Ex­plor­ing Ja­pan with Tobu Rail­way

Ex­pect a jour­ney of per­pet­ual won­der­ment when you ex­plore Ja­pan through Tobu Rail­way, the coun­try’s sec­ond long­est rail­way which stretches across 463 kilo­me­tres of track. A jour­ney of epic sights, his­tor­i­cal land­marks and mouth-wa­ter­ing cui­sine

Escape! Malaysia - - Tobu Railway -

Tobu Rail­way’s net­work ex­tends through Tokyo as well as four sur­round­ing pre­fec­tures: Chiba, Saitama, Tochigi, and Gunma. Cur­rently with 463.3 kilo­me­tres of op­er­at­ing track, Tobu is Kanto’s largest pri­vate rail­way and is used by com­muters, stu­dents and tourists. Tobu Rail­ways is one of many com­pa­nies that is part of Tobu Group, which also op­er­ates health clubs, golf cour­ses, theme parks, and ho­tels. These in­clude Tobu World Square, where the world’s most fa­mous struc­tures are recre­ated at 1:25 scale; the Court­yard Mar­riott Ginza Tobu Ho­tel and the Tobu Ho­tel Le­vant Tokyo. The Tobu Group also de­vel­ops and man­ages con­do­mini­ums, hous­ing de­vel­op­ments, de­part­ment stores, and var­i­ous other prop­er­ties along its rail­ways and in Tokyo.


In the bustling city of Tokyo lies a fa­mous Bud­dhist tem­ple ded­i­cated to the Bodhisattva Kan­non called the Senso-ji, in the district of Tait. The jour­ney begins from Narita Air­port, where trav­el­ers can board the Kei­sei Line to Asakusa sta­tion, which takes roughly an hour fol­lowed by a five min­utes’ walk. Af­ter walk­ing through the Kam­i­nari Gate, you will be greeted by many shops sell­ing Ja­panese snacks and gifts called the Nakamise-dori shop­ping street.

This hap­pens to be one of the old­est shop­ping streets where there are more than 80 shops in that area. Shop­pers can find Ja­panese-styled goods that are pop­u­lar among tourists such as Ja­panese clogs, hair ac­ces­sories, wooden dolls, folk art prod­ucts, post­cards, clas­sic Ja­panese food and con­fec­tionar­ies. For Mus­lim vis­i­tors, there are also halal snacks avail­able!

Af­ter walk­ing through the rows of shops, vis­i­tors will be able to see the Senso-ji, also known as the Asakusa Kan­non Tem­ple.

The tem­ple was founded in 645 AD, which makes it the old­est tem­ple in Tokyo. Dur­ing World War II, the tem­ple was de­stroyed but was re­built later as a sym­bol of re­birth and peace to the Ja­panese peo­ple.

Vis­i­tors will be able to see many lo­cals as well as tourists alike, mak­ing wishes and prayers for good luck and pros­per­ity. En­trance to this tem­ple is free.

THE TOKYO SKYTREE In Oshi­age, there is a fa­mous ob­ser­va­tion tower called the Tokyo Skytree, which is owned by Tobu Group. Lo­cated in Su­mida City, it is three min­utes away and ac­ces­si­ble by train from Senso-ji Tem­ple us­ing the Tobu Skytree Line.

The Tokyo Skytree was opened to pub­lic on May 2012. It is a restau­rant, broad­cast­ing and ob­ser­va­tion tower which is 634m high, mak­ing it the sec­ond tallest struc­ture in the world af­ter the Burj Khal­ifa. The tower not only il­lu­mi­nates at night but is also re­sis­tant to earth­quakes. Its two light­ing styles – “Iki” and “Miyabi” op­er­ate al­ter­nately. The tower con­tains a re­tail mall called Tokyo So­la­machi which houses more than 300 re­tail and din­ing shops along­side gourmet restau­rants on floor 345 and a Skytree cafe on floor 350.

The high­est ac­ces­si­ble point on the tower is 450m above ground where vis­i­tors will be greeted with a 360 de­gree view of Tokyo. Dur­ing days when the skies are clear, moun­tains and val­leys can be seen from the tower. Stop by floor 340 for a glass floor view of the city that is cer­tainly not for the faint hearted.


Nikko has been the cen­ter of Shinto and Bud­dhist moun­tain wor­ship for many cen­turies be­fore Toshogu was built in the 1600s, and its na­tional park con­tin­ues to of­fer scenic, moun­tain­ous land­scapes, lakes, wa­ter­falls, hot springs and hik­ing trails in ad­di­tional to wild mon­keys.

Nikko is most fa­mous for Toshogu, Ja­pan’s most lav­ishly dec­o­rated shrine and the mau­soleum of Toku­gawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Toku­gawa shogu­nate.

The trip to Nikko begins from Asakusa Sta­tion whereby vis­i­tors can take the Tobu Limited Ex­press Spa­cia Train to Kin­u­gawa. This di­rect ser­vice train takes roughly 120 min­utes to ar­rive at ei­ther des­ti­na­tion.

