Japan’s Oldest Monorail In Ueno Zoo Permanently Closing In December

Tokyo’s Ueno Zoo Monorail, Japan’s oldest monorail which began operations in 1957, is officially closing down on December 27th, 2023 after being shuttered since 2019. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Bureau of Transportation made the announcement that the iconic 300-meter line that connects two stations inside Ueno Zoo will be permanently decommissioned and dismantled beginning January 2024.

As its name denotes, the Ueno Zoo Monorail has run exclusively inside the confines of the popular Ueno Zoo located in Ueno Park. The short ride takes only around 90 seconds to travel between the east and west stations. While the distance can be easily walked, generations of Japanese families and tourists have fond memories of riding the unique single-rail train. The quirky monorail has held nostalgic novelty value since starting up over 65 years ago.

The Bureau sadly declared there will be no final commemorative trips as the train has already been out of commission since 2019 due to deterioration of the rail and train itself. The prolonged suspension over the last four years was extended indefinitely during the pandemic. This past July, plans were announced to formally cease operations in summer 2024, but just this month the ultimate last day was officially moved up to December 27th, abruptly expediting permanent closure.

Demolition and removal of the iconic Ueno Zoo Monorail’s rails and train car will commence January 2024, with expected full extraction completed by spring 2025. In its place, the Bureau noted a “new substitute vehicle” would open for service by spring 2026. The phrasing indicates it will likely not be a monorail. As such, the more modern, functional Tokyo Monorail connecting Hamamatsucho Station and Haneda Airport will now stand as the last remaining monorail system in Tokyo.

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