SCENE IN TOKYO: Tama Monorail High Above Tachikawa

SCENE IN TOKYO: Tama Monorail High Above Tachikawa

...wherein we sink teeth into a flaming cliché and fiddle around with homonyms and wordplay transitive to retelling our daily living, working, and existing as mostly sentient bipedal mammals, hive-minding about the big, big city...with video makers in our pockets!

• Tokyo Street Shots: The Living Gallery


Tama Monorail

There was a time when monorails were going to be the next big thing in public transportation...well, actually, people started saying that about 100 years ago, but the technology just never matured, never graduated from "next big thing" to "actually-happening-now" big thing. Sure, a good number of lines and stock were built and are still being planned, but most prove exceedingly expensive and demonstrate little if any practical superiority over their duo-rail siblings.

But the thing is, the elevated tracks and sleek cars with mostly hidden power sources give monorails a high-tech, futurey look and feel for both riders and observers, and that matters. Though technologically pedestrian, they kind of embody what we’ve long thought the future should be. Visually, at least.

SCENE IN TOKYO: The Tokyo Monorail and Bullet Train Overhead

And that brings us to today’s SCENE, where, from the nearby exit of Japan Railways Tachikawa Station, we stood watching the Tama Monorail (also known as the Tamatoshi monorail) arrive and depart from its Tachikawa-Kita Station. This short clip was shot from an elevated walkway approximately 15 feet (4.5 m) above ground, which places the Tama Monorail’s track roughly 50 feet (15 m) in the air. Again, trains in the sky look like the future.

Opening partially in 1998 and fully in 2000, the now financially struggling Tama Monorail is actually quite new in comparison to the very successful, 51-year-old Tokyo Monorail. While the latter has a great advantage in that it serves Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, the former simply shuttles citizens over a 19-station, 10-mile (16-km) north/south route from Kamikitadai to Tama-Center in Western Tokyo.

The Tokyo Tama Intercity Monorail Company might be struggling to recoup the costs of construction and maintenance, but come on - that train looks badass, right? 

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