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Meaning of "山区" on JR East station signs (Tokyo)

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I've always been curious about the "山区" often seen in the upper right of station signs.

I understand the the 区 means the station is within the 23 special wards of Tokyo.

I've heard the 山 means it's on the Yamanote line, but am a little skeptical.  I believe the color of the box in the middle of the green stripe defines the line.  Also, the attached image has the "山区" but is for the Chuo line.

Thank you for any assistance.


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Hello there,

Yes, you are right that the 区 designates a station that is a destination or starting point within the 23 special wards of Tokyo. The 山 designates any station within the Yamanote Line area (東京山手線内). Of course Tokyo Station is also on the Yamanote Line as well as on the Chuo Line. However, there are also Chuo Line stations that are not on the Yamanote Line itself, but because they are within the Yamanote loop they are also included in this area.

I hope that helps.

Very best wishes,



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Thank you very much Michael.  Not only did you answer my question, but your use of the term 東京山手線内 led me to JR's 旅客営業規則 (Passenger Sales Regulations).   I now also understand why the 山 designation matters.

Very glad to have found this forum and hope I can contribute in the future.


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