Tobu: One of Japan’s Largest Commercial Empires

The History of Tobu Railway Co. Ltd.

The Railway system is not new to Japan and it has been a very popular and convenient form of travel for the people. Since the late 1800s, railway lines have been known to carry not only cargo from point-to-point in Japan but also people. Railway systems in Japan transported millions of individuals from North and South to East and West and through different directions all over the country through the century.

The Tobu Railway System, formally known as the Tobu Railway Co. Ltd., has been in operation since 1897 and is considered as one of the oldest railway companies in the country. It has been on a continuous run since 1899. It has appropriately served the Greater Tokyo Area through the century. Furthermore, it is one of the first to allow intercity and regional operations in the region.

The Tobu group can be considered as one of the largest commercial empires of Japan. Not only have they succeeded in the rail industry, they also are engaged in other transport lines such as buses and taxis. They also have real estate and retail. They have their own hotel, theme park, and shopping malls. They are the investors of the World-Famous Tokyo Skytree which is the tallest structure in the country and one of the important tourist icons in all of Japan.

Visiting the Tobu Railway Museum

The Tobu railway has been open since 1897, a little over a century. This means that the railway system has a very rich history. It has seen the developments in transport technology through the years. Originally a steam engine rail, the Tobu Railway has been completely upgraded since it first opened in 1914. The rich history that it has is now presented and time lined at their own museum – The Tobu Railway Museum.

The Tobu Railway museum has exhibits that include train control simulations, steam locomotive show, panorama shows, and watching promenades. The watching promenades have screens that allow individuals to see running trains at the closest possible distance.

The museum usually opens at 10:00 AM and closes at 4:00 PM. Their schedule of closure usually is during Mondays of every week. This is to allow for maintenance and repairs. The cost of a single adult ticket to the museum is about 200 yen and single child tickets cost 100 yen. Group costs will significantly slash off the price at 100 yen per adult and 50 yen per child.

There are dining areas located at the museum to allow for groups, families, and individuals to enjoy a meal after a full tour of the museum. However, the space is quite small and reservations are recommended for large groups to ensure that all individuals will be accommodated.

Tobu Railway Map and Tobu Railway Lines

The railway network of the Tobu is divided into two parts. The first part known as the main lines extend from the Asakusa Station to different lines all over Japan. The second part, known as the Tobu Tojo Lines, is an isolated rail system of Tobu and is not connected to the main lines.

The main lines have a total of four different branches and all branch from the Asakusa Station. The first branch is the Tobu Skytree line (TS), the Tobu Isesaki Line (TI), the Tobu Nikko Line (TN), and the Tobu Noda Line (TD). There are more than 20 stations within the entire network and more than 10 sub-lines all giving a total of 463.3 km. What people must know is that some of these lines are connected to the JR lines or are running parallel to the JR lines.

Popular Stations of the Tobu Railway in Japan

Asakusa Station: Tokyo Skytree

The Tokyo Skytree is one of Japan’s most iconic tourist spots. It is popular throughout the globe and has been featured in a number of international media. This structure is the tallest building in Japan and there was a time when the Tokyo Skytree is the second tallest structure in the world. This Tokyo Skytree has been developed by none other than the Tobu Railway Co. Ltd.

The Skytree is a great investment for the transportation company because it connects the main line to this Skytree line which encourages travelers to use their railway system. On top of that, the Skytree is a huge money maker. It is home to more than 50,000 commercial establishments. A trip to the view decks cost more than 2,500 Yen.

The Tokyo Skytree has its own private line in the Tobu Railway system which extends from the Asakusa station to the Tobu-Dobutsu-Koen Station in Saitama. It is roughly 114.5 km long and continues to both the Tokyo Metro Hibiya line featuring trains local to Tokyo only and the Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Line featuring the rapid trains of the Tobu System.

The Asakusa station of the Tobu Rail is the central most location of all the lines. All lines branch out from this station and reach different areas of the country. It branches to the main lines that include Daishi Line, Nikko line, and more.

Tobu Railway Nikko/Kinugawa Station: Tobu World Square

The Tobu Nikko line is a 94 km stretch of railway system owned by the Tobu Railway group. It takes its passengers to different locations throughout Nikko, Japan. It has two different branches which are the Utsunomiya Line at the Shin-Tochigi Station and the Kinugawa Line at the Shimo-Imaichi Station. Both lines traverse the Nikko area of Japan. The operating speed is roughly 120 km/hr. The Tobu Nikko line was opened in 1929 and was among the first with dual tracks. It is also one of the popular lines in the country which is electrified. Express services of this line were opened in 1949.

There are a number of tourist spots in the area that make this particular line very popular. One is that the Kinugawa station leads to a number of the very popular onsen. Onsen is hot spring resorts which are great for a relaxing weekend getaway. Some of the most popular in the area are the Yumoto Onsen and the Yunishigawa Onsen.  Another very popular tourist destination in Nikko would be the Akechidaira Plateau. The most popular part of this trip is the ropeway that takes passengers on a cable car ride through the Akechidaira Plateau.

