How much can we use Japan Rail Pass in downtown Tokyo?

Yamanote line is the busiest train service in Japan.
Yamanote line is the busiest train service in Japan.

I wrote the post about Tokyo subway long time ago. I mentioned that Subway is the best for sightseeing in Tokyo. But some of you travel in Japan for 7 days that include Tokyo. You still can use Japan Rail Pass 7 days pass to explore in Tokyo. So I would like to explain more about Japan Railways local trains in Tokyo. And also I will tell you which popular spot you cannot access by Japan Railway.

Overview Japan Railways local lines in downtown Tokyo

First of all, let’s make sure how many lines Japan Railway have in downtown Tokyo. Please see the map below. I show you Japan Railways’ lines that you need to take in Tokyo. I don’t show you all stations and lines. I show you only major lines and stations.

View How much can we use Japan Rail Pass in downtown Tokyo? in a larger map

Chuo line has orange color (left) and Keihin Tohoku line has sky blue color (right).

They have five lines in Tokyo. All five lines are very busy commute line. Weekdays’ timetable is different from the weekend. But it is not much different. The traveller cannot notice that. The trains are operated every 3-5 minutes in peak hours and 5 to 10 minutes in non peak hours. Usually the train is started to operate around 6:00am and the last one is around 0:30am. So you don’t need to check the timetable. You can take the train anytime.

And each lines have different line color. This color is shown on the platform and train. This coloring let the passenger find the right train easier. The summary of these lines are the following:

Yamanote line (line color Yellow Green)

It is a loop line and connecting most of major downtown cores, like Tokyo, Yurakucho (Ginza), Shinagawa, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro and Ueno. This is the busiest line in Japan. The train comes every 2.5 minutes in peak hours and every 4 minutes even in daytime. Most of sightseeing spots are located inside or along Yamanote line. You may take this train many times. Even if you use a subway one day pass, you may take Yamanote line.

Sobu line has Yellow color.

Chuo-Sobu line (line color Yellow)

This line connects Chiba with Mitaka via Shinjuku. The trains go through downtown Tokyo east and west. There are Ryogoku (the nearest station to “Kokugikan” Sumo tournament arena), Akaihabara, and Tokyo dome along this line. If you go to Chiba, don’t take this train. Take Yokosuka-Sobu Rapid train. This is way faster than Sobu line train.

Chuo line Rapid (line color Orange)

This line connects Tokyo with Takao via Shinjuku and Hachoiji. The train comes every 2.5 minutes in peak hours and every 4 minutes in non peak hours. It is as busy as Yamanote line. This train goes on same route between Tokyo and Kanda as Yamanote line and between Ochanomizu and Mitaka as Sobu line. But Chuo line train is operated as rapid service. It stop at only Kanda, Ochanomizu, Yotsuyabetween Tokyo and Shinjuku except early morning and late night.

Keihin Tohoku line (line color Sky Blue)

This line goes from Omiya (Saitama) to Ofuna (near Kamakura) via Yokohama. The train runs every 5-10 minutes. This line runs with Yamanote line between Tabata station and Shinagawa. But this lines’ train skip several station in daytime on this section. The trains stop at Ueno, Aihabara, Tokyo, Hamamatsucho and Tamachi. If you travel on this section, Keihin Tohoku line is faster than Yamanote line. Be careful that the trains do not stop at Yurakucho and Shinbashi.
This train take you to Yokohama. But this is not good idea to take this train to outside of downtown Tokyo. This train is not fast train service. You should better take Yokosuka-Sobu Rapid train or Tokaido Rapid train. These rapid trains a sort of commute trans. You don’t need to pay any express surcharge. You can take with a basic fare only. Please see the details at Rapid train service network in Greater Tokyo.
Most of trains goes on Negishi line from Yokohama to Ofuna. There are several popular spots in Yokohama waterfront area, such as Minato Mirai, China town, Yamashita park. You may take this train from Yokohama to the west.

This line goes along Tokyo bay area.

Keiyo line (line color Wine Red)

This line connects Tokyo with Soga (Chiba). Tokyo Disney Land and Tokyo Disney Sea are located at Maihama station on Keiyo line. Tokyo station of this line is located at basement 4th floor. It is very deep underground. You need to spend at least 20 minutes to change the train to Keiyo line train from other trains, like Shinkansen, Yamanote line, Narita Express, Chuo line.

Tsukiji Fish Market

Which spots you cannot go by Japan Railway trains?

