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Yamanote Line

Yamanote Line
A Yamanote Line E231-500 series EMU headed for Tokyo and Shinagawa
Native name 山手線
Type Heavy rail
Locale Tokyo
Termini Shinagawa (loop)
Stations 29
Daily ridership 3,725,247 (daily, 2010)[1]
Opened 1885
Operator(s) JR East
Depot(s) Tokyo General Rolling Stock Centre (near Ōsaki Station)
Rolling stock E231-500 series
Line length 34.5 km (21.4 mi)
No. of tracks 2
Track gauge 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in)
Electrification 1,500 V DC overhead catenary
Operating speed 90 km/h (55 mph)
Route map

The Yamanote Line (山手線 Yamanote-sen) is a railway loop line in Tokyo, Japan, operated by East Japan Railway Company (JR East). It is one of Tokyo's busiest and most important lines, connecting most of Tokyo's major stations and urban centres, including Marunouchi, the Yūrakuchō/Ginza area, Shinagawa, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro and Ueno, with all but two of its 29 stations connecting to other railway or underground (subway) lines.

As an official line name, "Yamanote Line" indicates the tracks between Shinagawa and Tabata that are used by local trains on their own tracks as well as the parallel Yamanote Freight Line which is used by Saikyō Line and Shōnan-Shinjuku Line trains, some limited express services, and freight trains. However, in everyday usage the "Yamanote Line" refers to the entire 34.5 km loop line served by local trains. (This article uses the same definition.)


  • Service outline 1
  • Ridership 2
  • Name 3
  • Station list 4
  • Rolling stock 5
    • Former 5.1
    • Timeline 5.2
  • History 6
  • Future developments 7
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10

Service outline

Trains run from 04:26 to 01:18 the next day at intervals as short as 2.5 minutes during peak periods and four minutes at other times. A complete loop takes 59 to 65 minutes. All trains stop at each station. Trains are put into and taken out of service at Ōsaki (which for timetabling purposes is the line's start and terminus) and sometimes Ikebukuro. Certain trains also start from Tamachi in the mornings and end at Shinagawa in the evenings. Trains which run clockwise are known as sotomawari (外回り, "outer circle") and those counter-clockwise as uchi-mawari (内回り, "inner circle"). (Trains travel on the left in Japan, as with road traffic.)

The line also acts as a fare zone destination for JR tickets from locations outside Tokyo, permitting travel to any JR station on or within the loop. This refers to stations on the Yamanote Line as well as the Chūō-Sōbu Line between Sendagaya and Ochanomizu.

The line colour used on all rolling stock, station signs and diagrams is JNR Yellow Green No.6 (, Munsell code 7.5GY 6.5/7.8), known in Japanese as "Japanese Bush Warbler green" (ウグイス色 uguisu-iro).


An estimated 3.68 million passengers[2] ride every day on Tokyo's Yamanote Line, with its 29 stations. For comparison, the New York City Subway carries 5.08 million passengers per day on 26 lines serving 469 stations,[3] and the London Underground carries 3.36 million passengers per day on 12 lines serving 275 stations.[4]


"Yamanote" literally refers to inland, hillier districts or foothills (as distinct from areas close to the sea). In Tokyo, "Yamanote" lies along the western side of the Yamanote Line loop. The word consists of the Japanese morphemes yama, meaning 'mountain', the genitive suffix no, and te, meaning 'hand', thus literally translating as "mountain's hand", analogous to the English term "foothills".

Yamanote-sen is officially written in Japanese without the kana no (の、ノ), which makes its pronunciation ambiguous in print. The characters 山手 may also be pronounced yamate, as in Yamate-dōri (Yamate Street), which runs parallel to the west side of the Yamanote Line. The Seishin-Yamate Line in Kobe and the Yamate area of Yokohama also use this pronunciation.

After World War II, SCAP ordered all train placards to be romanized, and the Yamanote Line was romanized as "Yamate Line". It was thus alternatively known as "Yamanote" and "Yamate" until 1971, when the Japanese National Railways changed the pronunciation back to "Yamanote." Some older people still refer to the line as the "Yamate Line".

