It may not look like it, but this Oedo-subway-line escalator at the Kokuritsu-kyogijo (by Sendagaya JR Train Station) seems to be one of the longest escalators I have ever seen in Japan, in the U.S., or in Europe. When you hop in it and stay put, it takes quite a while to reach the top (or the bottom). I actually started reading Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” at the bottom and finished it three steps before reaching the top. And I read that twice.
Currently Tokyo is building its 13th line, somewhere down beneath the Meiji-dori (Meiji street), one of the busiest streets in the city. While that is not yet near completion, Oedo line will for the time being carry the title of “the last” subway to be built in Tokyo.
Oedo line, the 12th subway line, was inaugurated on 12/12/12 (December 12 on the Japanese year 12 [the Japanese year starts on the beginning of the reign of a new emperor, and as such, the year 2000 was equivalent to the Japanese year Heisei 12]). The depth reached close to 50m at certain points, making it one of the deepest subway lines in the world.
The picture above is just one of the series of escalators that one has to take in order to reach the street level. At the Roppongi station, for example, you have to take at least 4-5 sets of escalators to reach down. Forget having any cell phone signals down there. Perhaps the long journey down to reach the train or up to return to the street level is one reason why the line has not been so popular. The ridership has been below what was originally predicted.
Next time you are in Tokyo and happen to ride this line, bring a good book. A thick book. Forget the thick book: bring your parents’ entire Encyclopaedia collection, or do your family tree, going up to your great-great grandparents and down to your grandniece twice removed.