For our last day in Tokyo, my boyfriend and I decided to say a big farewell to the city by walking the Yamanote Line. Let me explain why that’s awesome:
The Yamanote line is one of Tokyo’s main train lines, and it runs in a circle through the central area of the city. The train goes on a 34.5 km route, through 29 stations, and the whole thing takes it about one hour. We took this ride at the beginning of our stay in Tokyo, and I have to say I got pretty bored looking out the window at all the pretty flowers and tall buildings. Little did I know I was gonna walk the whole thing just a few weeks after. I kept convincing myself I could jump on a train whenever I get too tired.
The idea of the Yamanote Walk is to go through all the 29 train stations, taking the shortest routes possible between stations. Still, that’s more than 42 km, depending on which road you take. At about 9 am, we started counter-clockwise from Ueno station, the closest to our hostel, equipped with nothing but running shoes and Google Maps. The first few stations were a breeze – we already knew the area, we were fresh and fed (you gotta love onigiri). We even ran across an impromptu garage sale, where I bought an absolutely lovely leather purse for 100 yen (that’s less than a dollar!) Around the seventh station, I was going out of my mind. It was very sunny, and my efforts to cover my head with a scarf were useless in the heat. My knees hurt (thanks for nothing, treadmill!) and I started thinking about quitting. I kept calm, took a selfie and carried on.
The next few stations were shadier, which put me in a better mood. We got more snacks and found some cool (overpriced) vintage shops near Mejiro station. I started taking pictures and being excited again. Then we hit the crowds from the Shinjuku – Yoyogi – Harajuku – Shibuya area, it was absolutely packed with people! Thankfully, they’re all really close to each other, so we passed through as fast as we could and stopped for lunch (burgers!) in a nice place we found, Weekend Garage Tokyo. We drank tons of their free water and rested our legs for almost an hour. We were about halfway through our walk.
We took more breaks during the second half of the walk, and we probably had more sugar and caffeine that we should have. It got dark around Tamachi station, and I started having the most awful headache around that same time. I should’ve packed some aspirin! From then on, it was just trips to the bathroom and complaining from my part. But we were too close to quit. Knee pain, headache, vitamin drinks, soon after 9 pm we were back at Ueno, where we started. That was an amazing feeling and definitely my longest walk to date.
So: over 42 km, 12 hours, taking in the whole charm of Tokyo. I recommend doing this walk if you ever find yourself in the area, it will give you a glimpse into all the different facets of the city! From the tourist-filled spots to the lonely vending machines in the middle of nowhere, there’s something to see at every step. If I could do it in a dress, you can do it too. There’s even a yearly fundraising marathon #justsayin’.