Station list

  • Stations are listed in order clockwise from Shinagawa to Tabata, but for operational purposes trains officially start and terminate at Ōsaki.
    • Clockwise (外回り sotomawari, "outer circle"): Shinagawa → Shibuya → Shinjuku → Ikebukuro → Tabata → Ueno → Tokyo → Shinagawa
    • Counter-clockwise (内回り uchimawari, "inner circle"): Shinagawa → Tokyo → Ueno → Tabata → Ikebukuro → Shinjuku → Shibuya → Shinagawa
  • All stations are located in the special wards of Tokyo.
  • All trains on the Yamanote Line are local trains that stop at all stations.
  • The "(R)" mark denotes stations where cross-platform transfers to Keihin-Tōhoku Line rapid services are possible.
Line name Station Japanese Distance (km) Transfers Location
Shinagawa 品川 from

0.0 Keihin-Tohoku Line, Tokaido Main Line, Yokosuka Line
Tokaido Shinkansen
Keikyu Main Line
Ōsaki 大崎 2.0 2.0 Shōnan-Shinjuku Line, Saikyō Line
TWR Rinkai Line
Gotanda 五反田 0.9 2.9 Tokyu Ikegami Line
Toei Asakusa Line (A-05)
Meguro 目黒 1.2 4.1 Tokyu Meguro Line
Tokyo Metro Namboku Line (N-01)
Toei Mita Line (I-01)
Ebisu 恵比寿 1.5 5.6 Shōnan-Shinjuku Line, Saikyō Line
Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line (H-02)
Shibuya 渋谷 1.6 7.2 Shōnan-Shinjuku Line, Saikyō Line
Keio Inokashira Line
Tokyu Den-en-toshi Line, Tokyu Toyoko Line
Tokyo Metro Ginza Line (G-01), Tokyo Metro Hanzōmon Line (N-01), Tokyo Metro Fukutoshin Line (F-16)
Harajuku 原宿 1.2 8.4 Chiyoda Line (Meiji-Jingūmae: C-03)
Yoyogi 代々木 1.5 9.9 Chūō-Sōbu Line
Toei Ōedo Line (E-26)
Shinjuku 新宿 0.7 10.6 Chūō Main Line, Chūō Line (Rapid), Chūō-Sōbu Line, Shōnan-Shinjuku Line, Saikyō Line
Keio Line, Keio New Line
Odakyu Odawara Line
Seibu Shinjuku Line (Seibu-Shinjuku)
Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line (M-08)
Toei Shinjuku Line (S-01), Ōedo Line (E-27, Shinjuku-Nishiguchi: E-01)
Shin-Ōkubo 新大久保 1.3 11.9  
Takadanobaba 高田馬場 1.4 13.3 Seibu Shinjuku Line
Tokyo Metro Tōzai Line (T-03)
Mejiro 目白 0.9 14.2   Toshima
Ikebukuro 池袋 1.2 15.4 Saikyō Line, Shōnan-Shinjuku Line
Seibu Ikebukuro Line
Tobu Tojo Line
Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line (M-25), Tokyo Metro Yurakucho Line (Y-09), Tokyo Metro Fukutoshin Line (F-09)
Ōtsuka 大塚 1.8 17.2 Toden Arakawa Line (Ōtsuka-Ekimae)
Sugamo 巣鴨 1.1 18.3 Toei Mita Line (I-15)
Komagome 駒込 0.7 19.0 Tokyo Metro Namboku Line (N-14)
Tabata 田端 1.6 20.6 Keihin-Tohoku Line (R) Kita
Nishi-Nippori 西日暮里 0.8 21.4 Keihin-Tōhoku Line
Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line (C-16)
Nippori-Toneri Liner (02)
Nippori 日暮里 0.5 21.9 Jōban Line, Keihin-Tohoku Line
Keisei Main Line
Nippori-Toneri Liner (01)
Uguisudani 鶯谷 1.1 23.0 Keihin-Tōhoku Line Taitō
Ueno 上野 1.1 24.1 Tohoku Shinkansen, Joetsu Shinkansen, Yamagata Shinkansen, Akita Shinkansen, Hokuriku Shinkansen, Joban Line, Keihin-Tohoku Line , Ueno-Tokyo Line, Utsunomiya Line (Tohoku Main Line), Takasaki Line
Keisei Main Line (Keisei Ueno)
Tokyo Metro Ginza Line (G-16), Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line (H-17)
Okachimachi 御徒町 0.6 24.7 Keihin-Tōhoku Line
Akihabara 秋葉原 1.0 25.7 Chūō-Sōbu Line, Keihin-Tohoku Line
Tsukuba Express (01)
Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line (H-15)
Kanda 神田 0.7 26.4 Chūō Line (Rapid), Keihin-Tohoku Line
Tokyo Metro Ginza Line (G-13)
Tokyo 東京 1.3 27.7 Tohoku Shinkansen, Joetsu Shinkansen, Yamagata Shinkansen, Akita Shinkansen, Hokuriku Shinkansen, Keihin-Tohoku Line, Tokaido Line, Chūō Line (Rapid), Yokosuka Line, Keiyō Line, Sōbu Line (Rapid)
Tokaido Shinkansen
Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line (M-17)
Yūrakuchō 有楽町 0.8 28.5 Keihin-Tohoku Line
Tokyo Metro Yūrakuchō Line (Y-18), Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line (Hibiya: H-07), Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line (Hibiya: C-09)
Toei Mita Line (Hibiya: C-09)
Shimbashi 新橋 1.1 29.6 Tokaido Main Line, Yokosuka Line, Keihin-Tohoku Line
Tokyo Metro Ginza Line (G-08)
Toei Asakusa Line (A-10)
Yurikamome (U-01)
Hamamatsuchō 浜松町 1.2 30.8 Keihin-Tohoku Line (R)
Tokyo Monorail
Toei Asakusa Line (Daimon: A-09), Toei Ōedo Line (Daimon: E-20)
Tamachi 田町 1.5 32.3 Keihin-Tohoku Line (R)
Shinagawa 品川 2.2 34.5 See above

