Do you know about the Arakawa Ward in Tokyo? It is one of the 23 wards of Tokyo, with various unique neighbourhoods and areas, along with different things to do and sights to see. If you are wondering what is Arakawa ward, the different areas inside Arakawa, best things to do, history, accommodation and more, check out this ultimate Arakawa ward area guide.
What is Arakawa City Ward
Arakawa-ku, a downtown area with an elevation of zero meters above sea level, stretches from Kan-eiji Temple in Ueno, which was placed there to seal off the demon’s gate in the center of Tokyo, to the Nikko Kaido Road.
Arakawa-ku borders Taito-ku, Adachi-ku, and Kita-ku, which are also part of the downtown area, and the area of the ward is quite small. Most of the area is outside the Yamanote Line, except for a small area in Nippori.
Arakawa Ward used to be a farming area on the outskirts of Edo until the Edo period (1603-1868), when the “Kozukahara Penitentiary,” one of the three major execution grounds in Edo, was established in Minami Senju, and many criminals were executed there. The name “Kotsudori” comes from the fact that the bones of criminals were found in the ground as soon as the ground was washed away in a rainstorm.
After the Meiji era (1868-1912), a wave of industrialisation came and the area gradually developed as an industrial zone in the suburbs of the city center and opened up as a residential area.
The reason why there is no Arakawa River running through the district, despite the name Arakawa-ku, is that the Sumida River used to be called Arakawa before the Arakawa drain was constructed.
The construction work for the Arakawa Spillway and the many slaughterhouses and leather and oil-related industries in Arakawa Ward attracted the labour force of Koreans from the Korean Peninsula, which was under Japanese rule before World War II, and became the foundation of Mikawashima Korea Town, which boasts one of the longest histories in Tokyo.
Living in Arakawa City Ward
Arakawa Ward is a downtown area of Tokyo. The older generation is left behind in a world that is far removed from the urban civilisation of the old days.
Because Arakawa Ward is home to many Korean descendants, in areas such as Mikawashima, various minority human rights groups such as the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions and the Buraku Liberation League have a strong political influence in the area. The variety of the ward’s politics is also a characteristic of Arakawa Ward.
In any case, Arakawa Ward itself is a core downtown area that has been left behind in the wave of development, and there are streetcars such as the Toden Arakawa Line, amusement parks with a Showa-style atmosphere such as Arakawa Amusement Park, cheap and delicious Chinese restaurants and okonomiyaki restaurants that serve snack monja like candy in the alleyways. There are also cheap and tasty Chinese restaurants and okonomiyaki restaurants that serve snack monja, which is a kind of “candy”. If you like the Showa era, you will probably enjoy living here.
History of Arakawa City Ward
Arakawa-ku was created in 1932 through the merger of Minami-Senju, Mikawashima, Nippori, and Oku.
A long time ago, most of the district was the sea, and only the area around Nippori was land.
During the Edo period, when Senjujuku on the Nikko Kaido Highway was established, people started coming here. Nippori became so crowded as a recreational area for common people that it was called “Higurashi no Sato” (village of the Higurashi).
This area also had an aspect as a farming village and was famous for its specialties such as Shioiri Daikon and Arakida Daikon.
After the Meiji period, large-scale factories were built one after another in the area, including the Senju Mill, a government-operated factory that took advantage of the Sumida River’s water transportation system, and the area developed into an industrial zone.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Electric Railway, which is now the symbol of the district, was opened in the Taisho era.
After the Great Kanto Earthquake, farmland was converted to residential land, creating the foundation for the development of the district as a commercial and industrial city.
In 1932, the towns of Minami-Senju, Mikawashima, Yaku, and Nippori were merged to form Arakawa Ward.
The Sumida River, which flows today, was called the Arakawa River at that time, hence the name of the ward.
Characteristics of Arakawa City Ward
What comes to mind when you think of Arakawa Ward? The Metropolitan Electric Railway, artisans, the textile district, and so many other things that Arakawa Ward can be proud of.
The Toden Arakawa Line is a very convenient way to get around the ward, operating a 4-kilometer section between Minowabashi in Arakawa Ward and Waseda in Shinjuku Ward.
Some have nostalgic yellow bodies that bring back the colouring of the 1950s, others have retro designs reminiscent of old-fashioned streetcars, and still, others have various designs, such as wrapped cars. You can enjoy both looking at them and riding on them.
