Tokyo is an enormous city that stretches on seemingly forever until it merges with Saitama, Kanagawa and Chiba. With real estate in the city centre at a prime price, many people choose to live one or two hours away in exchange for larger or better housing options. Do you really want such a long commute though? Expats living in Japan may want to make the most of their overseas experience by living in the centre of things, in an area where you can easily reach your office and other places around Tokyo. The most central train line of all is the Yamanote Line. This green-coloured train runs in a loop around central Tokyo and has connections to many subway lines and other train lines. If you live on the Yamanote Line, you are never far from anything you need.
What are the best stations on the Yamanote Line?
Some are certainly better than others, and here are our recommendations. The following factors have been taken into account:
- Price of housing in the area
- Nearby facilities and things to do
- Parks and greenery
- Transport options
- Dining options
- The demographic of the citizens
The top 10 stations on the Yamanote Line for living:
You may be surprised to see Yoyogi Station on this list. It is right next to Shinjuku – in fact parts of the Shinjuku Station department stores stretch almost all the way to Yoyogi Station. Due to its proximity to Shinjuku, most people consider this a business district, not suitable for living in. But actually that is not true. Walk a few streets from the station in the direction of Sangubashi and you will see plenty of apartments. There’s not much chance for a house here, but apartments aplenty (or “mansions”).
The best thing about living in Yoyogi is how close it is to a lot of greenery. You can walk to Yoyogi Park and Shinjuku Gyoen in less than 15 minutes, as well as Shinjuku Central Park.
There are of course hundreds of dining and drink options around, including plenty of international cuisine. Nearby stations like Yoyogi-Uehara are rather upscale, so this isn’t a cheap area, but it’s incredibly convenient.
Many expats live in Meguro and for good reason. You are right in the centre of things, being near to Shinjuku, Shibuya, Harajuku and Roppongi, but also in a quieter area. You can walk to an actual forest at the Institute for Nature Study, and there is a great outdoor public pool at the Meguro Citizen’s Center.
Meguro has a river running through it which allows for nice strolls, and the options for drinking and dining are in the hundreds.
The area directly around the station is quite loud and busy, but there are many smaller streets all over the ward where you can live in peace, especially around Ikedayama Park.
If you need a very English friendly area, this is a good choice on the Yamanote Line, although prices are not cheap.
Another popular station with expats is Tamachi. The Shibaura side contains the Minato-ku Sports Center, which is a large modern gym where you can work out, swim or join fitness classes for a cheap price. The same building also holds Japanese lessons along with other courses such as earthquake preparation sessions. It’s a really great facility.
Tamachi is good for being located near some nice things, like it is less than 4km walk from Odaiba, and pretty close to Shiba Park. As it is in Minato-ku, there are no issues regarding language, and you are located very close to a global selection of restaurants.
Ueno is a major hub train station, with the Ginza Line, Hibiya Line, Joban Line, Takasaki Line, Utsunomiya Line and various shinkansen trains all running through it. The Keisei Line also runs through an adjacent station. You cannot beat the convenience of Ueno, with easy access to both Haneda and Narita and shinkansen trains.
We don’t recommend living right next to the station, as it is noisy and not so picturesque. If you’re okay with a bit of a walk, living behind Ueno Park, past the Shinobazu no Ike Pond or out towards Nezu will provide you with a very peaceful place to live, filled with quite a bit of greenery and many temples. If you need to be closer to the station, look in the direction of Inaricho, but make sure you choose a smaller side street to avoid traffic noise. This side of the station is not so green, but it is more convenient and has many eateries around.
Nippori is quite a bustling area these days, with the Yanaka Ginza shopping street being packed with visitors 7 days a week. Nippori still retains its nostalgic charm however, as the Yanaka side of the station is home to many houses which date back over 100 years, along with temples and shrines aplenty. Due to the Yanaka Cemetery being nearby, you will be able to hear the sound of cicadas and see the green trees, so it is a very pleasant area.
These days there are also many trendy stores and cafes popping up, so there is a nice mix of modern and old-fashioned.
Nippori is also where the SkyLiner train to Narita Airport stops, so it is great if you travel a lot. The Nippori Toneri Liner can take you easily to the large Toneri Park, which is one of the best parks in Tokyo.
We recommend living on the Yanaka side of the station, as the other side is a bit seedier, but if you are on a tight budget, you might have more luck on that side. Nippori South Park has a great summer matsuri festival, and a fun playground for kids.
Komagome Station is a fairly relaxed station on the edge of Shitamachi (old Tokyo). Five minutes from the station is the well-known Rikugien, a traditional Japanese garden famous for its nighttime autumn illuminations. On the other side of the station is a narrow shopping alley known as Shimofuri Ginza, with both cheap fruits and vegetables and a high-end supermarket. At the end of that street are two international daycares/schools and a large grassy park called Minnano Park.
Komagome connects to the Nanboku Line, and is a great place to live if you want to be central, but in a more peaceful location, and for a cheaper price than in some other parts of Tokyo.
If you have kids, part of Komagome is in Bunkyo Ward, which is known for its high quality schools.
Sugamo is right next to Komagome, it only takes 5-10 minutes to walk between the stations. So all the places mentioned above apply for Sugamo as well. Sugamo is also home to a famous shopping district known as “Harajuku for older people”. These days it is popular with all ages though, and the street is definitely worth strolling down.
Sugamo Station connects to the Mita Line if you need subway access.
It’s a relaxed and attractive area with great sporting facilities, with two world-class swimming pools nearby, as well as one of the best gymnastics gymnasiums in Tokyo. There is even an onsen (Tokyo Somei Onsen Sakura)!
Takadanobaba is popular among students attending the nearby Waseda University, so you can be assured that this area is buzzing well into the night. There are lots of restaurants, cafes, izakayas and bars, along with karaoke aplenty.
This station is right in between Ikebukuro and Shinjuku, two massive transport hubs, so it is extremely convenient.
Takadanobaba is surprisingly good for families as well, with the expansive Toyama Park on one side, and the also nice Nishi-Toyama Park on the other. Neighbouring Mejiro has many prestigious schooling institutions if your kids are academically inclined.
These are our top picks for the best places to live on the Yamanote Line. If you are moving to Tokyo (or within Tokyo) and are looking for housing, we offer a real estate service with no added fees.