How much can we use Japan Rail Pass in downtown Tokyo?

Yamanote line is the busiest train service in Japan.
Yamanote line is the busiest train service in Japan.

I wrote the post about Tokyo subway long time ago. I mentioned that Subway is the best for sightseeing in Tokyo. But some of you travel in Japan for 7 days that include Tokyo. You still can use Japan Rail Pass 7 days pass to explore in Tokyo. So I would like to explain more about Japan Railways local trains in Tokyo. And also I will tell you which popular spot you cannot access by Japan Railway.

Overview Japan Railways local lines in downtown Tokyo

First of all, let’s make sure how many lines Japan Railway have in downtown Tokyo. Please see the map below. I show you Japan Railways’ lines that you need to take in Tokyo. I don’t show you all stations and lines. I show you only major lines and stations.


View How much can we use Japan Rail Pass in downtown Tokyo? in a larger map

Chuo line has orange color (left) and Keihin Tohoku line has sky blue color (right).

They have five lines in Tokyo. All five lines are very busy commute line. Weekdays’ timetable is different from the weekend. But it is not much different. The traveller cannot notice that. The trains are operated every 3-5 minutes in peak hours and 5 to 10 minutes in non peak hours. Usually the train is started to operate around 6:00am and the last one is around 0:30am. So you don’t need to check the timetable. You can take the train anytime.

And each lines have different line color. This color is shown on the platform and train. This coloring let the passenger find the right train easier. The summary of these lines are the following:

Yamanote line (line color Yellow Green)

It is a loop line and connecting most of major downtown cores, like Tokyo, Yurakucho (Ginza), Shinagawa, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro and Ueno. This is the busiest line in Japan. The train comes every 2.5 minutes in peak hours and every 4 minutes even in daytime. Most of sightseeing spots are located inside or along Yamanote line. You may take this train many times. Even if you use a subway one day pass, you may take Yamanote line.

Sobu line has Yellow color.

Chuo-Sobu line (line color Yellow)

This line connects Chiba with Mitaka via Shinjuku. The trains go through downtown Tokyo east and west. There are Ryogoku (the nearest station to “Kokugikan” Sumo tournament arena), Akaihabara, and Tokyo dome along this line. If you go to Chiba, don’t take this train. Take Yokosuka-Sobu Rapid train. This is way faster than Sobu line train.

Chuo line Rapid (line color Orange)

This line connects Tokyo with Takao via Shinjuku and Hachoiji. The train comes every 2.5 minutes in peak hours and every 4 minutes in non peak hours. It is as busy as Yamanote line. This train goes on same route between Tokyo and Kanda as Yamanote line and between Ochanomizu and Mitaka as Sobu line. But Chuo line train is operated as rapid service. It stop at only Kanda, Ochanomizu, Yotsuyabetween Tokyo and Shinjuku except early morning and late night.

Keihin Tohoku line (line color Sky Blue)

This line goes from Omiya (Saitama) to Ofuna (near Kamakura) via Yokohama. The train runs every 5-10 minutes. This line runs with Yamanote line between Tabata station and Shinagawa. But this lines’ train skip several station in daytime on this section. The trains stop at Ueno, Aihabara, Tokyo, Hamamatsucho and Tamachi. If you travel on this section, Keihin Tohoku line is faster than Yamanote line. Be careful that the trains do not stop at Yurakucho and Shinbashi.
This train take you to Yokohama. But this is not good idea to take this train to outside of downtown Tokyo. This train is not fast train service. You should better take Yokosuka-Sobu Rapid train or Tokaido Rapid train. These rapid trains a sort of commute trans. You don’t need to pay any express surcharge. You can take with a basic fare only. Please see the details at Rapid train service network in Greater Tokyo.
Most of trains goes on Negishi line from Yokohama to Ofuna. There are several popular spots in Yokohama waterfront area, such as Minato Mirai, China town, Yamashita park. You may take this train from Yokohama to the west.

This line goes along Tokyo bay area.

Keiyo line (line color Wine Red)

This line connects Tokyo with Soga (Chiba). Tokyo Disney Land and Tokyo Disney Sea are located at Maihama station on Keiyo line. Tokyo station of this line is located at basement 4th floor. It is very deep underground. You need to spend at least 20 minutes to change the train to Keiyo line train from other trains, like Shinkansen, Yamanote line, Narita Express, Chuo line.

Tsukiji Fish Market

Which spots you cannot go by Japan Railway trains?