The Toden Arakawa Line gives the strong impression of showing us an emotional scenery, but recently, the Nippori-Toneri Liner, a guided-gauge railroad running on rubber tires like the TransRoll in France and the subway in Paris, has appeared, going north to south between Nippori Station in Arakawa Ward and Minuma-dai Shinsui Koen Station in Adachi Ward.
Craftsmanship in Arakawa City Ward
Arakawa Ward is one of the most famous cities of craftsmen in Tokyo, with many artisans living in the ward who have been practising their traditional skills since the Edo period and are registered as holders of intangible cultural assets (craft techniques). Many artisans not only work hard at making things but also devote themselves to teaching and training younger craftspeople.
Every December, the “Traditional Crafts Exhibition” is held, featuring demonstrations and sales by craftspeople.
Since the Meiji era, many factories were built using the water of the Arakawa River. Nowadays, the downtown Arakawa Ward, where many such factories are located, has changed its use dramatically, with large condominiums lining the former factory sites, and the town has been beautifully developed and redeveloped, but many of these old techniques still remain.
Areas and stations of Arakawa City Ward
Arakawa Ward is proud of its large terminal station. The Keisei Line, which includes the Skyliner to Narita Airport, as well as the JR Yamanote, Keihin Tohoku, Joban Lines, and the Nippori Toneri Liner, all start here.
To the east of the station are the textile wholesale district and Korea Town, while to the west is Yanaka Teramachi and Yanaka Ginza Shopping Street in Arakawa Ward.
(2) Nishi-Nippori 西日暮里
This station was built solely for the convenience of residents along the Joban Loop Line, which is directly connected to the Chiyoda subway line.
The distance between the station and the neighbouring Nippori station is extremely short.
The west side of the station is home to the famous Kaisei Junior and Senior High Schools, and “Doukanzan” is often used in the names of apartments. The east side of the station is famous for the butcher shop of swimmer Kosuke Kitajima’s family. Rent is the cheapest here along the Yamanote Line.
(3) Mikawashima 三河島
The station on the Joban Line is famous for the postwar Japanese National Railways’ catastrophic Mikawashima accident. Old Korea Town boasts one of the best histories in Tokyo. The Korean market seems to have been left behind in the deserted shopping area in front of the station. The alleyways are filled with Korean restaurants, yakiniku restaurants, and bars.
(4) Minami-Senju 南千住
In front of the station is Kaikyoin Temple, which preserves the history of the Kozukahara Penitentiary, and the Kubukiri Jizo (Beheading Jizo). Get a bowl of eel with rice at the outlandishly expensive long-established eel restaurant “Ohana”. The redevelopment of the Shioiri district has brought a large influx of families.
(5) Oku 尾久
In front of the station is Kita-ku, but a short walk away is Nishi-Oku, Arakawa-ku. Arakawa Amusement Park is within walking distance.
(6) Minowa 三ノ輪
In front of the station is Taito Ward, but just to the north is Minami Senju, Arakawa Ward. Jokan-ji Temple, famous for being the temple where Yoshiwara prostitutes threw themselves into the streets, is also located on the Arakawa Ward side.
This is one of the most popular towns in Arakawa Ward, served by the Chiyoda Line, the Keisei Line, and the Toden Arakawa Line. The landmark in front of the station is the Machiya Saiban (funeral hall). It is characterised by a pachinko parlor, a yakiniku restaurant, and an excessive number of Communist Party posters. The wooden row houses are like a labyrinth when you enter the alley.
Along Toden Arakawa Line
The last stop on the Toden Arakawa Line. Joyful Minowa, an arcade street for the common people, with good ikifun, mainly for individual stores. However, the business hours are minaly for housewives, and it is useless for office workers on their way home from work early at night.
Arakawa-Kuyakusho-Mae Station 荒川区役所前
Famous for “Koeiken,” a Chinese restaurant that serves too much food, and Doyusha, a miniature model manufacturer. The old-fashioned Arakawa Ward Office building is also here.
Walking through Arakawa Nature Park, which spreads right above the Mikawashima Water Reclamation Center, to the special industrial area of Arakawa 8-chome. The rarely seen spinning mill factory and various factories related to leather oil and fat are in operation.
Nippori-Toneri Liner transfers here. The Tokyo Metropolitan University Arakawa Campus is located here.
