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.

Overview

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.

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

  1. I have a JR pass & will be travelling from Tokyo to Kyoto (non peak hour) this Friday.
    Can you advise which Gate & platform to use at Tokyo Station to board the train for Kyoto.
    Regards

    1. Hi Stephen,

      There are many gates. But you may access to Shinkansen from any gates. There are lots of signage. Just follow the sign and you get there.
      Shinkansen to Kyoto will depart from track 14 to 19. It depends on which train you take. Just follow the sign and find it as well.

      The following link shows you info about the signage in the station and train.
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/travel-tips/signage-and-announcement-in-the-station-and-train.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. What is the best/fastest way to get on Narita Express going to the airport from Iidabashi, using our JR East Pass? We have a 10:30am flight on Showa/Greenery Day, and also have luggage to bring with us, and worried about missing our flight. Or is it better/easier for us to use Keisei Skyliner at Ueno? Thanks for any advice!

    1. Hi Jimmy,

      I recommend you to take the earliest Narita Express that departs at 6:18 from Tokyo station.
      http://www.eki-net.com/pc/jreast-shinkansen-reservation/english/wb/common/timetable/e_nex_d/index.html

      You can take Chuo line train. It takes 8 minutes to get Tokyo. But you will spend at least 10 minutes to change the trains. So you need to leave Iidabashi around 6:00. Train runs from 5:14. If you worry about losing your way in Tokyo station, you may leave earlier.

      All trains are covered by JR East pass.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  3. Hi, I’m going to be traveling from Tokyo to Shin-Aomori via Tohoku Shinkansen. Our train leaves 2:20pm; how early should we get to Tokyo station in order to make the train (we will probably spend some time getting lost:).

    Also, we’ll be traveling on a JR East rail pass, and will need to exchange our reservation for the actual pass. I’m not sure if we will do the exchange at the airport when we arrive in Tokyo or at Tokyo Station as we’re leaving for Shin-Aomori. How much extra time should we add if we need to visit the JR East Travel Center before boarding the Shinkansen?

    Thanks and best regards,
    Joe

    1. Hi Joe,

      If you worry about losing your way, go to the station 30 minutes earlier. It’s hard to say how much you will spend your time to exchange your pass at Tokyo station. It depends on how busy there are. But if I were you, I go there one hour earlier. It may be too early but if it’s busy, you may spend 30 minutes to exchange and booking.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  4. Hi I will be arriving at Narita Tokyo airport at 3:30 pm and would like to go to Osaka universal city can you direct me?
    And approximately what time I will arrive at universal city?
    Regards

    Ap

  5. I am travelling from Nagoya to Shin-Hakodate with a 10 minute change at Tokyo Station. I have to transfer from Platform 17 to Platform 20 in that 10 minutes. Is it easy to transfer platforms? The Tokyo Station map doesn’t look clear but I would think I take escalator down from Platform 17, walk along a corridor and take an escalator up to Platform 20. Please confirm this is correct. Thank you!

    1. Hi Vernon,

      Please see Youtube movie in the link below. It shows you how to tranfer from Tokaido Shinkansen (Nagoya-Tokyo) and Tohoku Shinkansen (Tokyo-Shin Aomori). Now Tohoku Shinkansen is extended to Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto. So this is that you need to do at Tokyo station:

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Hi Takeshi, You are a thousand kinds of awesome! Many thanks for your quick and helpful reply. I am travelling today April 3 and am on the train, confident about how to change platforms and shinkansen when I get to Tokyo! Best regards

  6. Hi Takeshi-san

    Could you comment on how much time one has to allow to transfering between Narita Express and Tohoku Shinkansen (heading to Hokkaido). Our plan would be to exchange JR passes and book seats the night prior to travelling at the Airport.

      1. Hi,
        I have to go to Nagoya (eventually to the Kanayama station in Nagoya). I will land at Narita Airport, Tokyo in the afternoon.

        What is the best way to get to Nagoya from Tokyo Narita Airport? What trains do I take and where do I change trains? How easy are the changes and how long will it take?

        Thanks,
        AM

        1. Hi AM,

          You need to take three trains.
          Narita Express (Narita airport to Shinagawa)
          http://jprail.com/trains/sort-by-type/limited-express/narita-express.html
          Tokaido Shinkansen (Shinagawa to Nagoya)
          http://jprail.com/trains/sort-by-departure-arrival-stations/stations-in-tokai/nagoya-toyohashi/what-is-shinkansen-bullet-train.html
          local train (Nagoya to Kanayama)

          You may change the train at Tokyo station but change the train at Shinagawa is much easier.
          http://jprail.com/travel-informations/basic-informations/station-information/shinagawa-station-guide-transfer-among-shinkansen-keihin-kyuko-to-haneda-narita-express.html

          I don’t have a post to explain about Nagoya station but you can follow the signage to find the platform to get Kanayama. It’s a few stations away from Nagoya.
          http://jprail.com/travel-informations/travel-tips/signage-and-announcement-in-the-station-and-train.html

          If you have only this trip, single ticket is only choice. You can purchase all tickets at Narita airport station. You can find the fare and the timetable at Hyperdia:
          http://jprail.com/travel-informations/basic-informations/timetable-and-reservation/hyperdia-perfect-guide-train-timetable-and-route-search-engine.html

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

          1. Thank you very much. I am going to Nagoya for 3 days so if possible then perhaps I can book round trip train tickets from Tokyo.

  7. Hi I would like to go to Odawara using Shinkansen Kodama/Hikari from Tokyo sation, how to reach the platform?
    On which floor I should proceed? is this type of shinkansen covered by JR pass? Which track should I use from 14-19? because when I open Hyperdia I only got the time let say 7 am from tokyo, it didn’t mention which departure track that I should use (for example track no 14)

    Regards,
    Stefanus

    1. Hi Stefanus,

      Shinkansen platform is located on second floor but ticket gate is located on the first floor. But don’t worry. There are lots of signage and you cannot miss it. You can find the track number on information board, like departure and arrival information at the airport. You can find the info about signage in the station at the link below:
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/travel-tips/signage-and-announcement-in-the-station-and-train.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

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