Greater Tokyo Railway Network
Map by flickr user Kzaral

This is a fairly complete – to my knowledge – map of the passenger rail network in Tokyo and its suburbs.
Here is pdf map of made by someone else that includes Tokyo and its suburbs, but not the its suburbs’ suburbs. I’ve been looking for a map like this for a long time, since there are more than a dozen train operators in the Tokyo area, and most system maps in Tokyo draw either just the center city subway network or just the map of a specific private rail operator’s network. There are several hundred stations on the map, and it shows the passenger rail network of an area about 1/3 bigger than King County (8,500 km² including water) where about 35 million people live (that’s about 20 times the population of King County). No wonder Tokyo gets away with a small highway system.

45 Replies to “Now This is a System Map”

      1. By the time you finish riding one portion of that system they will have added another line or changed something so I suspect you might never be able to ride the whole thing.

      2. Oran – please stay here – we’d never see you again, though we’d love the photos, videos and maps that’d result.

  1. That’s amazing. I’ve been in Seoul for just over a year now, and I was interested to learn a while back that Seoul actually has higher population density than Tokyo’s 23 Special Wards area. (this according to figures on Wikipedia)

    Seoul comes out to around 17,000/km2 while Tokyo is around 14,000/km2. This makes Seoul the most dense city of the developed world. (Evidently the city with the highest population density is Dhaka, Bangladesh at over 43,000/km2) Living here for a year has absolutely opened my eyes to the joys of having not only a wonderful, cheap, and clean mass transit system, but of having everything you need on a daily basis well within walking distance anyway. And by that I mean, on average, a 3-minute walk!

    The other day I was telling my students (this happened to be a 5th grade class) about a restaurant that has great pancakes and American-style breakfast food. In many big cities of America, these kids would have to ask their parents to drive them if they wanted to check it out. But when I told them it was close to Gangnam Station on Line 2, they say, “Oh! We can go there!” and asked which exit it was close to and how to walk there.

    None of my Korean friends, all in their 20s and 30s, have cars. None.

    Check out the Seoul Metro Map. It’s really been a pleasure to use this system every day for the past year…can’t wait to come home and ride Link this summer!

    1. Seoul’s metro is also mostly underground (70% according to wikipedia), and every station (probably about 20) I went to was underground. This was 2003, but there were tvs on every train (that sort of advertisement is good for both the bored passenger and the transit company) and the trains were about a foot-and-a-half wider compared to the trains in Tokyo.

      Makes a difference, that foot and a half.

    2. Interesting that none of them have cars. Where I lived in Japan it was common to use transit 90% of the time but since most people have relatively low housing costs (small apts) there is also very high car ownership for weekend trips.

    1. Paz, you beat me! I was just about to post a link. This book is endlessly fascinating to me; I was trained as a graphic designer, and I can just enjoy looking at information design like this for days on end. My 4-year-old son also loves this book, which may have some portents for what he does with his life!

      1. I have that one. My six-month-old is too young for it, but I’ll make sure to keep it in good order for when she reaches four.

  2. Seoul
    – Metropolitan City 10,421,782
    – Density 17,219/km2 (44,597/sq mi)
    – Metro 24,472,063

    – City 594,210 (US: 24th)
    – Density 7,086.2/sq mi (2,736/km2)
    – Urban 2,712,205
    – Metro 3,263,497 (US: 15th)

    – City 121,347
    – Density 3,947.1/sq mi (1,524/km2)

    4k/sq mi is considered the lower limit of where public transit is even viable. Comparing the Seattle metro area to cities like Seoul, Tokyo, London, NY, etc. is silly. Seattle has more in common with Des Moins Iowa than any of these world centers with centuries of history. Ridiculous? Not nearly as far fetched as comparisons to any of the above.

    1. Bernie,

      You’re reading way, way too much into the post. This is simply something that’s neat, and no one’s advocating anything even approaching this in the next century or more.

      It does, however, suggest a way to deal with growth by building more transit instead of more highways.

      1. Well, mia culpa. But it doesn’t really suggest any real way that Seattle can adopt transit. An extensive underground system blanketing even the City of Seattle isn’t feasible. And the notion that piece meal sections like proposed for Bellevue somehow propel us toward this is counterproductive (too much money on too small an area). Again, I’m probably reading way to much into comments like “None of my Korean friends, all in their 20s and 30s, have cars. None.” make it sound like Seoul is some sort of idealistic pedestrian plaza when in fact it has far worse traffic than Seattle could ever imagine.

