I am super curious about it these days! The mystery of “station numbering”.
January 31, 2017
I’ve listened to an announcement that sounds like “Ginza~ G, number 9” on the Tokyo metro subway at some time or another. This is the”Station numbering system”. Each line is designated by a different color and each station has a number. I just thought”It may make it easier to understand about the train system” or ”It might be useful for the Tokyo Olympic to come…”I didn’t care about it so much at first.But I looked at them carefully one day, and I found a fact about the number.
Ginza line is numbered”G”, Tozai line is numbered“T”, Marunoushi line is numbered”M” -they are numbered from the first letters. It makes sense-. Hibuya line is of course”H”, BUT, Hanzomon line is”Z”. What is”Z” about?? I belatedly noticed this mystery.
I looked into it, ”Z” is used from the third letter of“HANZomon”.Because the
first letter “H” refers to the Hibiya line, the second letter “A” refers to the Asakusa line and “N” is the Nanboku line. Because the first to the third letters of the Hanzomon line are used by other lines already, it has no choice but to use”Z”!And it is not only a case of thinking”It is difficult to understand” with a wry smile. This is not over yet. The new types of numbering,such as “TY”, “DT”and”IN” emerge in Shibuya to transfer between Tokyo metro subway lines and other kinds of railways.Maybe Japanese people guess that “TY” is Tokyu ToYoko line, “DT” is Den-en Toshi” line and “IN” is INokashira line. As far as I’m concerned, my head is fuzzy though…But I understand them to some degree.
Besides, JR line’numbering is added…and it makes me confused more! When you transfer to the JR line at Shibuya station, there are 3kinds of JR lines, “JY”,”JS” and “JA”.What are they numbered from? the answer is that they combine two parts of the alphabet.“JY”is JR Yamanote line and “JS” is JR Shonan-Shinjuku line. I guess this is still OK then..The problem is“JA”…Guess what? “JA” is JR sAikyo line. Whew! This is not only in Shibuya station but also other stations which have a difficult numbering. “JJ” is JR Joban-rapid line and “JL” is JR Joban-Local line, “JE” is JR kEiyo line…It is miracle to understand at all any more. Even Japanese people open our mouths with such confusion at the station numbering!
The company, JR East started introducing this numbering system for all stations in the Tokyo area from October 2016 within the capital, ahead of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic games. As JR says, the purpose is to make it easier for travelers to navigate JR stations. But I’m wondering if it’s really convenient ?? I doubt that anything has to abbreviate to this level…
Just a note; “JK21” and “JY26” are vacant numbers now, that will be to be provided to the new stations,which are going to open between Shinagawa station and Tamachi station on the JR Yamanote line in 2020.
People from overseas are not the only ones who feel lost on subways in Japan, but Japanese people do too. Feel free to ask the station staff or somebody when you are in trouble. I also ask them!
<Subway/train reference chart>
◆Tokyo metro subway
G: 銀座線 (Ginza line)
M: 丸の内本線(Marunouchi line ）※bound for方南町支線 Hounan-cho=Mb