Tokyo station guide. How to change the trains, Shinkansen, Narita Express and other local trains.

Looking to track#9 and 10 (Tokaido Rapid trains) from track#20 for Tohoku Shinkansen at Tokyo Station (C) JP Rail

Tokyo station is the biggest station in Japan. And most of you use this station to get on Shinkansen, Narita Express or Tokyo local trains. But this station is very complicated because it is too big and too many platforms.

In this post, I would like to explain about this station and how to change the train in Tokyo station.


All lines on conventional lines have a line color, such as orange color for Chuo line. (C) JP Rail

First of all, please see Tokyo station map on JR East website.

Tokyo station is composed of three parts, ground floor, underground (Sobu line/Rapid, Narita Express) and another underground (Keiyo line/local train to Maihama, TDL). I think this is the biggest reason why Tokyo station is so complicated. There are 20 tracks at the ground floor. Another 4 tracks each at both underground floor.

Ticket gate/Exit

There are more than 10 exits (ticket gate). These exits are divided broadly into two sides, Yaesu and Marunouchi. The exits looking toward the east (lower side on the map) are called “Yaesu (八重洲)”. The exits looking toward the west (upper on the map) are called “Marunouchi (丸の内)”. Each sides have North exit, Central exit, South exit and some more exits. When you exit/enter, just make sure Marunouchi (west) or Yaesu (east). You don’e need to be nervous about North, Central and South. You can move easily after you exit.

At Yaesu side, there are many exits.

For all trains — Yaesu South, Yaesu Central, Yaesu North
For Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen (to Nagoya, Kyoto, Shin-Osaka, Hiroshima, Hakata) — Yaes South, Yaesu North Central, Yaesu North, Nihonbashi
For Tohoku, Joetsu, Nagano, Akita, Yamagata Shikansen (to Sendai, Shin-Aomori, Niigata, Nagano, Akita, Yamagata) — Nihonbashi

Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen is shown by blue and Tohoku and other four Shinkansens are shown by Green.

When you get on Shinkansen, you need to go through Shinkansen ticket gate or transfer gate. If you get on Tokaido/Sanyo Shikansen from Tokyo station Yaesu side, you can use Shinaksen ticket gate at Yaesu south exit, Yaesu central north exit or Nihonbashi exit (north side of Yaesu north exit). These three exits are only for Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen passengers. Be careful! You cannot get on Tohoku, Joetsu, Nagano, Akita and Yamagata Shinkansen from these exits. These Shinaksens are completely different from Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen. Only Nihonbashi exit can be used for all Shikansen lines. Otherwise enter Tokyo station from South, Central or North and go through Shinkasen transfer gate. But Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen is completely different line from Tohoku, Joetsu, Nagano, Akita and Yamagata Shinkansen. Shinkansen transfer gate is different. There are lots of sign. But please make sure before go through. Tokaido/Sanyo Shikansen

At Marunouchi side, it is very simple. Six exits, South, Central and North at both ground and underground. There is no Shinkansen ticket gates. So if you get on Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen from Tokyo station Marunouchi side, you can go through any exits and enter Tokyo station anyway. After you enter Tokyo station, you need to go through one more ticket gate, Shinkansen transfer gate.

If you transfer from any conventional line trains, just go through Shinkansen transfer gate. You don’t need to exit the station.

And also there are one more exits at underground, Keiyo underground Yaesu exit near Keiyo line tracks.

Tracks and platforms

There are 20 tracks / 10 platforms on ground floor and 4 tracks / 2 platforms each at both underground.

Ground floor

You can get on Local commute train, Rapid service and limited express trains on conventional lines at track #1-10.

Track# Name of line Destination
1,2 ■Chuo line Shinjuku, Hachioji, Takao
3 ■Keihin Tohoku line Akihabara, Ueno, Omiya
4 ■Yamanote line Akihabara, Ueno, Ikebukuro
5 ■Yamanote line Yurakucho, Shinbashi, Hamamatsucho, Shinagawa, Shibuya
6 ■Keihin Tohoku line Hamamatsucho, Shinagawa, Yokohama, Ofuna
7,8 ■Ueno Tokyo line Ueno, Utsunomiya, Takasaki, Omiya, Mito
Limited Express Hitachi, Tokiwa
9,10 Tokaido line Shinagawa, Yokohama, Odawara, Atami, Izukyu-Shimoda, Shuzenji
Limited Express Sunrise Seto / Surise Izumo, Limited Express Super View Odoriko / Odoriko, Rapid Moonlight Nagara, Other rapid trains
*Some trains depart from track #7, #8.

