Shinagawa Station straddles a vast tangle of tracks that accommodate such train lines as the Yamanote, Tokaido, Yokosuka, Keihin Tohoku, Narita Express, and Keikyu Main Line. While this makes for great transportation between Tokyo to the north and Yokohama to the south, this makes for terrible walking when going east-west across the rail yard..
The most direct route across the tracks is through the central hall of Shinagawa Station, a rushing river of humanity that knows no calm, day or night. Recently, while jogging in my revealing running shorts, I decided to avoid the torrent of people by going around the station to the north, not knowing this would add 1.5 miles to my route.
From the east side of the station I turned north and followed a road that parallels the tracks for half a mile, at which point the road dips under the tracks, with a sign 「高さ制限1.5m」 warning of a 1.5 meter height limit. This is the Takanawa Underpass 高輪橋架道橋, perhaps the most frightening stretch of road in Tokyo.
People with claustrophobia, particularly tall people with claustrophobia, should avoid this tunnel. The actual height of the ceiling is about 5 ½ feet, exceptionally low for a public walkway. Since I’m about 6 feet tall I had to walk with my head cocked to the side, or bent over in a perpetual bow. Many of the Japanese men did the same, although most women were walking normally with an inch between the top of their heads and the concrete ceiling.
The underpass is 230-meters long and is used regularly by vehicles, mostly taxis and delivery motorcycles driving one-way from Sengakuji Station 泉岳寺駅 on the west side towards the Shibaura Water Reclamation Center 「芝浦水再生センター」 on the east side. And although there is regular foot and bicycle traffic in both directions, I still felt I was walking in a place where people do not belong.
The closest station is Sengakuji Station 泉岳寺駅, the west entrance of the tunnel is here, and the east entrance is here. The new Yamanote line station, Takanawa Gateway Station 高輪ゲートウェイ駅, is being built near this tunnel (I’ve heard the tunnel has been demolished). The following Japanese website has some good information:
- 高さ制限たったの1.5m?!思わず二度見するヤバいトンネル (Height limit dangerous tunnel to look at only 1.5m ?! thinking twice)
- the tokyo files: urban design 東京の都市デザイン
- Provisional spaces in Tokyo
- Future Tokyo: Shinagawa Station Redevelopment