This past year the Tokyo Metro has been brought to life in many different ways, ranging from a spaghetti-alien map to, well, a 3-D spaghetti-alien map. But it’s the latest re-imagining of the Tokyo Metro in the highly versatile SVG format that’s currently causing a lot of commotion online.

Designer Naoki Hashimoto created a full topographical map of the entire Tokyo Metro as part of the 2014 SVG Advent Calendar – a countdown to Christmas where every day fans of the SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) format get a new public domain toy to play with. Since other days on the advent calendar have resulted in “presents” like a cartoon Santa telling you not to accept gifts from strangers, and a choose-you-own-hex-color Hatsune Miku, the Tokyo Metro map looks even more impressive in comparison.

▼ “Mom, can I open tomorrow’s too? Today’s sucks.”

santa_mikuAdventar (shino212 and mei331)

Hashimoto’s Tokyo Metro map is extremely detailed and accurate. Just take a look at these zoomed-out and zoomed-in screenshots.

▼ If there’s a place you wanna get, I can get you there I bet! I’m the-


▼ Woah. Sorry kid. I can’t read that. You’re on your own.


Now I know what you’re thinking: wait a minute, we already have maps like that of the Tokyo Metro. But you’re only half-right. If you just need something to look at quick to find a train, then yeah, there’s maps available in read-only formats and slightly-interactive formats for you. But if you want to do something more, like say animate a map, or trace out a virtual path, or add music or sounds, or turn it into a game or something, then a pdf image isn’t going to cut it. That’s where the public domain SVG version of the map comes in, allowing for much more customization.

▼ “I made a SVG Tokyo Metro map and released it into the public domain. Feel free to distribute it, change it, sell it, boil it and/or bake it!” (Yes he actually said this.)

The map’s creator says that his inspiration was the admiration he’s always had for the London Tube Map and its creator Harry Beck. Back in 1931, Beck’s subway map that used only straight lines and 45/90-degree angles was the first of its kind. Before then subway lines were simply drawn over normal maps, meaning that you got something that looked more like a diagram of a heart than a guide to transportation.

▼ Uh, I think we change trains at the left ventricle?

old londonWikipedia

Now, over 80 years later, Beck’s map is still used as the template for railroad systems all over the world, inspiring new generations of railroad otaku everywhere.

▼ Ohh, silly us. It was the right ventricle all this time.

new londonWikipedia

Hashimoto says that he has lots of plans for the future of his map, including adding station and traffic information, landmarks, and more languages in preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. With all the steam the project has gathered online so far, it’s on the right track to achieving those goals and more.

View the map in its entirety here.

Source: NetLab, Wikipedia
Images: Liner Note