You may be overwhelmed by train system in Tokyo. It is very complicated because there are many train lines and many different railway companies. There are lots of deals available but you may not be able to find the coverage of the pass.
In this post, I will show you all subway lines and JR lines in downtown core of Tokyo. And I will also tell you about train system surrounding in Tokyo too. Because some of trains that come from outside Tokyo go to downtown Tokyo via subway line. This is actually one of the reason why it is so difficult to understand train system in Tokyo
Let’s see and learn it together!
- 1 Overview of train system in Tokyo
- 2 JR train network and coverage of JR deals
- 3 Subway network in Tokyo
- 4 Other deals
- 5 Inter-connected through service (shared track)
- 6 How to access to major spots in Tokyo by train
Overview of train system in Tokyo
Please see the map below:
I show you all subway lines, all JR lines and most of major private railway’s lines in downtown Tokyo on this map. But there are too many stations to show in this map. Only major stations, junctions and the nearest station to major tourist spots are shown in this map.
When you visit the tourist spots in Tokyo, such as Shinjuku, Ueno, Harajuku, Ginza, Asakusa, Skytree, Odaiba, Tsukiji Market, you have to find the locations, the nearest station and route. And you can choose your deal to visit these places. If you will use JR Pass, JR East Pass, Tokyo Wide Pass or other regional pass, you have to make sure the coverage of your pass. And you will find the additional fare on top of these pass if you visit the place where is not covered by your pass.
For the travellers who use Suica, Pasmo, ICOCA or other IC cards
You can take all railway’s trains in the map above. IC card makes your trip be very easy. You can tap your card when you enter and exit the ticket gate. But it does not give you any discount. If you intend to make many train trips, unlimited ride pass, such as subway pass is cheaper.
I would like to show you the coverage of major deals one by one from next chapter.
JR train network and coverage of JR deals
JR train network in Tokyo is much more simple than subway network. There are only three major lines that you need to know. Those are Yamanote line (loop line), Chuo line (Tokyo-Shinjuku-Mitaka), and Keiyo line (Tokyo-Maihama). you can access to many places in Tokyo by JR train only, such as Akihabara, Ueno, Ikebukuro, Shinjuku, Harajuku, Shibuya, Shinagawa, Mitaka and Maihama.
Some of you are thinking about using JR Pass, JR East Pass or Tokyo Wide Pass. These deals are national or regional deals and those cover Tokyo and many more areas. You can use these passes to take JR trains in downtown Tokyo. But using these deals while staying in Tokyo, please understand that the base fare to travel within downtown Tokyo is quite small. For example, the base fare for Tokyo to Shinjuku by JR local train is only 200 yen. Mostly base fare is around 200 yen. Traveling by these passes do not help to get worth very much. If you have any other trips to be covered by these passes, you should use the pass for other trip.
Japan Rail Pass (a.k.a. JR Pass)
This is most popular rail pass to cover throughout Japan. The coverage of this pass in downtown Tokyo is shown in the map below:
This pass covers JR trains and Tokyo Monorail (Hamamatsucho-Haneda) only. Subway and other private railway lines are not covered.
JR East pass
This pass covers JR East service area, such as Tohoku, Niigata, Nagano, Tokyo and surrounding area. Please see the map below to find the coverage of this pass.
This pass covers JR trains, Tokyo Monorail (Hamamatsucho-Haneda) and Tokyo Waterfront Area Rapid Transit Rinkai Line. Rinkai line can take you Odaiba. This is only and the biggest difference between JR East Pass and JR Pass. Subway and other private railway lines are not covered.
But on April 1st, 2016, JR East Pass will be divided into two passes, JR East Pass (Tohoku Area) and JR East Pass (Nagano, Niigata Area). In Tokyo, the coverage of these two passes are exactly same. Please see the map below:
Rinkai Line will not be covered. You cannot get Odaiba by new JR East Pass.
Tokyo Wide Pass
Tokyo Wide Pass covers Tokyo and surrounding area for 3 days. Please see the map below to find the coverage of this pass.
This pass covers JR trains, Tokyo Monorail (Hamamatsucho-Haneda) and Tokyo Waterfront Area Rapid Transit Rinkai Line. Rinkai line can take you Odaiba. This is a big benefit for sightseeing in Tokyo. Subway and other private railway lines are not covered.
Tokyo Metropolitan District Pass (Tokyo Tokunai Pass)
This is one of JR local deals. It covers JR lines only in Tokyo 23 wards. If you do not use any other JR deals but you want to have unlimited ride of JR trains, this suits your plan. The price is 750 yen for one day. Please see the coverage of this deal in the map below:
It covers downtown Tokyo but you cannot visit the places where are outside coverage area, such as Tokyo Disney Resort, Ghibli Museum. Please find some more information about this deal at the link below:
Subway network in Tokyo
Subway lines network in Tokyo is very complicated but it is most convenient train system in Tokyo. It covers whole part of Tokyo and you can go almost anywhere in downtown Tokyo. Therefore understanding subway system is a key to travel in downtown Tokyo smoothly. First of all, please see the all subway lines in the map below.