The Limited Ex­press Spa­cia train has two dif­fer­ent class of seats, one be­ing a two by two seat­ing ar­range­ment in a car that has a to­tal of about 60 seats. The other class, called the Spa­cia Com­part­ment, is a train car that

con­tains six pri­vate rooms, each be­ing able to fit a max­i­mum of four peo­ple with lug­gage stor­age space above.

Most of the trains have a kiosk lo­cated in the cen­tre where pas­sen­gers can pur­chase drinks and snacks. Toi­lets and vend­ing ma­chines are also avail­able in the train. Prices for tick­ets start at ¥1440 dur­ing the week­ends.

In Nikko, the Tobu World Square is an ar­chi­tec­tural mu­seum with re­pro­duc­tions of 102 world-fa­mous build­ings on a 1/25 scale, in­clud­ing 46 World Her­itage Sites and is a pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion for many tourists. The sculp­tures are very skill­fully de­tailed to look sim­i­lar to the orig­i­nal ones. En­trance to the park starts at ¥2800 for adults and ¥1400 for chil­dren. If tick­ets are pur­chased in advance, prices will be ¥2500 and ¥1200 for adults and chil­dren re­spec­tively.

Ke­gon Falls is lo­cated at Lake Chūzenji in Nikko Na­tional Park. The falls were formed when the Daiya River was redi­rected by lava flows. The main falls have a height of ap­prox­i­mately 97 me­tres with twelve smaller wa­ter­falls sit­u­ated be­hind and to the sides of Ke­gon Falls. Wa­ter leaks through the many cracks be­tween the moun­tain and the lava flows with the high­est point of the wa­ter­fall be­ing 1200 me­tres.

Vis­i­tors can ex­plore the base of the wa­ter­fall by us­ing an el­e­va­tor which costs ¥530.

Toshogu Shrine is the fi­nal rest­ing place of Toku­gawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Toku­gawa Shogu­nate that ruled Ja­pan for over 250 years un­til 1868. Ieyasu is en­shrined at Toshogu as the de­ity Tosho Daigongen, “Great De­ity of the East Shin­ing Light”. The high­est point here is 640m above ground level, the same height as the Tokyo Skytree.

The shrine com­plex con­sists of more than a dozen build­ings set within a beau­ti­ful for­est. In­tri­cate wood carv­ings and large amount of gold leaves were used to de­sign the ar­chi­tec­ture of the shrine which can­not be found any­where else in Ja­pan. Vis­i­tors may note that Toshogu also con­tains both Shinto and Bud­dhist ele­ments.

A Torii, a form of Ja­panese gate can com­monly be found out­side shrines. This dis­tin­guishes them from tem­ples where such gates are not built. It is com­mon for places of wor­ship to con­tain ele­ments of both re­li­gions un­til the Meiji Pe­riod when Shinto was de­lib­er­ately sep­a­rated from Bud­dhism. Across the coun­try, Bud­dhist ele­ments were re­moved from shrines and vice versa, but at Toshogu the two re­li­gions were so in­ter­min­gled that the sep­a­ra­tion was not car­ried out com­pletely.

Vis­i­tors are al­lowed to roam around the shrine by them­selves or with English guides. Do note that nor­mal guides are not al­lowed as all Nikko guides are cer­ti­fied. Due to the in­creas­ing pop­u­lar­ity of this area, the man­age­ment is pre­par­ing mul­ti­lin­gual guides which will soon be avail­able. En­trance to Toshogu Shrine will cost ¥1300.

Right be­side Toshogu Shrine is the Fu­tarasan Shrine which is pop­u­lar among cou­ples. Love­birds come here to wish for good luck and pros­per­ity in their re­la­tion­ships.

Fu­tarasan Shrine was founded in 782 by Shodo Shonin, the Bud­dhist monk who in­tro­duced Bud­dism to Nikko. This place is ded­i­cated to the deities of Nikko’s three most sa­cred moun­tains: Mount Nan­tai, Mount Ny­oho and Mount Taro. Fu­tarasan is an al­ter­nate name of Mount Nan­tai, the most prom­i­nent of the three moun­tains.

En­trance to Fu­tarasan Shrine is free ex­cept for a small area on the left of the of­fer­ing hall called Haiden. The paid area fea­tures a small forested gar­den with a cou­ple more halls, a spring, old sa­cred trees and closer views onto the main hall (Hon­den) that stands be­hind the of­fer­ing hall.

TOP The Senso-ji Tem­ple, the old­est tem­ple in Tokyo founded in 645 AD RIGHT The Nakamise-dori shop­ping street, one of the old­est shop­ping streets in Ja­pan

BE­LOW LEFT Tobu Rail­way’s net­work ex­tends through Tokyo, Chiba, Saitama, Tochigi and Gunma

ABOVE FROM TOP A stun­ning 360 de­gree view of Tokyo city from Tokyo Skytree

The view of Tokyo Skytree from Tobu Ho­tel Le­vant Tokyo

ABOVE FROM TOP A pri­vate room seat­ing with scenic view in The Limited Ex­press Spa­cia train

Some world-fa­mous build­ings on a 1/25 scale in Tobu World Square

BOT­TOM One of the shrine’s build­ings is dec­o­rated with count­less wood-carv­ing and gold leaves

LEFT A Torii is com­monly used to dif­fer­en­ti­ate be­tween a tem­ple and a shrine

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