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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.

Rakuten
Rakuten

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 ■Tokaido line Tokaido line Rapid service to Shinagawa, Yokohama, Hiratsuka, Atami
9,10 ■Tokaido line Limited Express Sunrise Seto, Surise Izumo, Super View Odoriko, Odoriko, Rapid Moonlight Nagara

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, 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.


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

  1. M Win says:

    On 22 Sept 2014 we will be taking a subway from Ikebukuro ( Marounouchi line) to Tokyo Station to catch Shinkansen ( Bullet Train) departing Tokyo station at 8.50 pm on Nozomi#103 , Platform 18 for Nagoya.

    My questions are : 1. What time should we leave Ikebukoro Station
    2, How do we find the Nozomi#103 Platform 18 . & how long will it take to walk to Shinkansen platform from subway at Tokyo Station

    Thanks.

    • Hi M Win,

      I don’t recommend to use subway. You can take Yamanote line from Ikebukuro to Tokyo. Yamanote line and Shinkansen are same JR line. You don’t need to exit at Tokyo station. You can find both Yamanote line and Shinkansen platforms in this post above. It will take 10 minutes to transfer. And if you take Subway, it takes 16 minutes. If you take Yamanote line, it takes 23 minutes. But you will spend to transfer more if you take subway and a bit complicated.

      There are lots of signage in English. You can find Shinkansen platform easily.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

  2. Linda Megawaty says:

    Dear Takeshi,

    Grateful if you could help to explain some of my queries below.

    I will be coming from JR Shinjuku to Tokyo station by chuo line (using Pasmo card). At Tokyo station, I would like to transfer to shinkansen via Nozomi train (destination: Shin-osaka).

    My questions are:
    1. Are the track 1 / 2 in the same floor with shinkansen track? Do i need to go up or go down on my way from track 1/2 to shinkansen track?
    2. Are there clear signs in English on how to get from track 1/2 to shinkansen track? What are your tips so I wont get lost?
    3. Do i need to tap my pasmo card too at the shinkansen transfer gate? Do i need to tap it and insert the shinkansen ticket at the same time?

    Thanks very much for your kind help.

    Regards,
    Linda M.

    • Hi Linda,

      1) Both platforms are at the second floor. But all platforms are connected with walkway at the ground floor. So you have to go down and up.
      2) Yes. You won’t miss it.
      3) If you use single ticket for Shinkansen to Shin-Osaka, you can start to use Shinkansen ticket from Shinjuku. You can start to use the long distance ticket at any stations in Tokyo 23 ward. You don’t need to use Pasmo.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

      • Linda says:

        Dear Takeshi,

        Thanks for your quick reply. Following your reply, I have other questions in mind:

        1) Since you say that I can use the single ticket from JR Shinjuku station, when I buy the ticket at the counter, should I mention my departure station is Shinjuku Station or Tokyo Station? Does it make any difference? (Let’s say when I buy the ticket I tell the staff that I want to buy single ticket from Tokyo – Shin-osaka; can I still use the ticket from JR Shinjuku? Should I tell the staff that I am departing from Shinjuku? Since from Hyperdia, I learned that shinkansen can also be boarded from Shinagawa, however I prefer to board via Tokyo station, as it involved less transfer from my departing point.)

        2) I will actually coming from Hatagaya station as my hotel is located near there. Hence based on your explanation; here is my conclusion:
        Hatagaya –> Shinjuku (Keio New Line) –> by Pasmo card and I need to tap out at the exit of the subway. Then I need to walk to JR Shinjuku Station.
        JR Shinjuku –> Tokyo Station –> I can use the single ticket of the shinkansen.
        Is my interpretation correct?

        Thanks very much, and sorry for too much asking.

