Finding an apartment you love can be a disappointing endeavor, especially when it might be gone before you can even apply for it! More often than not, though, there are plenty of fish in the sea. You’ll want to keep in mind your location and access to other places first and foremost when searching. That’s where our Best Train Lines for Living in Tokyo can help.
Today, we’ll look at the Shonan-Shinjuku line, a JR East line serving an enormous area both south of Yokohama and north of Tokyo. It stops at many locations, from inner-city Tokyo to quiet coastal areas by Yokosuka. This means that while it is one of the quieter lines on the network, it is often popular with commuters and tourists alike.
- The commute
- Popular neighborhoods
- Best three Shonan-Shinjuku line stations for living in Tokyo and Yokohama
A recent addition to the JR East network, the Shonan-Shinjuku line began service in December 2001. It does not have its own dedicated tracks, instead using parts of the Yamanote line, Tokaido line, and Yokosuka line, amongst others. The Shonan-Shinjuku line connects onto these lines at the bounds of its routes, with the line itself running from Omiya to Zushi.
Despite calling at some of the biggest transport hubs in Japan, including Shibuya, Shinjuku and Yokohama, the line is one of the quieter in JR East’s network. Around half a million people take the line daily. Most are commuters, although on weekends, many Tokyo residents will take the line south for a short Kamakura day trip or some time at the beach by Tokyo Bay.
One of the reasons for the reduced popularity of the Shonan-Shinjuku is the relative infrequency of the train line. As it shares parts of its track with other train lines, trains usually are once every ten minutes, in between the other train lines serving the stations it calls at.
This means that while stations on the line tend to be good transport links (since multiple train lines serve them), the Shonan-Shinjuku is a little less frequent.
The Shonan-Shinjuku line begins service at around 6 a.m., and the last trains are at around 10 pm. Trains will start in various locales south of Yokohama, such as Zushi, Ofuna or Totsuka. They will usually continue north of Tokyo into Saitama, stopping at Omiya.
The line is usually busiest during weekday peak commuting hours as commuters move into Yokohama and Tokyo. However, the line also grows busy during the holidays, as it calls at popular day trip destinations from Tokyo.
The Shonan-Shinjuku line calls at some of the busiest areas in Tokyo and some of the most popular tourist spots. Here are just a few you can expect to see.
Shibuya and Shinjuku
With its iconic Scramble Crossing being the image of Tokyo for many people, Shibuya is the heart of Tokyo. Offering high-end shopping experiences, such as Shibuya 109’s fashion boutiques and the designer brands in Shibuya Scramble, it also has its down-to-earth roots. Miyashita Park offers rock climbing, skateboarding, and even comfortable seats in their sky garden if you want to relax and unwind.
But if nightlife is your thing, you’d probably also want to stop by Shinjuku, just a stop away on the Shonan-Shinjuku. The Kabukicho district is famous for its nightlife, with clubs, bars, and live music shows running through the night. The new Kabukicho Tower, with an enormous entertainment complex, is due to open in April. Besides just nightlife, Shinjuku also has a labyrinth of expensive and cheap shopping streets, with dozens of cafes and restaurants to catch a breather in after a busy day.
One of the most popular spots for day trips from Tokyo, Kamakura is a few stops south of Yokohama on the Shonan-Shinjuku line. Known for its beautiful greenery, hiking trails, and Giant Buddha statue, it’s the perfect place to escape the raucous city atmosphere.
The hilly trails surrounding Kamakura station offer day hikes for both beginners and more experienced hikers, leading to gorgeous panoramic views of the bay. If that sounds a little too much in the Japanese summer, you can also enjoy a stroll down the main shopping streets, exploring local delicacies and trinkets. For a day trip from Tokyo, Kamakura feels like an entirely different Japan.
While Akihabara has a reputation for being the place to go for electronics, it’d be doing Ikebukuro a disservice not to mention it in the same breath. The area is loaded with electronics stores, department stores and major retailers scattered around the station.
If shopping isn’t for you, Ikebukuro also has plenty to do – the Sunshine city aquarium and observation deck offer a great day out with their VR immersive experiences. While it may not be as bold and bright as Shibuya or Shinjuku, Ikebukuro is the place for shoppers who can’t get enough.
Best three Shonan-Shinjuku line stations for living in Tokyo/Yokohama
North of all the major Tokyo hubs, Akabane is a few stops from Ikebukuro and right on the border of Saitama. It’s a pleasant, charming neighborhood with winding alleys lit by lanterns in the night, emphasizing the nightlife scene here. Plenty of small izakayas and bars are located in the station area, making it a great place for younger renters looking for somewhere close to Tokyo but still with a vibrant atmosphere.
Average apartment price
1K: ¥70,000 2DK: ¥110,000
- Akabane Ichibangai: A large shopping street packed full of bars and izakayas. You can enjoy snacks and light bites at the many restaurants woven through here or just settle in with a beer for a pleasant evening.
- Akabane Hachiman Shrine: A small, out-of-the-way shrine surrounded by lush greenery. It’s a lovely place to wander over to when you’ve had a long day and just need some solace in nature.
Caught between Yokohama and Tokyo, Musashi-Kosugi offers easy access to both the Shonan-Shinjuku line and the previously covered Tokyu Toyoko line. The area around Musashi-Kosugi is generally quite utilitarian, with plenty of day-to-day amenities. Supermarkets, a home center, and other essentials are easy to find nearby.
That isn’t to say you’re completely high and dry on socializing though. Mushashi’s great transport links provide easy access to nightlife hubs such as Mizonokuchi and sporting facilities through the nearby parks and athletic centers. Musashi-Kosugi would be ideal for families working in Tokyo or Yokohama.
Average apartment price
1K: ¥60,000 2DK: ¥90,000
- Todoroki Ryokuchi Athletic Park: The home stadium of the Kawasaki Frontale soccer team, a great place to visit if you’re a fan of any Japanese sport.
- Keihin Fushimi Inari Shrine: Another shrine with large Torii gates and a fox motif, it stands out as a space of serenity in the middle of Musashi-Kosugi’s suburbia.
Just one stop from Yokohama Station, Hodogaya is a quieter residential area close to Japan’s National Route 1. Being residential, all the amenities for daily life are close at hand – several schools are within walking distance of the station, and shops are abundant in the station vicinity.
If you’re worried about entertainment though, remember that it’s only a stop to Yokohama, where you can enjoy all the sights of the second-largest city in Japan. Take a short hop to Chinatown, and enjoy the unique cultural experience, or stop at Minatomirai to catch the dazzling bay view and lights. Hodogaya is an excellent location for families looking for a peaceful, relaxed residential area while still only a few minutes from city life.
Average apartment price
1K: ¥60,000 2DK: ¥100,000
- Shimizugaoka Park is a large park located a short walk from Hodogaya station. Besides its beautiful flower beds and orchards, the park has sports and swimming facilities.
Do you live on the Shonan-Shinjuku line? What’s it like? Let us know in the comments below!