A Track of Dreams: Tokyo's Arakawa Line
The Arakawa Line operates in the northeastern part of Tokyo. Starting from Minowabashi in the east to Waseda in the west, the line runs 12.2km long tracks in 56 minutes. The line's official nickname is the Tokyo Sakura Tram. Sakura means "cherry blossoms," a flower loved by the Japanese. Blending into the landscape, the line runs through the daily lives of locals. In this episode of Seasoning the Seasons, we ride the Arakawa Line, which connects the stories of the people living near this railroad.

The Unyielding Small Factories

The Arakawa Line is located between central Tokyo and 2 rivers, Sumida River and Arakawa River, to its north. The Arakawa Ward was once one of the leading industrial areas in Tokyo, with over 7,000 factories before the war. In its heyday, workers commuted to this industrial area, filling up the Arakawa Line. Although the factories are currently down to less than 20% in numbers of their peak, some things have survived the changes of the times and are handed down.

The Arakawa Line Survives

The Arakawa Line is the last "Toden," the Japanese abbreviation of "trains operated by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government." At its peak, the Toden had 41 different lines in Tokyo, but with the spread of vehicles in the 1960s, it was seen as the main cause of traffic jams. When it was decided that all the Toden lines would be discontinued, locals worked to keep them from ending. The 2 remaining lines of Arakawa branch were later connected and newly named the Arakawa Line.

The Paradise of Arakawa Ward

The most popular stop for children on the Arakawa Line is Arakawa-yuenchimae. It's the stop for the Ward-operated Arakawa Amusement Park. In business for 72 years, the Arakawa Ward recently spent 4 billion yen and 3 years to renovate the park in hopes of attracting visitors from all over Tokyo, and reopened in April 2022. The main attraction is the Ferris wheel gondolas with glass floors, a 40-meter-high view from the air.