Please see the map above again. I put most of popular spots in Tokyo on the map. They are shown by the icon of camera, shrine and shopping bag. As I mentioned to you, most of spots are located along Yamanote line, like Akihabara, Shibuya, Harajuku, Shinjuku and Ueno park. Imperial Palace is a bit away from Tokyo station. But it is still within walking distance (appx 10-15 mintes from Tokyo station). Tokyo Tower can be accessed from Hamamatsucho station on Yamanote line and Keihin Tohoku line. It is 15 minutes walk away. But these following spots are not accessible from Japan Railways’ stations:

  • Asakusa
    The station that has very similar name, “Asakusabashi” is on Chuo-Sobu line. But this station is not located in Asakusa. You need to take Subway. Please see the details at the post, How to access to Asakusa.
  • Roppongi
    Roppongi is located in south part of downtown Tokyo. It is not accessible by Japan Railways. Take Tokyo Metro subway Marunouchi line from Tokyo station to Kasumigaseki and transfer to Hibiya line to Roppongi. The fare is around 160 yen and takes 15 minutes. If you access from Shinjuku, take Toei subway Oedo line to Roppongi. The fare is around 210 yen and take 10-15 minutes.
  • National Diet
    It is near Roppongi and not accessible by Japan Railways either.
  • Tsukiji Market
    You can walk from Shinbashi statin. But it is 20 minutes away. I recommend you to take Toei subway Oedo line. The market is located just above Oedo line Tuskiji Market station. You can take Oedo line from Shinjuku. The fare is around 260 yen and take 20 minutes. If you access from Tokyo station, take Yamanote line or Keihin Tohoku line to Hamamatsucho and transfer to Daimon station on Toei subway Oedo line. The fare is 170 yen for subway and take 20 mintues altogether.
  • Odaiba
    This waterfront is located in the island. It cannot be accessed by Japan Railway. You need to take Yurikamome (automated train service) at Shinbashi statoin on Yamanote line. The fare is 310 yen for Yurikamome and 15 minutes from Shinbashi.
  • Tokyo Sky Tree
    This is the newest spot in Tokyo. This highest tower in the world (not highest building) is located at east of Asakusa and cannot be accessed by Japan Railway. If you access from Tokyo station, take Tokyo Metro subway Hanzomon line at Otemachi station. Otemachi station is located at same place as Tokyo station. The fare is 190 yen and take 15 minutes.

Do we need to buy subway pass?

As you have seen, you may need to take subway even if you use Japan Rail Pass. The single fare is not expensive. But you can buy one day pass at 710 yen for Tokyo Metro and 1000 yen for both Tokyo Metro and Toei subway lines. There are two subway companies in Tokyo. So if you have a plan to visit several place that cannot be accessed by Japan Railway, I recommend you to buy
Subway pass. But Yurikamome to Odaiba is not included in Subway lines. You need to buy a single ticket anyway. Please see the details about subway pass at the post, Fast, economical and convenient for sightseeing in Tokyo. Learn about Tokyo Subways.

408 thoughts on “How much can we use Japan Rail Pass in downtown Tokyo?”

  1. I just bought my JR pass here https://goo.gl/UMjfCb and I will tell you why. Its simple, JR pass is excellent for great distance (e.g. Fukuoka to Tokyo or Tokyo to Hokkaido) Obviously if you plan to stay within the same prefecture, then JR pass is not for you. But if you plan to travel further than 200 miles away.. then JR pass is an option. Dont forget that one way –> from Tokyo to Osaka (regular ticket) costs easily $120.. so now you can do the math, JR will turn out to be 60% cheaper when traveling around Japan.

  2. Hi,

    i am planning to go to Osaka from Tokyo for a few days then back to Tokyo again..Can I use JRP for these travels including the lines in Tokyo? Can I even use the JRP to travel from Narita Airport to town as well?

    Thanks

    1. Hi Joelle,

      You can use JR pass for round trip of Tokyo-Osaka. And as you see, it covers local trains in Tokyo too. You can take Narita Express from/to Narita airport by JR pass.
      http://jprail.com/trains/sort-by-type/limited-express/narita-express.html

      In Osaka, you can use JR pass to take local trains too.
      http://jprail.com/destinations/how-to-transfer-among-kyoto-osaka-and-kobe-compare-japan-railway-and-private-lines.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  3. Hi – you have answered a previous inquiry that a 14 day JR pass would work best for me. But since I’m spending time in places where the JR is not taken/needed are wasting money on 14 days? We will spend 5 night sin Tokyo, visiting all the attractions as well as a day trip to Nikko. If having a 7 day pass would cost more than just the subway pass and trains, wouldn’t we be better off not using the JR pass until we leave Tokyo?

