Touring Tokyo on the Yamanote line

The Yamanote Line (included in the JR Pass) is often called the most important train line in Tokyo. It is a loop line connecting a number of major Tokyo districts and areas. It is run by JR East and is one of the busiest train lines in the country. The train runs every 2 – 4 minutes on the Yamanote Line, meaning there is a never a wait for the train. The frequent trains and loop-based line make the Yamanote Line a perfect base to use for visiting a number of popular Tokyo locations.

Here's the complete Tokyo Yamanote line map :

One of the most popular stations on the Yamanote Line is Harajuku station. Harajuku is the widely-acclaimed center of fashion and pop culture trends. Directly opposite the station is Takeshita Dori, the main street of Harajuku. Takeshita Dori is a narrow, crowded street filled with fashion shops, cafes, crepe stands, and other trendy foods (think rainbow cotton candy, rolled ice-cream, milk bubble tea). This is where those food trends start. The street is about 400m, which may seem short but the number of businesses able to fit in this space is astounding. There are also a number of side streets, often home to the shops of young designers and new artists. Takeshita Dori is the center of young fashion, but just beyond Takeshita Dori is the more adult cousin, Omotesando. This is the more luxury side of Harajuku, with a number of brand flagship stores and trendy cafes. Harajuku is a must-visit for anyone visiting Tokyo, and it is conveniently located between Shinjuku and Shibuya on the Yamanote Line.


Omotesando Hills shopping center in Tokyo

Ueno Park is located right next to Ueno station on the Yamanote Line. It is one of the most popular parks in Tokyo and has a number of different museums, shrines and temples and even a zoo. Ueno Park is built on the grounds of the previous Kaneiji Temple. When the temple was mostly destroyed in 1868, the grounds were converted and the park opened as one of the first Western-style parks in Japan. The park has a variety of museums on its grounds, including the Tokyo National Museum, the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, the National Museum of Nature and Science and the National Museum for Western Art. Ueno Park also has a number of temples and shrines on the grounds, the most popular of which is probably Bentendo. Bentendo is an octagonal temple on an island in the park’s Shinobazu Pond. It is very unique in design and is particularly popular in Spring, when the nearby cherry blossoms bloom and festival stalls pop up. Ueno Park is a great place to visit as it has something for everyone, from museums to relaxing park walks to a zoo.

The National Museum of Nature and Science in Uneo Park,Tokyo

Yurakucho Station is located right on the doorstep of Ginza, Tokyo’s top shopping district. Ginza is well-known as one of the most expensive areas in the world for everything from house and land prices to coffee prices. This air of luxury means there are a range of rare and interesting things to see in the area. One example is the Shiseido store. Shiseido is one of Japan’s largest beauty brands, but their store in Ginza is completely different from any other in Japan. There is the normal lineup of cosmetics, but also a skincare salon, a hair & makeup salon with a photography studio, a café and event space, and individual beauty lessons. This is just one example of the lengths brands go to for the Ginza clientele. On weekends the main street is closed to cars from noon and the entire area becomes a pedestrian zone, making it a pleasant area to wander around.


Sony Building, ‪Ginza

Of course, when mentioning key areas of Tokyo to visit, one can’t miss Shibuya. Shibuya is one of the most central districts of Tokyo and is a popular shopping and business district. It is perhaps most famous for the Shibuya Scramble Crossing, an intersection of multiple streets where upwards of 1000 people often cross at a time. The area is populated by multiple shopping buildings, the most recent of which is Shibuya Scramble Square. The newly opened Shibuya Scramble Square is the tallest building in the Shibuya area, with an open-air observation deck at 230m. This offers are unique view over the Scramble Crossing and the general area. There are also multiple shops, restaurants and cafes throughout the building. Shibuya is one of the most popular areas of Tokyo and is home to a number of famous attractions.

The Shibuya Scramble Crossing

The Yamanote Line of Tokyo, includes in the JR Pass is one of the busiest train lines in the world, with 3 – 5 million passengers every day. It circles through some of Tokyo’s most important and most popular areas, including Shibuya and Shinjuku, Harajuku, Ginza and more. It is a perfect example of Japan’s commitment to efficient and effective public transport, especially trains. It is also a great way to see some of the best sights of Tokyo.

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