‘Round and ‘Round We Go: The Yamanote Line

Ryu Tokyo’s Anthony and Christine take a tour on Tokyo’s Yamanote Line, a 35-kilometer train loop that connects different parts of the city, a trip made convenient with the Tokunai Pass.

This pass is to JR Lines what the big, red, hop-on-hop-off buses are to other major cities—a simple, fun way to explore at your own leisure and pace for a set price (for the Tokunai Pass, 760 yen, or, roughly 7 USD).

Shinjuku Station

Tickets in tow, their first stop is Shinjuku station. From there, Christine makes her way to Takashimaya Times Square, a shopping mecca and the perfect place to escape from a brutal hot summer’s day or winter’s chill. If you’re needing a shopping fix, you’ll find it in the form of 16-stories-worth of shops, from Tokyu Hands for home goods, to luxury brands. A food paradise in the basement level awaits to satisfy any stomach grumblings.


Meanwhile, Anthony heads over to the Kabuki-cho section, where he finds the Samurai Museum. This is the perfect spot for any history buffs looking for insight into a long-gone but a far-from-forgotten societal class that was once integral to Japan. Godzilla himself can be found nearby, peaking over Hotel Gracery, ready to wreak havoc.

Ikebukuro Station

The next stop for our adventurers is Ikebukuro station, where Anthony walks to the nearby SEGA Arcade to partake in exciting games and a charged atmosphere. On the opposite end of the energy spectrum, Christine relaxes at a wildlife animal café, where actual wildlife is waiting to, yes, be pet, held, and fed.


Ueno Station

Off of Ueno station, our duo visits Ameyoko-cho. A former underground black market that sprung up after WWII, this is now a busy, popular open-air market with over 400 stores, selling street food and Western-style clothes.

Journeying a little south, 2k540 Aki-Oka Artisan, off of Okachimachi station, is an arts and crafts outlet, housing 50 artisanal shops, studios, and galleries. If you’re looking for a souvenir to tote back home, you’ll have no shortage of options here.


Tokyo Station

The famous Tokyo Station opened in 1914 and is known for its three-story, redbrick façade. The area nearby, Marunouchi, is one of Japan’s most prestigious business districts and houses the imperial palace, as well as gorgeous, peaceful parks that you simply cannot pass without a peaceful stroll through. The Kite Building is also near, offering excellent night views of Tokyo Station and the city lights, all glowing warmly against the night sky.


End: Ebisu Station

For their final stop, Anthony and Christine head to Ebisu station, almost circling back completely to Shibuya, where they began. Rounding out their day with laughter and drinks, they sit in on a show put on by Tokyo’s only bilingual comedy troupe, The Pirates of Tokyo Bay.


All in all, a perfect way to take in the sights of Tokyo—hopping on, hopping off, one station at a time.

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