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 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.

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

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 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 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 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 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.

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

  1. Hello Takeshi san,

    Flying in via Haneda Airport then going straight to Nagano for 5 days. Am getting to Tokyo station via the Tokyo Monorial then JR Yamanote. I plan to store one of my baggage at Tokyo Station and then buy a bento meal before travelling to Nagano.

    I have a couple of questions, hope you can help
    1) Should I store my baggage at Nagano or Tokyo Station?
    **If storing at Tokyo is better, are there baggage center/lockers within the inner side ie not going outside (*scared can’t find the place when we are back)
    2) How do I go from JR Yamanote line to get to the Shinkansen for Nagano?
    3) Can I get any bento meal while on the inside?

    Many thanks for your help!

    1. Hi BeeHong san,

      1. Tokyo station is better if you have plenty of the time there. It’s easier to travel to Nagano.
      If you want to leave your luggage inside the ticket gate, you can find lockers and baggage hold service underground lavel, “Gransta Tokyo”.
      http://www.tokyoinfo.com/en/#section4

      There are lots of Bento shops there too.

      2. Move from track #4 to Hokuriku Shinkansen ticket gate. But all you have to do is following the signage. It’s a big station but it’s easy to find.

      3. As I mentioned, above, you can find many shops near Baggage service area. But there are many more in the station. There are many and you cannot miss it.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. Dear Takeshi san,

    I will go from Tokyo to Osaka by train on November 9th. To be exact, I will go from Uguisudani station in Tokyo. I will have to change from JR train to Shinkansen Nozomi at Tokyo station.

    So here is what made me confused. When using Hyperdia to check the train schedule and ticket price, I saw that it is the same price, which is 14,450 yen, to go from Uguisudani station to Osaka; as well as from Tokyo station to Osaka.

    Is Hyperdia not correct in this case, or is it true that the trip from Uguisudani station (with transfer in Tokyo station) costs the same as the trip from Tokyo station?

    Also, I will be using a Suica card in Tokyo. For the above trip, I assume I will use the Suica card to go from Uguisudani station to Tokyo station. At Tokyo station, I will use up the e-money, and return the card to get back the 500 yen deposit, and then buy a ticket for Shinkansen to Osaka. Upon arrival in Osaka, I will buy a ICOCA card to use with public transport in Osaka. Am I planning rightfully?

    I go to Japan for the first time so I am a bit confused with the complex system. Thank you very much for your time!

    1. Hi Thanh san,

      The base fare is same from either Tokyo or Uguisudani. Actually you can start at any stations on Yamanote line at same base fare. So you don’t need to use Suica from Uguisudani to Tokyo. You can start using base fare ticket at Uguisudani and use Shinkansen ticket when you enter Shinkansen platform in Tokyo station.

      You can get a refund of Suica at most of stations in downtown Tokyo. But unfortunately you cannot do it at Uguisudani. You can get a refund at Ueno or Nippori.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Hi Takeshi san,

        Very informative! So can I buy the ticket for Uguisudani to Osaka at Uguisudani station? If not, maybe I can buy this ticket the day before when I travel around Tokyo. Also, on November 9th, I may depart from Uguisudani a little bit earlier so that I will have some more time at Tokyo station to get refund of the Suica card. Thanks!

        1. Hi Thanh san,

          You cannot purchase a ticket at Uguisudani because this station does not have a reservation ticket window. You have to go to other major station. Nippori and Ueno are closest station.

          And you cannot refund it at Tokyo station because you cannot exit Tokyo station because you will start using a ticket at Uguisudani. You have to exit to get a refund. Please do it in advance at other major stations, such as Ueno, Nippori.

          Uguisudani station is one of few minor stations in downtown Tokyo. This station has only the vending machine for short distance ride.

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Thank you, Takeshi, for quick response.

        Do I buy the ticket at the station or need to order the ticket ahead of time?

        It is a day trip so do I need to buy a round trip ticket or buy the ticket for the return trip at the Fukushima Station?

        Do I need to buy the reserved seating which doubles the price of the ticket?

        1. Hi Sandy,

          You can buy a ticket on the day of travel or in advance. It’s up to you.
          You also can purchase either one way ticket or return trip ticket. It’s up to you too. The cost is same. Round trip discount is valid for much longer trip.