      2. Certainly no plan on the table is going to get us to anything like this level of service, a level that provides a decent car-free alternative to nearly everyone.

        However, each expansion of the system extends the number of people that can maintain that kind of lifestyle. Wringing our hands because we don’t get Tokyo all in one go gets us nowhere.

        Point taken on traffic in Seoul, but the lesser version of the “none of my friends” comment is that car-free alternatives are viable there. No one with a reasonably prosperous circle of friends in Seattle, or indeed most other American cities, would make this kind of assertion.

      3. It wouldn’t be at all uncommon for young people in Manhattan to not own cars. A nephew has lived there for ten years since graduation from college and only last summer did he have a car and really only then to drive back a bunch of large items that he’d left behind in Seattle. He actually drove back in one of his parents vehicles and is probably hoping to or already has gotten rid of it. NY is the only city in the US that is anything like Seoul or Tokyo.

        It’s interesting to see what they’ve done in Seoul with the buses:

        That’s one big ass road, four lanes each direction plus a bidirectional center busway! Seattle is starting to get there with a decent system of HOV/HOT lanes on the freeways. Aurora is part way there. On the other hand there’s the “Rapid Ride” plan for Bellevue which will be stuck in traffic on NE 8th and 156th. A weiner mobile paint job dose not a Rapid Ride make. Why they feel the need to rebrand an express route and replace perfectly good bus shelters I can’t understand. Especially when real BRT could be put into service from the DSTT to Bellevue Transit Center within two years and extend from Overlake to the UW Link station by 2016 for maybe $100M over what’s already being proposed. That’s some 40X less money than East Link, operational five years (at least) sooner and involves almost zero “throw away” expense once replaced by light rail. I guess it’s because nobody gets rich from TOD or mega civil engineering works.

      4. After a year in Seoul, I have only a handful of peak commute hour taxi or bus rides from which to draw evidence. I’ve used rail for probably 90% of my trips. After driving every day in Seattle since I was 16 (I’m now 26) I know a thing or two about traffic, and Seoul traffic really isn’t any worse than Seattle’s.
        There was a time when I loved driving, and two of my jobs in Seattle involved driving delivery…first lumber and then pizzas. In the end I couldn’t stand getting behind the wheel; it was instant stress.
        I can’t say how wonderful it’s been to never once worry about traffic for a year…it’s liberating financially but more importantly the stress is just gone. I’d love for future generations in Seattle and all cities to have this experience.

    2. Was Rome built in a day? Were any of these systems built solely on existing need? And even in regards to the previous question, did any of these cities know they’d grow as fast as they did?


      When the first elevated lines were built in NYC, their population was not even double ours and they were already a major immigration center.

      30 years later, bolstered by new industry, immigration, focused urban growth and major efforts at consolidation, they built their first real subway to handle all the new people, their population nearly 5 times what it was when the elevateds were built.

      I predict that in the early 2020s, we will be having a legitimate conversation on full heavy rail rapid transit. None of this “we aren’t those other big cities who had similar growth rates as us but got a head start that I’m conveniently ignoring”.

      That being said, I can’t see what your notion is, aside from pushing this meme that Seattle should and shall forever stay small.

      1. I’m not saying Seattle is small (it’s the 15th largest Metro area in the US) and I’m not saying it won’t grow. I’m just saying that SF is a reasonable mirror. Seattle will never be a NY, London, Seoul, etc. NY and London were major world cities developed before the automobile and they have hundreds of years of history in the making. There really is just no comparison.

      2. The city of Seattle was for the most part layed out before automobiles. The problem occurs in the surrounding cities that were layed out after cars

      3. Not really. The model T came out in 1908 (it wasn’t even the first automobile) which was the same year as the Great Seattle Fire. The Denny Regrade No. 1 was from 1902 to 1911, and the second phase wasn’t until 1929–30. All of the current residential neighborhoods were very much post automobile and there’s darn few buildings left in Seattle that are pre-1908. Contrast that with say London where people live in 200 year old houses. My english relatives always find it amusing when they see signs desiganting an “historic land mark building” from the 20th century.

