Tokyo Railway Map, v. 2.0

[Note: due to the map’s size, I’ve done something a little different with the embed this time. The pdf version is here, and the png version is here. A pdf download from Cloudup is available here. Thanks again to Richard Archambault for helping me sort this out!]

Here it is. After six long months, here it finally is. Thank God.

I’m not going to sit here and pretend like drawing this was a pleasurable experience. Around a quarter of the way through Inkscape started seriously groaning under the weight of what is quite possibly the biggest transit map I’ve ever made, and from that point on my only motivation for finishing this damn thing was the satisfaction of getting it out of my head once and for all. Not that I’m unhappy with how it turned out, of course, but if I ever say I’m doing another Tokyo map I want you to reach across the Internet and deck me.

There. Histrionics over. Now then:

This is a map of the massive railway network centering on Tokyo, but also with (hopefully) every project ever proposed for the area since about 2010. Some of them are actively being worked on (Sotetsu/JR through link), some are proposed (new subway line to Odaiba), some are dormant (Metro Seven/Eight Liner, which if built will use a different technology that won’t allow the through-running with the Tokyu Tamagawa Line here depicted), some are dead (Kawasaki Municipal Subway), some are ideas some planner randomly tossed out in a meeting at some point and never seriously proposed (passenger service along the Musashino South Line). I also included bus links to airports and Shinkansen stations that weren’t directly connected to the railway network. It didn’t matter to me what the status of each idea was, if it was floated, it went in, because the goal here was to be The Last Railway Map Tokyo Would Ever Need.

The thing is that when I draw a map like this, I want it to be good for 20+ years, which can be a bit difficult when your city has a boatload of projects in the pipeline (cf. the Seoul and Paris maps, which are already out of date), so for this one I just threw in everything and the kitchen sink and the plumbing attached to the kitchen sink, just to be sure. 

Thanks especially to David Edmondson, Richard Archambault, Cameron Booth, Bernie Ng, Luke Bonnet, Emily, and anyone else who I’ve interacted with about this project on social media or in real life. Next big project will probably be a crayon map of Los Angeles.


About theoditsek

I like going places.
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3 Responses to Tokyo Railway Map, v. 2.0

  1. First: amazing work! I am totally in awe of your patience with Inkscape. I ditched it long, long ago for Illustrator and that continues to be the best software subscription I’ve made.

    Second: any chance we could see (well, maybe not *see* but have access to) the map of existing service? Do you have a list of such things?

    Third: This feels like this should be part of a booklet guide to the network, similar to what small bus systems publish, with strip maps for each line with the full Express, Semi-Express, Rapid, and Local patterns plus the through-service. I could imagine wondering which train to take from Shinjuku to get me to Narita fastest.

    Fourth: It is a double shame you can’t show the through-service legend! First, it is amazing. Second, I could imagine showing up at Hatsudai Station and wonder when the S will show up, letting Koei New Line trains pass me by for lack of that knowledge.

    • theoditsek says:

      Point by point:

      1) I haven’t switched over to Illustrator yet because I have…*issues* with the idea of a monthly Creative Cloud (or even an Illustrator-only) subscription. I’d rather eat the cost up front and not have to worry about it instead of being slowly bled dry month after month and ultimately pay more than if I just paid for it once and was done.

      2) Not for a long time, probably. This map was a real pain to make and right now I’d rather gouge my eyes out than adjust it any further. I’m not ruling it out completely, but don’t hold your breath, either.

      3) That doesn’t mean I won’t eventually do strip maps of individual lines, though. I’ve got some ideas for that in the pipeline. Funny you should mention the booklet thing, too, because that’s actually the spirit in which the map was made…although I’m not sure “booklet” is quite the correct word, considering my friends and I have joked that the only thing big enough to print a legible physical copy of this thing on is a shower curtain. Perhaps an iPad app or something, with a search function and real-time train information, might work better.

      4) I feel like if a map like this was in official use, platform signage would reflect that, and any trains using the Keio New Line would be branded as a Shinjuku Line through service.

  2. Bernie Ng says:

    Hi Theo,

    Well done on finally completing your Tokyo regional railway map. One word. Epic. I don’t think anyone else – as far as I can see on my internet browsing over the past couple of years – has ever attempted something on such a grand scale (the quashlo effort is the closest I can think of). It is quite beautiful to behold. The attention naturally focuses on Tokyo central given the Yamanote Line loop and the density of the Tokyo Metro lines within, and there are a few concentric rings around it in the form of various outer loop lines (many of which I have not even heard of being proposed). One day far, far away, I’d like to have a crack at incorporating some of these future extensions into a map drawn with broader sweeping curves to emphasize the “circle” element (a la zeroperzero), but I don’t see myself having the willpower to undertake that endeavour for a while. A long while.

    The only comment I’d make – and I make this fully realising that this is inevitable given the way you have defined your parameters, and given how crazy complex things are in Tokyo – is that the way through services and multiple services are denoted can make some lines incredibly thick to the point of being distorted. Two examples are the Tobu Skytree Line out of Asakusa and the JR Uchibo / Sotobo Lines. To you and me, this is an illustration of the sheer variety of services through these sections. However, to someone less familiar, this may be read as an unintended cue of the frequency of services or an indication that the line is particularly important. However, undoubtedly this is the clearest way of showing through services, and no solution is perfect.

    It’s always interesting to see how different cartography enthusiasts approach a similar task. I’m still hoping to finish the second version of my Tokyo map sometime (have been busy with work, marriage, honeymoon, photography, etc.). I’ve gone as far as to complete the first draft but need a bit of a push to really turn it into a cohesive map with some personality in it.

    Again, congratulations on this Herculean effort!

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