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.

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

  1. I arrive at tokyo station on shinkansen from Osaka.
    I need to transfer to Narita express.
    Is it correct that I need to get to platform 4 in Marunouchi underground ?

  2. Hi Takeshi,
    I’m arriving in Tokyo on 4 April at Narita Airport, and will be heading to Kyoto same day. I’d like to confirm that I will take JR Narita Express (NEX) from Narita airport to Tokyo station. And when I’m at the station, where do I go to board the JR train towards Kyoto?
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Ophelia,

      You can take Shinkansen (bullet train) to Kyoto.

      By the way, I recommend you to change the trains at Shinagawa station.

      Narita Express takes you to Shinagawa too and change to Shinkansen there. It’s much easier to change than Tokyo station.


      Takeshi /

  3. Greetings Takashi!

    I will be arriving Narita Airport in April at 4.10pm. My destination is Hotel Metropolitan at Nagano.

    I plan to take the NEX train from Narita Airport and transfer at Tokyo station via Hokuriku Shinkansen to Nagano Station. Given the time of arrival (i.e. 4.10pm) at Narita Airport and it is in April, will this be the best and quickest route? Or I should transfer at other train station instead?

    Thank you.

  4. Hi Takeshi,

    My family will be having Tokyo-Osaka tour from May 4-14 2017. We will be arriving at Narita airport-Terminal 2 and directly go to Osaka for our May 4- 8 Osaka Tour then going back to Tokyo for our May 8-14 Tokyo tour.
    Kindly advise us the best transportation and route we can use from Narita airport to train station goingbto Osaka — then to Osaka and coming back to Tokyo, we have purchased 7day JR Pass.
    Thank you very much in advance.

    1. Hi Benjamin,

      You can take the following route:
      Narita airport (Narita Express) Shinagawa (Shinkansen Hikari) Shin-Osaka
      Shin-Osaka (Shinkansen Hikari) Tokyo or Shingawa

      Narita Express connects Narita airport and Tokyo. Please see the link below:

      You can change trains at Tokyo station too but I recommend Shinagawa. Because Shinagawa is smaller than Tokyo and much easier to change trains. Please see the link below:

      JR pass covers only Hikari or Kodama. The fastest train on Shinkansen line is Nozomi and Hikari is second fastest. But Nozomi is not covered. Please see the links below to find the restriction of JR Pass and about Shinkansen.


      Takeshi /

  5. Hi Takeshi,

    I will be visiting Tokyo in early April. My return flight will depart from Narita International Airport Terminal 2 at 11am. I plan to reach the airport by 7.30am to be on the safe side.

    I will be staying at the area near the Shinjuku-Sanchome station. I was told to take the Marunouchi Line from Shinjuku-Sanchome station to Tokyo Station and transfer to Narita Express. I understand that Tokyo Station is very huge and complicated, hence worried that I might have difficulties finding my ways within the station itself.

    Appreciate your advice on the following:

    1) The Marunouchi Line will arrive at which platform and located on which floor at Tokyo Station?
    2) The Marunouchi Line from Shinjuku-Sanchome is expected to arrive at Tokyo Station at 6.12am (according to Hyperdia). How long does it take for me to get to the platform for Narita Express? What directions should I follow when I reach Tokyo Station? Will I have enough time to catch the Narita Express because according to Hyperdia, the Narita Express departs at 6.18am?
    3) Can I purchase the ticket for Narita Express in advance? If yes, do I have to purchase it online or at Tokyo Station?
    If I have to purchase the ticket at Tokyo Station, where is the ticket counter located and how do I get there from the Marunouchi arrival platform?
    4) If there is a better option to get to Narita Airport which is less complicated, please let me know.

    Thanking you in advance for your advice.


    1. Hi Jennyfer

      I explained only JR Tokyo station in this post. Marunouchi line Tokyo station is different station. You have to exit JR station and have to enter Marunouchi line station. The following link shows you how to move from JR Tokyo station underground Marunouchi ticket gate to Marunouchi line ticket gate.

      As you watched, it’s less than 1 minute away between these stations. But you have to move to gate to the platform in each stations. 6 minutes may be tight to transfer. I recommend you to take one earlier subway train. Marunouchi line runs very frequently. Even in early morning. train runs every 5-10 minutes.

      You can purchase Narita Express ticket at any JR stations in downtown Tokyo. You don’t need to purchase it at Tokyo station. You can purchase it at Shinjuku or any other JR stations in advance.


      Takeshi /

  6. Hi Takeshita,

    Me and my husband are staying at okubo area. We will be leaving to Kyoto by Shinkansen from tokyo station at 6.00am. Will it be easier to take taxi directly to Tokyo station or taking the Jr line from okubo station? If it’s easier n fastest by taxi what is the easiest drop off spot? This is our 1st trip to Japan so a little bit nervous about the metro system. Thank you for your kind help

    1. Hi Theresia,

      Train is easier. It start to run around 4:30 am and run every 10-15 minutes in even very early morning. It take 20 to 25 minutes to get Tokyo station.


      Takeshi (not Takeshita) /

      1. Hi Takeshi

        Thank you for your advice. If we take train from okubo n get off at Tokyo station will it be hard to transfer to Shinkansen? Because Tokyo station is huge will it take a long time to transfer from a regular train to Shinkansen? Thank you for taking the time to reply my messages. Apologized for the mistake. Thank you again

        1. Hi Theresia,

          15 minutes is okay to transfer. In early morning, Tokyo station is very quiet. Nobody bother you to move from the platform to the platform. It’s very easy to find the direction.

          If you worry about it, leave Okubo station around 5:00 am.


          Takeshi /

  7. Takashi-san,

    Good morning! I wish to ask about which gate I should take at Tokyo station if I am taking the Hokuriku Shinkansen – Yaseu North or South? We will be arriving on the Narita Express.

    Do you know if we can buy both Nex and Shinkansen tickets (round trip) at the Airport Station too?

    Thank -you very much!

    1. Hi Samantha san,

      You don’t need to exit in Tokyo. You can go up to the ground floor from Narita Express underground platform. And go through walkway to get Shinkansen gate. Just follow the signage and you will make it. Don’t be nervous and it’s easy.


      Takeshi /

  8. Hello, we will be arriving on the shinkansen line to Tokyo Station and need to get all the way to the other side for the Narita Express and only have 18 minutes. What is the fastest route, thx!

    1. Hi Brad,

      You just take central walkway to get Narita Express platform.
      By the way, you can change the trains at Shinagawa. Platforms are much closer and much easier to transfer. It takes only 5 minutes to transfer.

      Check your Shinkansen and Narita Express arrival and departure times in Shinagawa at the links below:


      Takeshi /

    1. Hi Anne,

      You have to go down from platform 3 and go up to platform 20-23.
      The walkway is on the ground floor and platforms are on second level.

      You can take either south or central. It depends on which car of Keihin Tohoku line train. If you are on the middle of train sets, central is closer and if you take end of train set, south is closer. But don’t think about it seriously. There are lots of signage. Just try to find Shinkansen signage and follow. You will be there. It’s easy.


      Takeshi /

      1. Hi Takeshi
        Thanks for the information above. Much appreciated.

        Update re Resort Shirakami : based on your last year’s schedule & advise, I’m able to ride on the train in March 2017! Thank you again for your help.


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