There are 4 tracks / 2 platforms for Tohoku, Joetsu, Nagano, Akita and Yamagata Shinkansen and another 6 tracks / 3 platforms for Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen.

Track# Name of line Destination
14-19 Tokaido Shinkansen Nagoya, Kyoto, Shin-Osaka, Hiroshima, Hakata
20-23 Tohoku, Joetsu, Hokuriku (Nagano), Akita, Yamagata Shinkansen Sendai, Shin-Aomori, Akita, Yamagata, Niigata, Nagano

There is a lot of tracks. But it is not complicated to transfer the trains on ground floor. I think 10 minutes is enough to transfer any trains on ground floor.

Underground Sobu (地下総武) – Narita Express, Rapid Airport Narita

At Marunouchi Underground Central Exit (C) JP Rail
There are 4 tracks / 2 platforms that are located at deep underground, basement fifth floor. If you take the trains to/from Narita airport, you will use these underground tracks.

Track# Name of line Destination
1,2 ■Yokosuka line Rapid train to Yokohama, Ofuna, Yokosuka, Narita Express from Narita airport to Shinagawa, Yokohama, Shinjuku, Shibuya, Ikebukuro, Omiya,Limited Express Shiosai/Ayame from Choshi, Kashima-Jingu
3,4 ■Sobu line Rapid Airport Narita to Chiba, Narita airport, Narita Express from Shinagawa, Yokohama, Shinjuku, Shibuya, Ikebukuro, Omiya to Narita airport, Limited Express Shiosai/Ayame to Choshi, Kashima-Jingu
At Marunouchi Central Exit. Don’t exit here. Take the way to right and follow the sign Marunouchi Underground Central Exit. (C) JP Rail

These underground platforms can be accessed beside Marunouchi central exit. There are many signs that say “Narita Express” or “Sobu line” or “Yokosuka line”. When you transfer to other trains from Narita Express or Airport Narita, you just take escalator or stairs to go up. But if you transfer to Narita Express or Airport Narita, you should remember to follow the sign that says Marunoucmi Central or Marunouchi Underground Central. You may be able to get there faster.

I recommend you to have 15 minutes to transfer between this underground platform and other platforms on ground floor. Especially Shinkansen’s platform is located at other side. However if you transfer from Narita Express or Airport Narita to Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen (to Nagoya, Kyoto, Shin-Osaka, Hiroshima or Hakata), you can transfer at Shinagawa. Shinagawa station is a big station too. But it is smaller than Tokyo station and all platforms are located at ground floor. It is much easier and faster to transfer. Please see the map of Shinagawa station at JR East website.

Underground Keiyo (地下京葉) – local train to Maihama, Soga, Matsudo

There are some moving sidewalk and escalators on the way to Keiyo line tracks because it is far. (C) JP Rail

There are 4 tracks / 2 platforms that are located at deep underground, basement fourth floor. If you take the trains to/from Maihama (the nearest station of Tokyo Disney Land), you will use these underground tracks.

Track# Name of line Destination
1,2 ■Keiyo line Local train to Shin-Kiba, Maihama, Soga, Matsudo, Limited Express Wakashio to Katsuura, Awakamogawa, Limited Express Sazanami to Tateyama
1-4 ■Keiyo line Local train to Shin-Kiba, Maihama, Soga, Matsudo
Signs are shown in both Japanese and English. (C) JP Rail

These underground platforms can be accessed beside Yaesu South exit. There are many signs that say “Keiyo line”. But this platform is very far. It is 600m away from Yaesu South. So I recommend you to have 15 minutes to transfer between this underground platform and other platforms on ground floor. Especially most of local lines, such as Chuo line, Yamanote line and Keihin-Tohoku line, are located at other side. Please remember to go to Yaesu South and find the way to Keiyo line tracks.

If you transfer from Sobu line, such as Narita Express or Rapid Airport Narita, it takes at least 20 minutes. If you can find Underground south exit at Underground Sobu, exit Tokyo station and go through Marunouchi Jiyu Tsuro (丸の内自由通路). This way is a bit faster than going through Tokyo station. Anyway it is very far. I can’t believe it is in same station.