As you see, there are so many lines. As long as you know which station you need to go, you will be okay. I think some of you worry about language and it is very hard to remember station name. But in Tokyo subway system, all station is shown by code. Please see the full subway map at the link below:
As you see the map, all stations have code, like “M17” for Tokyo station. This is shown at the station too. I wrote about these signage at the other post. If you worry about Japanese, please refer the post below:
You may have already noticed that different name stations are located at same place. For example, Yurakucho and Hibiya are same location and you can transfer these subway lines very easily. We can find same thing in JR and subway stations, like Hamamatsucho and Daimon, Mita and Tamachi.
Two subway operation companies
Actually there are two different subway companies, Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway. There are many kinds of subway passes available. Before choosing the deal, you have to know these subway companies.
First, Tokyo Metro operates nine subway lines. Please see the map below.
Toei Subway is operated by Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Bureau of Transportation. It has four lines and the network is much smaller than Tokyo Metro. Please see the map below:
Toei Subway operates only four lines but Oedo line gives you direct access to Tsukiji Market. Tsukijishijo station is the nearest station to get there. And Asakusa line is very useful because this subway line gives you inter-connected through service with Keisei line from Narita and Keikyu line from Haneda. I will tell you this shared track service later.
Now I would like to show you subway deals.
Tokyo Subway Ticket
This covers both subway line, Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway. This is the best deal for subway in Tokyo. It is basically sold for overseas travelers. It is sold at both Haneda and Narita airports. And also you may purchase at some of retail stores, such as BIC Camera, Laox. But you cannot purchase this special deal at subway stations in Tokyo. But some of hotels in Tokyo and Japanese travel agencies outside Kanto area may offer this deal. Please refer Tokyo Metro official site to find the detailed information of this deal.
Tokyo Subway 1-Day Ticket – Adult: 800 yen, Child: 400 yen
Tokyo Subway 2-Day Ticket – Adult: 1200 yen, Child: 600 yen
Tokyo Subway 3-Day Ticket – Adult: 1500 yen, Child: 750 yen
This deal must be used in consecutive days. But it is way cheaper than common subway passes. Regular subway pass is sold at 1000 yen for one day. There is no two days pass.
*Tokyo Subway Ticket will be 24hr, 48hr and 72hr ticket on March 26, 2016. Currently this pass is valid midnight to midnight. So even if you start using it at 23:00, you spend one day for just one hour. But new ticket will be available for 24 hours basis. If you start using 24hr pass at 23:00, ticket is valid until 22:59 on day 2. This will effect on March 26. So if you start using 3 days ticket on March 25, your pass is valid for just 3 days. You must start to use it after March 26.
Toei Subway and Tokyo Metro Lines Common One-Day Economy Pass
This covers both Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway lines. The coverage is exactly same as Tokyo Subway Ticket above. But the price is a bit higher. It is 1000 yen for one day. Only one day pass is available. This pass can be purchased at any subway subway stations. You can purchase it at even vending machine.
Average subway fare is around 200 yen. If you make 5 or more trips by subway, this pass is cheaper than single fare or using IC card, like Pasmo, Suica.
Toei One-Day Economy Pass
This deal covers Toei subway lines and other public transportation by Tokyo Metropolitan Government. The price is 700 yen for one day. If you make 4 or more subway rides, it’s paid off. But you can take only 4 subway lines.
Tokyo Metro 1-Day Open Ticket
This deal covers all lines of Tokyo Metro 9 lines. The price is 600 yen for one day. This deal has bigger coverage area than Toei subway deal above but the price is cheaper. You may be able to get the worth by 3 subway rides.
*Tokyo Metro 1-Day Open Ticket will be Tokyo Metro 24 hours ticket on March 26, 2016. Currently this pass is valid midnight to midnight. So even if you start using it at 23:00, you spend one day for just one hour. But new ticket will be available for 24 hours basis. If you start using 24hr pass at 23:00, ticket is valid until 22:59 on day 2.
There are some combined deals, like JR and subway, airport access train and subway.
Tokyo One-Day Free Ticket, Tokyo Tour Ticket, Tokyo Free Kippu, Tokyo Combination Ticket
This deal is called by several different names but it is same. This covers all subway lines and JR lines in Tokyo 23 wards. So it is combined of Toei Subway and Tokyo Metro Lines Common One-Day Economy Pass (1000 yen) and Tokyo Tokunai Pass (750 yen). But the price of this deal is 1590 yen. Actually this is not easy to get the worth of this pass. You have to make train trip at least 8 times. If you visit many places in one day and need to take both subway and JR trains, this pass will work. Otherwise this is not recommended. You may find the detailed information and conditions at JR East official site.