          You have to pay seat fee anyway when you take Tohoku Shinkansen. I think you compare base fare and base fare/seat fee combined price. Base fare does not cover Shinkansen trip. There is non reserved seat fee available. When you check the price hyperdia, please click seat fee ane you can find non reserved seat fee which is around 500 yen cheaper.

          If you pay base fare only, you have to take commute trains all the way. You have to change trains several times and trip time is much much longer. It is not a realistic choice.

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

          1. Hello, Takeshi,

            Thank you so much for your information – I will purchase the train tickets on the day of travel and will pay for the full fare which includes the seat assignments.

            Very helpful, many thanks,
            Sandy

  3. Hi, Takeshi,
    I’m planning to go to tokyo from KIX using JR pass this december , and have 2 choices of hotel ( haven’t decided yet) , first around kanda station and 2nd around nishi nippori station/mikawashima station, how do I get there after arrive in tokyo using shinkansen ? Can I asked which one is better choice ( for the hotel area) if I want go to gala yuzawa, hakone/kawaguchiko or yokoham?
    And do I need to reserve seat to go back to osaka ? ( planning stay at tokyo for 3 Nights)
    Thank’s before
    Best regards

    1. Hi Pauline,

      Kanda is better because it is closer to Tokyo station. It’s just one station away from Tokyo by Yamanote line or Chuo line. You can take Joetsu Shinkansen to get Gala, rapid train to Yokohama, Shinkansen to Odawara (Hakone) from Tokyo. When you go to Lake Kawaguchi, you can get Shinjuku first and then take Limited express train to get Otsuki. Please see the links below to find more info:
      https://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
      https://jprail.com/destinations/chubu-area/fuji-hakone-access-guide-by-train-and-bus-from-both-tokyo-and-osaka-kyoto-nagoya.html
      https://jprail.com/destinations/kanto-area/yokohama-and-kamakura-access-guide-find-the-right-deal-and-route-from-your-place-to-stay.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  4. Hello, Takeshi san!

    Thank you very much for all these information.

    May I ask from Tokyo Station, how can I go to Gala Yuzawa.

    Thank you very much!

  5. Hi Takeshi san

    A further question to my one below – which is which exit side do I need from the Yamanote line – Yaesu side or Marunouchi side?

    Again I find your guide great but this time I still have a question about transfer. We will be transferring from the Yamanote line, coming from Ebisu. I gather from this that we will arrive at track 4 on the ground level. We then get the Shinkansen Hayabusa 15 travelling to Shin-Hakodate. I think this is leaving from track 20. Is this correct? The table here does not mention this as a destination from tracks 20 to 23. Am I right in thinking we look for the Shinkansen gate and that this is also on the ground floor? Thank you for your advice on this excellent site.

    1. Hi Ian san,

      Yamanoe line is located at Marunouchi side and Tohoku/Hokkaido Shinkansen is at other side, Yaesu.
      Shinkansen leaves from one of the tracks of 20 to 23. You can enter Tohoku/Hokkaido Shinkansen ticket gate and proceed one of these platforms. You can find which one you go at the ticket gate. You can find the departure information board there.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  6. Hi Takeshi san

    Again I find your guide great but this time I still have a question about transfer. We will be transferring from the Yamanote line, coming from Ebisu. I gather from this that we will arrive at track 4 on the ground level. We then get the Shinkansen Hayabusa 15 travelling to Shin-Hakodate. I think this is leaving from track 20. Is this correct? The table here does not mention this as a destination from tracks 20 to 23. Am I right in thinking we look for the Shinkansen gate and that this is also on the ground floor? Thank you for your advice on this excellent site.

  7. Hello Takeshi san,

    I absolutely love and appreciate your guide. I am a fan of trains myself and sometimes I just read the guide because of that!

    My group is planning to head to Hakodate from Osaka via the Shinkansen. Our scheduled train arrives in Tokyo at 9:10AM and the train to Hakodate departs at 9:36AM. Would this be enough time to transfer between trains? Is there even time to grab some food & drinks (ekiben, etc.) before boarding?

    Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Elliott san,

      Yes. You can change trains in 10 minutes. So you have enough time to buy something to eat and drink. There are some shops on the platform. And in the worst case, you still can purchase it on board. On board service is available in Shinkansen to Hakodate.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

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