Wednesday, 11 May 2016

JAPAN - Tokyo Part 2.5

Ginza Line - Tameike-Sanno station with music and folk dance from around the world
Ginza Line - Toranomon - original subway modelled after New York City Subway

Day 5 (6 May 2016)

Friday was a rather cloudy day and quite muggy, so I didn't have much energy. Combined with some city exploration (Parliament, Shibuya, Omote-sando, etc.), I managed to see some interesting Subway stations on the Ginza Line, notably Tameike-sanno, which is all decorated with motifs of music from around the world, and the elevated Ginza Line terminus at Shibuya. This may probably look quite different soon, as a new building is under construction on the eastern side, so it may become completely or almost completely invisible from the outside. Right now, it is the only station in Tokyo, as far as my knowledge goes, where you may be forced to go through an exit gate as trains go into the sidings to reverse and there is currently no interior link between arrival and departure platform!

Ginza Line - Shibuya elevated terminus likely to disappear in new development

Anyway, I had a quick look around what I would classify as the most horrible part of Tokyo (very loud and huge screens everywhere!) and reentered the Subway on the other side to find out that maybe new signage with large coloured panels has been introduced. I don't know if this is on a trial basis, if it will be expanded to other stations or if it was private rail company Tokyu's initiative as they share the underground station with Tokyo Metro's Hanzomon Line

Shibuya - new signage in Hanzomon/Tokyu mezzanine

I would consider it a good idea, because often I found it little intuitive where and how transfers to other lines are indicated. Like many European metros the stations mostly feature a wall ribbon in the line colour, but icons such as transfers or exits are not included there, but are usually posted on columns or walls. Talking of which, I appreciate the yellow boards which list quite a lot of places of interest around the station and which exit you are supposed to take to reach these. In Germany, some cities have only just begun to number exits! Very good neighbourhood maps are usually posted outside the ticket barriers. I think it would be good to have one on the platform, too. Sometimes I saw them too late and had to realise that I should have taken another exit instead.

A few examples that the Tokyo Subway is not just functional - Shibuya Hanzomon Line

 Iidabashi - Oedo Line

Higashi-Shinjuku - Fukutoshin Line

In the afternoon I met Craig again, this time out in the east at Kasai station on the Tozai Line to visit the Tokyo Metro Museum. Craig had already found out where it is, as I had actually problems to find it, although it is quite next to the station, actually below the elevated metro route. As the name suggests, it only deals with the history of Tokyo Metro's lines, ignoring the four Toei Subway lines. Although most things are only explained in Japanese, it is a very nice museum, includes two original metro cars, nice models and you can play the driver on a simulator. The souvenir shop has everything you never needed with some metro car on it, but also maps, books and DVDs. 

 Tokyo's oldest metro car at the Metro Museum
 Craig finally learning how to drive a metro train....

Quite up-to-date map of all metros of the world (click to enlarge)

By the time we left the museum, it had started to rain and we finished the day with a metro trip to Tocho-mae on the Oedo Line to go up the Tokyo Metropolitan Government tower, which is free, but unfortunately due to the bad weather the view was limited.

Go back to Tokyo Part 2.4 | Continue to Tokyo Part 2.6

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