Airport access ticket and subway pass combination deal
There are many types of deals for travelers who arrive at Haneda and Narita airport. Keisei railway (Narita), Keihin Kyuko Railway (Haneda) and Limousine bus (Narita/Haneda) offers transportation to downtown Tokyo and subway pass combination deal. Please find more information at Tokyo Metro official site.
There are many many train lines in Greater Tokyo. And also many train companies share the track for the commuter’s convenience. Since trains come from outside city go through subway into the center of Tokyo, commuters can get the work place by minimum transfer. This is “Inter-connected through service”. This makes you be confused. For example, JR train goes through subway line and JR train run on subway track as subway train. Do you understand what I mean? If you cannot understand it at this point. it is okay. I would like to show you some inter-connected services in this chapter. If you understand these services, you can get the place where you want quickly and less transfers.
Narita – Asakusa – Ginza – Shinagawa – Haneda route
This route is probably most useful route for overseas travelers. Keisei Railway, Toei Subway Asakusa line and Keihin Kyuko Railway share the track. Some train connect Natita airport and Haneda airport directly via Oshiage (Tokyo Skytree), Asakusa, Higashi-Ginza, Sengakuji and Shinagawa. If you stay the place along subway Asakusa line, such as Asakusa, Ginza, this route takes you the place to stay directly.
Ikebukuro – Shinjuku – Shibuya – Osaki – Tokyo Teleport (Odaiba) – Shin Kiba route
This is the easiest way to get Odaiba from Ikebukuro, Shinjuku and Shibuya. JR Saikyo line train runs on same route as Yamanote line to Osaki. (But Saikyo line train skips several station on Yamanote line.) JR Saikyo line train goes through Rinkai line to Shin-Kiba via Tokyo Teleport (Odaiba). Rinkai line is not JR line but it is operated as a part of Saikyo line. All JR Saikyo line train run on Rinkai line.
But Rinkai line is covered by only Tokyo Wide Pass. Other JR deals do not cover Rinkai line.
Toride – Kitasenju – Otemachi – Meiji Jingu – Yoyogi Uehara – Hon Atsugi – Hakone Yumoto route
JR train, Tokyo Metro Chiyoda line and Odakyu Railway share the track. When you go to Hakone, Odakyu Railway is very convenient. Odakyu Railway has limited express train “Romancecar” that depart from Shinjuku. But a few Romancecar depart from Kitasenju and goes through Tokyo Metro Chiyoda line until Yoyogi-Uehara. You may find the timetable at the link below:
But if you intend to use Hakone Free Pass, you have to purchase the pass in advance because this pass is sold at Odakyu Railway station. You cannot purchase it at any subway stations. In this case, you have to purchase Hakone Free Pass from Yoyogi-Uehara. 2 days pass is 5140 yen and 3 day pass is 5640 yen. This does not include subway fare. You can purchase subway ticket to Yoyogi-Uehara. On the way back, you can pay extra charge for subway when you exit subway station. You can show Hakone Free Pass and subway station staff can understand you need to pay the fare from Yoyogi-Uehara.
How to access to major spots in Tokyo by train
I would like to show you the nearest station to major sightseeing spots in downtown Tokyo. All places below are shown on the map below:
- JR Akihabara
- Tokyo Metro Hibiya line Akihabara
- Toei Subway Shinjuku line Iwamotocho
Iwatamotocho station is not located in the center of Akihabara. But it is only 5 minutes away from JR and Hibiya line Akihabara station. You can access to Akihabara easily.
- Tokyo Metro Ginza line Asakusa
- Toei Subway Askausa line Asakusa
- Tobu Railway Asakusa
All stations are located in the center of Asakusa. Senso-ji temple is very closed from these stations.
- JR Mitaka
Please see the detail information at the link below:
Complete access guide to Ghibli Museum from Tokyo and Shinjuku.
- Tokyo Metro Marunouchi line Ginza
- Tokyo Metro Marunouchi line Yurakucho
- Tokyo Metro Ginza line Ginza
- Tokyo Metro Hibiya line Ginza
- Tokyo Metro Hibiya line Hibiya
- Tokyo Metro Hibiya line Higashi-Ginza
- Tokyo Metro Yurakucho line Yurakucho
- Tokyo Metro Yurakucho line Ginza-Itchome
- Toei Subway Asakusa line Higashi-Ginza
- JR Yurakucho
There are many stations in Ginza area. Even if you have only JR deals, you can access to Ginza from Yurakucho station very easily.
- JR Harajuku
- Tokyo Metro Chiyoda line Meiji-Jingumae
- Tokyo Metro Fukutoshin line Meiji-Jingumae
Tokyo Metro Meiji-Jingumae stations are located at same place as JR Harajuku.
