Tokyo’s subway system is arguably one of the most complex in the world. The map itself can be an immediate turn-off for any unfamiliarized straphangar. But exactly how do all these lines run underground, overlapping as they carry hundreds of thousands of passengers each day?
Tokyo University graduate student Takatsugu Kuriyama decided to answer that question be recreating an accurate three-dimensional model of Tokyo’s lifeline by using multi-colored tubes strung with wire. Different color liquids pulsate throughout all 18 lines, creating a staggering picture of what goes on below the streets of Tokyo every day.
(To be honest, I’m not sure about the accuracy of this model. some of those dips look more like roller coaster rides, rather than public transportation.)
There’s been some understandable questions raised about the map’s accuracy given the volatile dips and turns. @tokyoreporter pointed me to this graphical map that was done in 2003, illustrating the depths of some of the metro lines. As you can see, the two maps share many of the roller-coaster-qualities. I think what’s happening is that the magnitude of the dips and twirls are being exacerbated when they’re compressed onto a small plane.
Tenmei, a blogger and self-described train nerd wrote a lengthy blog post (JP) about the 3D model. He seems to agree with the big-picture but has a few problems with the way the depth of the train stations were measured, which turns out to be “counting the steps leading down to the platform.”