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. i wiil be arive at 07:40 track No.2
    and to take SHINKANSEN KODAMA 637 at 07:56
    Departure track No.14 .(16 min.)

    can you tell me how to go from track 2 to track no 14 ?

  2. Hi Takeshi
    Thanks for taking your time to reply. i m planning to go :
    30/1 arrive Narita 5.30pm go to : Shirakawa-go (overnight at Kanazawa due to late arrival)
    From Shirakawa-go, i would like to go to Mount Fuji (stay a night nearby – kawaguchi or gotenba) – have not book a place
    from 1/2 to 6/2, i would b staying very near to shibuya station, and places i would like to visit:
    Yokohama / Kawagoe / DisneySea / Meiji Shrine
    Tsukiji market / Imperial Palace / Akihabara
    Odaiba / Ghibli Museum
    May i know which passes should i purchase? i would like the fastest route to kanazawa and mount fuji, if there’s a shinkasen.
    Thanks so much for your kind assistance.

    1. Hi Amanda,

      You may use JR Pass 7 days for Narita-Tokyo-Kanazawa-Tokyo, and visit the plaecs in Tokyo or nearby.

      But you have to add the bus fare to Shirakawago. It’s not covered by JR pass.

      As we discussed, Hokuriku Shinkansen it the best way to get Kanazawa. You can take Narita Express from Narita to get Tokyo before taking Hokuriku Shinkansen.

      Express bus is the best way to get either Lake Kawaguchi or Gotemba. You can use JR pass to get these places partially. But it’s not direct and may be inconvenient. Please see the link below:

      In Tokyo, some places, like Odaiba, Tsuiji, are not covered by JR pass. Please see the link below:

      You need to add single fare to get Narita from Shibuya on departure day. JR Pass will be already expired. Narita Express or Limousine bus costs around 3000 yen.

      Or if you take local train to get Tokyo and take budget bus. it’s much cheaper.


      Takeshi /

  3. Halo there~

    I will be arriving Haneda Airport at 7am.
    I am thinking of departing to Osaka using Shinkansen on that day itself. However, before that, I need to exchange the order with the pass as well as to reserve seat at the counter. Do you think I will be in time for that? Or it is advisable just to take the train to Osaka next day. Thanks~


    1. Hi Jenny,

      It’s no problem at all. You can travel to Osaka on arrival day. It takes 30 to 45 minutes to get Shinagawa or Tokyo from Haneda. And it takes 3 hours to get Osaka from Tokyo by Shinkansen. Shinkansen runs until late night.


      Takeshi /

      1. Thanks for the reply.

        Do you think there will be ticket available at that time? Any possibility that they will run out of Shinkansen tickets?


  4. Hi. my flight will arr narita on 30/1 5.30pm. if i want to visit the shirakawa go, is the sinkasen from tokyo station to kanazawa the fastest route? wat pass should i purchase? and can i use the same pass to visit mount fuji?

    1. Hi Amanda,

      Hokuriku Shinkansen to Kanazawa route is the fastest. But you cannot get Shirakawago on arrival day. Your arrival time is too late to get there. You have to stay in Kanazawa and take a bus next day.

      You have to fix all part of your plan first before you pick the deal. I cannot say which pass is the best for you until you show me all part of your trip plan. Please tell me your detailed plan day by day.


      Takeshi /

  5. From Narita T 2 reach Tokyo station at Track 1 and on transfer to Shinkansen Hayabusa 13 to Shin Hakodate hokuto on 20/12/2016 at track 20, how much walking time needed ?


  6. Hi, we are heading to Nagano on the bullet train, when we take the NEX from Narita airport should we go to Tokyo station or Shinjuku station?

  7. Hi,

    Its our first time to Japan. We are a family of 4 (2A & 2Kids) and we are going Tokyo this coming week.

    We bought our tickets from SIN to travel from Narita T1 to Ueno station via Keisei Skyliner. We need to continue our journey from Ueno to Karuizawa and HIS Singapore said we can buy at T1. We hope we wont have issue moving around to find the counter

    I downloaded the airport map which tells me where to go to exchange my voucher to KS ticket but I cannot find how to move from Ueno station to find the Hokuriku Shinkansen. I was told being 1st timer, its easier to move around in Ueno than in Tokyo station (earlier we wanted to buy NEX ticket which stops at Tokyo station).
    I tried to google how to move from Ueno to Hokuriku but I cant find. Do you have a brief map or maybe kind of explain to me how do we find our way?

