Tokyo to have its own High Line

A 2-kilometer stretch of the Tokyo Expressway currently running through the heart of the city will be moved underground to convert the infrastructure into a brand new public space.

After the undeniable success of New York’s iconic High Line-which opened to the public in 2009 with a design by Diller Scofidio+Renfro – the regeneration of disused elevated railway lines or highways to create new public spaces has officially become a must for many cities. In 2017, Seoul opened Seoul 7017 on an abandoned stretch of road, while Singapore transformed an old colonial railway track into a wildlife corridor through the heart of the city. In London, on the other hand, unused railway tracks will be repurposed into the Camden Highline.

To this list we may now also include Tokyo, which is working on its own pedestrian walkway.

The project in this case, however, includes a major operation on metropolitan traffic, requiring in fact that part of the expressway that currently runs through the heart of the Japanese capital be moved underground: the KK Line, also known as the Tokyo Expressway. After debating whether to demolish the infrastructure, the city decided in 2021 to revitalize the 2-kilometer stretch of road by transforming it into a pedestrian-friendly place. The partial opening of the project is scheduled for 2029, while full completion is expected in the 2030s or 2040s.

Tokyo Sky Corridor proposal, Tokyo, Japan. Courtesy Tokyo Metropolitan Government

The city administration said the project is inspired by New York’s High Line, with some important differences. In fact, according to the planners’ intentions, sections of the route will be much wider and leave room for small stores, seating areas, greenery and other activities. The decision also reflects the area’s tertiary vocation. In fact, the walkway, which stretches from the commercial hubs of Shinbashi to Kyobashi through the upscale Ginza shopping district, also highlights the area’s rich history.

Tokyo residents got a glimpse of what the future walkway will look like during an event held earlier this month, which opened the KK line to the public for a few days.

Opening image: KK Line opening event to pedestrians. Photo Toru Hanai

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