Along the Arakawa River, on a tramline that is the last relic of a once extensive Tokyo Metropolitan Government run tram system, lies the Arakawa Yuen, an amusement park, also a relic of a different age. A visit to the park is like being transported back to a Tora san movie to a Tokyo that didn't know Louis Vuitton, Disneyland or Sony PSPs. The Yuen was built by the Arakawa local government in the 1950s to provide space for the rapidly growing numbers of young people in Tokyo. It doesn't look as though it has changed very much since then.
I'd been there once before in 2010, and took the chance to go back on the weekend when we babysat three delightful boys from Niigata - 7,5,2. It's a perfectly park for 2-8 year olds who don't have the patience for Disneyland queues (or whose parents or guardians have no interest in Disneyland levels ofcrowds, queues and commercialism). Entrance is 200 yen ($2.30) for adults, 100yen for primary and middle school students and the over 65s. Ride cost is mostly 100 yen, which means it's easy for local people to come for a couple of hours and go home, unlike Disney where the steep entry fee makes it better value to stay as long as possible. You can take your lunch or buy it (unlike Disney where you aren't supposed to take in your own food). There is nothing much in the way of souvenirs. Aside from a mini zoo that is only a few steps above a Chinese zoo in terms of animal rights awareness, it's a great place for an outing.
To get to Arakawa Yuenchi take the Arakawa line tram to Arakawa Yuenchi mae stop. The Arakawa line meets the Chiyoda line at Machiya, the Keihin Tohoku line and Namboku line at Oji, the Hibiya line at Minowa, the Yamanote line at Otsuka and the Fukutoshin line at Zoshigaya.
|Early spring outside Arakawa Yuenchi|
|Autumn time in front of Arakawa Yuenchi|
|An old Arakawa line tram - which doesn't look that different|
from some of the ones that still run on the line.
|Two visits and I still haven't made it inside the building that|
houses the Arakawa tram information.
|Some rides like these work on 100 yen coins|
|You need to be over five to go on this - kind of like a jumping castle|
but with a net to climb up.
|A very pretty bird in the aviary|
|A train - 100 yen ticket to board - a real one is cheaper for the|
|A very retro ride on camel powered by a 100 yen coin, |
also ride on dinousaurs and other animals.
|The free rides were as popular as the pay rides.|