Yesterday we took a ride into history. We grabbed a ride on the streetcar on the Toden Arakawa Line. The Arakawa Line is the lone survivor of Tokyo's once-extensive Tokyo Toden streetcar system.
We walked only a few blocks to the beginning of the line at the Waseda area near us. We had no destination in mind. We knew the tram only went on one track and the entire ride lasts about an hour, so we figured we’d just get off when and if something caught our eye.
The cars look a bit like they’re out of Disneyland with their bright colors: one was yellow, another green. They had a very simplistic style to them. One gets on the tram at the front and pays the standard rate of 165yen. It doesn’t matter whether one goes one stop or to the end of the line as it appears to be the one price. The tram maybe holds up to 50 maximum. It did get downright crammed a few times, but it was obviously a local’s tram as the passengers were mostly old people, school kids, and moms with babies returning from their shopping. I saw no tourists.
About halfway there, The Professor spied a tall rock wall with a small track running along the side. It peaked his curiosity—so we jumped off. The stop was the Oji station.
Crossing the street we made our way to a little ski-lift-type tram car and got on. As it carried us upward—we had no idea where—we observed more fall colors nearby.
What a nice surprise to get out a few minutes later and find ourselves in a little park high above the city. I’m not really sure of the name of it, but it’s worth a visit. We wandered down a path around the park, snapping photos of fall colors and of scattered statues.
At the back of the park we found a tram museum, as well as an adorable children’s play area filled with a mishmash of things. There was a slide coming out of a big elephant, a real steam engine and tram car, and various toys to crawl on that looked to be from the sixties. Complete with chipped paint (lead?) there were tug boats, and animals, and jungle gym sets all living together in harmony. The whole area gave off a lovely feeling of an old timey easiness. The mothers were playing with their kids, leaving their purses and strollers over to the side of the playground with no worries and the old fashioned looking climbing toys scattered around seemed to suggest we were in a time different than the one waiting for us down below.
I loved this little park and I intend to check it out again in the spring. To see if the magic is still there.
We wondered back down to the train and followed it out to the end of the line to see where it ended. There we found old Tokyo with a small, simple shopping area that sees only the locals, I’m sure. It consisted of a long hallway filled with various businesses with nothing geared towards the tourist trade.
We walked through the hall, bought a couple of baked bread snacks then walked to the other side of the tracks and took the tram home in the gathering darkness.