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.


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.

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

  1. Hi,

    We will be arriving on Track No. 1 from Narita and needs to catch the Shinkansen Hakutaka on Track No. 23.

    Will 15 minutes be enough? Is it across the station from Track 1 to Track 23?

    Thank you.

    1. Hi Tan Yi Hua,

      15 minutes is not plenty of the time but it will be okay. I usually do in 5 minutes but I’m very familiar with this station.
      Just follow Shinkansen signage. You don’t miss it. The movie in the link below shows you how to change the train from Narita Express platform to Shinkansen gate. It’s not Hokuriku Shinkansen gate but it’s almost same place.


      Takeshi /

  2. Dear Takeshi-san,
    I will arrived in Tokyo station using shinkansen from Osaka around 1pm, and need to transit to metro tozai line to Toyocho station. when I check hyperdia it show this route:
    * Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line for IKEBUKURO
    * Tokyo Metro Tozai Line for NISHI-FUNABASHI
    Can you suggest me what exit I need to take after exit the shinkansen and is there any vending machine to buy pasmo card (I already buy JR pass). And is it ok to travel using subway around 1pm, I’m travelling with 2 childs and bring several large luggage. little bit worries when see video about rush hour in Tokyo subway.

    highly regards for your respond…..

    1. Hi Afif san,

      You can exit Marunouchi underground gate. There are lots of signage and all you have to do is just following the signage.
      1:00 pm is not peak hour. I think you have watched passengers packed in the train and they were pushed by station staff. But this “Super” busy time is in the morning from 7:30 t 9:00 only. Subway in Tokyo is always busy but it’s not super busy in the afternoon.


      Takeshi /

  3. Regarding getting to Underground Keiyo (地下京葉) – local train to Maihama (Tokyo Disneyland), Soga, Matsudo, it is less confusing and a much shorter walk if you go the the Yurakucho Station. Walk towards the International Forum (signs in English). Stay outside — you’re walking through the complex. At nearly the other end towards your left you’ll see an entrance to Tokyo Station. Walk down 2 flights of stairs, and you’ll end up at the ticket gate for the Keiyo Line and the Wakashio and Sazanami Ltd express trains.

    Thanks for writing this guide! It’s very important and very helpful.

  4. Hi

    We will be arriving from Narita on NEX to Tokyo station on 12th April. How do I find the exit for Hotel Metropolitan Marunuchi? I think it is Nihinbashi Exit.

    1. Hi Shira,

      I have no idea which exit is the nearest to your hotel either. Probably you can find it at hotel website.
      If you go to Nihonbashi exit, you need to cross Tokyo station from Marunouchi side to Yaesu side. Because NEX arrives underground at Marunouchi side. Nihonbashi exit is located at the north end of Yaesu side. If you exit at any Yaesu exit, you can turn left and walk through Yaesu side to the end. Nihobashi exit is there.


      Takeshi /

  5. Hi, I’m arriving from Haneda and would need to take the Tohoku Shinkansen. Is a 13 min transfer (from JR Keihin-Tohoku departing from Hamamatscho) sufficient? Both lines seem to be on the ground level, and I travel with luggages.

    1. Hi Ashley,

      It’s not impossible but 13 minutes is minimum for you. So you must understand the direction and must know how to get there.
      There are many signage and no worries about loosing your way. But Tokyo station is one of the busiest station in the world. There are many commuters and travelers. It may bother you to move with luggage.

      It’s not impossible but please keep it in your mind if you do it.


      Takeshi /

  6. Hello Takeshi-san,
    Konban wa.

    My family and myself will be flying back to Malaysia on 3rd February 2017. Am currently staying at Hotel Mystays Premier Hamamatsucho in Minato. Kind of confusing on how to travel from my hotel to narita airport terminal 2. For your information, we didnt buy JR pass before we arrive in Japan.

    1. Hi Noor san,

      You have two choices.

      Take Yamanote line to get Tokyo first. And then, take Narita Express or budget bus. Narita Express is more expensive than other choice.

      You can purchase all tickets at Hamamatsucho station reservation window.

      Or just buy a ticket to Tokyo and take Yamanote line and catch budget bus to Narita.


      Takeshi /

  7. Dear Takeshi San,

    i will be arriving at Narita Airport, how should i travel to my hotel (APA hotel Shinjuku Kabukicho Tower)?
    Is train better? If yes, what is the route?
    Or is taking the bus at the airport better?

    Thank you.

    1. Hi Cathy san,

      You can choose either way. The cost is not much different:
      1. Narita Express

      2. Limousine bus

      Both do not go to your hotel. You have to walk from Shinjuku station to your hotel for 15 minutes. But I’m not sure how far your hotel is actually. Please check your hotel to make sure.


      Takeshi /

  8. Hi Takeshi san,

    We will be traveling to Japan for the first time at the end of January, flying into Narita at 0845hrs. We have bought our JR pass. My questions are:

    1. What time does the JR office open at Narita where we exchange our vouchers for the pass?
    2. When we get to Tokyo Station via Narita Express, how do we find our way to the Transfer gate where we can take the Shinkansen to Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto?
    3. How much time should we allow to perform step 2?

    Thank You.

    1. Hi Jym Leong san,

      1. Please see the link below:

      2/3. Please find the map in the below:

      It looks very complicated but the only thing you have to is just follow the signage. There are lots and you can find it very easily.

      15 minutes is recommended for transfer in Tokyo.


      Takeshi /

  9. Hello Takeshi-san

    I have an odd question, which I hope you won’t find annoying. I am writing a romance novel, drawing on my experience of living in Japan. It was so long ago I forgot many of the small details. Also, I lived in Kansai then so my recollections of Tokyo are not so detailed. So, in my novel my heroine is travelling to Tokyo station by shinkansen from Shin-Osaka. It’s a Saturday night, she’s arriving at 19:09. The hero has organised a driver to pick her up and take her to a concert in Harajuku. Which exit should she use? With that I mean, where will a private driver be allowed to pick her up? I know there are always lines of taxis outside stations, so I’m assuming Tokyo station is no different. But is there a pick-up spot where a private car could wait for her? Assuming this is possible, how long will it take her to walk there after disembarking from the Shinkansen? And which landmark would be a good spot to stand at so the driver can spot her? Also, how busy will the station be at that time? Crazy busy, or just normal busy? I hope you will not find answering my questions a pain. Thanks a lot, Annica from Johannesburg.

  10. Could you please explain which entrance I should enter Tokyo train station if I want to take the Hokuriku Shinkansen to Nagano? I will be staying at Mitsui Garden Hotel Kyobashi, 104-0031, Tokyo, Chuo Ward, Chuo-ku Kyobashi 1-3-6 . I will most probably enter through the Yaseu Shopping mall, do I need to look for a shinkansen transfer sign with a green train? Do you recommend accessing the shinkansen platform from Yaseu shopping mall or should I go another way?
    Also, what time is peak hour so I can avoid the train station at this time?

    1. Hi Sandra,

      You can enter any entrance. There are lots of signage and just follow it. Yaesu South is nearest but actually it doesn’t matter. If it’s rain, go through underground shopping mall and it connects to Yaesu central. Tokyo station is a mega terminal station. You can find the station itself very easily. Once you find it, just enter and follow the signage. See the link below and you may see how easy it will be.

      Things will be much easier than that you think.


      Takeshi /

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