It runs at intervals of 6 to 7 minutes apart during the day, so it is very convenient. Check timetable for more details.
The Best Rose Viewing Spots Along the Railway!
Along the Toden lie many great viewpoints as the roses bloom in spring (around May) and fall (around October). It is said that it was decided to green the route where the Toden runs through the Arakawa Ward in the center of the ward by planting roses, and is now known affectionately as the Rose Highway. About 13,000 vines of about 140 species of roses are planted here, and at the Otsuka Station Square is a flowerbed with over 700 vines of about 500 different species. Surprisingly, it seems these were built and raised by local volunteers. The area along the railway is planted evenly along both sides of the track, so you can enjoy the view from the windows on either side of the car. Allow me to introduce a closer look at these rose viewing spots along the Toden.
Rose Viewing Spot #1: Retro Minowabashi Station
Minowabashi Station is said to be more of a rose garden than a train station. It was selected as one of the top 100 Kanto stations in 1997, as "the only station in the Tokyo metropolitan area where you can find roses in full bloom." The structure of the station and decoration of the signboards leave the nostalgic atmosphere of the Showa Era of old Japan. The combination of the retro streetcar and blooming roses make it a very popular photography location. When you get off, find your way around the flowerbed on the platform side, and you will see the best spot to take photos.
There is a shopping district in the vicinity with a downtown atmosphere, and it is a fun place to take a walk.
Rose Viewing Spot #2: Rose-Lined Park Road, "Arakawa Ni-Chome"
Arakawa Nature Park is a spacious park blooming with seasonal flowers and lush nature, including a lake inhabited by swans, located near the Arakawa Ni-Chome Stop. Here the walls are decorated with roses and colorful flowerbeds along the path to the park.
Why not get off along the way for a gorgeous photo op of a lovely bronze statue and the rose decorations in front?
Rose Viewing Spot #3: Taking in the Scenery from the Window of Arakawa Kuyakushomae
You can appreciate the rosy view from the window along the long-distance ride from Minowabashi to Machiya Station. One of these locations is the vicinity around the front of the Arakawa Ward Office. However there are no flowerbed decorations in front of that particular stop, and the area itself is a bit of a walk from the station, so we recommend just enjoying the view from the inside of the train. The railway passes through the center of a peaceful residential landscape lined with roses, so it makes for a lovely view.
Rose Viewing Spot #4: Flowerbeds in Front of Machiya Station
Every year in May an event called "Arakawa City of Roses" is held here at the Machiya Station front (for 2018 it is held May 19). Many people visit this city of roses from both inside and outside the city. There is a gorgeous rose flowerbed in front of the stop, and beautifully planted colorful roses that are not very commonly seen in the other rose spots along the line. In front of the stop lies a variety of shops along the street, including stores and restaurants, making it the busiest area in this vicinity. There is even a bench near the rose flowerbed so you can relax as you take in the roses.
Rose Viewing Spot #6: The Rose Highway Extending from Arakawa-Yūenchimae to Arakawa-Shakomae
Various colorful roses are spread along both sides of the straight-extending railway from Arakawa-Yūenchimae to Arakawa-Shakomae. The special feature of this particular rose viewing spot is not a flowerbed, but the scenery of roses blooming in full view along the railway and into the distance. It is recommended to take in this view not just from the window, but also by getting off and taking a stroll along the tracks.
Rose Viewing Spot #7: Scenic Roses of Toshima Ward, from Otsuka Station to Mukaihara
The Toden rose spot closest to the Waseda area is the section along the tracks from Otsuka Station to Mukaihara. The roses between these two stations are really high in both vibrant color and density. It is such a sight to see so many roses condensed in the space between just two stops. The Otsuka Rose Festival is held here every May, and is always crowded with many people from all around.
Bonus #1: The Good Ol' Days - Recreated Station at Toden Memorial Square, Arakawa-Shakomae Station
Right after you get off at Arakawa-Shakomae you will see the Toden Memorial Square. In this space designed in the image of an old-fashioned station is an exhibition of valuable old vehicles that ran during the heyday of Toden. Nostalgic for those who knew the old days, and a new experience for the first-timers, this is a spot in which anyone can enjoy more than just the electric car itself. It is open only on weekends and public holidays from 10AM to 4PM, and is free to enter.
Next to Toden Memorial Square is a garage that is still in use to this day. If your timing is on point, you may even be able to catch the train entering and exiting!
※ Please refrain from entering the garage.
Bonus #2: The Rose-Lined Path to Arakawa Amusement Park, the Arakawa- Yūenchimae Station
The nearest spot to the only amusement park in this part of the city - the Arakawa Amusement Park - is Arakawa-Yūenchimae Station. The promenade from here to the amusement park is said to be a hidden rose viewing spot. Also in the Arakawa Amusement Park is another exhibition of old green and cream-colored cars. If you'd like to see some of these famous old vehicles, it is definitely worth taking a stroll inside!
※The Arakawa Amusement Park is closed from December 1, 2018 for renovations. Reopening planned during the latter half of 2020.
The Warmth and Nostalgia of the Tokyo Sakura Tram (Toden Arakawa Line): Retro Vehicles and Rose-Lined Railways Established by Volunteers
The one and only Toden streetcar is still beloved by many to this day. Here you can experience not just the rarity of the vehicle and the beauty of the roses, but also the various walking spots located around each viewpoint. We would definitely love to recommend this nostalgic Toden Line as a must-see sightseeing spot to anyone in the Tokyo area.
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