Please see the map above again. I put most of popular spots in Tokyo on the map. They are shown by the icon of camera, shrine and shopping bag. As I mentioned to you, most of spots are located along Yamanote line, like Akihabara, Shibuya, Harajuku, Shinjuku and Ueno park. Imperial Palace is a bit away from Tokyo station. But it is still within walking distance (appx 10-15 mintes from Tokyo station). Tokyo Tower can be accessed from Hamamatsucho station on Yamanote line and Keihin Tohoku line. It is 15 minutes walk away. But these following spots are not accessible from Japan Railways’ stations:

  • Asakusa
    The station that has very similar name, “Asakusabashi” is on Chuo-Sobu line. But this station is not located in Asakusa. You need to take Subway. Please see the details at the post, How to access to Asakusa.
  • Roppongi
    Roppongi is located in south part of downtown Tokyo. It is not accessible by Japan Railways. Take Tokyo Metro subway Marunouchi line from Tokyo station to Kasumigaseki and transfer to Hibiya line to Roppongi. The fare is around 160 yen and takes 15 minutes. If you access from Shinjuku, take Toei subway Oedo line to Roppongi. The fare is around 210 yen and take 10-15 minutes.
  • National Diet
    It is near Roppongi and not accessible by Japan Railways either.
  • Tsukiji Market
    You can walk from Shinbashi statin. But it is 20 minutes away. I recommend you to take Toei subway Oedo line. The market is located just above Oedo line Tuskiji Market station. You can take Oedo line from Shinjuku. The fare is around 260 yen and take 20 minutes. If you access from Tokyo station, take Yamanote line or Keihin Tohoku line to Hamamatsucho and transfer to Daimon station on Toei subway Oedo line. The fare is 170 yen for subway and take 20 mintues altogether.
  • Odaiba
    This waterfront is located in the island. It cannot be accessed by Japan Railway. You need to take Yurikamome (automated train service) at Shinbashi statoin on Yamanote line. The fare is 310 yen for Yurikamome and 15 minutes from Shinbashi.
  • Tokyo Sky Tree
    This is the newest spot in Tokyo. This highest tower in the world (not highest building) is located at east of Asakusa and cannot be accessed by Japan Railway. If you access from Tokyo station, take Tokyo Metro subway Hanzomon line at Otemachi station. Otemachi station is located at same place as Tokyo station. The fare is 190 yen and take 15 minutes.

Do we need to buy subway pass?

As you have seen, you may need to take subway even if you use Japan Rail Pass. The single fare is not expensive. But you can buy one day pass at 710 yen for Tokyo Metro and 1000 yen for both Tokyo Metro and Toei subway lines. There are two subway companies in Tokyo. So if you have a plan to visit several place that cannot be accessed by Japan Railway, I recommend you to buy
Subway pass. But Yurikamome to Odaiba is not included in Subway lines. You need to buy a single ticket anyway. Please see the details about subway pass at the post, Fast, economical and convenient for sightseeing in Tokyo. Learn about Tokyo Subways.

460 thoughts on “How much can we use Japan Rail Pass in downtown Tokyo?”

  1. Hello
    My itinerary is
    Tokyo 5night
    Kyoto 3 night
    Hiroshima 2night
    Osaka 3night
    Takayama 2night
    Tokyo 5 night

    Whilst in tokyo want to see disneyland, akihabara,shinjuku and tsujuki fish market.
    In kyoto want to go to Kurama
    In Osaka want to go Universal studios

    Already planned on gettin 21 rail pass but will it be worth getting another pass for transport around city centres?


    1. Hi Kerina,

      As you probably know, some places in the cities cannot be accessed by JR pass. In your list, Tsukiji and Kurama cannot be accessed. I think you will visit many more places. Please see the links below to find more information about the coverage by JR pass. You may know whether you need other pass or not.


      Takeshi /

  2. Hello

    I have been to Japan several times with my nephew and always get the 7 day rail pass. Last year we tried a 14 day rail pass, but I still ended up buying local rail tickets in Tokyo and Osaka. This summer, I am bringing an additional nephew so there will be 3 of us, and I am wondering if the 21 day rail pass is worth the cost.

    Here is our schedule:

    Arrive in Nagoya (1 Day)
    Osaka (6 Days with day trips to Kyoto, Nara, Universal Studios, and Himeji)
    Hiroshima and the island (2 Days)
    Toba (2 days)
    Tokyo (5 Days with day trip to Mt. Fuji)
    Sendai (1 Day)
    Sapporo (2 Days)
    Yokohama (2 Days)
    Nagoya (Just to fly home)

    I appreciate any help you can be. Thank You.