Entering an alley from the shopping district of Jyoshi-Daijyo-Medical University Avenue, which has a sense of place, you will find the former Oku Sangyochi district. The waiting area where the Abe Sada incident took place no longer exists. The Women’s Medical University East Medical Center is scheduled to be relocated to Ekita, Adachi-ku, and there is a movement by the local residents against the relocation.
Arakawa Amusement Park 荒川遊園地前
The nearest station to Arakawa Amusement Park, the only public amusement park in Tokyo’s 23 wards. It is a very long-established business established in 1922. The brick walls of the former brick factory still exist.
There is a garage for the Toden Arakawa Line.
What to do in Arakawa City Ward
A five-minute walk from Minowa Station on the Subway Hibiya Line, this Soto Zen temple was founded in 791 by Sakagami Tamuramaro. In the Edo period, it was called “Shimotani no San-dera” (three temples in Shimotani) together with “Hirotoku-ji” in Shimotani and “Kishimojin” in Iriya. In 1907, the “Old Black Gate of Ueno” was moved from Kan-eiji Temple in Ueno, which was located in the centre of the battle, as a memorial to the Shogitai who fought the new government forces in the Boshin War (1868) at Ueno Higashidai Battle.
The Kuromon Gate was built in 1907 and it still bears numerous bullet holes that tell of the intensity of the battle.
The temple has many attractions, including a 12-meter-high golden statue of the Kannon (Goddess of Mercy) standing facing the street, the “Tomb of the Shogitai,” which is designated as a cultural asset by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, “Tomb of the Dead,” and “Mound of Forty-eight Shusshu.
Shioiri Park 都立汐入公園
Shioiri Park is a metropolitan park located on the eastern edge of Arakawa Ward. Under the theme of “a riverside plaza park with vitality and richness, coloured with rich and diverse waterfront and greenery,” the park has an observation deck, a lawn, and a communion plaza.
The centrepiece of the park is the “Twin Towers,” a giant playground complex as tall as the third floor of a building. The playground equipment, which offers a view of the Sky Tree from the top, is always very popular with children. It is the only playground in the city where barbecues are available and is crowded with families on weekends. It is also a wide-area evacuation site for approximately 120,000 people in the event of an earthquake.
Nippori Fabric Town 日暮里繊維街
The Nippori Fabric Town, with more than 80 fabric stores, stretches about 1 km on both sides of Nippori Chuo-dori Avenue. The textile district offers everything related to fabrics and textiles, from kimono, western-style clothing, men’s and women’s clothing fabrics and textile products to accessories and accessories related to clothing. There are also a variety of events centring on exhibitions.
Yūyake Dandan 夕やけだんだん
Named by the public, Yuyake Dandan is a staircase leading to Yanaka Ginza shopping street from the north exit of JR Nippori Station. Even in the midst of a busy day, it is soothing to stop for a moment and look at a nostalgic scene.
Yuhyake Dandan is a 36-step, 15-meter-long staircase. The staircase has a gentle 15-degree incline and was named after the beautiful sunset that can be seen when looking down from the top in the evening in the direction of Yanaka Ginza.
The staircase is also called “Yoyake-nyan-nyan” (meaning “evening cat-lovers”) because many cats gather on the staircase.
Susanoo Shrine 素盞雄神社
The shrine was built in 795 of the Heian period (794-1185). The local people call the shrine “Tenno-sama” (Goddess of Heaven). The Tenno Festival in June (a ward-designated intangible folk cultural property) is a highlight of the shrine.
Beheading Jizo 延命寺の首切り地蔵（小塚原刑場跡
The Beheading Jizo is approximately a 3-minute walk from JR Minami-Senju Station. This is the site of an execution site that existed from the Edo period to the early Meiji period and was called one of the three major execution sites along with Suzugamori Penitentiary and Owada Penitentiary.
The temple is now called “Toyokunisan Enmeiji Temple,” a temple of the Jodo sect of Buddhism, and “Enmei Jizo” (Jizo of Enmei), also known as the decapitated Jizo, is located in the precincts of the temple.
Mito Ronin who were involved in the Sakuradamon-gai Incident and Yoshida Shoin who was executed in Ansei no Daigaku (the Great Prison of Ansei) were also buried here. Only their gravestones remain today. A monument to “Kaitai Shinsho” (The New Text on Demolition) is also left here, as Sugita Genpaku and others were present at the autopsy of the executed.
