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How to use JR Pass in downtown Tokyo. Try to maximize using JR Pass

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

JR Pass and other JR deals, such as JR East Pass Nagano Niigata, JR East Pass Tohoku, Tokyo Wide Pass, Hokuriku Arch Pass and JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass covers JR local trains in downtown Tokyo. But you may not be able to find which train JR lines is. You may not be able to find where you can get in downtown Tokyo by JR lines.

In this post, I focus on JR trains in downtown Tokyo and will tell you where you can get without any extra charge. You will find how much you can use JR Pass in Tokyo in this post.

Explaination in the movie

I uploaded same content as this post in YouTube. You can watch it below if you like:

Overview Japan Railways local lines in downtown Tokyo

First of all, make sure how many lines JR has in downtown Tokyo. Please see the map below. I show you only JR lines that you need to take in Tokyo. This map does not show you all stations and lines. Only major lines and stations are shown in this map.

JR train network in downtown Tokyo (Click to view large)

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, Harajuku, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro, Ueno and Akihabara. This is the busiest line in Japan. The train comes every 2 to 3 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.

Chuo-Sobu line (line color Yellow)

Sobu line has Yellow color.

This line connects Chiba with Mitaka via Akihabara and 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. But if you go to Chiba, take Yokosuka-Sobu Rapid train. This is way faster than Sobu line train.

Chuo line Rapid (line color Orange)

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

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.

Keiyo line (line color Wine Red)

This line goes along Tokyo bay area.

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.

Which spots you cannot go by Japan Railway trains?

Please see the map above again. I put most of popular spots in Tokyo in the map. 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 have to take Subway. Please see the post below to find the detailed information:

Roppongi

Roppongi is located in south part of downtown Tokyo. It is not accessible by JR. Take Tokyo Metro Hibiya line from Yurakucho station to Roppongi. You also can take Hibiya line to Roppongi from Ebisu. The fare is around 200 yen and take 10-15 minutes.

National Diet

It is near Roppongi and not accessible by JR either.

Tsukiji Outer Market

You can walk from Shimbashi 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 250 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. Daimon and Hamamatsucho are same location. The fare is around 200 yen for subway and take 20 mintues altogether.

Odaiba

Some of JR Saikyo line train go through Rinkai line.

This waterfront is located in the manmade island. You cannot get there by JR. You have to take Yurikamome (automated train service) or Rinkai line. Please find the detailed information in the post below:

Should I purchase Tokyo subway pass?

As you have seen, you may have to take subway even if you use JR Pass. The single fare is not expensive. But you can buy 24 hours pass at 800 yen for Tokyo Metro and Toei subway lines.

Please find the information about Tokyo Subway Ticket in the link below:

You may find the information abou the trian network in Tokyo in the link below:

Hope you have a good trip in downtown Tokyo

480 thoughts on “How to use JR Pass in downtown Tokyo. Try to maximize using JR Pass”

  1. I am visiting Japan in April and plan to stay in Tokyo for 5 nights then travel to Kyoto, Nara and Hiroshima. whats the best route to these journeys? go to Hiroshima first and then to Kyoto?

    1. Hi Sinemk,

      It depedns on the location of departure. And also it depends on the trip to Nara.

      If you leave from Tokyo, it is a long trip to Tokyo from Hiroshima. You may stay in Kyoto on the way back. But if you intend to stay overnight Nara too, you can visit Kyoto on the way and visit Nara on the way back.

      If you leave from other location, such as Osaka, it doesn’t matter whether you visit Kyoto on the way or way back.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Thank you Takeshi. I also wanted to find out about the JR pass I read your comments on the interrail/metro lines, I plan to stay near Akasaka station, can I use my rail pass to go in and out of that station or do we then require a separate metro pass? Also, landing at Haneda airport would the activated rail pass bring us all the way to akasaka station?

        1. Hi Sinem,

          Unfortunately JR Pass does not cover any metro subway lines. Akasaka station is no Tokyo Metro Chiyoda line. You have to pay for the taking Tokyo Metro.

          For the trip from Haneda, you can take Tokyo Monorail from Haneda to Hamamatsucho by JR Pass. You can take JR Yamanote line from Hamamatsucho to Harajuku. This trip is also covered. And then take Tokyo Metro Chiyoda line from Meijijingumae to Akasaka. This is not covered. Harajuku and Meijijingumae are same location. Please find the movie in the link below how you change trains at Harajuku:
          https://youtu.be/fbg5ma4QFxs

          At Hamamtsucho, it’s easy to change trains but you can find some info in the link below:
          https://jprail.com/travel-informations/basic-informations/station-information/hamamtsucho-station-guide-how-to-trasnsfer-jr-tokyo-monorail-and-subway-lines.html

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. Hi Takeshi,

    Thanks for the informative article. May I know if the jr sobu rapid line has a normal ticket ike metro ticket? Or is it only strictly for JR pass holders?

    Thank you.

    Regards,
    Michelle

  3. Dear Takeshi,

    Our family of 5 adults will be visiting Japan on Dec 27 to Jan 9 (it will be our 4th trip to Japan). This time around we would like to cover most of Japan using a 7 day JR Pass. We will arrive at Narita Airport on the first day and plan to proceed to Hokkaido and stay there 2 nights then on to Osaka and other destination. We plan to stay in Tokyo for the last 7 days of our trip. Our problem is, since we will stay for a total of 12 days, each one of us is bringing a checked luggage of 20kgs, is it possible to bring them on trains wherever we transfer to a destination using the JR Pass?

    Sincerely

    Gaudencio

    1. Hi Gaudencio,

      You can bring over 20 kg luggage on the train. However many trains do not have any luggage spaces. You sometimes must keep your luggage in your seat. Overhead luggage space is probably too small for full size suitcase. Please see the link below to find some info:
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/travel-tips/baggage/managing-luggage-how-to-carry-your-baggage-on-board-and-how-to-store-your-baggage-at-the-station.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  4. this is so helpful, thanks for creating and sharing this! i’m travelling all across Japan without paying any extra (outside my JR Pass fee that is :)).

  5. Hi there I am going Japan for two weeks, we are spending four nights in tokyo then heading out to kawaguchiko for 3 days and climbing mt fuji then going to kyoto for 3 days then osaka for 1 day and back to tokyo from osaka, im really confused on how to get from lake kawaguchiko to kyoto using the JR Pass.

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