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:

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

Comments

  1. Aman says:

    Hello,

    We are travelling to Japan arriving on March 10 and staying for 8 days. We have decided to make Tokyo our home base and will be travelling to Kyoto and perhaps Osaka on day trips and hoping to use the JR Trains in Tokyo for exploration. Would it be beneficial for us to purchase the JR Pass – 7 days?

    Thanks
    Aman

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of JPRail.com
      Takeshi / JPRail.com says:

      Hi Aman,

      JR pass gives you a great saving because 7 days pass is almost equal to round trip fare to Osaka by Shinkansen (bullet train).
      You can do as day trip but it takes 3 hours one way from Tokyo to Osaka or Kyoto. So you will spend 6 hours a day in the train. Please keep it in your mind.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. Brian says:

    Wow, thanks for doing so much work. Can you tell me how to get the Tokyo Metro pass for someone coming into Yokohama via ship. We are arriving at 7-8am on 25th of April. And will be spending 27 days in Japan. So I know we need at least a 21 day pass for JR. Wondering if we should get a 7 day to cover approx 4 days in Tokyo and then head west to Kanazawa. Or is Metro 72 + 24 and single ticket to Kanazawa better idea?

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of JPRail.com
      Takeshi / JPRail.com says:

      Hi Brian,

      I need to know the detailed itinerary. You will stay in Japan for 27 days. But after leaving Tokyo, where are you going? And are you coming back to Tokyo? Before choosing the deal, you have to build the detailed itinerary. Even 21 days JR pass may not be required.

      At this point, I cannot say the best deal even for 4 days in Tokyo.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  3. Jane says:

    Can i use the JR pass on tokyo metro station? Or should i buy both? Thanks

  4. Anne. says:

    good day to you Mr takashi,.

    im planning to visit japan for 8 days.. im arriving by march 30 until april 6.,. im going to tokyo, mt fuji, kyoto and osaka.,. id like to ask for your advice if jrpass for 7 days would be enough and worth it? by the way we will be exiting japan at osaka airport.

    and one more question how would i know if its under JR pass or not?

    thank you, this would be a great help!

    Regard,
    Anne

  5. GnGn says:

    Hi, would like to check, we are planning to visit Tokyo for 7 days, and will be staying near JR Koenji Station. We do not intend to purchase the JR pass. In this case, will we still be able to take the Chuo-line from JR Koenji to JR Shinjuku using single trip tickets or the Suica? Thanks!

  6. dnongbri
    Deven Nongbri says:

    Takeshi-San, thank you so much for publishing such helpful information.

    My question concerns the difference between the JR Pass and JR East Pass. We’ll arrive in Tokyo then take the Shinkansen up to Morioka for five days in March, which makes me think we need the JR East Pass.

    Will this pass also let us travel around Tokyo for the remaining two days before we leave Japan?

    Thank you in advance for your guidance,

    Deven from Texas

  7. Ohaiyo gozaimasu Takeshi-san,

    Good day to you.

    I am planing to visit japan for 2 weeks.
    I will arrive in Tokyo 8 April and stay till 11/4.
    Then proceed to Kyoto/Osaka/Kanazawa till 16/4 and back to Tokyo and stay till 22/4. I would like to seek your advise is” should i buy 7 days or 14 days JR pass”.

    Thank you very much and have a nice day sir.

    Minn TH

  8. Marie says:

    Hi, im traveling to japan in 2 weeks. Is it worth it to purchase jr pass 7days? I’m staying my 2 first night in osaka , kyoto 1night then tokyo 4nights (which is mostly we are just gonna spend our 4days in tokyo itself) and how much will I add more if I wanna take the bullet train from kyoto to tokyo (2 hours and 20 minutes, the fastest way I think) thank you!

  9. Karen – a kid at heart. hopeful. family-oriented. loves veggies. likes to take long walks. into photography and sports. complex. a nature lover.
    Karen says:

    Hi,

    Could I use the IC card in subways? I’m planning to get the palmo. I think I read from somewhere that I could use it on non-JR trains and buses.

    Thanks,
    Karen

  10. Ohaiyo gozaimasu Takeshi-san

    I just want to thank you for this well prepared and detailed website. Even thought I dream about Japan for years, still feel like I’m so ignorant about it when i start to preparate my first, amazing, dreamy Japan trip in September. I just want to be more equipped with this due i started to take Japanese course one month before. It will be my first overseas holiday, too. Just like you can see -i talk too much, more than enough, sorry- i’m exited and a little bit thrilled. I will spend my five days Korea and than head to Japan via ferry from Busan to Fukuoka. I don’t see any itinerary like this, and started to think “am i doing wrong? Should I go to Tokyo first right after Fukuoka and than wander around Tokyo – Kyoto – Kobe etc”

    I want to see Hiroshima and so many things about Japan. I just have 21 full days to spend there. I know even months won’t be enough, but do you suggest me to go Tokyo first and spend more time in big sities, or do i need to enjoy a well and round shinkansen trip from fukuoka to Tokyo -with my Jrail pass ticket, I don’t even know where can i exchance it in Fukuoka, damn-

    Can I buy three days Tokyo Metro ticket if i go Haneda Airport directly when i’m not airline passengers? And should i use it from the day one in Tokyo, or can i save it for another days for start to use?

    Sorry for this long post and for my limited English. I will apreciate all kind of reply of you.

    Thank you.
    Rabia, Turkey.

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