On top of the fact that the Tobu group has their own shopping center, they also have their own theme park known as the Tobu World Square. It is called such a name because it features a scaled down model of more than 100 famous buildings in the world including the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower. There is a total of 45 world heritage sites featured in the Tobu World Square. The park is usually opened between 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM and tickets are sold at impressively high prices. A single adult ticket costs 2,800 yen while a single child ticket is 1,400 yen.

Kawagoe Station: Tobu Hotel

The Tobu Railway group has entered the real estate industry and has built their own hotel near the Kawagoe Station. It is located five minutes from the Kawagoe station and is located at the Kawagoe Old Town Street and there are more than 100 rooms in this hotel.

Located in the Saitama prefecture, there are a number of tourist spots which can be visited in the area. Roughly 30 minutes from Tokyo, it is home to numerous temples and castles from the Edo period. This place is popular during earlier Japanese times because it is an important spot for trade and military purposes.

Ikebukuro Station: Tobu Department Store

This place is one of the most popular city centers in all of Japan. Right at its center is the Ikebukuro station which is the center for multiple train lines. According to some reports, this station alone handles more than a million travelers every day. It has been noted as the second busiest railway station in Japan following Shinjuku station of Japan.

Being a city center, there are a number of shopping and dining places in the area. Because of this, Tobu group has realized the potential of building their own department store in the area. The Tobu department store is known to be one of Tokyo’s largest department stores. It is located exactly on top of the west exit of the Ikebukuro station. It is home to several buildings and is home to both locally famous and world famous brands. There are also more than fifty restaurants in the department store alone.

Tojo Line: The Flying Tojo 

The Tojo line, opened in 1914, is a 75 km suburban railway line in the country. It runs from the Ikebukuro station in Tokyo to the Yorii Station in Saitama. This particular line has been popular because of the Flying Tojo which is a limited express service developed in 1949.

Originally, the Tojo Railway was not part of the Tobu Railway group. It was only in 1920 when it was observed by the company. Nine years later, in 1929, it was completely electrified. The Flying Tojo was a freight haulage train that brought cargo from different parts of Tokyo. It ran between the Ikebukuro and the Nagatoro line. The service was closed officially by 1967 and replaced by other freight services. All freight services of the Tojo line has been closed in 1986.

Types of Tobu Railway Passes: Tobu Railway Discount Pass

All in all, there is a total of five types of Tobu discount passes. These discount passes are available depending on the location being considered for a visit. These discount passes offer up maximum savings for trips and sightseeing all over the different places along the Tobu Railway lines. What people must remember is that the prices of the tickets vary depending on the season, say during springtime from March to May or Winter from November to February.

Tobu Railway Nikko Pass

There are three types of passes available for the Nikko Area. This particular pass is not only available for all Tobu Railway systems but it is also available for buses in the area. The interesting thing about this pass is that it is available exclusively for foreigners. These passes include the Nikko All-Area pass, Nikko City Area pass and the Theme Park & Nikko City Area Pass.

The Nikko All Area Pass is available for a total of four days. A single adult ticket costs 4,520 Yen and a single child ticket costs 2,300 yen. This particular pass offers access from Asakusa Station to The Tobu Nikko station or the Kinugawa Onsen Station. It can be bought online via credit card. There are reports that indicate that this particular pass is also available at the Narita Airport. When in Japan, ticket offices such as the Tobu Tourist Information Center Asakusa, Group Tourist Plaza, and more.

These discount passes provide as much as 20% discounts for certain tourist destinations in Japan. These include the Tokyo Skytree, Tobu World Square, and more. In the Nikko Area alone, it provides discounts for the Akechidaira Ropeway, Nikko Natural Science Museum, and the Nikko Astraea Hotel. In the Kinugawa Onsen station, it provides discounts for the Monkey Mountain, Edo Wonderland, and the Kinugawa Onsen Ropeway.

Kawagoe Discount Pass

The Kawagoe discount pass offers up a round-trip travel between the Kawagoe and Ikebukuro stations of the Tobu line. For other premium discount pass holders, they also receive ride-all-you-want travel to Tobu bus systems in the area. These lines include the Tobu Koedo Loop Bus – providing easy access to a number of tourist destinations in the area.

The Kawagoe discount pass provides special offers from different shops all over the city. Among the locations that offer up, discounts would be the Tsuchikane Folk Arts building which is a place that offers up traditional folk art souvenirs. Unakko is also the other restaurant that provides special offers for the Kawagoe Discount pass holders.

Tobu Railway Investor Relations

The Tobu Railway group seems to be expanding further than the transport industry. Over the years, they have started to tap into the commercial industry and real estate as well. With total assets adding up to 1.3 trillion yen, it is only understandable that they open their company to selling shares and stocks for further expansions.

There are more than 97,000 investors or shareholders which total to about more than 100 million yen of capital. They trade securities including common stocks. Among the principal shareholders include Nippon Life Insurance Company, Japan Trustee Services Bank, Ltd. And the Master Trust Bank of Japan, Ltd with the largest percentage of total shares.