    We are trying to reach Karuizawa by dinner time so the kids can have a good rest so I hope to be well prepared instead of having to move around to find the gate at that time.

    many thanks in advance

    1. Hi Veronica,

      First of all, you can book and purchase Hokuriku Shinkansen ticket at Narita airport. Keisei and JR ticket counter are located side by side.

      Actually in my opinion, you should have chosen Tokyo station to transfer the trains. Tokyo is a big station but you can change the trains in same station.
      On the other hand, at Ueno station, you have to walk outside. Please see the link below:

      Keisei Ueno station is located underground. You have to go up the ground level after arrival at Keisei Ueno station. And then you will find JR Ueno station on your left side. It’s a huge station and you cannot miss it.

      Ueno station has many platforms.

      It looks very complicated. But there are lots of signage and just follow it. You can enter Ueno station at any ticket gate. Shinkansen platform is located in very deep underground. You can take elevator or escalator. So you will be find.

      I recommend you to have at least 15 minutes to transfer. Even 20 minutes is fine. If you worry about transfer at Ueno, you can purchase and book Shinkansen ticket at Ueno station. You can purchase it in last minutes as long as seat is available. Usually it’s not hard to get seats.


      Takeshi /

      1. Many thanks Takeshi. I didn’t expect such a swift response. Very appreciated. we made a wrong choice by going Ueno Station instead of Tokyo. HIS Singapore told me Ueno is easier but seems we have to get out of the Keisei Ueno. I hope we wont get lost since we need to be fast to catch the next available train.

        Can you enlighten me further :

        Keisei Skyliner – only 1 standard class? If we arrive Narita at about 1420hrs, do you think we can leave custom within an hr time and catch the 1538hrs train? (that will include queuing at the counter to exchange for the train ticket) I hope the queue wont be long…

        By any chance do you know if we need to have passports ready to exchange for the train tickets? HIS told me no need but from the website it seems they are required? (as I hope to get my hubby to queue to buy Hokuriku Shinkansen while I queue to get the KS tickets) in order to save time 🙂

        Hokuriku Shinkansen – I can buy from Narita T1 as well but I understand from the staff I have to take Asama (I guess its a train model). Do they have different class to offer? Do I “reserve” a seat at airport? How will we gauge what time to book then?? (Since we wont know if we will get lost finding JR Ueno or not..

        Thanks again for your kind advice.

        1. Hi Veronica,

          Usually it will take one hour to get custom and immigration. But I have spent 1.5 hour before. If I were you, I try to have at least 1.5 hour until train departure time. Especially if you want to purchase a ticket at Narita, you need some more minutes.

          Passport is not required to purchase a regular ticket.

          Skyliner has only one class.

          Hokuriku Shinkansen has three classes, Gran class, Green class and ordinary class. Please see the link below to find the info.

          There are reserved and non reserved on ordinary class. I recommend you to take ordinary. Please see the link below the difference between reserved and non reserved.


          Takeshi /

          1. Morning Takeshi,

            My trip is getting near and everyone is so excited. Just a few silly questions.

            Do they sell food in keisei Skyliner & JR train to Karuizawa? Are we allowed to eat inside the trains?

            How do I find the different coach class for JR train to Karuizawa ?

            Many thanks in advance.

          2. Hi Veronica,

            You can eat on board. The wagon service is available on Hokuriku Shinkansen. But it’s easy if you buy something to eat before boarding. Because you don’t know when the wagon is coming.
            There is no service available on Skyliner but you can eat on Skyliner too.

            You can find which class at the door of the coach.


            Takeshi /

  8. Hi, I’m taking Narita airport bus to Tokyo station yaesu south exit.where can I take train goin Hamamatsucho station goin haneda airport.ty

    1. Hi Lim,

      You need to take Yamanote line or Keihin Tohoku line to get Hamamatsucho. And then take Monorail.
      But if you want to get Haneda from Narita directly, Keisei railway is better. Total cost is 1760 yen. It’s not much different from bus+JR+monorail. But Keisei railway operates many trains to Haneda directly.


      Takeshi /

  9. Hi Takeshi San !
    Good day
    We will be going to Tokyo Japan this December 2016 and this is our first time . On our 3rd day, we were scheduled to go to Osaka via Shinkansen. Would you know if we can bring our suit case on Chuo Line Train from Shinjuku Station to Tokyo Station.
    Are suit cases allowed on other commuter train ?

    1. Hi Francis san,

      There is no restrictions. You can bring the suitcase in the train. However don’t take the train in peak hours, 7:00 to 9:00 am on week days. Train is packed and you cannot get in.


      Takeshi /

  10. Dear Takeshi san,

    May I know where are the shinkansen stations to Osaka in Tokyo and vice versa ? Need to know before making decision for accomodation. Tks

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