Come with us as we take you through some of the interesting things you can discover inside one of the country’s most historic stations and the busiest train station in the world.
Whether it’s smiling sumo wrestlers or pigeon people, you never know what might be revealed in Japan when Google Street View comes to town. In recent years, the visual map recorders have gone one step further in providing virtual tours of the country with special in-depth explorations of popular events like the Nebuta Matsuri Festival in Aomori Prefecture and even the eerie “Underground Temple” in Saitama.
Now the Google Street View team are back in the nation’s capital with a brand new virtual tour that takes in the maze of corridors, platforms, walkways and turnstiles that make up Tokyo and Shinjuku stations. If you’ve ever been to Japan, you’ll know how easy it is to get lost in these mammoth complexes, so now you can relive the experience online, or if you’re coming to Japan soon for a visit, you can use the new service to prepare your route ahead of your arrival!
Before walking through the turnstiles below to begin your adventure of Tokyo Station, be sure to scroll up first to admire the famous domed ceiling.
There are a couple of historic sites people should keep an eye out for while making their way through the station. If you turn towards the left in the image above, you’ll see a special plaque next to the ticket machines that marks the spot where Prime Minister Takashi Hara was stabbed to death by a right-wing activist in 1921.
Another plaque can be found close to the Shinkansen gates numbered 20-23. This marks the spot of an assassination attempt on Prime Minister Osachi Hamaguchi, who was shot inside the station in 1930. While Hamaguchi initially seemed to recover from the attack following emergency surgery, his condition deteriorated and he died a year later.
On the ground to the right of the plaque is a floor tile marked with the shape of a diamond, which is the exact spot where the Prime Minister fell.
While these markers pointing to significant events in the station’s 103-year history are often overlooked, Google Street View makes them easy to find. It also makes it easy to navigate your way to other important spots at the station, including the Shinkansen transfer points.
It also helps to direct you to Tokyo Station’s famous Ekiben-ya Matsuri, a store known for its huge variety of boxed meals, perfect for enjoying on a train journey. Usually a hive of activity, filled with hungry travellers, the store was shuttered up when the Street View team visited.
While Tokyo Station is one of the country’s most historic, Shinjuku Station is the country’s busiest. With an average of 3.64 million passengers passing through the station each day, and over 200 exits, the station is so busy that it’s been recognised as the busiest train station in the world.
Welcome to the labyrinth that is Shinjuku Station. Let’s begin our journey into the maze at the JR South Exit, which can be found opposite the Newoman restaurant and shopping complex.
Navigating a Google Street View device through the crowds during peak hour would be a difficult task, so many of the new images online show a deserted station, which is a novel sight in itself. According to this clock, some of the data was captured in the wee hours of the morning, at 1:28 a.m.
A number of station platforms are also deserted, with trains like this one put to bed for the night.
Even the Oedo line that runs through Shinjuku’s subway looks unusual without the hustle and bustle of thousands of commuters.
▼ Here we are on the platform for the Yamanote loop line.
▼ The signboards show the time of departure for the first trains of the day on the Yamanote and Chuo lines.
In the middle of the night, teams of repairmen and cleaning crews can be seen hard at work maintaining the public areas of the station.
The Street View team have done a thorough exploration of the station, with even the underground tunnels visible online.
▼ Whether you’re heading to the airport on the Narita Express…
Or making your way to the Odakyu Limited Express Romancecar for a trip to Hakone, Enoshima or Kamakura, the Street View option is a great way to get your bearings online before arriving at the station.
Judging by this reflection we discovered, the data-capturing equipment used for the mammoth task was mounted on a robot-like device called the Street View Trolley. The trolley has been used to capture images in museums around the world, due to its compact size, which allows it to manoeuvre through tight spaces and be positioned directly in front of artwork and signs.
Whether you’ve been to Japan before or are heading over for a visit, these new images on Google Street View are a great way to explore all the details of the country’s most famous stations away from the crowds. Just be careful not to get lost in there – it truly is a fascinating labyrinth that we could happily wander around in for hours!