        Regards,
        Linda

  3. Franya says:

    Hello
    I would like some advice for my upcoming trip to Japan.
    I am hoping to catch Nex train from Narita to my hotel in Shinjuku and would like to know if the train goes straight through to Shinjuku station or do I have to change trains in Tokyo?
    Also does the Suica card cover fares for JR lines plus the Metro Lines and the Toei Lines?
    I would like to know if the Suica card will cover me for all my train travel throughout Tokyo to the main tourist attractions and would this be the cheapest way to go?
    Thank You
    Franya

    • Hi Franya,

      Narita Express goes directly to Shinjuku. You don’t need to transfer at Tokyo.
      Suica cover all trains in Tokyo. But it cannot be used for Narita Express. JR East offers N’ex Tokyo direct ticket at 1500 yen. This is the cheapest deal.
      http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/pass/nex_oneway.html

      Suica makes you be very comfortable because you don’t need to purchase a ticket one by one. But it doesn’t give you any discount. The fare you will pay is not different between regular fare and Suica. If you travel lots, metro pass may be cheaper.
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/compare-many-discount-tickets-and-passes-for-sightseeing-tokyo-how-to-choose-the-right-tickets.html
      But this does not cover any JR trains.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

      • Franya says:

        Hello Takeshi

        I have some more questions please.

        What rail lines does the Metro pass cover?
        How is it different from the Suica Card?
        I would like the one that covers most of the lines around Tokyo?

        Also does the Suica or Metro card cover any lines in Kyoto or Nara or Osaka or Hiroshima as I will be visiting these cities also and would like to know how to get around these cities.

        Does the JR Pass cover travel in Kyoto or Nara or Osaka or Hiroshima?

        I want to travel to Kyoto and will be staying in Shinjuku. Does the train go straight from Shinjuku to Kyoto without any transfers?

        Thank You for your help.

        Regards
        Franya

  4. Roger says:

    Hi there, i find your information very useful. If you don’t mind, I’d like to find out how to travel from Tokyo to Fujinomiya. From what I checked through Google maps and Hyperdia, it is:

    i) Take Shinkansen from Shinagawa to Mishima or Atami
    ii) Change trains to local JR Tokaido line to Fuji Station
    iii) Change trains at Fuji station to JR Minobu line

    My questions are:
    – For the changing of trains, do we go through the “transfer gate”?
    – For the JR Tokaido & JR Minobu lines, do I purchase the tickets in Tokyo or at these transit stations itself?
    – Is there a “train pass” that I can use to just tap my ticket? I heard about Japan Rail Pass or the Suica card, are there any other cards or pass?

    Appreciate your advice, thank you!

    • Hi Roger,

      – For the changing of trains, do we go through the “transfer gate”?
      Whenever you transfer from Shinkansen to conventional line (other than Shinkansen), you need to go through Shinkansen transfer gate.

      – For the JR Tokaido & JR Minobu lines, do I purchase the tickets in Tokyo or at these transit stations itself?
      No. You can purchase the ticket from Tokyo (Shinagawa) to Fujinomiiya. Please see the link below:
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/for-non-jr-pass-travellers-guide-to-use-jr-single-ticket-basic-rules-validity-and-stopover.html

      – Is there a “train pass” that I can use to just tap my ticket? I heard about Japan Rail Pass or the Suica card, are there any other cards or pass?
      If you use Japan Rail Pass, round trip of Tokyo to Kyoto is minimum requirement. Otherwise single ticket is cheaper. Suica cannot be used for this trip. Because Fujinomiya is out of coverage area of Suica. If you are looking for the pass/deal for just this trip, there is no deals available. Single ticket is your choice.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

      • Roger says:

        Hi Takeshi,

        Thank you for your quick reply. I still have a lot of uncertainties about travelling / best ticket purchases in Japan. I’ll give you my itinerary and appreciate if you can advise on the best ticket purchases:

        – Arrive Haneda airport at night > hotel in tokyo (2 nights)
        – Travel to Fujinomiya > stay at Taisekiji temple (3 nights)
        – Travel back to Tokyo (6 nights).