    Matter gets complicated since we leave Tokyo and go to Hakone for 2 days and I’m pretty sure the JR pass is not good there. From there we go to Kyoto and will spend 5 days there – going to Himeji Castle, Nara and sightseeing in Kyoto. It sounds as if the JR pass will not be used very much there either. From Kyoto we will go to Hiroshima and then Miyajima island for a night. From there to Naoshima and the pass is not needed there. Then back to Tokyo for 2 days until home. SO i’m totally confused as to what is more cost effective. I’ve gone on Hyperdia and can see costs with and without the pass but I cannot determine how much sightseeing around Tokyo will cost. Would love some help. I’ve been on all your sites re each regions and pass but it’s just all too confusing. Thank you

    1. Hi Rita,

      You cannot complete the place from Hakone to Tokyo via Kyoto, Hiroshima, Naoshima in 7 days. You can use JR pass in Kyoto to visit Arashiyama, Fushimi Inari. You may use it for taking JR train to Nara, Himeji. You also need to take train from Hiroshima to Uno when you go to Naoshima. So you need 14 days pass. There is no other passes to cover all places in your plan.

      You guess if you use 14 days pass, you will waste money. But even if you have round trip of Tokyo – Hiroshima, it costs around 37,000 yen. You can spend another 10,000 yen easily in your trip. Even 14 days pass will give you saving.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Thank you so much. This is very helpful and yes we will need to go to Uno. I already have that schedule.

  4. Hi there,

    I will stay in Tokyo for 6 days and another 6 days in Osaka. I was wondering whether getting a Presto card and deposit money in it would be worthy than getting a 7 day JR pass? I will visit most central places in Tokyo as well in Osaka but also would go to some places that are far from the center that JR would not cover.

    Would appreciate your kind advice. Thanks!

  5. Hi team!
    I am planning a trip in Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo for 11 to 12 days, wondering if i still need a JR pass if my flights include going in via Osaka and travelling out via Tokyo?
    Thank you!

  6. Hi Jess,
    I will go with my family (5 people) next august to Japan. We will be 5 nights at Tokyo, 2 at Hiroshima and 5 more at Kyoto. We want to visit Nikko, Kamakura, maybe Hakone, take a ship to Miyajima, Osaka, Nara. We will arrive at Tokyo airport and we will take off from Osaka airport.
    Do we have to get the 7 or the 14 days JRP?
    Thanks for your kind advice !

    1. Hi Ricard,

      14 days pass will work. But if you can put Nikko, Kamkuara, Tokyo-Hiroshima/Miyajima-Kyoto in 7 days period, you can use 7 days pass and make a big saving.
      You don’t need JR pass for sightseeing in Tokyo and Kyoto. Local deal can cover it. Please see the links below:
      http://jprail.com/destinations/kanto-area/tokyo-kanto-area/guide-to-take-trains-in-tokyo-how-to-choose-the-best-deal-and-the-best-route-by-train-to-get-the-major-spots.html
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-choose-the-best-train-pass-for-sightseeing-in-kyoto.html
      http://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/airport-access/kansai-kix/how-to-choose-the-deals-for-access-tofrom-kansai-airport.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. What would work for this itinerary please: We will be in Tokyo 5 nights planning to visit Nikko as a day trip. From there off to Hakone for 2 nights. Then Kyoto for 5 nights with day trips to Nara, Hineji Castle. Then to Hiroshima and Miyajima for 1 night. From there to Naoshima – Benessee House for 2 nights and then back to Tokyo, We planned on the 14 day pass since we couldn’t figure out how to make it work with 7, Please advise,

  7. Hi, i am visiting Japan for 12 days. I plan to stay in Tokyo but wanna see Osaka & Kyoto too. Is is possible to use my 7 day railpass to visit the 2 places & staying in tokyo hotels the whole visit? Regards,

    1. Hi Ap,

      7 days JR pass is the best choice but you may need to add other deal in Osaka and Kyoto because some places cannot be accessed by JR train, like in Tokyo. Please see the links below:
      http://jprail.com/destinations/kanto-area/tokyo-kanto-area/guide-to-take-trains-in-tokyo-how-to-choose-the-best-deal-and-the-best-route-by-train-to-get-the-major-spots.html
      http://jprail.com/destinations/kansai-area/guide-to-take-trains-in-kyoto-how-to-choose-the-best-route-by-train-to-get-the-major-spots.html
      http://jprail.com/destinations/kansai-area/guide-to-take-trains-in-osaka-how-to-choose-the-best-route-by-train-to-get-the-major-spots.html

      But 7 days pass is required to move among Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka anyway even though you may need to add other deals.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  8. Hi,

    I’m visiting Japan I will arrive in Tokyo and visit all the main tourist spots incl. Disneysea then spend a day at Mount Fuji, then travel to stay in Osaka for three nights where I will visit Kyoto and leave from Osaka Airport. Is it worth me getting a JR 7 day pass? Can it be used in Osaka and Kyoto to visit the main attractions also?

    Would appreciate your kind advice. Thanks

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