Sunday, November 22, 2009

Streetcar Sundays - Tokyo, Japan

This postcard from the 1940s shows Ginza Street, Tokyo's main thoroughfare and shopping street.  The building with the curved facade (the Wako Store) is still there and is considered an important symbol of Ginza. It was built by Hattori Kinzo, the founder of a clock company later known as Seiko. In general, though, the street looks very different today. It's full of glitzy high-rise buildings and stores such as Tiffany, Gucci, Prada, Bulgari, Chanel, and Burberry.

Horse-drawn streetcars first started service in Tokyo in 1882. By 1906, tram service had been greatly expanded and was operating on electricity, with an average daily ridership of over 350,000. By 1927, Tokyo was also operating subway service, however streetcars or trams remained the primary mode of transportation in Tokyo until the 1960s, with annual ridership peaking at over 500 million. During the 60s, Tokyo renewed emphasis on expanding the subway system. Finally, in 1967, the tramway on Ginza Street was abolished.

The Toden Arakawa Line, a small segment of the Tokyo tramway system remains. It is only 12.2 km long and operates in the older section of northern and eastern Tokyo.  It allows for much better views than the subway and at a slower speed. So, if you're in Tokyo, you may want to seek it out and take a sentimental journey.

1 comment:

  1. Way cool, tante C! I had to share this with my friend and neighbor, Yasuko, from Tokyo. Excellent stuff!
    Susi (without the Fischerettes)



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