Tokyo’s trains: love birds, Haneda’s ad, and backyard snooping

Updated May 2014

Tokyo is a transportation dream! This blog has made it obvious how much I adore trains and this post is an ode to driverless trains, the monorail and the last streetcar line.

Driverless Trains

There are two trains in Tokyo that don’t have a driver. I can sometimes snag a seat in the first row for an unobstructed view down the tracks. Roller coasters scare me so riding at the front of the train is the closest I will get!

Yurikamome for love birds!

Body & Soul Outdoor Party

Having a blast at Body & Soul!

The first driverless train I rode in Tokyo was the Yurikamome. Hitoshi and I were on our long, first date and H was taking me to Odaiba, a large waterfront complex. My memories of that train ride so long ago are the splendid view of Tokyo Bay and the sun splashing over the water and the world looking dreamy with all the love floating in the air. ♥♥♥ Hitoshi tells me that this trip was a favored date activity for students and teenagers lacking cash. Perhaps it still is today!

If you have even less cash and don’t mind a lot of wind, you can walk across the Rainbow Bridge and wave to the train. While I have yet to do this, I admire those I have seen from the train.

For one of my birthdays, H reserved a surprise evening cruise in Tokyo Bay and we took this train to get to our ship.

We are huge dance music fans, especially house. The Yurikamome got us to and from Body & Soul, an afternoon, outdoor dance party with Francois K, Joe Claussell and Danny Krivit. While the party is still on the waterfront, it has moved locations so you can’t take the Yurikamome to it anymore and hear the pounding bass before you reach the station.

Nippori-Toneri Liner

path beside river, Adachi Ward

on the way to the Nippori-Toneri liner (near Ogi-Ohashi Station), Adachi

The second driverless train is the Nippori-Toneri Liner run by Toei. This train accesses a limited part of Tokyo, mostly in Adachi Ward. We took this train to get to a tax office since we lived in Adachi.

I probably would not have taken this train otherwise and I’m glad I did. It is small and was not busy. We got seats in the front row and when the track dipped a little, I imagined I was on a real rollercoaster!

I recommend taking this train because it is one of the few opportunities to see neighborhoods from above. Most transportation in Tokyo is at or below ground level and a new perspective is welcome.

The Monorail or Haneda’s Ad

The monorail is run by JR East and, looking at the web site, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the only purpose of the monorail is to get to or from Haneda Airport. However, the monorail can get you to other interesting spots in Tokyo. The web site has useful links such as a manners quiz, sightseeing info using the monorail, discount tickets and of course, airport information.

I used the monorail only occasionally while living in Tokyo due to where I spent most of my time.

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The Streetcar – backyard snooping at its best

fare sign, streetcar

fare sign at streetcar station near Oji Station, Kita Ward, Tokyo

Toei operates the last streetcar in Tokyo and it is a bargain at Y160. Homes are beside the tracks and the feel of the neighborhood is enchanting. The trains are small so I feel like a local and if you like history, wait for an old-fashioned streetcar. They alternate with the modern ones.

Update! As of April 2014, prices have gone up to Y170 due to the new 8% sales tax. The English site still has the old fare information.

streetcar tracks

streetcar tracks near Oji Station

What has been your experience using these trains in Tokyo? Do you have these trains in your neck of the woods?

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