The Yamanote

...learning Japanese at Kobans...

Some weeks ago I decided that a good way of rounding off what I had seen of Tokyo so far, was to cycle to every station on the Yamanote train Line. The Yamanote probably the most important, and first railway line in Tokyo. It is a loop around the core of Tokyo city’s center.

The whole trip turned into quite an adventure…

On Sunday morning I left Omori at around 830. I had planned on collecting Maps of as many places on the line as I could, so I went into Shinagawa station and collected a nice map of Tokyo, and an OK one of Shinagawa. My next place-to-see was the rainbow bridge - I had planed on walking on the promenade, but was too lazy to find the entry.

Hibiya park was really pretty, autumn liked it. Came out from Hibiya park, and reached a nice cycle only road, near the Imperial Palace. Reached the Marunouchi side of Tokyo station… 'twas being renovated.

Tokyo station is massive. The sign even say ‘Tokyo Station City’. And they aren’t kidding around. It has streets inside.

Shinbashi: Train thing. went through Hibiya Koen. People were busy getting married there. Near the imperial palace they had a cycle-only road. Reached the marunaouchi exit of Tokyo-eki. Really pretty. I have pics. Went back to Yurakucho.

Akihabra is everything Japan is known for. Manga dolls, Anime, Maid Cafes, Otaku and other asorted weirdness.

But when you go to Akiba you gotta buy the chop sticks of course, thats what it is known for. ;)

Maid Cafe. Called MaiDreamin. Never been that lost in Tokyo. Ever. I was greeted with a ‘Good evening master’ of course, or words to that effect. Weird guy dressed kind of like a maid fit right in. The maids do these power up fingers-in-shape-of-heart-thing to the hot-o cohee ordered. Ketchup-bear on the omlette rice. Weird clap dance when someone orders a cocktail. Out at 4.

Okachimachi: Lots of shops. Walked from okachimachi to Ueno because of the crowd.

Ueno: Park. Elvis Dancers of course. Already dark so mostly pointless. Ate at Izakaya.

Uguisudani: Got freee beer from guy-at-the-side.

Nippori: Fuji slope thingy. Black on black silhuettos aren’t very impressive though.

Nishi Nippori: Peed in the park. Well… In a toilet in the park.

Nippori: Huh?

Nishi Nippori: waiit a moment… Oh wait the sign says Fuji-muzaki. Must go. graveyard. Waaaaaaiit. Ive been here before. Hah. Now I know I actually saw Fuji, not some random bit of night sky.

Nippori: Ask for directions. Attempt to follow them but reach back to where I started from. Ask directions again. Cross tracks. Climb steep hill.

Tabata: godforsakensonofabitchifinallyfoundyou.

Boring. And at the bottom of a hill. Up the Hill. Cycle. Cycle downhill. Fun. Ask for directions. Note-to-self: Always as directions before cycling downhill. Up the hill again.

Kagome: Ignore directions from napkin handing out people at station. Good thing too.

Sugome: Woah. Tokyo has trams. I had thought that google maps screwed up when they called a station Sugome-eki-mae (Station in-front-of Sugome station.

Otsuka: dont remember anything about it.

Ikebukuro: Crowd reminds me of shibuya/shinjuku. About 9PM by now. Hungry, tired. Cycle down what I assume is Mejiro dori. For quite a while. Ask direction. Go back. Find Mejiro.

Mejiro: Pic. Move on. Lost. See Koban. Empty. Wait 5 mins for cop. No show. Cycle. Cycle. Cycle. Tired. Ask ‘Sumimasen. Chikaku eki ari masu, ka?’ ‘Is there a station nearby?’

Find station. See 50 cycles. Park cycles. Take photo of station name. Go inside. Still dont know station name. Find sign pic. Araiyukishi-mae.

Seibu-Shinjuku sen for Takadanobaba.

Takadanobaba: exhausted. Change to yamanote-sen. Shinjuku. Harajuku. Yoyogi. Shibuya. Meguro. Gotanda. Ebisu. Osaki. Shinagawa: Change to Keihin-Tohuko-sen. Oimachi. Omori. Home. 11PM. Bed. Sleeeeeep.


Work. Take Oido subway to Nakai. Change to seibu-shinjuku line. Reach Araiyukucho-mae-eki. No Cycle.

There is, however, a previously unnoticed no-parking sign.

Koban. HEhhhh … I’ve been here before. Its the same Ghost-koban I saw near mejiro. Only nonw there is some one inside now.

Explain all about cycle and no parking area to man in koban. Interestingly he recognised the picture of the beatles that is my kindl screensaver. He seems to believe that it is stolen. File report. Ask about impound and tell about no parking area. He-no-understand-I-think. Ramen for dinner. Home.


Work. Ask someone about bicycle impound. someone else calls up the nakano-ku impound.

Ari masu. They have it. Go-sen-yen. Y5000.

Got there. get cycle pay up. Go to nakano broadway… buy sweater and shirt. Look for keys. Woops. No keys. Wonder. Go to Hyaku yen shop buy cheap saw cut? Go Koban? Go koban. Explain: watashi no jitansha no kagi lost-o desu. ID. Passport copy.

So Here I am, 15 km from home. 10km from work. I’m asking a cop to break a lock of a cycle. The bicycle is reported stolen. The only ID I have is a copy of my passport. I don’t know why but they were a little suspicious of me.

Eventually, after much beating around the bush, I am asked to step get into a patrol vehicle, and taken to Nakano police station. I wait for an hour, as they check my VISA details. Eventually I’m let go with a promise, that I would tell the Tazuka Police that my bicycle was found.

Thus ends the adventures of Man Lost in Tokyo.