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Tracking Tokyo Roses Along the Arakawa Tram Line

Volunteers, along with the operator of the Arakawa tram line, team up to take care of rows of Tokyo roses and other flower selections lined up along the tracks.



Roses are in full bloom along the Arakawa line in the spring of 2023. (© JAPAN Forward by Earl Kinmonth)

Search on "Tokyo roses" and you will get suggestions for well known parks and botanical gardens. But most sites on this subject will also note one rather unusual venue for viewing blossoms, the Arakawa tram line. It's the only surviving remnant of a once extensive and heavily used municipal transportation network.

The Arakawa trams run right next to rows of roses. (© JAPAN Forward by Earl Kinmonth)

The contemporary Arakawa line is a pasting together of several originally separate lines that had their own right of way. As a result they did not suffer from the death blow of motorization in the 1950s and 1960s. The Arakawa line shares the street with cars, trucks, and buses only between the Oji and Asukayama stops, a distance of less than a kilometer.

Volunteers with the cooperation of the tram operator and Arakawa Ward maintain some 14,000 rose bushes in 140 varieties. These bushes line the tracks in several discontiguous segments.  The longest segment is between Arakawa-shako-mae and Arakawa Yuenchi-mae, with a shorter segment between Otsuka and Mukohara tram stations.  

This rose variety along the Arakawa line is named for Princess Aiko, the daughter of Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako. (© JAPAN Forward by Earl Kinmonth)

These segments are paralleled by low traffic streets. With due caution, it is possible to walk in the street next to the roses, admiring or photographing them close up.

Roses line both sides of the tram tracks in some locations along the Arakawa line. (© JAPAN Forward by Earl Kinmonth)

Easy and Affordable Access

A one day free ticket allows riders to get on and off at any stop and as often as they like. It costs 400 yen ($2.90 USD)for adults, 200 yen ($1.45 USD) for children and may be added to SUICA or PASMO cards by the driver.

Arakawa Yuenchi stop brings travelers to the entrance to the amusement park. (© JAPAN Forward by Earl Kinmonth)

If you have young children, consider a visit to Arakawa Amusement Park (Arakawa Yuenchi) operated by the Arakawa Ward. It reopened last year in May 2022 after an extensive refurbishment.  A full description can be found in my JAPAN Forward article about the Park.


Author: Earl H Kinmonth

Photographs by EH Kinmonth. Find other stories about Tokyo and nearby areas by Dr Kinmonth at this link.

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