      1. Hi Takeshi,

        We will travel to Tokyo for 6 days 5 nights in March . We plan to visit Mount Fuji for1 day trip & stay in Tokyo for 5 nights. We will stay in Asakusa area. What are the subway/train passes that we should buy ?

        Thank you.

        1. Hi Elaine,

          You may purchase subway deal in the link below:

          The following link also may help you to build your plan in Tokyo.

          But you need to purchase a regular ticket to get Mt. Fuji. Express bus is the best way to get there.


          Takeshi /

  3. Hi Takeshi

    My Japan trip is planned with me going to:
    Tokyo for 5 nights
    Osaka for 4 nights
    Hiroshima for 3 nights

    I was planning on buying the 14 day pass but now after reading the above information I’m not so sure if that’s the best thing to do. I am planning on visiting different sights around the different cities such as the Nishi-Shinjuku junction, DisneyLand, Sega Joypolis in Odaiba and the varius temples and castles and I’m not sure if the JR pass would be worth the money. Would you recommend getting the subway pass instead and just paying for a single fare for the bullet trains from city to city?

    Kind Regards

    1. Hi Rodney,

      Are you going to arrive in Tokyo? And which airport you will depart from? And where are you going to visit when you are in Osaka and Hiroshima.
      I would like to know the detailed trip plan before I give you suggestion.


      Takeshi /

  4. Hello Takeshi,
    I’ve planned my trip like this:
    3 days in Kyoto
    1 day in Nara
    2 days in Hiroshima
    1 day in Himeji
    6 days in Tokyo
    I was wondering if it’s enough buying the 7 days JR Pass
    Thank you!

  5. Hi Takeshi,

    I was wondering if this rough itinerary was worth getting the 7 day JR pass for my group:

    Tokyo (4 nights)
    Nagano (1 night)
    Nagano to Osaka (3 nights)
    Kyoto (1 day trip from osaka)
    Nara (1 day trip from osaka)
    Nara to tokyo (1 night)

    I was going to activate the JR pass sometime during the tokyo trip because our group plans on going to disney sea. This will cover the last 7 days of our trip. What would you advise in this case with the JR pass?

    Thanks so much in advance for your guidance!

  6. I have planned my Japan trip as follows:
    1 st day, I want to visit Tokyo Disneland.
    2 nd day, visit to Gala Yuzawa
    3rd day , visit to Kawaguchiko Lake view Mt. Fuji.
    4th day , around Tokyo.
    During 5 days I stay in 5 chome-23-19 minamidai.
    what your suggestion for transportation from Minamidai to any where during in Japan?..thank you.

    1. Hi Sukirno,

      Hounancho station of subway Marunouchi line is the nearest. You can take this subway line to Shinjuku and change to the train to Lake Kawaguchi via Otsuki. And take this subway to Tokyo. And then change JR trains to Gala and Disneyland.


      Takeshi /

  7. Hi Takeshi,

    I have planned my Japan trip as follows:
    Osaka 2 Nights
    Hijemi 1 night
    Hiroshima 2 Nights
    Noashima 1 Night
    Kyoto 4 nights
    Hakone 2 Nights
    Tokyo 4 Nights

    I’m pretty sure that I will need the 14 day JR-pass. The only thing I’m not quite sure about is when to activate it. Was thinking on activating it when I leave Osaka so that I can use it until the end of the trip, including on the narita express. However, in Tokyo I’m planning to stay in Roppongi. So I was wondering what you would advise with the JR Pass?

    Thanks in advance!

    Kind regards,

    1. Hi Anne,

      Actually you cannot get the worth of 14 days pass by your trip. In rough calculation, total fares for Osaka-Hiroshima-Kyoto-Odawara (Hakone)-Tokyo is almost same value as 7 days pass. And also even if you have JR Pass, you may need to add other deal/fare because JR pass does not cover subway, city bus and non JR trains. As you think, there is no JR stations around Roppongi. And also you may need to add other deal in Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto.

      You can use 14 days pass if you want convenience. But if you want most affordable choice, you may use local deal at each cities. For city to city transfer, you may use Kansai Hiroshima area pass for Himeji, Naoshima and Hiroshima. And regular ticket for Kyoto to Odawara, Odawara to Tokyo.


      Takeshi /

      1. Hi Takeshi,

        Thanks for your answer and the infopages.
        I thought it would be cheaper to take the 14 day pass but good to know that it’s not, saves me some money 🙂

        Kind regards,

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