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The Streetcar

JAPAN | Monday, 13 November 2006 | Views [948] | Comments [5]

the streetcar

the streetcar

New picture folder, "Autumn".

My student once told me that the Tokyo streetcar is, "a modern miracle". I told him not to get so carried away, what with rail travel being a staple form of transportation worldwide for the last century or so. However, on explaining more to me, I came to realise that he was right. The streetcar system winds its way through the north of the city, starting in Waseda near the university, and making it's way through the smaller cities, ending up in a place I think is called Minowara.

The miracle part comes from the fact that it shouldn't really be there now. Tokyo is a city which is constantly growing, expanding and contracting. Everywhere you look, new roads are being built, old buildings torn down and new subway stations being developed. However, the streetcar has so far escaped the wrath of the developers pen.

It's great to take the streetcar, I love it actually. Once seated, you can see some of the main sights of Tokyo, from famous buildings, cherry blossoms in spring and a host of other things from the car. Traffic must yield to the streetcar, so it is constantly on the move, moving at a leisurely pace throughout the city.

Ity probably is the best kept secret in town as far as gaijin are concerned- if you coming to Tokyo on holiday, it makes absolute sense to use the streetcar for the northern area of the city- consider this- one stop on the subway costs 160 Yen (130 pence, 3 minutes)- the streetcar is a one off payment of the same price- and for this you can travel the whole of the line, which takes about 40 minutes.

Another reason that I like it is because in ultra modern Tokyo, the streetcar has somewhat of a 1960s feel- the cars are basic and not really comfortable, unlike the new new Yurakucho subway cars which are like something from Startrek- I like this rustic feel- it's a nice change from the usual!

It also is perfect for my daily travel plans- True, to get to work I must use the Yurakucho line, which is fine because it is convienient and relatively cheap for what I need. The streetcar is great because I can get to friends houses using it, to Jiu Jitsu and of course to Ueno after a little walk from the last stop.

 However, as with all good things, all this might come to an end soon.  It seems that the streetcar doesn't have a long term future in Tokyo- Compared to the subway, the streetcar isn't much of a money maker, and according to friends, with the ever increasing development of the subway system, the streetcar will eventually become obsolete.

I think this will probably happen- the stopping of traffic and what not is an inconvienience Tokyoites would like to do without as they race to and from, dealing with their business- when I ask people what they think about the streetcar being stopped, they are largely indifferent, which is a shame because in a largely frentic, frantic impersonal Tokyo, the streetcar really is a decent piece of cultural heritage.

Tags: Culture



Bin the cars instead - pedestrianise the whole city! I hope things are going well for you.

  Richard Nov 15, 2006 6:35 AM


Hi Rich, definitely agree with you there, the excellent transport system in Tokyo means that Cars should be banned with no great effect to anyone (perhaps) but the roads are pretty busy, but not as busy as London by any stretch- also, I wonder about the added stress on the transport system, what with the subway moving 1 million people every day.....could it handle the extra?

  dan_in_japan Nov 16, 2006 10:14 AM


This street car is very popular. We called this "TIN TIN Densha(=TRAIN)" with affection. "TIN TIN" is sound that the bell ring when train start. Once upon a time, this car change to new model, also the sound was going to change. But people demanded to leave the sound. So, we can hear the bell ring "TIN TIN".

The number of users amount to 56000 on a day the present!

This URL is movie of street car

  natsu Nov 25, 2006 3:37 AM


Sorry, this is right url

  natsu Nov 25, 2006 3:42 AM


Ni Natsuo,
Thanks for the info on the streetcar- 56,000 people a day huh? times that by 160 yen and you have a sizable profit I think- such a shame that there is continued talk of it closing, but perhaps people power will keep it running for a little while longer....

  dan_in_japan Nov 25, 2006 12:39 PM

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