Arakawa Amusement Park あらかわ遊園
Arakawa Amusement Park is a reasonably priced amusement park with rides for children, including a Ferris wheel that looks down on the Sumida River, a “bean train” that goes around the park, a “coffee cup,” and a “family coaster,” the slowest roller coaster in Japan that is caterpillar-shaped.
There is also a small stream where children can enjoy playing in the water in summer, an “Animal Plaza” where they can interact with animals such as rabbits and sheep, and a “Fishing Plaza,” making it a popular outing spot for families in Arakawa Ward.
Arakawa Amusement Park is a cute theme park in downtown Arakawa. The catchphrase, “Wakuwaku fairy tale land,” is very clear and tells you what to expect here. It is a long-established amusement park with a long history, dating back to 1922.
Toden Omoide Hiroba (Toden Memorial Square) 都電おもいで広場
Two toden cars (5500 type and old 7500 type) that once operated and were loved by visitors are on display at the “Toden Omoide Hiroba”. Visitors can ride inside the cars and admission is free.
A heartwarming diorama themed on the world of the 1950s, when the streetcars were in service, is also on display inside the cars.
This train museum is located in front of the Arakawa Shako (Arakawa garage) on the Toden Arakawa Line. It is open only on weekends, and admission is free; if you use a “Toei Marugoto Kippu” (one-day pass) to ride the Toden and enjoy the exhibits, you can go directly to Arakawa Amusement Park for free admission.
Arakawa Natural Park 荒川自然公園
Arakawa Nature Park is the largest park in Arakawa Ward, built on artificial ground above a sewage treatment plant. The park is divided into three areas: the “Traffic Park” where visitors can learn traffic rules while having fun in the north area; the “Children’s Amusement Park Corner” and “Wai Wai Pool” in the central area; and the “Waterfront Plaza” and “Athletic Corner” in the south area.
In the central area, there are tennis courts and a baseball field, and a wide range of people, from children to senior citizens, use the park.
Underneath this nature park is the Mikawashima Water Reclamation Center of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s Bureau of Sewerage. This is the same way as Ochiai Central Park in Shinjuku City. The park is full of attractions and fun, but Arakawa Ward was also the site of the first sewage treatment plant in Japan. The old pumping station facility has been designated as a national important cultural asset.
Nurie Art Museum ぬりえ美術館
Nurie Art Museum exhibits a variety of colouring pictures, including those drawn by Kiichi Tsutaya, coloring pictures that match the image of the season of the month, and colouring pictures from overseas.
There is also a space where visitors can actually enjoy coloring, and not only children but also adults are often seen enjoying coloring.
Joyful Minowa Shopping Street ジョイフル三の輪商店街
Joyful Minowa is a shopping arcade with an old-fashioned downtown atmosphere, lined with about 40 stores, including grocery stores, shoe stores, pharmacies, and delicatessen stores.
It is a perfect shopping street not only for daily shopping, but also for eating and strolling, and is full of inexpensive and delicious foods such as the famous “ginger tempura” and croquettes.
Arakawa Furusato Bunkakan 荒川区立 荒川ふるさと文化館
The Arakawa Furusato Cultural Museum is a place to enjoy, learn, and explore the history and culture of the Arakawa River.
Permanent exhibits include reconstructions of what Arakawa’s alleys and houses looked like in 1966, as well as a Tokugawa (a type of Japanese pottery) excavated from the ruins of the Kozukahara Penitentiary. Special exhibitions include an exhibition of works by Shigeru Komatsuzaki, a fantasy painter born in Arakawa.
Suwa-jinja Shrine 諏方神社
Suwa Shrine is said to have been built in Motokyu 2 by Teshima Saemoncho Tsuneyasu, who requested the shrine to be built from Suwa Shrine in Shinshu.
The shrine is still revered as the guardian of Nippori and Yanaka, and during the Edo period was known as one of the most scenic spots in Japan, with views of Tsukuba and the Nikko mountain range, etc. Every three years, a portable shrine is brought out for the annual grand festival, and the town is filled with energy.