Exchange office at Yaesu North. (C) JP Rail

Japan Rail Pass exchange office

There are two places where you can do. Both places are located at Yaesu side. First one is located by Yaesu North exit. This office is just for foreign travellers. The other one is located beside Yaesu Central Exit. It is in JR Central (Tokai) ticket center. Both office is open from 7:30 to 20:30. I think exchange office at Yaesu North is more familiar with overseas travellers.

73 thoughts on “Tokyo station guide. How to change the trains, Shinkansen, Narita Express and other local trains.”

  1. Hello!

    I’ve been living in Japan since January 2015, but I’ve never fixed shinkansen tickets by myself. My parets are visiting soon, and they want to go to Hiroshima.
    How is the prices and how can I get tickets from Tokyo to Hiroshima and back again? :)

    1. Hi Izzy,

      You can find it at Hyperdia:

      The ticket can be booked and purchased at any major JR stations. There are “Midori no Madoguchi” in the station. That is a reservation window. The reserved seat ticket is on sale one month prior to departure date. But it’s very easy to book Shinkansen ticket as long as you don’t travel in peak season, such as Obon, New Years, Golden week.


      Takeshi /

  2. Hi, I will be travelling to SHIN-YOKOHAMA on the 16th of August. It’s my first time and I’m not familiar with the Japan Railway system. My plan is to ride the train from Narita Airport to Tokyo. When I arrive there which particular train shall I ride to Shin Yokohama and what platform is it? Thank you.

    1. Hi Bry,

      The easiest way is taking Tokaido Shinkansen. But Tokyo station is too big to find the way. Shinagawa station is much easier to transfer from Narita Express to Shinkansen.

      It takes 10 minutes to get Shin-Yokohama from Shinagawa. But if you want to save your cost, do not get off Narita Express at Shinagawa and keep riding to Yokohama. This train runs to not only Tokyo but also Yokohama. And then taking Yokohama line local train to Shin-Yokohama. If you take Narita Express and Shinkansen, the cost is more than 6000 yen. But if you take Narita Express to Yokohama and take local train, the cost is about 4500 yen. You may find the timetable and exact fare at Hyperdia:


      Takeshi / JP Rail

  3. Hello!

    Would appreciate some help, the sheer number of trains is just mindboggling. >_<

    I need to get from Narita Terminal 2 to Echigo-yuzawa. From my understanding, it seems that the fastest way is to take the airport express and then switch to the bullet train. I am scheduled to land at the airport at approx 11am on 24th July, and am not sure how much time it will take to clear customs (45min?). Could you advise which is the best route to take and what lines I should transfer to? Do I need to buy train tickets in advance online, or will it be ok to purchase the tickets on the spot?

    Thank you so much! All help is appreciated :)

    1. Hi Grace,

      You need to take Narita Express and Joetsu Shinkansen (bullet train). You can find the timetable at the link below:

      As you think, you can transfer at Tokyo station. You will spend at least 15 minutes to transfer at Tokyo station.

      It usually takes around 1 hour to complete immigration, baggage pick up and custom. But when I visited Japan in this past March, it took 1.5 hour. It’s hard to guess how much time we consume there.

      You cannot purchase and book a ticket online. Online is available but you have to pick up a ticket 2 days before. But it’s not hard to purchase and book on the spot. Airport station is located underground terminal building. Once you exit custom, you can find the signage very very easily. Just follow the sign and you will find it.

      The following post tells you about the story of my arrival day in previous trip when I arrived in Narita. You may find some idea.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

      1. Thanks for the speedy reply!

        From my understanding, I can purchase the tickets for my entire train trip (including the bullet train) at the airport express station, correct? Would I have to buy a ticket for a specific bullet train timing, or will a general ticket allow me to take whichever train that comes along? Am travelling to a concert and am worried about trains being full or simply getting lost and missing a scheduled train ride!

        Thanks once again!

        1. Hi Grace,

          You can purchase all ticket when you arrive in Narita.
          There are two kinds on Shinkansen ticket, non reserved and reserved. You can take any trains by non reserved ticket. But your seat is not reserved. In worst case, you have to stand up, but it’s very rare. If you have reserved ticket, train and seat will be assigned. If you miss the train, you still take later train’s non reserved seat. Reserved seat fare is about 500 yen higher.


