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Yamanote Line

The Yamanote Line (山手線) is one of Tokyo's busiest and most important commuter lines. Running as a circle, it connects most of Tokyo's major stations and urban centres including the Ginza area, Shibuya, Shinjuku and Ikebukuro. Only six of its 29 stations do not connect with other railway or underground (subway) lines.

Yamanote Line

Table of contents
1 Service
2 History
3 Name
4 Trains
5 Stations
6 External Links


Trains run from about 4:30 am to about 1 am at intervals of 3 minutes at peak time. A complete loop takes 63 to 65 minutes. All trains stop at each station. Trains are put into and taken out of service at Osaki (which for timetabling purposes is the line's start and terminus) and sometimes Ikebukuro.

Trains which run clockwise are known as "soto-mawari" (外回り, outer circle) and anti-clockwise as "uchi-mawari" (内回り, inner circle).

The Yamanote Line is the only major line in Tokyo which does not have any through-running services to other lines.


The Yamanote Line originated in 1885 with the construction of the Shinagawa line between Shinagawa and Akabane, bypassing the then built up areas and providing the first north-south rail link through Tokyo. The top part of the loop between Ikebukuro and Tabata was completed in 1903 (known as the Toshima line, 豊島線) and in 1909 following electrification both lines were merged to become the Yamanote Line.

The complete loop however was only completed in 1925 with the opening of the section of track between Kanda and Ueno, providing a north-south link via Tokyo station through the city's centre. The contemporary Yamanote Line came into being in 1956 when it was separated from the Keihin-Tōhoku Line and was given its own set of tracks along the eastern side of the loop between Shinagawa and Tabata.


"Yamanote" literally means "mountain hand" and in many Japanese cities is used to refer to inland, hillier districts (as opposed to areas close to the sea). In Tokyo "Yamanote" - as opposed to the lower lying "Shitamachi" (下町) - lies along the western side of the Yamanote Line loop.

Yamanote-sen is always written without the kana "no" (の or ノ). In the past it was sometimes transliterated as "Yamate".


Services are provided by 205 series trains introduced in 1985 and the newly introduced E231 series. Each train consists of 11 cars.

"Cattle wagon" before the morning rush

A notorious feature of the 205 series trains are their "cattle wagons", compartments in which the bench seats are folded back to provide standing room only during the morning rush hour.


Listed clockwise:

External Links