The name can be confusing because today it is known as the Tokyo Sakura Tram and is operated by Toei Transportation.
The tram runs from Minowabashi Station to Waseda Station a total of 12.2 km with 30 stations many of which interchange with many of Tokyo’s suburban railway stations.
The line was originally constructed by the Oji Electric Tram Company as a part of their extensive network, with the oldest section still operating today opened in 1913. The line was at threat of being shut down along with the rest of Tokyo’s streetcar system in the 1960s, but concerted opposition from residents prevented this.
The tram takes you through idyllic alleys and along residential quarters, showing you an entirely different side of Tokyo. The landscape, traditional local buildings, and the cacophony of everyday life in Tokyo make a ride on the Sakura Tram so memorable. In spring, the tram offers breathtaking views of cherry blossoms, hence its nickname: Sakura Tram.
Not just travelling on the Arakawa Line but actually getting off and exploring a bit really means exploring Tokyo off the beaten path and seeing places that can’t be found in guidebooks.
Near Koshinzuka Station is a most unusual shop – Maruji Akapantsu, a shop with a name that literally translated to “red panties” – and that’s all that they sell, red stuff! Tokyo, with a population of 35 million, is probably the only city in the world where such a shop could flourish. Rumour has it that wearing these red panties during New Year’s will up your luck quite a notch, which is why the panties are so popular!
Japan is certainly a fascinating place.
Travelling around Tokyo’s north with the Toden Arakawa Line might have you wonder about the history of the little tram, one of the city’s only two remaining tram lines. If you’re taking your tour on a weekend or national holiday, make a stop at the Toden Memorial Square at Arakawa-Shakomae Station to interact with the trams. It’s a special treat for train, tram and railway fans.
I loved my ride on the Sakura Tram and will do it again next time I visit Tokyo.
To experience the tram for yourself, look at my video.