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.

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.

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

  1. Dear Takeshi,

    I visited Tokyo, Japan in Dec. 2015 and planning again this Dec. 2018 for Tokyo & Osaka.

    Sorry but I’m little confused of the Tokyo Station you mentioned where to get bullet train for Osaka. Is this the same Tokyo station on subway map? Please help?

  2. Hi,

    I reserved a Shinkansen ticket to Kyoto from Tokyo station. It says it is departing from Tokyo ward at 12, how does it know which tokyo ward I will be at? How would I have reserved a ticket for all the trains leaving at 12 from different wards? Can I take the train from Nagano?

    1. Hi Jenny,

      There are lots of stations in Tokyo 23 wards. So you must make sure which station you start to make a trip and then find the address of station. If your departing station in Tokyo 23 wards, you can start using your ticket. You can take a local train to get Tokyo and change Shinkansen to Kyoto.

      I think your train is Nozomi 227 (Tokyo 12:00 – Kyoto 14:19). You must take this train. Your train number and seat are assigned. If you want to take later or earlier train, you need to find the empty seat in non reserved car.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/travel-tips/reserved-seat-vs-non-reserved-seat-how-to-get-a-seat-on-non-reserved-car.html

      You must take Tokyo to Kyoto direct route. You cannot take a train to other destination, such as Nagano. If you do so, your ticket will be invalid and you have to pay all fares.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  3. Hello,
    I will be in Tokyo for a few days in April after which I need to take the Hayabusa from Tokyo station to Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto. Please advise which entrance I take at Tokyo station, the track number I need to get on to the train and how do I get to the platform. Thanks in advance.
    Regards
    Esther

    1. Hi Esther,

      Track number is varied by the departure. It will be one of 20 to 23.
      You may enter any entrance from Yaesu north, Yaesu central and Yaesu south. After you enter this entrance, you need to go through Tohoku/Hokkaido Shinkansen again.

      Actually there are lots of signage. You cannot lose the way. Please see the link below to find some info:
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/travel-tips/signage-and-announcement-in-the-station-and-train.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  4. Hi Takeshi,
    My Mom just wants to experience riding the shinkansen preferably Tokaido Line but she does only want even up to Yokohama. This is possible right? Is there a particuñar booth that wouñd accomodate us?
    thank you for your time in answering
    jodegs

    1. Hi Jodges,

      It is possible. But it’s such a short ride. It’s just 15-20 minutes ride.
      You can take any class seat, Green or Ordinary. You can purchase a ticket on the spot.
      https://jprail.com/trains/sort-by-departure-arrival-stations/stations-in-tokai/nagoya-toyohashi/what-is-shinkansen-bullet-train.html

      And also Shinkansen’s Yokohama station is Shin-Yokohama which is not located in downtown Yokohama. You need to take subway or local train to get Yokohama.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  5. Hi can someone help me? Im planning to go maibara station via shinkansen but the problem is its my first time here in japan and i dont understand japanese. I dont know how to go there. Please help me

    1. Hi Grace,

      Even if you don’t understand Japanese at all, you will be okay. The signage is shown in English as well. You can find the way easily. Please see the link below:
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/travel-tips/signage-and-announcement-in-the-station-and-train.html

      If you go to Maibara from Tokyo, you can take Shinkansen.
      https://jprail.com/trains/sort-by-departure-arrival-stations/stations-in-tokai/nagoya-toyohashi/what-is-shinkansen-bullet-train.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  6. Hello.. i have received shinkansen tickets from the travel agency for karuizawa from tokyo…
    My hotel is in shinjuku, so i will have to get to tokyo using my suica and then tap out and exit at tokyo station first, right?

    1. Hi Amirah,

      Is your Shinkansen ticket a regular ticket. If so, you may start using it when you enter Shinjuku station. You don’t need Suica. But if it’s not, you need to use Suica as you think. If you are not sure, please ask your travel agency.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  7. Hello, I am arriving at Tokyo Station from Kyoto on Shinkansen. I need to transfer to the Narita Express to go to the airport. I have 20 minutes. Can you assist?

    1. Hi Ray,

      You can transfer these trains in 20 minutes. Just proceed to underground Sobu line platform. Actually there are lots of signage which says “N’ex”. N’ex means Narita Express, so just follow this signage to get the platform.

      By the way, you can change these trains at Shinagawa station too. Platforms for Shinkansen and Narita Express are much closer than Tokyo station.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/basic-informations/station-information/shinagawa-station-guide-transfer-among-shinkansen-keihin-kyuko-to-haneda-narita-express.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  8. Thank you for this. This is very helpful! We have a flight arrive at 4:00pm at Narita Airport and are planning to take the Narita Express to Tokyo Station. If we have a shinkansen leaving at 7:33pm for Osaka, do you think there is enough time to get to the shinkansen from our disembarking our flight?

  9. Dear Takeshi San, greetings!

    I have to get the 東京駅八重洲口鍛冶橋駐車場 from Tokyo station Narita Express platform in 8 minutes. Do you think this is possible?

    Could you please teach me the shortest path to walk to 駐車場 after I get down from NEX (from Narita)? I have a check-in luggage, hopefully less stairs.

    I have studied the JR Tokyo station map, I noticed a lift at NEX platform which I can use to get the B1. Am I on the right track? I do not know where to go from there on.

    Thank you.
    Regards,
    Jessica

    1. Hi Jessica san,

      I don’t think you can get there in 8 minutes from Nex platform. Nex platform is located in deep underground. You have to take two escalators but the escalator is quite long because it is same depth as underground 5th floor.

      And then you need to go to Yaesu south exit. This is the nearest gate to the place where you want to go. Yaesu south exit is still 5 minutes away. I cannot explain the route in words. You may use google map after you get Yaesu south exit.

      I’m very familiar with Tokyo station. But even if I do this, I spend at least 15 minutes. 8 minutes is totally impossible even for me.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Dear Takeshi San,

        Thank you for your reply.

        I found the route to 駐車場 from 八重洲南口.

        But still unsure the shortest path from NEX B5 platform 1 to 八重洲南口.

        Please give me your advice:
        Upon reach B1, should I walk through Gransta towards 八重洲中央口.
        Go up L1 walk pass Tohoku shinkansen.
        八重洲南口 on the left.

        Is this the shortest path?

        Thank you.
        Regards,
        Jessica

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