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.

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

  1. Hi,

    Going to Disneyland traveling with kids, may I ask how exactly to transfer from Shinjuku station (JR Chuo Line) to Tokyo (JR Keiyo Line) to Maihama?

    Also, how long would it take for us to switch lines between Chuo Line to Keiyo line?

    Thank you,

  2. Good day!

    May I know if I get the JR East pass, does the pass allow me to travel from Maihama station to Tokyo and then to Nagano.

    It is necessary to reserve seats on the Shinkansen, especially during the peak period (Christmas and New Year).

    Thank you very much!

  3. Hi Takeshi-san,

    I’m planning to go to japan next month. Is it possible to use the bullet train from Osaka to Narita Airport via JR pass?

    Thank you very much.

    1. Hi Belle san,

      Yes, you can. But the fastest train, Nozomi is not covered. You have to take the second fastest train, Hikari.

      You cannot catch Shinkansen at Narita. You have to take Narita Express to Shinagawa and then transfer to Shinkansen. Both trains are covered. You can transfer at Tokyo station too, but Shinagawa is easier. Please find more info at the link below:


      Takeshi /

  4. Dear,

    I have to go from Shinjuku Station to Nagoya. What is the best way to do it? There are a lot of bullet trains from Tokyo to Nagoya? I have been with the bullet train before but in a different direction and from Tokyo Central.
    Thank you in advance,

  5. I am staying at a apartment that is 9 minutes walking from Ginza station and 12 minutes walking from Yurakucho station. I am traveling to Kyoto by regular bullet train on a weekday around 6am with one luggage. Which route would you recommend–Ginza to Tokyo station or Yurakucho to Shinagawa? Thank you so much for writing this useful post and for any advice you can give!!!!!!!

  6. Hi Takeshi-san,

    We are moving from Nishikasai Station to take the Hikari 505 at 8.33am.

    Someone recommended to take the Tozai line to Nihombashi Station, then catch taxi to Tokyo station near the Yaesu Exit.

    I am unsure how to move in Tokyo station itself to find the Shinkansen.

    Is it possible for you to advise?

    Thank you in advance.

      1. Hi again,

        Yes, we have thought of walking to Tokyo station from Otemachi station. However, we are a family of 5, carrying 5 luggages. Will using the underpass be a challenge?

        Thank you.

        Ng Lay Hoon

        1. Hi Ng,

          I think it’s challenging. In Tokyo, it’s busy anywhere. You cannot use a cart, like airport. So you have to carry your luggage by yourself. The following movie shows you to transfer from Tokyo station to Otemachi. It’s reverse way but you can see how you will do.

          If it’s not comfortable for you, take taxi to Tokyo station to Yaesu exit. It’s closed to Shinkansen platform.


          Takeshi /

  7. Dear Takeshi,
    We’ll be having trip by train from Nagoya St. to Iidabashi St in Shinjuku. According to Hyperdia there are several transfer station along the way (Tokyo and Akihabara). Do we have to get off and change train or is it just one train from Nagoya to Iidabashi and we remain on board at the transfer stations?

    Thanks a lot for your helpful reply,

  8. Hi!

    I will be taking NEX from Narita airport to Tokyo Station and take Shinkansen to Shin-Aomori. May I know how to move around at Tokyo station? Are they on different level? Do I need to exit and enter? Can you please direct me? Many thanks!

    1. Hi Ivy,

      You don’t need to exit but it’s different level. NEX arrive at the underground platform and Shinkansen platform is ground level. Please check the link to the map in the post above.

      And also the following movie shows you how to get NEX platform from Shinkansen ticket gate. It’s opposite way but it may help you to understand the route.


      Takeshi /

  9. Thank you for the article! It will be my first time doing a train change from NEX to Akita Shinkansen. There is 20 minutes in between. Will I manage to buy some food/bento for take out? I heard the food stalls may be in different floor/area of the station.

    Also, between Ikebukuro and Tokyo, which will make a better station for taking NEX to Narita, especially when carrying several luggage? I’m considering either to take hotel in Ikebukuro or Ueno.

    Thank you.

    1. Hi Sherly,

      You can transfer these two trains in 20 minutes. But you don’t have enough time to choose from many kinds of bento and drinks. There are lots of shops and kiosks in the station. You may get it at even platform. I think platform is better for you because of 20 minutes transfer time. I recommend you to get the platform and find the train that you need to take. And then you can purchase the food and drink. I think you will spend at least 10 minutes for just transfer.

      Some NEX depart from Ikebukuro. Otherwise go to Shinjuku and catch it.


      Takeshi /

      1. Hi Takeshi-san,
        Thanks for the great advise.

        For Ikebukuro and Tokyo station, I’m looking at the better station for transfer between local train and NEX as I will few luggages. What is your suggestion?

        Thank you.

          1. Hi Takeshi-san,
            Thank you for the recommendation.
            Sorry, I have one more question. I saw there are 2 timetable for Narita 35, one stops at Ikebukuro and the other didn’t. Is it referring to 2 different trains?

  10. Hi hi,

    thank you for all the explanation and reply in your post. I was having concerns whether i will have ample time to transfer from Shinkansen Hikari 514 to Shinkansen Hayabusa 19 (which was just just a 10 min difference) and I came across your reply and video on the transfer. It was such a great help. Thank you. (” ,)

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