Rolling stock

Former E231-500 series 6-door car with the seats folded up, January 2010

As of April 2015, the line's services are operated exclusively by a fleet of 51 (originally 52 with one transferred to the Chuo Sobu Line[5]) 11-car E231-500 series EMUs, which were phased in from April 21, 2002.[6] These trains originally each included two "six-door cars" with six pairs of doors per side and bench seats that were folded up to provide standing room only during the morning peak until 10 a.m. From February 22, 2010, the seats were no longer folded up during the morning peak,[7] and all trains were standardized with newly built four-door cars by 31 August 2011.[8] This was due to reduced congestion on the line as well as preparation for the installation of platform doors on all stations by 2017.[9]

The E231 series supports a new type of traffic control system, called digital Automatic Train Control (D-ATC), which will help reduce one round trip to a very short 58 minutes. The series also has a more modern design and has two 15-inch LCD monitors above each door, one of which is used for displaying silent commercials, news and weather; and another which is used for displaying information on the next stop (in both Japanese and English) along with notification of delays on Shinkansen and other railway lines in the greater Tokyo area. The E231-500 series trains are based at Tokyo General Rolling Stock Centre near Ōsaki Station.[6]

Video of a train on the Yamanote Line

New E235 series 11-car EMUs are scheduled to be phased in on the line from autumn 2015, ultimately replacing the E231 series trains by 2020.[10]



101 series
103 series
205 series
E231-500 series
E235 series

Rolling stock transitions since 1960


The construction of the Yamanote Line and current JR lines
The Yamanote Line in 1925

The predecessor of the present-day Yamanote Line was opened on 1 March 1885 by the Nippon Railway Company, operating between Shinagawa Station in the south and Akabane Station in the north.[13] The top part of the loop between Ikebukuro and Tabata (a distance of 3.3 km) opened on 1 April 1903, and both lines were merged to become the Yamanote Line on 12 October 1909.[13]

The line was electrified in 1909, the same year the Osaki - Shinagawa section was double-tracked, with the loop completed in 1925 with the opening of the double track, electrified section between Kanda and Ueno on 1 November, providing a north-south link via Tokyo Station through the city's business centre.[11] A parallel freight line, also completed in 1925, ran along the inner side of the loop between Shinagawa and Tabata.

During the prewar era, the Ministry of Railways did not issue permits to private suburban railway companies for new lines to cross the Yamanote Line from their terminal stations to the central districts of Tokyo, forcing the companies to terminate services at stations on the line. This policy led to the development of new urban centers (新都心、副都心 shintoshin, fukutoshin) around major transfer points on the Yamanote Line, most notably at Shinjuku and Ikebukuro (which are now the two busiest passenger railway stations in the world).

The contemporary Yamanote Line came into being on 19 November 1956 when it was separated from the Keihin-Tōhoku Line and given its own set of tracks along the eastern side of the loop between Shinagawa and Tabata.[11] However, Yamanote Line trains continued to periodically use the Keihin-Tōhoku tracks, particularly on holidays and during off-peak hours, until rapid service trains were introduced on the Keihin-Tōhoku Line in 1988.

