The Yamanote line train service, operated by the East Japan Railway Company (JR East) is a 34 1/2 kilometer loop that conveniently reaches nearly every cultural, financial and logistical hub in Tokyo. Given that it circles the heart of the largest city in human history, it’s no surprise that this single line transports more than 3.7 million passengers a day. What will surprise new visitors (and is taken totally for granted by residents) is that it’s consistently on-time, clean, safe and reliable — basically everything one could hope for from a transportation system run by impressively intelligent yet highly fallible primates.
The obvious plusses are… obvious, but there is something about the Yamanote line and its 39 stations that you could miss: the platform tunes vary from station to station, and JR has commissioned around 100 unique departure melodies or jingles for use across the Tokyo Metro area.
If you plan to visit Tokyo or even if you’ve lived here for years, watch and listen carefully to our friends at DigitalHub.Jp’s collection of ultra-short Tokyo Train Tunes, each of which points out interesting or important features of the corresponding neighborhoods. For more on the Yamanote line neighborhoods, check out our guide on travel.gaijinpot.com.
With Ginza, Yurakucho and Tokyo Station to the south and Akihabara looming to the north, Kanda might seem merely a place to change trains. Not the case — just look at all you would miss!
Akihabara’s world-famous tech and otaku scenes are second to none on planet earth. If you’ve been before, you want to return, and if you’re planning a trip, the Electric Town is an absolute must!
The Ueno Station neighborhood offers some of the best visuals in the entire Yamanote set thus far.
If you like cats and Japanese cat-themed goods, Nippori’s the place to visit!
Known as a Harajuku for grandparents, charmingly traditional Sugamo is famous for a very particular item of clothing of a very specific color — anybody know?
Some believe the Ikebukuro station area is transforming into “Shibuya North,” while some believe it’s hopelessly out of fashion.