With it being located between Tokyo and Yokohama, Kawasaki can often be overlooked or bypassed by people going between Japan’s biggest two cities but it’s not without its own charms. Smelly and noisy industrial works really don’t sound like a sight of sorts but in recent years this zone has gained a niche legion of fans who like to photograph them, particularly when they’re lit up at night. It has a strange, dystopian beauty to it and even boat cruises of the area are available.
The Tsurumi Line in the southeast of Kawasaki was originally built to service the port and adjacent industrial area, and this tangled tapestry of factories, refineries and visible pipes was quite heavily polluted in the 1960s and 1970s. Businesses and government alike subsequently responded with the implementation of various initiatives to restore clean air to the living environment.
Maybe I’ve watched too many of Geoff Marshall’s YouTube videos (a UK based transport-related content producer) as my first thought on finding out about the Tsurumi Line was that I should visit all 13 stations * in an effective way which meant a lot of going back and forth from end to end before finally completing the middle section on foot.
The line is 10.3 km in length and, providing you do it during the morning rush hour, could all be visited by train in about 1.5 hours. Due to Covid_19 I didn’t want to go at that time of the day so went a bit later and did the whole line via a mix of trains and walking. This is the order in which I completed the line.
Tsurumi (JI01) – The only station on the whole line which has staff, and the start of this most pointless of missions.
Umi-Shibaura (JI52) – Perhaps the most famous station on the line as it’s renowned as the one which you just cannot exit unless you happen to work for Toshiba who own the land under and around the station. It took just 11 minutes to get here and stepping off the train on to a platform right next to the sea is a lovely experience. More details here.
Kokudo (JI02) – The only station I’d visited before (Tsurumi doesn’t count!) and one which all seems fairly normal up on the surface where the platform is. Take the steps beneath deck though and it’s like you’ve been transported back to another era. More details here.
Ogimachi (JI10) – The most easterly of the stations and I had just three minutes to disembark, snap away and then get back on.
There were a few young railway enthusiasts (not train-spotters!) on the next ride who were recording the sounds of the train on their phones and getting very excited about it. Good lads!
Showa (JI09) – This station is nothing to do with the former Emperor of Japan but is just named after the adjacent Shōwa Fertilizer Company.
This particular area of Japan’s largest industrial city was where I could see the most industrial work constructions. It’s not really my thing but I have met people who love seeing such structures at nighttime.
Bentembashi (JI04) – I took my final train ride on this line from here even though my next stop was only two minutes away. I could’ve walked it but it was a brutally hot mid-July day and the time of the train fit in nicely with my schedule and saved a bit of energy.
Asano (JI05) – There are four platforms at this station as it forms a kind of junction between the Tsurumi Main Line and Umi-Shibaura Branch Line.
Shin Shibaura (JI51) – There are two short branches on the Tsurumi Line, and this was the first one. I’d already done Umi-Shibaura but needed to do this one too. It was one of my favourite stations on the whole line.
Musashi Shiraishi (JI07)
Okawa (JI61) – The most remote of the stations, and the one which you’d probably think is least used as there are no trains at all from just before 9am till gone 5pm! However, the number of daily passengers using this station is actually higher than a few of the other stations. More details here.
Hama Kawasaki (JI08) – I left this station till last as it was to be my route out of there via a different train line.
* It would be remiss of me to not give an honorary mention to my friend BB here who actually did a similar thing 11 years before me as part of his mission to visit every station on every line in the Kanto region.
Bonus: Just a few stops from Hama Kawasaki was Shitte Station. Yes, you did read that correctly. This was one of the first places I ever went to in Japan as a friend lived there. It was a funny name then but I guess I’ve just been here so long now that I barely bat an eyelid when some says this name.
Click here to read ‘The Japanese Town Which Has It’s Own Local Rail Line’
Click here to read ‘The Virtually Abandoned Station Just Over The Border From Tokyo’
Click here to read ‘The Complete Tour Of Katakana-Named Stations In Tokyo!’
Click here to read ‘A Day In Kawasaki City’