- JR Tokyo
- Tokyo Metro Marunouchi line Otemachi
- Tokyo Metro Chiyoda line Otemachi
- Tokyo Metro Hanzomon line Otemachi
- Tokyo Metro Tozai Otemachi
- Toei Subway Mita line Otemachi
- Tokyo Metro Chiyoda line Nijubashimae
- Tokyo Metro Yurakucho line Sakuradamon
- Toei Subway Mita line Otemachi
Imperial Palace is a huge place and you can access from many stations. You should check which part of Imperial Palace you will visit before you go.
- Yurikamome Odaiba-Kaihinkoen
- Yurikamome Daiba
- TWR Rinkai line Tokyo-Teleport
There is no subway and JR stations in this area. Any subway and JR deals do not cover Odaiba area. Only Tokyo Wide Pass by JR covers Rinkai line to get Odaiba. Yurikamome has one day pass but it is too expensive to have only round trip to Odaiba from Shinbashi.
If you have Suica, Pasmo, ICOCA or other major IC card, you can use it to take both Rinkai line and Yurikamome.
- Tokyo Metro Hibiya line Roppongi
- Toei Subway Oedo line Roppongi
- JR Shibuya
- Tokyu Railway Shibuya
- Tokyo Metro Ginza line Shibuya
- Tokyo Metro Hanzomon line Shibuya
- Tokyo Metro Fukutoshin line Shibuya
Shibuya is one of the hub stations in Tokyo. There are five stations but actually four station because Tokyu Railway (not Tokyo Railway) share the track with subway.
Tokyu Railway Denentoshi line – Tokyo Metro Hanzomon line
Tokyu Railway Toyoko like – Tokyo Metro Fukutoshin line
- JR Shinjuku
- Odakyu Railway Shinjuku
- Keio Railway Shinjuku
- Toei Subway Oedo line Shinjuku
- Toei Subway Oedo line Shinjuku-Nishiguchi
- Toei Subway Shinjuku line Shinjuku
- Tokyo Metro Marunouchi line Shinjuku-Nishiguchi
- Seibu Railway Seibu-Shinjuku
Shinjuku is the busiest station in the world.
Seibu Railway and Keio Railways are not shown in the map. These are major private railway lines in Tokyo.
Suibu-Shinjuku station is a bit away from other Shinjuku stations.
Keio Railway has two stations in Shinjuku. This railway shares the track with Toei Subway Shinjuku line at one of these Shinjuku stations.
- Yurikamome Shiodome
- Yurikakome Shinbashi
- JR Shinbashi
- Toei Subway Asakusa line Shinbashi
- Tokyo Metro Ginza line Shinbashi
Shiodome area is connected with Shinbashi station by shopping arcade. It is 10 minutes away from Shinbashi by walk.
Tokyo Disney Resort (Disneyland and DisneySea)
- JR Maihama
The entrance of Disneyland is very close from Maihama station. You can also access to the gate of DisneySea by walk. But it is about 15 minutes walk away. You may take Tokyo Disney Resort Line (Monorail) to get these entrance.
You also can find some more information about Disneyland at the link below:
Tokyo Dome City
- JR Suidobashi
- Toei Subway Mita line Suidobashi
- Toei Subway Mita line Kasuga
- Toei Subway Oedo line Kasuga
- Tokyo Metro Marunouchi line Korakuen
- Tokyo Metro Namboku line Korakuen
You can also find the access information at Tokyo Dome City official site.
- Tobu Railway Skytree
- Tobu Railway Oshiage
- Keisei Railway Oshiage
- Tokyo Metro Hanzomon line Oshiage
- Toei Subway Asakusa line Oshiage
There are actually three stations because of shared track.
Tobu Railway – Tokyo Metro Hanzomon line
Keisei Railway – Toei Subway Asakusa line
There are only two “Oshiage” station. If you go to Tobu Railway Oshiage station, that is also Tokyo Metro Hazomon line Oshiage station. If you go to Keisei Railway Oshiage station, it is Toei Subway Asakusa line Oshiage station.
Tobu Railway has two stations near Tokyo Skytree. You can access from these two stations.
- Toei Subway Oedo line Tsukiji-Shijo
- Tokyo Metro Hibiya line Tsukiji
You can access from both stations. But if you want to go to the inside of market, Tsukiji-Shijo station is located just next to the market and much closer than Tsukiji station. If you go to Tsukiji to eat fresh seafood, you can access from both stations easily.
- JR Ueno
- Keisei Railway Keisei-Ueno
- Tokyo Metro Ginza line Ueno
- Tokyo Metro Hibiya line Ueno
Ueno is also one of the hub stations in Tokyo. But it is much easier than other hub stations, like Tokyo and Shinjuku. All stations are located in same place. Ueno Park is located just next to the station.