A major explosion on the Yamanote Freight Line in Shinjuku in 1967 led to the diversion of freight traffic to the more distant Musashino Line. To address severe undercapacity, the freight line was repurposed for use by Saikyo Line and Shōnan-Shinjuku Line trains, as well as certain limited express trains such as the Narita Express and some liner services. Likewise, there are currently plans to connect the Tohoku Main Line and Joban Line to the Tokaido Main Line via a new Ueno-Tokyo Line link to provide further relief on the busiest portion of the Yamanote Line today, the southbound segment between Ueno and Okachimachi.

Automatic train control (ATC) was introduced from 6 December 1981, and digital ATC (D-ATC) was introduced from 30 July 2006.[11]

Future developments

In January 2012, it was announced that a new station would be built on the Yamanote Line and Keihin-Tohoku Line between Shinagawa and Tamachi stations, becoming the first new station on the line since Nishi-Nippori was built in 1971.[14][15] The distance between Shinagawa and Tamachi stations is 2.2 km, making it the longest stretch of track between stations on the Yamanote Line.[14] The new station will be constructed on top of the current 20-hectare railyard which is undergoing rationalization and redevelopment by JR East; it would be roughly parallel to the existing Sengakuji Station on the Toei Asakusa and Keikyu Main lines. The Yamanote Line and the Keihin Tohoku Line tracks will be moved slightly to the east to be aligned closer to the Tokaido Shinkansen tracks. The area on the west side of the yard made available will be redeveloped with high-rise office buildings, creating an international business center with good connections to the Shinkansen and Haneda Airport.[14] The new station is scheduled to open in time for the 2020 Summer Olympics to be held in Tokyo.[16]

See also


  1. ^ JR East station ridership in 2010 Train Media (sourced from JR East) Retrieved May 28, 2012.
  2. ^ "Yamanote Line 100 years". Japan Railfan (in Japanese) 50 (586): 48. February 2010. 
  3. ^ MTA NYC Transit - Info
  4. ^ [2]
  5. ^ JR電車編成表 2011夏 [JR EMU Formations - Summer 2011]. Japan: Kotsu Shimbunsha. May 2010. p. 74–75.  
  6. ^ a b JR電車編成表 2015冬 [JR EMU Formations - Winter 2015] (in Japanese). Japan: Kotsu Shimbunsha. 21 November 2014. p. 76-77.  
  7. ^ 山手線6扉車を順次4扉車に [Yamanote Line 6-door cars to be gradually replaced with 4-door cars]. Hobidas (in Japanese). Neko Publishing. 17 February 2010. Retrieved 17 February 2010. 
  8. ^ 山手線全編成の6扉車置換えが完了 [Yamanote Line 6-door car replacement complete]. Japan Railfan Magazine Online (in Japanese). Japan: Koyusha Co., Ltd. 6 September 2011. Retrieved 6 September 2011. 
  9. ^ "山手線、朝も全座席使えます 混雑率がちょっぴり改善". "Yamanote Line, seats available mornings too; crowding improved slightly." February 17, 2010. Accessed February 17, 2010. (Japanese)
  10. ^ "JR東日本,E235系量産先行車を新造" [JR East to build new E235 series prototype train]. Japan Railfan Magazine Online (in Japanese). Japan: Koyusha Co., Ltd. 2 July 2014. Retrieved 2 July 2014. 
  11. ^ a b c d 首都圏鉄道完全ガイド 主要JR路線編 [Tokyo Area Complete Railway Guide - Major JR Lines]. Japan: Futabasha. 6 December 2013. p. 13.  
  12. ^ Japan Railfan Magazine, October 2008 issue, p.15
  13. ^ a b Ishino, Tetsu, ed. (1998). 停車場変遷大辞典 国鉄・JR編 [Station Transition Directory - JNR/JR] I. Japan: JTB. p. 89.  
  14. ^ a b c "New Yamanote Line station eyed".  
  15. ^ Kameda, Masaaki (30 June 2014). "New station to boost Shinagawa's international role".  
  16. ^ 田町~品川駅間に新駅を設置し、まちづくりを進めます [New station to be constructed between Tamachi and Shinagawa] (PDF) (Press release) (in Japanese). East Japan Railway Company. 3 June 2014. Retrieved 4 June 2014. 

External links

  • Stations of the Yamanote Line (JR East) (Japanese)
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