Digital ATC

Yamanote Line

The of East Japan Railway Company (JR East) is one of Tokyo's busiest and most important commuter rail lines. Running as a circle, it connects most of Tokyo's major stations and urban centres including the Yūrakuchō area, Shibuya, Shinjuku and Ikebukuro with all but two of its 29 stations connecting with other railway or underground (subway) lines.

Although Yamanote Line as a official line name indicates the tracks between Shinagawa and Tabata which is used by the local loop trains and the parallel freight line currently used by Saikyō Line/Shōnan-Shinjuku Line, Narita Express etc. , in many cases the word Yamanote Line indicates the loop trains and the route. So, in this article the word generally indicates the loop trains and the route too.(see Notes of #Stations)


Trains run from about 4:30 am to about 1:20 am at intervals of 2.5 minutes at peak time. A complete loop takes 61 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 and Shinagawa. In the mornings, certain inner circle trains start from Tamachi which is more efficient after forwarding from the Osaki/Shinagawa stabling yards. Trains which run clockwise are known as "soto-mawari" (外回り, outer circle) and 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 and the Chūō Line from Sendagaya to Ochanomizu.

The line colour used for all of the rolling stock, station signs and diagrams is Yellow Green #6 (Munsell code 7.5GY 6.5/7.8).


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 loop was not complete at this time, so trains generally inter-operated with the Chuo Main Line and Keihin-Tōhoku Line, traveling from Nakano to Tokyo Station, south to Shinagawa, then clockwise around the Yamanote Line to Tabata.

The loop was 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. A parallel freight line, also completed in 1925, ran along the west side of the loop between Shinagawa and Tabata.

During the prewar era, the Ministry of Railways did not give permits for new lines managed by private suburban railway companies to cross the Yamanote from their terminal stations to the central districts of Tokyo. This policy led to the development of "new urban centers" around the major transfer points on the Yamanote Line, most notably Shinjuku and Ikebukuro (which are now the two busiest passenger railway stations in the world).

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. 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 Saikyō Line and Shōnan-Shinjuku Line trains, as well as certain express trains such as the Narita Express. Likewise, there are currently plans to extend the Tōhoku Main Line to Tokyo Station to provide further relief on the busiest portion of the Yamanote Line today, the southbound segment between Ueno and Okachimachi.

As of 2005, Yamanote Line carries an average of 3.55 million passengers a day, which translates to a patronage figure of 1.3 billion passengers a year.


"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.

Yamanote-sen is officially written without the kana "no" (の or ノ), which makes its pronunciation ambiguous in print. 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."

In 1971, JNR changed all train line signage to specify the pronunciation of line names. This change is attributed to the opening of the Agatsuma Line, which could be incorrectly pronounced "Azuma" as the ga character is omitted in its written name. As part of this change, JNR decided to adopt the Yamanote pronunciation, one reason being that there is a "Yamate Station" on the Negishi Line in Yokohama, in the same region as the Yamanote Line.


Services are provided by E231-500 series 11-car EMUs introduced from April 2002 onwards. These replaced the previous 205 series trains, which were introduced in 1985 and phased out in April 2005. Earlier services consisted of 103 series trains, which were eventually phased out in 1988.

The E231 series trains include two 6-door cars, in which the bench seats are folded up to provide standing room only during the morning rush hour (until 10 a.m.). All the other cars have four sets of doors on each side.

The E231 series supports a new type of traffic control system, called digital ATC (Automatic Train Control), 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 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 the Yamanote and other lines.


Only two of the Yamanote Line's 29 stations do not connect with other railway or subway lines.

Listed clockwise:

Line1 Station Distance2 Transfers Location
JR East Others
Shinagawa 2.2 0.0 Tōkaidō Main Line
Yokosuka Line
Keihin-Tōhoku Line (R)3
JR Central: Tōkaidō Shinkansen
Keikyu: Main Line
Ōsaki 2.0 2.0 Shōnan-Shinjuku Line
Saikyō Line
Rinkai Line Shinagawa
Gotanda 0.9 2.9 Tōkyū: Ikegami Line
Toei: Asakusa Line (A-05)
Meguro 1.2 4.1 Tōkyū: Meguro Line
Tokyo Metro: Namboku Line (N-01)
Toei: Mita Line (I-01)
Ebisu 1.5 5.6 Shōnan-Shinjuku Line
Saikyō Line
Tokyo Metro: Hibiya Line (H-02) Shibuya
Shibuya 1.6 7.2 Shōnan-Shinjuku Line
Saikyō Line
Keio: Inokashira Line
Tōkyū: Den-en-toshi Line, Tōyoko Line
Tokyo Metro: Ginza Line (G-01), Hanzōmon Line (N-01), Fukutoshin Line (F-16)
Harajuku 1.2 8.4 Tokyo Metro: Chiyoda Line (at Meiji-jingūmae, C-03)
Yoyogi 1.5 9.9 Chūō Line (Local) Toei: Ōedo Line (E-26)
Shinjuku 0.7 10.6 Chūō Main Line
Chūō Line (Rapid)
Chūō Line (Local)
Shōnan-Shinjuku Line
Saikyō Line
Keio: Keiō Line, Keio New Line
Odakyu: Odawara Line
Seibu: Shinjuku Line (at Seibu-Shinjuku)
Tokyo Metro: Marunouchi Line (M-08)
Toei: Shinjuku Line (S-01), Ōedo Line (at Shinjuku (E-27) and Shinjuku-Nishiguchi (E-01))
Shin-Ōkubo 1.3 11.9
Takadanobaba 1.4 13.3 Seibu: Shinjuku Line
Tokyo Metro: Tōzai Line (T-03)
Mejiro 0.9 14.2 Toshima
Ikebukuro 1.2 15.4 Shōnan-Shinjuku Line
Saikyō Line
Seibu: Ikebukuro Line
Tobu: Tōjō Line
Tokyo Metro: Marunouchi Line (M-25), Yūrakuchō Line (Y-09), Fukutoshin Line (F-09)
Ōtsuka 1.8 17.2 Toden Arakawa Line at Ōtsuka Ekimae Station
Sugamo 1.1 18.3 Toei: Mita Line (I-15)
Komagome 0.7 19.0 Tokyo Metro: Namboku Line (N-14)
Tabata 1.6 20.6 Keihin-Tōhoku Line (R) Kita
Nishi-Nippori 0.8 21.4 Keihin-Tōhoku Line Tokyo Metro: Chiyoda Line (C-16)
Nippori-Toneri Liner
Nippori 0.5 21.9 Jōban Line
Keihin-Tōhoku Line
Keisei: Main Line
Nippori-Toneri Liner
Uguisudani 1.1 23.0 Keihin-Tōhoku Line Taitō
Ueno 1.1 24.1 Shinkansen (Tōhoku, Jōetsu, Hokuriku, Yamagata, Akita)
Jōban Line
Keihin-Tōhoku Line (R)
Utsunomiya Line
Takasaki Line
Keisei: Main Line (at Keisei Ueno)
Tokyo Metro: Ginza Line (G-16), Hibiya Line (H-17)
Okachimachi 0.6 24.7 Keihin-Tōhoku Line
Akihabara 1.0 25.7 Sōbu Line (Local)
Keihin-Tōhoku Line (R)
Tsukuba Express
Tokyo Metro: Hibiya Line (H-15)
Kanda 0.7 26.4 Chūō Line (Rapid)
Keihin-Tōhoku Line
Tokyo Metro: Ginza Line (G-13)
Tokyo 1.3 27.7 Shinkansen (Tōhoku, Jōetsu, Hokuriku, Yamagata, Akita)
Keihin-Tōhoku Line (R)
Tōkaidō Main Line
Chūō Line (Rapid)
Yokosuka Line
Keiyō Line
Sōbu Line (Rapid)
JR Central: Tōkaidō Shinkansen
Tokyo Metro: Marunouchi Line (M-17)
Yūrakuchō 0.8 28.5 Keihin-Tōhoku Line Tokyo Metro: Yūrakuchō Line (Y-18), Hibiya Line (at Hibiya, H-07), Chiyoda Line (at Hibiya, C-09)
Toei: Mita Line (at Hibiya, C-09)
Shimbashi 1.1 29.6 Tōkaidō Main Line
Yokosuka Line
Keihin-Tōhoku Line
Tokyo Metro: Ginza Line (G-08)
Toei: Asakusa Line (A-10)
Hamamatsuchō 1.2 30.8 Keihin-Tōhoku Line (R) Tokyo Monorail
Toei: Asakusa Line (at Daimon, A-09), Ōedo Line (at Daimon, E-20)
Tamachi 1.5 32.3 Keihin-Tōhoku Line (R)
Shinagawa 2.2 34.5 See above.
1: Official line names
2: Left column is distance from previous station (km) and right column is distance from Shinagawa Station (km).
3: "(R)" indicates rapid train stops of the Keihin-Tōhoku Line.

Since the distance between Shinagawa and Tamachi stations is 2.2 km, making it the longest stretch of track on the Yamanote line, there are plans for a new station between those two stations with completion in or around 2010.

Rapid services

All trains on the Yamanote Line are local trains: however, JR East provides rapid service trains through central Tokyo using separate lines on the Yamanote right-of-way. These lines are:

  • Saikyō Line/Shōnan-Shinjuku Line: Ōsaki - Ebisu - Shibuya - Shinjuku - Ikebukuro
  • Keihin-Tōhoku Line: Tabata - Ueno - Akihabara - Tokyo - Hamamatsuchō - Tamachi - Shinagawa (Note that rapid service trains are only operated between 10:20 and 15:30; platforms are shared with the Yamanote Line at stations between Tabata and Tamachi.)
  • Jōban Line: Nippori - Ueno
  • Tōkaidō Line: Tokyo - Shimbashi - Shinagawa
  • Yokosuka Line: Tokyo - Shimbashi - Shinagawa (underground line)


An estimated 3.5 million passengers 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 468 stations.

See also


External links

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