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.

*The information in this article is current at the time of writing.


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.

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

  1. I am currently at myokokogen and have injured my ankle skiing. Unfortunately the Nagano ski shuttle bus direct to Narita airport is fully booked for the day we leave. We will therefore have to catch the train from myokokogen to Narita. I presume we will go to Nagano Tokyo and then to Narita. I just have concerns how far I need to walk at Tokyo station to transfer onto the line for Narita express. Any suggestions for other routes with less walking?

    1. Hi Kathy,

      Unfortunately there is no way to avoid walking in the Tokyo station. Narita Express platform is located underground and it’s located at the other side of Shinkansen platform. Sorry but you have to walk at least 5 minutes. But you are injured. You will spend at least 10 minutes to walk. You can find Youtube movie from Narita Express platform to Shinkansen platform.


      Takeshi /

    1. Hi Nur san,

      I cannot say it’s easy. But as long as you exit at Marunouchi underground exit, you will find the signage of Marunouchi line. Just follow the sign and you will find it.


      Takeshi /

  2. Hi,

    I will be traveling with a large group. We will be going from Tokyo Station to Nagano. As some of us will be arriving from the Narita Express on the day itself, and some will have arrived days earlier and hence will board directly at Tokyo Station. Would you be able to suggest where might be a good meeting place for everyone?

    I was not sure if Marounachi Central Gate (at ground floor) or Nihonbashi gate, would be better.

    Appreciate your advic

    1. Hi Eliza,

      Actually this is very hard. It’s hard for even resident in Japan.
      Probably Marunouchi central is better than Nihonbashi because it’s easier to find. At Marunouchi side, there are three gates, south, north and central. All of you have to understand it’s “Central”. And also there are ticket gates underground at Marunouchi side too. So you have to make sure that it’s on ground level.


      Takeshi /

      1. Ok got it. Marounachi Central gate at ground level. May I confirm that those on the Narita Express would not need to exit the station? We can just wait inside for the rest?

        1. Hi Eliza,

          I don’t understand that you mean. Do you want to stay in Narita Express until your group member show up?
          Narita Express stops at Tokyo station for a few minutes and it depart for the next station. You cannot stay in the train. You have to proceed to the meeting point at Marunouchi central gate.


          Takeshi /

  3. Hi Takeshi san,
    Im going to tokyo this monday (25th January) and i will be arriving at haneda airport at 10.30pm, i’m thinking of buying the wide pass for joetsu shinkansen as soon as i reach the airport because i wanna go to gala yuzawa and mt fuji.

    The problem is that it says the wide pass is valid for three days, buying at 10.30pm on 25th january will leave me only 2 days to use it isnt it? ( 26 and 27 january) , i will be staying in asakusa guest house near skytree tower, there will be no nearby places to buy the wide pass that is why i want to buy the wide pass as soon as i reach the airport. Do you have any recommendation for this takeshi san.

    1. Hi Zac san,

      You cannot purchase Tokyo Wide Pass on arrival day anyway. Please see the sale location info at the link below:

      The window at Haneda is closed at 18:30. Other windows in downtown Tokyo are closed by 20:00. Actually it’s hard to catch the last train too.

      So you need to try to catch the train and purchase it next day.


      Takeshi /

  4. Hi sir

    I m going to Japan on Feb 2016. How to go to Shinkansen from nihombashi the place where I stay later. Please let me no tq

      1. Hi sir Tq for map. I already bought bullet train for one week pass. Can I use the ticket from narita to nihombashi the place Wer I stay later. How to go from narita to nihombashi?? Is it very easy to transfer from narita airport to nihombashi? Tq

        1. Hi Rosnah,

          If you mean that you have bought JR Pass 7 days, you can take Narita Express from Narita to Tokyo station and change subway to Nihonbashi. Narita Express is covered fully by JR pass. But subway is not covered by JR pass.


          Takeshi /

          1. Hi Mr Takeshi San

            Tq for your input. I will study the subway map and JR pas before fly to Japan next Feb 2016. Thank you once again.

  5. Hi Takeshi-san,

    I bought reserved seat tickets for my family on the Nozomi shinkansen for our train ride from Tokyo station to Kyoto. However, we will be starting our journey from Maihama, using our Suica cards. Will we have to tap out and exit then use our shinkansen tickets to re-enter at Tokyo station? Thanks!

    1. Hi Janice san,

      You don’t need to exit at Tokyo station. But you have to tap your Suica at Shinkansen transfer gate. The procedure is the following:

      1. Tap Suica and enter at Mihama station
      2. Slot your Shinkansen ticket at Shinkansen transfer machine gate and then tap Suica
      3. Enter Shinkansen platform

      Procedure 2 is very important. Don’t forget to slot your Shinkansen ticket before tap your Suica


      Takeshi /

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