Tuesday, 10 May 2016

JAPAN - Tokyo Part 2.2 (feat. Chiba)

Crowds of people moving between Tokyo main station complex and the Keiyo Line underground station

Day 2 (3 May 2016)

The second day started with another agglomeration of crowds, first on a fully packed Chuo train into Tokyo station, then an endless flow of masses down into the Keiyo Line station, some 400 m, to get a train to Disneyland. With the bad experience on the Enoden on the previous day, I just tried to get a few nice pictures of the Disney Monorail, but didn't even try to get a ticket to ride on the circular route. Maybe it would have been easy, but maybe not. And there were full train loads arriving from Tokyo and the other direction.

Disney Monorail, also accessible without a ticket for the theme parks

So I moved on to more deserted places, first Chiba, which looked like everybody had gone on holiday. At Minato-Chiba I was certainly not the first who tried to get a perfect picture with a JR Keiyo Line train and the Chiba Monorail side by side in the same shot, but it would be a miracle, with JR arriving every 15 minutes and the Monorail with irregular headways (line 1 every 15 minutes and line 2 every 12 minutes!). So I put the camera on the railing at the end of the platform, and hopefully I can merge the images to get the perfect picture. After getting a day pass for 620 Yen from the machine, I jumped on the first train available only to get off at the next station for some nice outdoor shots. The shorter Line 1 to Kencho-mae (in fact, the line numbers are not visible anywhere) was barely used that day, I think there were only two trains shuttling back and forth. The view down into the street as it heads for Chiba station is amazing because the train kind of flies above the streets. Also the junction east of Chiba is stunning, a super-structure which certainly from street-level looks a bit too much. Later the line down to Kencho-mae has a certain Wuppertal feel as it runs above a canal.

Wuppertal in Japan?

By the way, compared to Wuppertal, where the Schwebebahn has on one arm that runs on a single wheel - I mean several wheels, but all in one row - the Chiba suspension railway runs more quietly, doesn't swing so much from one side to the other, I would suppose it even has some special counter-wheels to prevent that, just when it switches from one track to the other it gets a bit more Wuppertal-ish. What was more annoying was some abrupt braking as if an automatic brake was applied as soon as the manually driven train reached the allowed speed.

Young female driver operating the quiet shuttle to Kencho-mae

Later I took the entire Line 2 out to its eastern terminus. This line was quite well used, no surprise it serves a typical day-out destination, the Chiba Zoo (Dobutsu-koen). On the way back I got off at Tsuga to take a JR Sobu Line train back towards Toyko.

 Shin-Keisei Line: pink route through the western Chiba suburbs

But that was not the last special transport system of the day. Though due north from Tsuga, it required a bit of a detour to get there. I decided for the pink Shin-Keisei Line from Shin-Tsudanuma to Kita-Narashino to see a bit of the Toyo Rapid Line, which in reality is a suburban extension of the Tokyo Metro Tozai Line, but in Japan it can't be called just that. Trains on this line, however, run only every 15 minutes, but it deserves the adjective "rapid", and the underground stations I came through looked quite pleasant. And it's also expensive, for 5 stations I had to pay some 450 Yen on my PASMO card. 

Outer terminus for the Toyo Rapid Line, actually the end of the Tozai Metro Line

From the end of that line two stops further out on a Keisei Local I arrived at Yukarigaoka to see the Yukarigaoka Line

Old-fashioned peoplemover through a Chiba new town

This is probably the oldest and least-known of all rubber-tyred guided transit systems in Japan! Luckily there was a yound guy at the entrance, because like the SkyRail near Hiroshima, this system is not prepared for foreigners. It does not accept IC cards, and the ticket machines are only in Japanese. Well, you have to put 200 Yen into the slot and then press the key that says "200", and you get a tiny Paris-style ticket. It's difficult to get a view out the front window as they front is inclined and low. I took a trip around the racket-shaped route and got off one stop prior to the departure point, took some photos and walked through a department store back to the Keisei station. Unfortunately, there was no staff at that stop, so the ticket barrier swallowed my ticket.... Eventually, the Keisei Main Line and the JR Chuo-Sobu Local brought me back to my temporary home at Iidabashi.

Go back to Tokyo Part 2.1 | Go to Tokyo Part 2.3


  1. Let me know if you would like some help to fuse the JR Keiyo Line and Chiba Monorail side by side in the same shot. The trip to Brasilia captured three trains that way.

    Try to get to Ikebukuro station where five lines converge above ground alongside a waterway. This is a classic shot taken by many. Headways are frequent enough to capture more than one train. I was fortunate to find it by accident many years ago.

  2. Here's a nice 16-minute video of the Yukarigaoka Line to give you a better idea of this peoplemover:

  3. Hi,
    Of course my message is too late, but you could have used your PASMO card to ride the Disney Resort Monorail line. So there was no need to buy a ticket for it.

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