How Big Is Tokyo?

This week I was updating The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had, and I thought you might enjoy seeing how big it is compared to your city! (Scroll down to see Tokyo’s main subway line superimposed on maps of major cities all over the world.)

Anyone who wants to be somewhere on time in Tokyo takes the train. They’re not just frequent and fast, they’re scarily on time. This is the Yamanote train line, which runs in a ring around central Tokyo, and is ridden by an average of 2 million people per day.

Tokyo subway map highlighting some main Yamanote line stops

I’ve highlighted some of the biggest stations in the circuit (plus Odaiba, since it’s such a popular destination). Here’s how far apart they are on a regular map:

Map highlighting some main Yamanote line stops, superimposed over map of Tokyo

And here’s how many minutes it takes to go between the highlighted stations if you’re riding the train:

Map highlighting some main Yamanote line stops, superimposed over map of Tokyo with number of minutes between stops highlighted

To give you a better idea of how far and how fast, here’s how the Yamanote Line would look in other cities around the world, and how long (in minutes) it would take to get between stations (apologies if I didn’t pick your city – I had to draw the line somewhere!)

BERLIN

Map of Yamanote line with some main stops highlighted, superimposed over map of Berlin
If the Yamanote Line’s Shinjuku Station was at Brandenburger Tor, here’s where the other stops would be

CAIRO

Map of Yamanote line with some main stops highlighted, superimposed over map of Cairo
If you could get off the train at Shibuya to see the Sphinx, the Yamanote line could also take you to the Opera House if you got off at Ueno

CHICAGO

Map of Yamanote line with some main stops highlighted, superimposed over map of Chicago
If you got on the train at the Ueno stop at Wrigley Field, the Yamanote line could also take you to the Shedd Aquarium/Navy Pier area in 20 minutes

DELHI

Map of Yamanote line with some main stops highlighted, superimposed over map of Delhi
If the Red Fort was outside Ueno Station, Shibuya would be on the far side of the Pusa Hill

LONDON

Map of Yamanote line with some main stops highlighted, superimposed over map of London
In London, you could get off at Hyde Park at the Shibuya stop, Hampstead Heath at Shinjuku, and Spitalfields at Shimbashi

LOS ANGELES

Map of Yamanote line with some main stops highlighted, superimposed over map of Los Angeles
If you got on at the Ikebukuro stop by the Getty Museum, you could be at the Santa Monica Pier in 16 minutes, and getting on a boat for an afternoon sail out of Marina del Rey in under a half hour

NEW YORK

Map of Yamanote line with some main stops highlighted, superimposed over map of New York City
If the Ueno stop were up in Harlem at the very top of Central Park, Shimbashi would be on the East Side in midtown, Shimagawa would be down in the Village, Shibuya would be across the bridges and through the tunnels in Hoboken

PARIS

Map of Yamanote line with some main stops highlighted, superimposed over map of Paris
If you could get off the Yamanote Line at Shibuya and be at the Eiffel Tower, the only stop that would still be within the city limits would be Shimbashi, over in Bagnolet

SAN FRANCISCO

Map of Yamanote line with some main stops highlighted, superimposed over map of San Francisco
If the Ueno stop dropped you at Pier 39 near Fisherman’s Wharf, Shimbashi would be next to Dolores Park, Shinagawa would be outside City College, and Ikebukuro would be across the Big Red Thing

SAO PAOLO

Map of Yamanote line with some main stops highlighted, superimposed over map of Sao Paolo
If the Akihabara stop were outside the Patio do Colegio, Shinjuku Station would be near the Universidade de Sal Paulo

SEATTLE

Map of Yamanote line with some main stops highlighted, superimposed over map of Seattle
If Shibuya were the stop where you’d get off to see the Seahawks play, Shinjuku would be up near the UDub, Shimbashi out in Bellevue, and Shinagawa down at Seward Park

SHANGHAI

Map of Yamanote line with some main stops highlighted, superimposed over map of Shanghai
Seeing the Yamanote Line in Shanghai really brings home just how ENORMOUS Shanghai is. The ring of stations encompasses the Bund and some fancy downtown shopping, but doesn’t get anywhere near the outskirts!

STOCKHOLM

Map of Yamanote line with some main stops highlighted, superimposed over map of Stockholm
If Shimbashi were the stop right in the middle of Stockholm, Ikebukuro would be quite far out in the countryside!

SYDNEY

Map of Yamanote line with some main stops highlighted, superimposed over map of Sydney
If Odaiba (home of the Giant Gundam) were out at Bondi Beach, Shinagawa would be directly inland at Centennial Park, And Ikebukuro would be up near Middle Cove

I’d be very interested to hear whether these distances/time to get somewhere seem short or long to you. After living in both Tokyo and San Francisco, where traffic is a nightmare at all hours of the day, when I compare the time in transit to going a similar distance in a car, it seems hella fast to me!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
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For three hundred years, a missing tea bowl passes from one fortune-seeker to the next, changing the lives of all who possess it…read more

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Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Japan, produces the monthly e-magazine Japanagram, and blogs at Only In Japan and The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had

Published by Jonelle Patrick

Writes all the Japan things.

4 thoughts on “How Big Is Tokyo?

    1. I know, right? The only times mine have been late is when there’s an ominous announcement playing over the loudspeakers with scrolling kanji on the Next Train screen that explains what natural or man-made disaster is physically blocking the tracks.

  1. Fringe benefit of riding the Tokyo subway:

    I learned my first kanji from studying/comparing the names of the train stops in 漢字 and romaji.

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