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 structure is divided into 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 reason why Tokyo station is very complicated. There are 20 tracks at the ground floor. Another 4 tracks each at both underground floor. There are many trains arriving and departing every minutes. Overall the following trains depart and arrive at Tokyo station:

  • Shinkansen (high speed long distance train running on the designated track)
  • Limited Express trains (the fastest train on conventional tracks)
  • Rapid trains (suburban commute train)
  • Urban commute train

I think many of you will change these trains at Tokyo station.

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 Shinkansen (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 Shinkansen from Tokyo station Yaesu side, you can use Shinkansen 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 Shinkansen lines. Otherwise enter Tokyo station from South, Central or North and go through Shinkansen 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 Shinkansen

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 lineDestination
1,2■Chuo lineShinjuku, Hachioji, Takao
3Keihin Tohoku lineAkihabara, Ueno, Omiya
4■Yamanote lineAkihabara, Ueno, Ikebukuro
5■Yamanote lineYurakucho, Shinbashi, Hamamatsucho, Shinagawa, Shibuya
6■Keihin Tohoku lineHamamatsucho, Shinagawa, Yokohama, Ofuna
7,8■Ueno Tokyo lineUeno, Utsunomiya, Takasaki, Omiya, Mito
Limited Express Hitachi, Tokiwa
9,10Tokaido lineShinagawa, 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.

Akita Shinkansen and Tokaido Shinkansen at Tokyo station (C) James Chuang
Track#Name of lineDestination
14-19Tokaido ShinkansenNagoya, Kyoto, Shin-Osaka, Hiroshima, Hakata
20-23Tohoku, Joetsu, Hokuriku (Nagano), Akita, Yamagata ShinkansenSendai, 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

Narita Express at Sobu underground platform

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 lineDestination
1,2■Yokosuka lineRapid 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 lineRapid 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 Marunouchi 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 sidewalks and escalators on the way to Keiyo line tracks. Keiyo line platforms are far away from other platforms. (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 lineDestination
1,2■Keiyo lineLocal train to Shin-Kiba, Maihama, Soga, Matsudo, Limited Express Wakashio to Katsuura, Awakamogawa, Limited Express Sazanami to Tateyama
1-4■Keiyo lineLocal 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 600 m 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.

Minimum connecting time

Tokyo station is the biggest station. When you change trains in Tokyo station, you must have some extra time. I will show you the minimum connecting times in Tokyo station. This is set for the first time traveler who has never been to Tokyo station. You may be able to change trains a bit quicker. However if you have this connection time, you can change trains with no stresses:

 Tokaido Shinkansen
Tohoku Shinkansen
Hokkaido Shinkansen
Joetsu Shinkansen
Hokuriku Shinkansen
Akita Shinkansen
Yamagata Shinkansen
10 minutes
Yamanote line
Keihin-Tohoku line
Chuo line
15 minutes
Ueno Tokyo line
Limited Express Odoriko
Limited Express Hitachi/Tokiwa
10 minutes
Narita Express
Sobu rapid train
20 minutes
Keiyo line20 minutes
 Tohoku Shinkansen
Hokkaido Shinkansen
Joetsu Shinkansen
Hokuriku Shinkansen
Akita Shinkansen
Yamagata Shinkansen
Tokaido Shinkansen10 minutes
Yamanote line
Keihin-Tohoku line
Chuo line
15 minutes
Ueno Tokyo line
Limited Express Odoriko
Limited Express Hitachi/Tokiwa
10 minutes
Narita Express
Sobu rapid train
20 minutes
Keiyo line20 minutes
 Narita Express
Sobu rapid train
Yamanote line
Keihin-Tohoku line
Chuo line
15 minutes
Ueno Tokyo line
Limited Express Odoriko
Limited Express Hitachi/Tokiwa
15 minutes
Keiyo line20 minutes
 Yamanote line
Keihin-Tohoku line
Chuo line
Ueno Tokyo line
Limited Express Odoriko
Limited Express Hitachi/Tokiwa
10 minutes
Keiyo line15 minutes
 Ueno Tokyo line
Limited Express Odoriko
Limited Express Hitachi/Tokiwa
Keiyo line15 minutes

Luggage storage facility and coin lockers

Coin lockers are available many many places in Tokyo station at both inside and outside the ticket gates.

