Ghost Train: Check Out Tokyo’s Five Least-Used Subway Stations

Ghost Train: Check Out Tokyo’s Five Least-Used Subway Stations

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Ghost subway stations
Pictures: momo / PIXTA(ピクスタ); Ystudio / PIXTA(ピクスタ)
Tokyo's subways transport millions of people every day. But there are a few stations that almost no one is using. Here's what they are (and what's good to eat nearby!).

Tokyo’s subway system is a marvel that transports millions every day. Yet, despite its busy-ness, there are a few stations that barely anyone uses.

Here’s a rundown of Tokyo’s five least-used stations and how – and why – they keep operating. And, as a bonus, if you want to take the world’s most low-key tour, I’ve listed for each location one of the highest-rated restaurants near each one.

A busy system – with dead spots

Ikebukuro Station, Tokyo
Picture: Ryuji / PIXTA(ピクスタ)

The Tokyo subway system is an intertwined network of public and private railways that services Tokyo’s population of nearly 14 million people. It’s the most convenient way to get around the city. (However, thanks to the organic manner in which the network arose, it’s also led to the formation of hard-to-navigate stations.)

Millions use the Tokyo subway system daily. Tokyo Metro alone says it averages close to six million passengers in a day. Tokyo’s top three train stations – Shinjuku, Shibuya, and Ikebukuro – see over seven million passengers collectively on any given day. The central Yamanote Line serves all three of these key stations.

But of course, not every station is the Big Three. In fact, some have so few passengers that it’s a wonder they’re still operating.

LiveDoor News in Japan recently featured the top – or, should i say, bottom? – five stations in Tokyo that see the fewest passengers. Some of these are publicly-run stations that stay open as a public service. But some are also run by private rail companies (presumably, at a loss).

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Why are these stations so barely trafficked? In some cases, it’s because the station is inconvenient or hard to access. It’s also often because the station is located close to another, more popular station.

Here are the five least-traveled Tokyo subway stations according to LiveDoor News. As I mentioned above, I’ve cross-referenced this with the site Tabelog and selected a promising restaurant from the site’s top-ranked locations a short walk from each station. If you’re tired of dealing with the crowds in the popular tourist traps, consider stretching your legs and paying these places a visit.

The top five ghost stations (and where to get good food)

Kitasenzoku Station (Ota Ward, Tokyu Ooimachi Line)

Kitasenzoku Station, Ota Ward, Tokyo
東京特許許可局 – 投稿者自身による著作物, CC 表示-継承 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=110036951による

Daily users: 6,657

According to LiveDoor, this is a station type not often seen now in Japan. It cozies up against a road with a bridge that’s a mere 2.6 meters (8.5 feet) off the ground. A much larger station, Oookayama, isn’t far away and serves both the Ooimachie and Meguro lines, which helps account for this station being so vacant. The station’s been around since 1928 and has changed its name three times.

What to eat nearby: Fans of Frieren will love this one: the highest-rated food stop near Kitasenzoku Station is called Himmel (ヒンメル), a bread shop that sells some truly delicious-looking wares.

To be fair, Himmel is closer to Oookayama Station than it is to Kitasenzoku (90m vs. 653m). But where’s the fun in that? Take the road less traveled, I say.

Kitasenzoku, 3-28-4 Enchante Building, 1F

Himmel (ヒンメル), Kitasenzoku Station

Shin-Mikawashima Station (Keisei Main Line, Arakawa Ward)

Shim-Mikawashima Station (Keisei Main Line)
Picture:  黒田涼 / PIXTA(ピクスタ)

Daily users: 5,312

The least-used station on the Keisei Main Line, Shim-Mikawashima Station is near the larger Nippori Station, which likely accounts for its low usage count. There used to be another station between Nippori and Shim-Mikawashima – Doukanyama-doori Station. In 1943, officials decided it was too close to Nippori to be worth keeping and put it out of service. The station was destroyed completely after the war in 1947.