      4. Sure they had cars in the early 1900s, but few could afford them until really mid-to-late the 1920s. Ford had only sold 12,000 models by 1911.

        Being from the 20th century doesn’t make something of lesser historical importance necessarily. There aren’t more than a handful of buildings in all of London more “historical” or “landmark” than the Empire State Building or the Chrysler Building.

      5. There aren’t more than a handful of buildings in all of London more “historical” or “landmark” than the Empire State Building or the Chrysler Building.

        You’re kidding, right? There’s a handful of buildings within the Tower of London more historical and landmark that either of those examples. There’s St. James, Westminster, Big Ben and Parliament. It goes on and on and on.

      6. You can’t be serious. You’re saying that Big Ben and St. James as buildings had a bigger effect on history than the Empire State Building? That’s ridiculous. You can say that more historical important events took place inside of Parliament and the Tower of London, but under that definition both of those are less historical than whatever tent Alexander the Great slept in outside of Chaeronea and whatever factory building the Model T assembly line was in. Even then, that’s still a handful of buildings.

        Look at Shanghai, Hong Kong, Bellevue, Seattle, etc. etc. Which building had more of an effect? Tower of London or the Empire State Building?

      7. Give that the fate of world affairs was decide inside the walls of “the Tower”, no comparison. Volumes can be written. The Chrysler Building and the Empire State are about the same historical significance as the gerkin.

      8. You have no idea what the point of historical landmarking is, then, do you?

        Or really what “landmark” means at all…

        There are so many important world events that happened in completely unimportant buildings, and even some that happened in new buildings. By your definition Palace of Versailles would be the most important building of the 20th century.

      9. Well I confess that I never really put a Denny’s in Ballard at the same level of significance as say Trafalgar Square. Really, the Empire State building and the Chrysler Building are cool modern architecture. So is the Gerkin. The Arizona Memorial has historical significance. The White House has historical significance. England has a thousand years of history (way more if you count Stonehenge), Rome a couple of thousand, the US a couple of hundred.

      10. By your definition Palace of Versailles would be the most important building of the 20th century.

        News to me, the Palace of Versailles is a 20th century building?

      11. A building that has had history take place inside of it isn’t necessarily a historical landmark, nor does a building that is a historical landmark need to be something that has had historical events taken place inside.

        Bell Labs are unimpressive (and unimportant) buildings that had world-changing events take place inside of them. They aren’t landmarks of any sort. Whatever cave Osama Bin Laden planned the WTC attack has had history take place in it. Again, not an important place.

        Space Needle: Landmark? Yes. Historical? Not really.

        Smith Tower: Landmark? Yes. Historical? Yes.

        That’s how it works. It doesn’t matter whether anything “historical” ever takes place under or in the Eifel Tower. It’s a historical landmark.

      12. You can say that more historical important events took place inside of Parliament and the Tower of London, but under that definition both of those are less historical than whatever tent Alexander the Great slept in outside of Chaeronea and whatever factory building the Model T assembly line was in. Even then, that’s still a handful of buildings.

        Well, if you had Alexander’s tent it would be damn significant. The factory building the Model T assembly line was in is still there in Detroit and I sure as hell hope it can be saved. That I would agree has historical significance but it ain’t Westminster, Saint James, Parliament,… You seem to be forgetting what an influence the church was on civilization.

      13. Whatever cave Osama Bin Laden planned the WTC attack has had history take place in it. Again, not an important place.

        Maybe, but if you could identify Jesus tome that would certainly be historic, important and landmark.

        Bell Labs, don’t know. If it were a museum it might be cool. I’m guessing it’s been bulldozed. No great lose because the inventions live on. If you’re in Spokane Valley they have a cool local museum with a working telephone switch system. I’d hope they keep the model T assembly building but we have preserved umpteen thousand model T’s so that’s OK.

        Space Needle, important to Seattle but the world? Not so much. I’d put it above the hat and boot in George Town but personally, not so much. But then I think the Eifel tower is an ugly radio antenna that’s more hysterically significant than historical. Obviously I’m in the minority on that one.

      14. A listed building in the United Kingdom is a building or other structure officially designated as being of special architectural, historical or cultural significance. It is a widely used status, applied to around half a million buildings. Further these are graded into 3 categories:

        Grade I: buildings of outstanding architectural or historic interest.
        Grade II*: particularly significant buildings of more than local interest.
        Grade II: buildings of special architectural or historic interest.