Tokyo station has huge numbers of coin lockers. But in daytime, most of lockers are full in even week days. If you go to the station in late evening or early morning, you may find the space easier. And also there are several luggage storage spaces available in Tokyo station. Please see the links below to find the information about the luggage storage services and coin lockers.

Coin Lockers/Baggage Storage at Tokyo Station, Tokyo Station City official site
Sagawa Express Transportation, Tokyo Service Center
*Sagawa Express is one of major cargo transportation companies.

JR Pass and JR East Pass exchange office

There are four places where you can exchange JR pass in Tokyo station:

  • JR EAST Travel Service Center (near Marunouchi north ticket gate)
  • JR-CENTRAL Ticket Office (Yaesu Central)
  • JR-CENTRAL Ticket Office (Yaesu North)
  • JR Tokai Tours Tokyo Office (Yaesu North)

If you use JR East Pass Tohoku, JR East Pass Nagano Niigata, Tokyo Wide Pass, Hokuriku Arch Pass, JR East South Hokkaido Rail Pass, you can exchange/purchase it at JR East Travel Service Center only.

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

  1. Hello Takeshi San,

    I am looking to travel on the Tokaido Shinkansen from Tokyo to Shin-osaka tomorrow morning 9am. I will be travelling from Hotchibori with family.
    I understand I need to take the Hikari line to shin-osaka but am struggling to find a timetable.

    My question is, if you can kindly assist:

    – what is the best way to get from Hatchobori to Tokyo station at the right track for my journey with escalators or lifts as I have 2 young ones?

    – Do I need to make a reservation or I should be ok?

    Thanks
    Chirag

    1. Hi Chirag san,

      You may take JR Keiyo line from Hatchobori to Tokyo. But as I mentioned in the post above, Keiyo line platform in Tokyo station is quite far from other tracks in Tokyo station. There are escalators and moving walkways from Keiyo line platform to Shinkansen platform. So it’s easy but long. You should have at least 15 minutes. 20 minutes is more comfortable.

      Reseration is not required but recommended. You can book a seat even in Tokyo station before taking Shinkansen. Reservation is open until 5 minutes before the departure time.

      I don’t recommend you to take Keiyo line before 9:00 am. It is very crowded because of morning peak hour. If you intend to take Hikari at 9:00 am in Tokyo, don’t do it. You should leave Hatchobori after 9:00 and take Hikari around 10:00 am. It is too much for the family with small kids before 9:00 am.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. Hello Takeshi San,

    We will departing Japan from Narita Airport on 9.45am morning flight and feeling a bit anxious how to reach Narita Airport in time

    We will be taking the subway called NishiShinjuku-Gochome Station to Shinjuku Station very early in the morning in order to reach the Airport by 7.45am for airport checking in

    Would like to seek your kind advice what train or bus to take from Shinjuku Station to Narita Airport

    As i heard Shinjuku station is a very big station, would appreciate if you could let me know which colour line or exit or entry gate to look out to travel to Narita Airport

    Please advice me whether i should purchase the Keisei Skyliner train or Keisei Line train ticket since it is morning peak hour time

    If there is another station after Shinjuku Station, please also let me know what is the station name to alight and how to reach Narita Airport from this current station

    Thank you

    1. Hi Chee Kiong san,

      The easiest way is taking Narita Express from Shinjuku station.
      https://jprail.com/trains/sort-by-type/limited-express/narita-express.html

      You can find the station map in the link below:
      https://www.jreast.co.jp/e/stations/e866.html

      Narita Exprss usually depart from track #5 or #6.

      There is no deals to cover Narita Express. The regular fare is 3,250 yen. You can purchase a ticket at any major JR stations in advance.

      I don’t recommend you to take other train because as you think, it is morning peak hour. The train is packed. But Narita Express has only reserved seat. As long as you book a seat, you can get Narita airport from Shinjuku directly. You cannot take this train. I recomemnd you to book it in advance.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

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