Explore the Yamanote Line

Trains are the best way to explore Tōkyō. The Yamanote Line might be your secret weapon!

JR東日本山手線
JR Higashi Nippon Yamanote-sen

(East Japan Railway, Yamanote Line)

Japan has a lot of trains. Tōkyō is probably the train capital of the world. But if there’s any train that you will ride in Japan, and even more so, ride in Tōkyō, it’s the JR Yamanote Line. It’s a loop line that “starts” on the former coast of Edo Bay and stretches out to the farthest borders of the shōgun’s capital and returns safely to the old coastline. While not every station is exciting and historically rich[i], it does hit some of the most important areas in the city. It also hits most of the major party towns which means that certain stretches of the line[ii] are lively, to say the least, at night. And by night, I don’t mean the weekends. I mean every night.

For history fans, the Yamanote Line, just like its younger brother, the Ōedo Line, offer a unique glimpse into the history of Edo-Tōkyō. Yeah, you can ride the whole circuit in an hour or something, but to actually explore each area would take ages. That said, if you know what you’re looking for, you can hit up some of the best historical spots in the capital and you could do so efficiently and economically.

So Without Further Ado.
Let’s Explore the 29 30 Stations of the Yamanote Line in 15 16 Articles:[iii]

The Yamanote Line Extravaganza
(intro to the series, highly recommended)1
Shinagawa
Ōsaki & Gotanda
Meguro & Ebisu
Shibuya
Harajuku, Yoyogi, & Shinjuku
Shin-Ōkubo
Takadanobaba, Meijiro, & Ikebukuro
Ōtsuka, Sugamo, Komagome, Tabata
Nishi-Nippori, Nippori, & Uguisudani
Ueno & Okachimachi
Akihabara & Kanda
Tōkyō
Yūraku-chō & Shinbashi
Hamamatsu-chō & Tamachi
Takanawa Gateway
(coming soon)

Touring the city via the Tōkyō via the Yamanote Line or Ōedo Line is awesome for fans of Japanese History, but particularly fun for fans of the Edo Period and the history of early Tōkyō. And while you can’t do both lines in a day, if you need a guide, you know where to find me.

I hope you enjoy the series!

Further Reading:

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[i] I’m looking at you, boring ass Meguro.
[ii] I’m looking at you, Ikebukuro, Shinjuku, Shibuya, Gotanda, Shinagawa, Tamachi, Hamamatsu-chō… oh, god let’s add Ueno… dude, this list could go on…
[iii] How’s that for efficiency?! Pretty frickin’ awesome… until you realize it took me a year to complete this stupid series.
UPDATE 2019: At the time of writing, there was a rumor that a new station would be built between Tamachi and Ōsaki. Well, it finally came true. There’s now a nice round number of station.

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