The Yamanote Line is a 34.5 km train loop that connects many of Tokyo’s major urban areas and subway lines. Its trains come every several minutes to the 29 stations, both clockwise and anti-clockwise. (Explore this interactive map.)
This post introduces several personal projects that were published online in English and Japanese. To my knowledge, all of the online photography projects are by non-Japanese living in Tokyo, while native Tokyoites favored chronicling walking projects on their blogs.
160yen – A Day on Tokyo's Yamanote Line
I started this project because I was fascinated by the idea that by being always on the same line and going round and round in the loop, as the day progressed I would have been able to see the whole range of Tokyo life just passing in front of me.
Since I first came to Tokyo in 2007, I always found that the Yamanote line was, in my opinion, one of the most significant landmarks in Tokyo while never being recognize as such. You will always hear about the Tokyo Tower, Shibuya Crossing and others but if there’s one thing that’s omnipresent in everyone’s life in Tokyo, it’s the Yamanote.
Ghosts of Tokyo
A photography project by Olivier Théreaux in 2003, which he calls a “a visual haiku, a photographic poem telling a story of ghosts in the City”.
This book started as a project to document the “other” face of Tokyo, by walking around the Yamanote, the ultra-busy circular train line often thought of as the heart (or more appropriately, the crown) of the city, and taking pictures of the areas between the stations, when the common images were too often close to the stations.
A highspeed video of riding the Yamanote Line.
A look into the Japanese blogosphere brought forth many entries of people walking around the entire line. For example, Mari from the Watashi to Tokyo blog completed the walk in 14 hours, starting at 7:00 in the morning at Shinjuku Station. The blogger at WADA-blog posted [ja] walked it in 11 hours and 20 minutes, excluding meals and breaks, taking 64,755 steps over 42.73 kilometers. Remember, sitting through a complete loop of the Yamanote Line takes around an hour.
Besides the slew of noteworthy projects, the Yamanote Line has inspired other things in a Tokyoite’s daily life. There’s a drinking game called the Yamanote Line Game and some might fondly recall going on a Yamanote Line Date [ja] during their high school years.