        During my time in Tokyo, we intend to explore Tokyo itself, Disneyland and other parts of Tokyo but not too far out.

        Q: What is the best ticket deals that I should purchase or most convenient mode of travel or payments?

        Thanks so much :)

  5. inor says:

    I will be transferring at Tokyo station from the SHINKANSEN to the JR Chuo to go to Shinjuku. Can you please explain how I would walk from the SHINKANSEN train track to the JR Chuo train track. Do I need to exit a gate and then find a different gate for the Chuo line? Any help would be very appreciated. I will have a JR pass, will I need to show it again to get on the JR Chuo train?

    Thank you, Inor

    • JPRail says:

      Hi Inor,

      Actually it’s not very complicated.

      You will go through Shinkansen transfer gate. There are transfer gate between Shinkansen platform and other JR trains (not Shinkansen) platforms because fare system is different. But it does not mean anything for JR Pass user. JR pass covers both and all you have to do is showing your pass at transfer gate.It’s not an exit.

      After that, just follow the sign. Chuo line is track #1 and #2. It’s opposite side of Shinkansen in Tokyo station.
      http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/stations/e1039.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

      • inor says:

        Thank you for your reply. It is probably very easy, but I like to make sure I understand. When I exit the train will I see the sign for the transfer gate easily? Does it matter if I walk left or right out off the train?

  6. Bernice says:

    fm tokyo station, how can i reach shinjuku washington hotel??

  7. Simon says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    Thanks. On another subject please see below link for the Shinagawa Station ticket office
    to exchange for the Japan Rail Pass or online seat reservation, both maps indicated 2 different locations!
    English version with the 2 stars and the Japanese version (red circle) at different ticket office?

    http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/stations/e788.html
    http://www.jreast.co.jp/estation/stations/788.html

    Thanks

    • JPRail says:

      Hi Simon,
      English map shows you the ticket office for the foreign travellers. I think there are some English or other language speakers.
      Japanese map shows you Midori no Madoguchi. If you speak Japanese, you can deal with them.
      Cheers,
      Takeshi / JP Rail

  8. Simon says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    http://www.tokyostationcity.com/station/pdf/1f_eng.pdf

    http://www.tokyostationcity.com/station/pdf/b1_eng.pdf

    These 2 maps, which one is the best for reference for transfer in Tokyo between
    Yamanote Line and Tokaido or Tohoku Shinkansen
    Cannot find where is the Yamanote Line on the B1F map?

    Thanks

  9. julia says:

    1. If I purchase the 1 day tokyo round tour ticket, does it includes Yurikamone , Rinkai line? plus
    Tokyo metro and Toei line? I need to go to Odaiba and also Tsuiji market.
    2. How far ahead I need to book Shinkasen? I need to go from Tokyo to Kyoto during the August 16 and also to Hiroshima and back. Can I do it on my own computer when I arrive? After I booked it, if I want to change to the next available time after a few days later, do I need to go to station to change?

  10. James says:

    Tokyo station is really not bad, full of people but direction is actually quite clear for both English and Japanese speakers.

    You probably need to mention

    *There are JR East Midori-no-madoguchi/ticket reservation office

    *There are JR East Midori-no-madoguchi/ticket reservation office FOR TRAIN DEPART TODAY ONLY

    *There are JR Tokai Midori-no-madoguchi/ticket reservation office that you can get Asagiri tickets, but you cant pick up JR East online reservation ticket here

    And there is a post office (plus Starbuck) across the road from the main Yaesu where you can use foreign ATM.

    Regards
    James

    • JPRail says:

      Hi James,
      That’s right. I think Shinjuku is much more complicated. However I think it is very complicated for most of visitors here on my site. It is easy for you because you have a lot of experience. :) Most of visitors worry about transfer at even small station, like Shin-Aomori.
      I’m not sure what kind of info the visitors need on my site now. Let’s see…
      Cheers,
      Takeshi / JP Rail

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