Why does Denenchofu Station, the 2nd worst station in terms of passengers, stop express trains? The Surprising History of Tokyu’s Symbolic Town | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Why does Denenchofu Station, the 2nd worst station in terms of passengers, stop express trains? The Surprising History of Tokyu’s Symbolic Town

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Denenchofu Station is located in one of the most exclusive residential areas along the Tokyu Line (PHOTO: Takashi Omiya)

Denenchofu, located in Ota Ward, is one of the most popular residential areas along the Tokyu railway line. Although it has become synonymous with an upscale residential area, surprisingly few people use Denenchofu Station.

With an average of 18,507 passengers per day, it is the second worst station on the Toyoko Line for express train stops, behind only the lowest-ranked Tamagawa Station (according to Tokyu Corporation’s FY2022 ridership data). When one takes an express train on the Toyoko Line from Shibuya, the train stops at three consecutive stations from Jiyugaoka to Denenchofu and Tamagawa, followed by the station with the second and first worst number of passengers, respectively.

So why is it so valued that the express train continues to stop there?

Denenchofu” has historically been cherished.

The Tokyo-Yokohama Electric Railway, which built the Toyoko Line, was intended to connect Tokyo (Shibuya) and Yokohama, and Chofu Village just happened to be a stop along the way. As a result, the Toyoko Line also passes through Denenchofu, but Denenchofu is essentially of no importance to the Tokyo-Yokohama Electric Railway.”

The history of Denenchofu is explained by Noboru Okada, a researcher at the Yokohama City History Reference Office and author of “Mizu de yomu yomu tokyu tozasen” (“Reading and Understanding the Tokyu Lines with Maps”).

The company that built the Meguro Line, which predates the Toyoko Line, and by extension, Eiichi Shibusawa, had their eyes on Denenchofu.

The Den-en-toshi Co., Ltd. founded by Eiichi Shibusawa chose the southern end of the Musashino Plateau, which was then part of Ebara County, as the “ideal site for housing. The company first began development of the Senzoku residential area, followed by the Tamagawadai residential area, and other residential areas such as Ookayama and Okusawa. The Tamagawadai residential area later became Denenchofu. The Meguro Kamata Electric Railway (hereafter referred to as Hiura Electric Railway) was established by the Denentoshi Company to serve these residential areas,” said Okada.

On March 11, 1923, Den-enchofu Station was also born when Meguro Kamata Dentetsu began operating a line from Meguro Station to Maruko Station (currently Numabe Station on the Tokyu Tamagawa Line). At that time, the station was named Chofu Station after a place called Chofu-mura. As a member of the Shibusawa Zaibatsu, Mekama Electric Railway was not just a railroad company, but also had a mission to develop the railway line. The land, not the railroad, came first, and Shibusawa and others focused their attention on the natural beauty of the rural Chofu area.

Because the area was more extensive than others, the Denenchofu Company put the most effort into developing it, including the creation of concentric circles and radial streets. The station that was established here was Denenchofu Station, and the name ‘Denenchofu’ became firmly established for the residential area of Tamagawadai,” said Okada.

Even today, when you get off at Denenchofu Station, you can still see remnants of European-like radial streets and residential areas on the west side of the station. Away from the hustle and bustle of central Tokyo, the development of Denenchofu began just as Shibusawa had intended.

It was neither the Toyoko Line nor the Denentoshi Line, but the Meguro to Kamata train built by the Meguro Electric Railway, which was also the “main line of maintenance” for Tokyu.

The street in front of Denenchofu Station PHOTO: Kyodo News

It was an acquired subsidiary that built the Toyoko Line.

However, the Megama Electric Railway alone would only connect Meguro and Kamata, and would not pass through Shibuya, the current home of Tokyu.

The Toyoko Line, as mentioned above, will be built by Tokyo Yokohama Electric Railway, not Megami Electric Railway. The Toyoko Line would have to wait until 1927 to serve Denenchofu, but before construction began, Tokyo Yokohama Electric Railway was already under the umbrella of Mega Electric Railway.

Keita Goto, the de facto founder of the Tokyu Group, played a role in the integration process. Goto, who had been an executive at the company originally called Musashi Electric Railway, became a director of Mega Electric Railway at the behest of Shibusawa, who also helped bring about the integration of the two companies.

The integration resulted in Tokyo Yokohama Electric Railway also going through Denenchofu. There would have been no choice not to pass through Denenchofu, which is the most important residential area, as it provides a transfer with the parent company’s Megane Line,” said Okada.

With the opening of new lines to Shibuya and Yokohama, Denenchofu became firmly established as one of Tokyu’s most prominent residential areas.

The entire Toyoko Line opened from Shibuya to Sakuragicho in 1932, and express service began in 1935. According to “History of Tokyo Yokohama Electric Railway” (published in 1943), the stations that stopped at this time were Himonya (present-day Gakugei Daigaku), Jiyugaoka, Denenchofu, Shin-Maruko, Hiyoshi, Tsunashima Onsen (present-day Tsunashima), Myorenji, Sorimachi and Yokohama. Denenchofu cannot be left out of this historical background.

In October 1939, Mega Electric Railway and Tokyo Yokohama Electric Railway officially merged. The new company name, Tokyo Yokohama Electric Railway, gave the impression of making “Toyoko” rather than “Mega” the flagship line.

Residential areas along the Tokyu line continued to expand after the war, and in order to increase transportation capacity, reforms were made to the Toyoko and Megama lines in the Heisei era.

Denenchofu Station was converted to an underground station, and on August 6, 2000 (Heisei 12), the Megamoko Line, which had long remained a local line only in Tokyo with three- and four-car trains, was divided into separate operating lines at Tamagawa Station. The Meguro Line between Meguro and Musashikosugi and the Tokyu Tamagawa Line between Kamata and Tamagawa were separated. The Meguro Line later grew to include direct service with the Tokyo Metro Namboku Line, Toei Mita Line, Saitama Rapid Transit, and Sotetsu.

From Denenchofu, it became possible to reach the Namboku and Mita Lines via the Meguro Line without changing trains. However, the following year, in March 2001, when express trains were introduced on the Toyoko Line as a faster type of train than express trains, the express trains passed through Denenchofu.

Although Denenchofu seems to have declined in status compared to when it was first established, last year, when the Tokyu Group celebrated its 100th anniversary counting from the Denentoshi Company, the commemorative ceremony was held at Denenchofu Station, not Shibuya or Futakotamagawa. The 100th anniversary commemorative wrapped train on the Meguro Line, which succeeded the Meguro Line, displayed the 100-year history of Denenchofu in an advertisement inside the train.

Even in Reiwa, this place is still special to Tokyu.

  • Interview, text, and photographs Takashi Omiya PHOTO Kyodo News

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