Accommodation in Arakawa Ward
Guest House Wagokoro (3*)
Open from August 2017, Guest House Wagokoro offers modern Japanese-style accommodation an 8-minute stroll away from JR Nippori Station. JR Nippori Station provides direct access to Tokyo, Ueno, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro, Shinagawa and Shibuya stations, as well as Narita International Airport. Tokyo Station is a 10-minute train ride away. A supermarket, convenience store and pharmacy are all situated within a 3-minute stroll from the accommodation.
ホテル東京トリップ Hotel Tokyo Trip (3*)
Well located in the Arakawa district of Tokyo, ホテル東京トリップ Hotel Tokyo Trip is located 800 m from Kyoouji Temple, less than 1 km from Asakura Museum of Sculpture and a 13-minute walk from Fabre Insect Museum. The property is 1.5 km from The Site of Koda Rohan House, 1.6 km from Shinkomutsumi Shopping Street and 1.8 km from Tenno-ji Temple Gojuno Tower Remains. Popular points of interest near the accommodation include Nippori Fabric Town, Ecute Nippori and Nippori South Park. The nearest airport is Tokyo Haneda International Airport、 33 km from ホテル東京トリップ Hotel Tokyo Trip.
Located 100 m from Nippori Fabric Town, Sea-Pro offers a terrace, and air-conditioned accommodation with a balcony and free WiFi. Popular points of interest near Sea-Pro include Shinkomutsumi Shopping Street, Nippori South Park and Ecute Nippori. The nearest airport is Tokyo Haneda International, 32 km from the accommodation, and the property offers a paid airport shuttle service.
Almont Hotel Nippori (3*)
In a prime location in the Arakawa district of Tokyo, Almont Hotel Nippori is 200 m from Nippori Fabric Town, 300 m from Ecute Nippori and 300 m from Tennoji Temple. The property is close to the Calligraphy Museum, Kyoouji Temple and Shikian. Popular points of interest near the accommodation include Nippori South Park, Tenno-ji Temple Gojuno Tower Remains and The Site of Koda Rohan House.
Hotel Sunny (2*)
Hotel Sunny is conveniently located right in front of Nippori Train Station, which offers direct train access to Narita Airport, a 35-minute ride away. The hotel is a 6-minute train ride from the Ueno area, which features Ueno Park and Tokyo National Museum. Tokyo Sky Tree can be reached within a 20-minute train ride.
The Light Inn Tokyo (3*)
Ideally located in the Arakawa district of Tokyo, The Light Inn Tokyo is less than 1 km from TABATA Memorial Museum of Writers and Artists, a 12-minute walk from Nurie Museum and 1.1 km from Sunpop Machiya. Featuring a shared lounge, the 3-star hotel has air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi, each with a private bathroom. Popular points of interest near the accommodation include Shinkomutsumi Shopping Street, Akira Yoshimura Memorial Museum of Literature and Ogunohara Park.
都電屋 TodenHotel (2*)
Boasting a restaurant, bar and views of city, 都電屋 TodenHotel is situated in Tokyo, 200 m from Jokanji Temple. Located around less than 1 km from Susano Shrine, the hotel with free WiFi is also an 11-minute walk away from Arakawa Furusato Bunkakan. Popular points of interest near 都電屋 TodenHotel include Sunpearl Arakawa, Ichiyo Memorial Museum and Sekido Museum.
Randor Residence Tokyo Suites (3*)
Ideally located in the Arakawa district of Tokyo, Randor Residence Tokyo Suites is 500 m from Sunpop Machiya, 700 m from Akira Yoshimura Memorial Museum of Literature and less than 1 km from Shinkomutsumi Shopping Street. Popular points of interest near Randor Residence Tokyo Suites include Arakawa Natural Park, Sunpearl Arakawa and Nurie Museum.
ART HOTEL Nippori Lungwood (3*)
Only a 1-minute walk from JR Nippori Train Station, ART HOTEL Nippori Lungwood is directly accessible from Narita International Airport in 40 minutes, with the Keisei Skyliner Express Train. Ueno Zoo and the Tokyo National Museum are both 1.5 km away. Nezu Jinja Temple is about a 20-minute walk. JR Akihabara Train Station is a 10-minute train ride from Nippori Station to the Asakusa area is a 20-minute train ride away.
What do you think about Arakawa Ward in Tokyo? Do you like finding out about the history and culture of this interesting area of Tokyo? There is so much history and unique things to do in this local neighbourhood of Tokyo, if you’re interested in coming for yourself, make sure to refer back to this blog.