        Wikipedia contains more info on the topic of historic landmarking.

      15. We don’t have Alexander’s tent, but we know where it was, Chaeronea. We know where the magna carta was signed. It’s a historical place, but it ain’t a landmark and it ain’t a building.

        Again, my point is that a building can have historical significance as a structure, and a building can have significance as a place where history was made. Those are different things. And the oldness of a building isn’t always the point. Events in Philadelphia Hall changed the world more than events in a random roman building in North Africa, etc.

        I think I’ve made my point.

      16. There’s been enough buildings that have copied the space needle to show that it has had some world-wide impact.

      17. Philadelphia Hall is historic. What in Seattle is equivalent? (Don’t say Denny’s). Sure there maybe more Roman era buildings in north Africa than historical buildings in Seattle but that just shows how low the standard is for declaring historical status is when we have so little history.

        There’s been enough buildings that have copied the space needle to show that it has had some world-wide impact.

        Name three. Two? I’ll agree the Space Needle is something worth preserving but Worlds Fair attractions like the Awful Tower had a lot of local support for being torn down. They’re now tourist attractions which have created history so that won’t happen. FWIW I think the Space Needle is sort of cool and in touch with Seattle’s image of a modern city. I’d have been among the majority of Paris residents that wanted the Eifel tower torn down. We have pictures.

      18. Good question. Good old Wikipedia:

        A barrel-shaped, but stationary, restaurant on Fernsehturm Stuttgart, a TV tower in Stuttgart, Germany, built in 1956, was noted as the inspiration for the idea of a revolving restaurant. A revolving restaurant on Forianturm, a TV tower in Dortmund, Germany, was brought into service in 1959. John Graham, a Seattle architect and early shopping mall pioneer, is said to be the first in the United States to design this sort of restaurant when he created La Ronde on top of an office building at the Ala Moana Shopping Center in Honolulu in 1961. Graham later also used the technology to build the revolving restaurant still in service at the top of Seattle’s Space Needle.

        So, not so historic but still cool.

      19. I got cut off, but there are tons of those sort of towers. There’s one in Seoul, one in Vancouver, etc. It’s obviously not revolutionary or anything, which is why I said “not so much”.

      20. Jeez look at what I started it’s a nice argument and all but how about we discuss transit here. Well bernie the the city was layed out after the creation of automobiles but if you actually look at a map of the city for the most part is layed out in a nice grid that better supports transit and walking. Cars didn’t start effecting how cities were layed out until much later.

  3. Umm…

    I’m not sure what bubble is being burst or what comparisons are being made. The author of the post was just posting a cool picture of a cool transit system. I guess you could argue it’s off topic for a Seattle transit blog, but you can’t argue that the overwhelming majority of the people who read the blog don’t also think it’s cool.

    Nobody was comparing Seattle to Tokyo or Seoul. Except maybe to point out (with respect to Seoul) that density and walkability go hand in hand, and that this is also cool.

    Nobody was arguing that you spend less time on the train than you spend in a car. I happen to think that reading a book for two hours on a train is preferable to not reading a book for one hour in a car. But, that’s just me. Telling me that people in Tokyo prefer cars (I’ve been there – they really don’t) doesn’t burst anyone’s bubble. Except maybe the commenter’s.

  4. I can take our Metro bus system and make a map that pretends to be a rail map and we’ll be just as cool as Tokyo. Wait, I sort of have one already but beware, it’s one big mess.

  5. Oran,
    Perhaps you could consider the following suggestions:

    Show Routes 560, 564, 565 between Bellevue and Renton which has four-plus buses per hour on weekdays, although it does not meet your criteria on weekends.

    Show Routes 510 and 511 between downtown Seattle and Jackson Park on I-5. Depending on what the Board decided today on the amended 2009 Service Implementation Plan (what’s the news on that STB?), there could be a significant increase in service in September. Even today, there are three buses an hour between downtown Seattle on Jackson Park on Sundays (making the park-and-ride at NE 145th Street my choice for attending a Mariner game).

    1. Thanks for the suggestions, Kaleci.

      I looked at the schedules for routes 560, 564, 565 and found that although there are 4 buses per hour, they are not spaced for 15 minute headways. The 560 departs Renton at :05 and :35 and the 564 & 565 combined depart at :02 and :32.

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