Monday, January 13, 2014

Getting Lost in Ootemachi Labyrinth

The latest version of Ootemachi Station Yard map

My office is located near JR Tokyo Station, which is the largest railway terminal in Japan. The surface tracks and the 20 elevated tracks are used by Yamanote, Chuo, Keihin-Tohoku, Tokaido and Shinkansen trains and 8 underground tracks are allocated for Yokosuka-Sobu Rapid and Keiyo lines. But, there is more to it. In conjunction with Tokyo, another huge railway station exists. It is subway Ootemachi Station.

Ootemachi is the largest subway station in Japan. Trains of two operators (Tokyo Metro and Toei), 5 lines (Marunouchi, Tozai, Chiyoda, Hanzomon and Toei-Mita) arrive at and leave this giant station. Each route has its own "line color", namely red, light blue, green, purple and dark blue. The ridership of Ootemachi is 320,000 passengers per day, which doesn't include passengers, who change train from one line to another route at this station. There are 48 entrances in the station yard.

Ootemachi Station continues to expand. Whenever I use this station, there is construction in the yard. As a result, the appearance of the rail yard is always changing, which is a problem for passengers. Recently, I went to a building in Ootemachi from my office via underground Ootemachi Station; but I got lost in the station yard because the entrance of the Tozai Line had been changed after completion of a new building. The entrance of the station was moved from the old to a new position. I was almost late for an important appointment.

Subway Ootemachi Station... it is a living labyrinth.
 
"C8" entrance of Ootemachi Station on the subway lines