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 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
14-19 Tokaido ShinkansenNagoya, Kyoto, Shin-Osaka, Hiroshima, Hakata
20-23 Tohoku, 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.

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

  1. Hello Takeshi San / ,

    Is both office below can be also reserve seat when I exchange JRpass?

    Japan Rail Pass exchange office
    Yaesu North exit & Yaesu Central Exit JR Central (Tokai) ticket center.

    1. Hi Fanny san,

      You can exchange the pass at these following offices:
      JR EAST Travel Service Center (Marunouchi North)
      JR-CENTRAL Ticket Office (Yaesu North)
      JR Tokai Tours Tokyo Office

      You can book a seat when you exchange the pass at these locations as well.


      Takeshi /

  2. Hello,

    If I am at Narita Airport and require to go to Tokyo Station, how do I take the train, do I need to change trains?

    From Tokyo station, how do I get to Cup Noodles Museum and how to go to Tokyo Disneyland?

    Where should I go and take the bullet train to Osaka from Tokyo?

    After alighting at Osaka, how can I go to USJ?

  3. Hi Takeshi, My family and I will be travelling from Maihama to Universal City and I would like to clarify regarding train transfer using paper tickets. Do we exit every station and buy another ticket for the next station or I can buy ticket from maihama to tokyo, tokyo to shin-osaka(nozomi), then shin-osaka to universal city?

    Thanks for your help.

  4. Dear,
    I buy JR 7 days, When I take prior JR ticket with reserved seat for my itinerary ( Tokyo – Kyoto 10AM ) , But then I change it ( tokyo-kyoto 2PM ), what I have to do with my prior JR ticket with reserved seat? i have to cancel it or not? if i have to cancel, where I can do it ?
    best regards.

    1. Hi Ken,

      I recommend you to cancel the ticket. Because someone might have a chance to book a seat. You can return your ticket at the reservation window in any most of JR stations which is called “Midori no Madoguchi”. You don’t need to pay any extra charge when you cancel.


      Takeshi /

  5. Hi we will be staying at Nishitetsu Inn at Shinjuku and would like to travel by Japan Rail to Osaka using the Hikari train. Please tell us if there is a Shinkansen from Shinjuku to Osaka? Must we change trains?

      1. hi takeshi!

        i’m planning to buy a shinkansen ticket (tokyo – kyoto). if i buy it from shinjuku station, do i use IC card for my shinjuku – tokyo trip, then use the base fare + train ticket when entering the shinkansen gate? i’m a little bit confused, hope you can clarify for me 🙂

        1. Hi Tin,

          You don’t need to use IC card. When you buy a ticket, you can buy Shinjuku-Tokyo-Kyoto. You can start using base fare ticket and you don’t need to exit at Tokyo. You can enter Shinkansen gate at Tokyo station by base fare ticket and Shinkansen ticket.


          Takeshi /

          1. thank you for that clarification, takeshi! 🙂 oh, i would like to add.. what if i want to buy an ekiben from ekiben matsuri— can i still do that before entering the shinkansen gate?

  6. Hi. Im planning to take the shuttle bus from Narita to Tokyo Central Station. To get to the Chuo Line to Shinjuku, do i need to go through any stairs since it is on ground floor? I have a big luggage. Thanks

  7. I’m wondering about taking the Narita Express from the airport. It says I can transfer to other JR East train. My hotel is next to Yotsuya-sanchome station which has the Marunouchi line running there. Can I take the Narita Express to Tokyo Station and transfer to that train with one ticket?


  8. I will be using JR Keihin Tohoku/Negishi local line from Shinagawa to come to Tokyo station in the morning to catch Shinkansen Kagayaki 503.
    I have couple of questions.
    Can I use my JR pass to go from Shinagawa to Tokyo ?
    How much time I should allow to transfer from local line to shinkansen track # 21?
    Where can I get a detailed plan of Tokyo station different levels?

  9. hello Takeshi

    I have looked at the JR East map of Tokyo station but i am still not very clear how to reach the Keiyo line when i arrive at 16:40 at Track No.19 [SHINKANSEN HIKARI 470] from Okayama. I need to find Track No.3 of the Keiyo line for a train at 17.04 towards Soga.

    From your helpful post, i now know i need to go to basement fourth floor – and you say that i should go to Yaesu South exit to find the access. Are there escalators there to the basement fourth floor? Have you any suggestions for finding Yaesu South exit after i arrive at Track no 19?

    thank you very much for your help – i dont want to miss the Keiyo train!

  10. Hai Takeshi, i have a question regarding tokyo station.

    With my JR Pass, I’m planning to take NEX from shinjuku to tokyo station, then board shinkansen hikari to osaka. I know that it will be easier for me to transfer at shinagawa, but i will have my luggage stored at tokyo station (which i will do the day before), so i need to get it before i go to osaka.

    Is it really complicated to go from NEX underground to platform 14 for hikari? I already study the map at JR East website, but i’m still a little confused. And if i do that, how much time should i allocate to transfer?

    The only reason i’m taking NEX to tokyo station is because of rush hour, i’m planning to take 9:33 hikari, so if i take yamanote or marunouchi, they will be packed.

    Since I already have my luggage stored, i will only need to bring a stroller, 1 hand carry, and a toddler. Is it doable?

    1. Hi Selvia,

      I agree with you to take Narita Express to avoid morning peak hours. And also Narita Express from Shinjuku does not stop at Shinagawa. Even if you want, you cannot. Only Narita Express from Yokohama stops at Shinagawa.

      15 minutes is okay to transfer at Tokyo. Just go up from underground to ground level. Actually there are lots of signage. You cannot miss it.


      Takeshi /

      1. Thank you Takeshi for your reply! Then I will go ahead with the plan. One last detailed question, just to make sure I get everything right. So at shinjuku, i show my JR pass to manned gate, board NEX train and disembark at Tokyo Station right? I assume i will have to exit manned gate again first, then re-enter at shinkansen gate? Also, is it necessary to reserve seat at NEX train? It should be free with my JR pass.

        1. Hi Selvia,

          At Tokyo station, you need to exit the gate. Just follow the signage of Shinkansen. You will get Shinkansen transfer gate. And then show your pass at the gate to proceed Shinkansen platform. Other procedure is okay.

          Narita Express has only reserved seat. I recommend you to book a seat for even short ride. It’s covered fully.


          Takeshi /

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