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

yamanote line e235Tips for Japan Rail 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:


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 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.


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


  1. Tonito says:

    Hi Mr. Takeshi

    Me and My Wife plan to go around Japan for 10 days. Here is our itenary :
    D1 – D3 : Arrived in Tokyo Haneda, we plan to go around Shibuya, Shinjuku, Harajuku, Ueno, Fujiko Museum
    D4 : Disneyland
    D5 : Mt. Fuji
    D6 : Nara
    D7 – D8: Kyoto
    D9 – D10 : Osaka

    Do you think, it is necessary to buy 7days Jr.Pass ticket ? And is it sufficient to only buy 7days Jr.Pass ?

    Thanks in advance

  2. Monica Anggraeni – Jakarta – Newbie for blogger, indonesian girl who dream about so many things and willing to achieve it. xoxo
    Monica says:

    hello again takeshi,

    i wanna ask what type of transportation to use that is cheaper rather than japan rail pass. example bus or subway. we will visit :

    15feb arrive at kansai airport and go to osaka
    16-17feb stroll around osaka
    18feb gala yuzawa
    19-21feb stroll around tokyo
    22-24feb kyoto
    24feb flight back home

    i was thinking of taking a night bus for 17feb and 21feb. is it good to take 3 day pass of willer bus or not? also from kansai airport to osaka can u recommend what best transportation to take, also from kyoto to kansai airport. also what type of pass we need to take to stroll around osaka, tokyo and kyoto? thanks again.


  3. Mabel says:

    Dear Takeshi-San,

    Kindly advise if my family shd purchase the 7-day Jr pass

    2 adults & 4 children (14 years, 11 years, 10 years and 7 years)

    19-21 Dec : Disneyland/Disney sea
    21-24 Dec : Niigata Echigo Yuzawa
    24-28 Dec : Tokyo area :

    Appreciate very much your help

    Kind regards

  4. Debby says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    Our family 4 people will visit Japan for 10 days in December.
    Is it better for us to buy 14 days JR Pass or 7 days ?

    This our itenerary :

    Day 1 Arrive at Narita, and stay in Shinjuku area
    Day 2 Visit to Meiji shrine, Imperial Palace Garden, Asakusa
    Day 3 Mt Fuji
    Day 4 Disneyland
    Day 5 Gotemba outlet
    Day 6 To Kyoto, stay in kyoto station area
    Day 7 visit Fushimi Inari shrine, bamboo grove, Nara
    Day 8 one day trip to Osaka return
    Day 9 Back to Tokyo, Shinjuku
    Day 10 Depart at Narita

    Thank You

  5. ninjachelsea
    Chelsea says:

    Hi! What a great page! I thought I needed the Japan Rail pass but now I’m not sure. I see you can only buy tickets for kids aged 6+.

    We have 2 adults, 2 children (ages 4 and 7) coming into Narita, staying at Hilton Odaibo for a few nights and then staying Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay. We will go to Lego Discovery Centre, Ghibli Studio, maybe Disney Sea, and want to see some cool stuff in Tokyo (maybe some gaming/electronics shopping), the Meiji Temple, etc.

    Then to Hakone for 1 night.

    Then Kyoto for 2-3 nights.

    Then Osaka for 3 nights and then flying back from Osaka.

    Is the JR our best bet?


  6. Jose says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    Our itinerary is below. Will JR pass be suffucient?
    And how do we go from Roppongi Ichome to Osaka. Thanks.

    Day1 – 20 Dec:
    6am arrive Haneda airport ;
    check in at Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo ;
    Afternoon – to Osaka (Miyakojima-ku, Higashinoda-cho)

    Day2- 21 Dec: universal studios & around Osaka

    Day3- 22 Dec:
    evening back to Roponggi

    Day4 to 9- 23 to 28 Dec: around Tokyo

    Day10-fly back via Haneda

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      Takeshi / says:

      Hi Jose,

      You can use JR pass 7 days.
      You have to take subway Hibiya line to get Yurakucho. Yurakucho is one station away from Tokyo where is the place to catch Shinkansen to Tokyo. Subway is not covered by JR Pass.