          Takeshi / JP Rail

  4. Hi! I’ll be coming from Shin-Osaka, and I need to go to Tokyo station and then to Chuo line, Nakano station. Can someone tell me which bullet train to ride from shin-Osaka to Tokyo station? And how do I transfer from Tokyo station (Shinkansen) to Chuo line? Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Nona,

      You can take Tokaido Shinkansen Nozomi from Shin-Osaka to Tokyo and transfer to Chuo line at Tokyo. You can get Nakano directly from Tokyo. You can find platform# for both Tokaido Shinkansen and Chuo line in the post above. And there are lots of signage. You can’t miss it.
      You can find some more info at the links below:

      I just put the link for timetable of Shinkansen. Chuo line trains comes every 3-10 minutes. You don’t need timetable to take this train.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

  5. Hello,

    I will be taking JR from Okachimachi station to Maihama Station in the morning 8.00am rush hours with 2 children.
    1) May i know how to transit in Tokyo station?
    2) It is very difficult during rush hour?
    3) Do you have other better option?

    1. Hi KL,

      1) You will transfer from Yamanote line platform, #5 or #6 to Keiyou line platform, underground #1-4. There are lots of signage and follow the sign. But as I mentioned in the post above, Keiyo line platform is quite far. It’s about 500m away among these platforms.

      2) If you travel in weekday, it’s very very crowded. I don’t recommend.

      3) If you intend to visit Tokyo Disney Resort, you can take a bus from Akihabara. It’s much easier.
      Otherwise there is no options other than Keiyo line.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

  6. My family will be traveling from Kyoto to tokyo by either Nozomi or kodama train late July2015.
    Please advise where we should get off at tokyo . We are heading for Metropolitan hotel Ikebukuro.
    How do we proceed from the Nozomi arrival stationat tokyo to Ikebukuro station.
    Thanks for your advise

  7. Hi
    My family will visit Japan in Nov 2015.

    May I check do I have to scan a card at ticket wicket – to walk from Marunouchi Entrance to Yaesu Entrance in Tokyo Station? cos there is 2 ticket wicket at both entrance. How much do I have to pay to walk thru these 2 ticket wicket. you mean we have to pay wicket entrance to shop in the Gransta.?

    We plan to visit the 1st Ave Character Street in Yaesu Central Entrance. Do we have to pay to walk from Marunouchi Central Exit to Yaesu Central Exit, to get to 1st Ave Character Street. please advise where do I get the card to walk thru the ticket wicket, thanks .

    Exploring Inside the Ticket Wicket
    GRANSTA and Ecute, two commercial facilities inside the ticket wickets, are chock full of attractive shops and a great place to buy delicious bento (box lunch), souvenirs and many other fine goods.

    1. Hi Helen,

      Yes, you have to pay for exploring inside ticket gate. You can purchase “Platform ticket (入場券)” at the vending machine. It costs 140 yen. You cannot use any IC card to just enter the station, line Suica, ICOCA, Pasmo. Usually platform ticket is valid for 2 hours.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

  8. still confuse about the transferring from one Place to another.Anyway heres my problem.We will be arriving at Narita airport terminal 1. and we would want to take shinkansen Train from Narita Tokyo to Mikawa anjo. Could you please help me to navigate. and where we will buy ticket? Our first time in japan.

    Hope to hear from you soon. thanks in advance.

    1. Hi Riza,

      You can take Narita Express to Shinagawa and transfer to Shinkansen. You can find the timetables at the links below:
      Narita Express

      You can transfer at Tokyo station but Shinagawa is easier.

      You can purchase all tickets at Narita airport station. It’s located underground of terminal building. There are lots of signage and you can’t miss it.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

  9. Hi. We are arriving at platform 1 at 1335 and plan to catch the 1403 from platform 14. I am not familiar with Tokyo station. Is this doable in the short transfer time we have?

    1. Hi Sally,

      It’s not impossible but not recommended. You will take Shinkansen from #14. So you cannot miss transfer. I think you will get Tokyo by Chuo line train. There are lots of train running on Chuo line, like every 5 minutes. Can you take one earlier train to get Tokyo. 8 minutes is too risky.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

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