What to eat: Walk a healthy 777m (351m if you go to Nippori instead) and you’ll find Akau (あかう), a hand-made udon shop serving Ebiten udon (udon with deep-fried shrimp tempura).

Arakawa Ward, Nippori 2-39-6, GS Haim Nippori 103. Closed on Thursdays and Sundays.

Horikiri Station (Toubu Skytree Line, Adachi Ward)

Horikiri station, Toubu Skytree, Adachi Ward

Daily users: 3,939

This tiny station is set off from the main road at a dead-end. There are virtually no stores nearby either, which probably contributes to its status as a passenger dead zone. The station used to be on the other side of the Arakawa River, in Katsushika Ward. It was moved after river diversion caused the Toubu Line to move.

While this station might not be used often, it’s likely well-known to viewers of the 1979 drama 3-nen B-gumi Kimpachi-sensei, in which the station figured as a featured location.

What to eat: Once again, you’re better off going to nearby stations – in this case, either Ushida or Keisei-sekiya Stations – to find grub. If you don’t mind the 757m walk, skip over to Alalagi (hey, Monogatari fans) for an authentic soba and tempura set.

Adachi Ward, Senju-azuma 2-19-16. Closed Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.

Alalagi, Adachi Ward

Minami Shinjuku Station (Odaku Line, Shibuya City)

Minami Shinjuku Station, Shibuya, Odakyu Line

Daily users: 3,588

You can’t blame this station if it has an inferiority complex to its larger namesake. This station is next in line on the Odakyu to Shinjuku but is the line’s least-used station. The station has been around since 1927 when Odakyu first created the line.

It’s also close to Yoyogi Station – itself a small station but a more attractive destination thanks to Yoyogi’s shopping district and nearby Yoyogi Park. Indeed, it’s a mere five-minute walk from this station to Yoyogi Station – and only seven minutes to Shinjuku proper.

What to eat: Honestly, just walk to Yoyogi or Shinjuku and choose from any of the hundreds of places to eat. Tabelog’s top-rated place for Shinjuku Station is Torishige in Yoyogi, a motsu-yaki (offal) restaurant that’s one of Tabelog’s bronze-rated restaurants.

Torishige is pretty spendy. If you’re not up to spending 8,000 to 9,000 yen on motsu, or just don’t like offal, try the next highest-rated place: Katsu Pretty Pork (KATSUピリポー), which serves delicious-looking tonkatsu (deep-fried pork). This also isn’t a cheap meal: it’ll set you back around 3,000 yen ($23) during the daytime and more at night.

Torishige: Shibuya City Yoyogi 2-6-5. Closed Sundays.

KATSU Pretty Pork: Shinjuku, Kabukicho, 1-10-3 G3 Building 2F. Closed or variable hours Mondays and Tuesdays.

Naganuma Station (Keio Line, Hachioji)

Naganuma Station, Keio Line
Picture: うぃき / PIXTA(ピクスタ)

Daily users: 3,570

Last up, we have the very empty-looking Naganuma Station in Hachioji. This poor station’s entrances are accessible but it’s surrounded by a river and a lot belonging to an elementary school. As such, there’s precious little to do here.

What to eat: It’s slim pickins and most places are low-rated, even by Tabelog’s standards. (Few places on Tabelog exceed a 4-star rating.) But you can give ramen shop Takenaya a shot. It doesn’t look like Japan’s greatest ramen spot but seems like it’d do in a pinch. At 999 yen (around $7), it’s hard to go wrong on price.

Hachioji, Kinogaoka 1-1-8

Sources

東京だよね!? 都内「私鉄の閑散駅」5選 一体どんな場所なのか “定説を覆す”超閑散駅も. LiveDoor News

営業状況. Tokyo Metro

東京都|1日の利用者数が多い駅ランキング. ShingakuNet

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Jay Allen

Jay is a resident of Tokyo where he works as a reporter for Unseen Japan and as a technial writer. A lifelong geek, wordsmith, and language fanatic, he has level N1 certification in the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) and is fervently working on his Kanji Kentei Level 2 certification.

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