      Takeshi /

      • Jose says:

        Thanks Takeshi San,
        When you say subway not covered by JR pass, does it means I buy just the subway ticket (¥170) at Roppongi-Ichome & the rest of my journey to Osaka is using JR pass (to show at the gate)?

        • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
          Takeshi / says:

          Hi Jose san,

          You can purchase only a ticket to take subway. Once you get JR Tokyo station. JR Pass covers your journey to Osaka. JR pass covers reserved seat fee. You can book it in advance at any JR major stations.


          Takeshi /

  7. andrewtansj
    Andrew Tan says:

    Hi I’m travelling to tokyo and planning to travel out of tokyo to yokohama, hakone and Yuzawara on separate days, would you adivise whether JR pass would be recommended?
    Thank you.

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      Takeshi / says:

      Hi Andrew,

      I don’t understand “Yuzawara”. Do you mean Yuzawa or Yugawara?
      And also before choosing the deal, I need to know the detailed of your itinerary. How many days do you spend for each places?
      Do you intend to visit these places as day trip from Tokyo or overnight trip?
      Which airport do you arrive and depart. And how many days do you stay in Tokyo?


      Takeshi /

  8. Cheryl says:

    Hi Takeshi

    My family of 4 is travelling to Japan next week for 7 days. My plan is:

    Day 1: Arrive Narita, Travel to Hakone
    Day 2: Hakone
    Day 3: Travel to Kyoto
    Day 4: Kyoto
    Day 5: Travel to Tokyo, Shinjuku
    Day 6: Tokyo
    Day 7: Depart Tokyo to Narita

    Is buying the 7 Day Jr Pass worth it? As we are arriving early morning, we heard that it would be easier and more convenient to take the Romancecar from Shinjuku Station. I would be getting the Hakone Free Pass. Does this pass include the Romancecar?
    What is the easiest way to travel from Hakone to Kyoto with a JR pass?

    Thank you in advance!


  9. JEMS says:

    Hello Takeshi-san,

    We would like to seek your advice if it is advisable to purchase JR Pass? We would be staying in Tokyo for 6 days & 6 nights. On our first night, we would be in Makuhari then the next nights in Ikebukuro area. Our rough itinerary:

    Night 1 – Arrival in Japan
    Day 1 – Disneysea (there’s a shuttle service in the hotel so no problem with the transportation there)
    Night 2 – Ikebukuro area
    Day 2 – Mt. Fuji day-tour (transportation is inclusive in the tour’s fee)
    Day 3 – Disneyland
    Day 4 – Odaiba area
    Day 5 – Sanrio Puroland / Tokyo Skytree

    We might visit Shibuya, Shinjuku, Akihabara, Asakusa in between. If JR Pass is not advisable, what should we purchase instead? We have 3 kids (6 – 9 yr olds) & 3 infants (between 1 – 3 yr old) with us.

    Thank you.

  10. Colleen says:

    Hi Takeshi

    My husband and I plan on visiting Japan 14-31 December 2015
    Our Itinerary is as follows
    Arrive 14 Dec Narita Airport
    14- 16 Dec Tokyo
    17 Dec – Kamakura (Day trip)
    18 Dec – Nikko(Day trip)
    19 Dec – Tokyo – Takayama
    20 Dec – Takayama – Kanazawa
    21 Dec – Kanazawa
    22 -26 Dec – Kyoto
    25 Dec – Nara(day trip)
    27 Dec – Mt Koya
    28 Dec – Kobe
    29 Dec – Hiroshima – Miyajima
    30 Dec – Miyajima- Tokyo
    31 Dec Transfer to Narita airport.

    Is it better for us to buy a 14 day JR pass and pay for Narita express and day passes for Tokyo or to buy a 21 day JR pass?

    Kind regards

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      Takeshi / says:

      Hi Colleen,

      14 days pass and extra is better idea than 21 days pass. 21 days pass is way more expensive.
      You can use 14 days pass for the last 14 days of your trip.


      Takeshi /

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