Changing trains on Tokyo’s Subway system can be a little hectic and stressful at the best of times so imagine what it’d be like to do it multiple times in the name of “fun”! Well as you can imagine that is exactly what I did. There are 13 main Metro and Toei Lines in Tokyo (the pedantic may be outraged that I have not included the Mb branch of the Marunouchi Line!) and my challenge was to try and find the quickest route for passing through all of them. This is how I did it but I’d love to know if you think there is a quicker or better alternative route. Could such a themed ride be adapted for the Metro in your country?
1. Fukutoshin Line (09:33) @ Senkawa Station – This line is the most recent addition to Tokyo’s Subway; the busiest in the world. The brown coloured Fukutoshin Line opened in 2008 and marks the start of this most pointless of journeys. There’s certainly no time for me to get comfortable as it entails riding for less than two minutes.
2. Yurakucho Line (09:36) @ Kanamecho Station – Just one stop later and I have to change but it’s the easiest one of the morning as it’s only a 20 metre walk away. They’re not gonna come much shorter than this!
3. Marunouchi Line (09:42) @ Ikebukuro Station – I actually have to exit the ticket gates here and then re-enter about 200 metres further on in this huge station. A very quick walk and slight jog is needed to make it for my intended train. For the record, it doesn’t affect the cost on your commuter pass.
4. Namboku Line (09:54) @ Korakuen Station – One of the longest rides as I actually get to stay on for a few stops but there’s still no sitting down! The platform sign tells me it’s a 225 metre walk from the Marunouchi to the Namboku line. As far as connections go, this seems like quite a long one.
5. Oedo Line (10:02) @ Iidabashi Station – I take back what I said about the previous transit as this one is even longer at 275 metres. However, it is a pretty cool and fairly empty walkway that takes me directly to the platform without any need for stairs or escalators. It reminds me of the walk to Terminal 3 at Narita Airport!
6. Mita Line (10:09) @ Kasuga Station – Switching to the navy blue Mita Line is a 145 metre walk but it’s one that I can take at a fair leisurely pace as time is on my side for this change of trains. There are almost no people around as I go between the two lines.
7. Shinjuku Line @ (10:19) Jimbocho Station – This may be the right point to mention that this was actually my second attempt at this challenge as I messed up at this station the first time when I took the Hanzomon Line instead of the Shinjuku Line. I also went in the wrong direction and when I got back to Jimbocho I really struggled to find the Shinjuku Line platform.
So much time had passed by that stage so I had no other choice really but to abort as I wanted to do it in a relatively quick time. Fast forward three weeks to this second attempt and I am better prepared for making sure I make a good connection at Jimbocho. It has to be one of the widest platforms in Tokyo.
8. Hanzomon Line (10:20) @ Kudanshita Station – After two minutes on the Shinjuku Line I disembark at Kudanshita and head to the Hanzomon Line. This is the easiest change of the day as I only have to cross the platform. I’m so surprised by this that I have to check and check again that it really is the purple coloured line I desire. I get to ride for a whopping three stops and do actually take a seat for the first time on this journey to nowhere!
9. Ginza Line (10:38) @ Mitsukoshimae Station – It’s a short ride to the next station on the oldest of the Subway lines. The walk between the Hanzomon and Ginza Lines is anything but short as it’s nearly 500 metres!
10. Asakusa Line (10:47) @ Nihonbashi Station – Time to take the Asakusa Line which might well be the one I’ve used the least during my time in Japan. Riding north for a solitary stop on this mission isn’t going to change that!
11. Hibiya Line (10:54) @ Ningyacho Station – My one hint for anyone attempting this challenge would be to know the final destination station of each line you travel on as it sure can help save some frantic moments where you have to check which train to board. If it’s an island platform with the trains running in either direction on both sides then it only saves a few seconds but it is vital for those lines which have separate platforms in different parts of the station as was the case for the Hibiya Line. I had a moment of panic and hesitation at this station whilst checking the map on my phone to discover that I had to head in the direction of Naka Meguro. The walk was thankfully not so long.
12. Tozai Line (11:00) @ Kayabacho Station – The penultimate transit. Nearly there! All goes smoothly for the two stop ride heading west to Otemachi.
13. Chiyoda Line (11:04) @ Otemachi Station – I’m hoping for a quick change for my final ride on a Metro line but it’s not to be. As it turns out, this is one of the longest transits which may be as this station has five Metro lines passing through it which is more than any other station.
I could go in either direction on this line but decide to head in the more northerly direction to Shin Ochanomizu station.
The combined subway network of the Tokyo and Toei metros comprises 286 stations and 13 lines covering a total system length of 304.0 kilometres (188.9 miles). I’ve travelled through just 19 of those stations to tick off all 13 lines. The 90 minute mark has just passed when I disembark at Shin-ochanomizu station. Less than 40 minutes of that duration has actually been spent on the trains with the rest taken up on foot as I navigate the stations looking for different lines.
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