Escalators of Tokyo: a Visual Encyclopedia of a City's Moving Staircases

Escalators that curve. Escalators that glow. Quadruple-decker, gold-plated, Tron-themed escalators. The moving staircase may have been an American invention, but it's the Japanese who have really perfected them.

Tokyo Escalator, a blog devoted to the city's many variations on a theme, shows us some of the most fascinating. The encyclopedic site is the work of one Miha Tamura, a local blogger who snaps escalators around the city as she finds them. She's an equal-opportunity elevator photographer, capturing the boring along with the unusual, and says she considers her images "data" rather than art. But, as she told Ping Magazine, she does have a favorite:

The most amazing is the spiral escalator made by Mitsubishi Electric. Curving escalators were conceived from early on when escalators were invented, but they are very difficult and even today Mitsubishi Electric is the only one in the world who can make them. If I hadn’t come across this spiral escalator in Yokohama I don’t think I would have committed myself to escalators as much as I have.

To most of us, escalators are only remarkable when they feature in a hilarious YouTube video. But Tamura's work is a reminder that at one time, they were nothing short of revolutionary—a piece of technology that articulated the unique needs of the super-dense city.

The project has also been published as a book—check it out here. [All images courtesy of Miha Tamura; Ping Magazine via the Atlantic Cities.]

Escalators of Tokyo: a Visual Encyclopedia of a City's Moving Staircases

Mitsubishi's curving masterpiece.

Escalators of Tokyo: a Visual Encyclopedia of a City's Moving Staircases

Escalators of Tokyo: a Visual Encyclopedia of a City's Moving Staircases

Escalators of Tokyo: a Visual Encyclopedia of a City's Moving Staircases

Escalators of Tokyo: a Visual Encyclopedia of a City's Moving Staircases

Escalators of Tokyo: a Visual Encyclopedia of a City's Moving Staircases

Escalators of Tokyo: a Visual Encyclopedia of a City's Moving Staircases