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. shazzzana
    Shazana says:

    Hi Takeshi-san,

    I commented earlier but cannot find the thread i posted in. My family will be staying near HIGASHI-MUKOJIMA station and our itinerary is as follows:

    Day 1: Haneda Airport, Sensoji Temple, Ueno Park, and some food places around Asakusa
    Day 2: Imperial Palace, Koshikawa Korakuen, Tokyo Tower, Odaiba, Metropolitan Government Building, Shinjuku
    Day 3: Disneysea
    Day 4: Mount Fuji (we have already bought bus ticket from Shinjuku)
    Day 5: Shibuya, Shinjuku

    Hope you can advise on which day passes we can use.

    Thank you,

  2. futechsa
    Bushra Asseri says:

    Hello Takeshi-san,

    Thank you for all this great information, and i would like to ask ask about what pass/passes would be best for my 12 days vacation.
    I am going to stay in Tokyo for 5 days where i will go to main districts like Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ginza and Akihabara for most of the time and then maybe Ghibli Museum, Cup Noodle Museum and Mount Fuji. After that, i will go to Kyoto for 3 days and Osaka for 3 days then back to Tokyo for 2 days.

    If i choose not to go to Ghibli Museum, Cup Noodle Museum and Mount Fuji, would the type of pass i should get change?

    Thank you again Takeshi-san!

  3. Hi Takeshi San,
    I will be travelling with family (3adults and 1kid) for 11days. Our entry is Osaka from June 3-7, including Nara and Kyoto, then from Kyoto to Toyama for the Murodo visit, then from Toyama to Shinjuku. The rest from June 8 – 13 will be sightseeing in Tokyo. Is JR 7days Pass recommended and when should I start using it?
    Thank you for your advice.

  4. Carmen says:

    Hello Takeshi San,

    I am going to Japan for two weeks and will be spending 3 days in Osaka, 1 day trip to Kyoto, 1 day trip to Hiroshima, and then 7 days in tokyo. Is it worth it to get a JR national pass for the 7 days if i’m going to Hiroshima from Osaka at the beginning of the week then Osaka to tokyo for the rest of the week.

    Thank you so much for your help!

  5. Rita says:

    We will be in Tokyo for the first 4 days. then Off to Hakone for 2 nights. From there to Takayma for 2 nights. Then Kyoto for 5 nights. Noashima Island for 2 nights and back to Tokyo for 1 night. Will do lots of sightseeing in Tokyo as well day trip to Nikko. From Kyoto we plan to do a day trip to Nara and another one to Hiroshima if we have time. Totally confused as to what passes to get and when to start using them. I have all the train routes etc having entered everything into Hyperida for times and routes. Thanks

  6. Luv Lee says:

    Hi. Can we use the JR pass from Tokyo to Kyoto then to osaka (roundtrip)?

  7. chau
    Minh says:


    I’m planning to be in Japan for 13 days. Is the 2-wk JR pass worth it? From Tokyo, we’ll be going to Nara & Yoshino (2 days), Osaka (2-days), Koyasan (1-day), Kyoto (2-days), Matsumoto for Alpine Route (1-day), Hakone (1-day), & Tokyo (3-4 days). It makes sense for my friend to get the 7-day pass who is starting with us at Kyoto and only staying for a week, but for the rest of us who is staying longer, it almost breaks even for the 2-wk pass. We were also considering just buying the 7-wk pass and using it until we reach Matsumoto, and buying single tickets for the rest of the trip, since we’ll mainly be in Tokyo area at the end. Any suggestions would be helpful!


  8. Evelyn says:

    Hi Takeshi san,

    Can you please help me? I will visit japan for 7 days. I booked the hotel already 2 days in tokyo 3 days at mt.fuji hotel and going back to tokyo. I do not know if it is worth to buy jr pass for 7 days. I am planning to visit tokyo disneyland,mt.fuji and hoping kyot,osaka and nara.

    Thank you.


    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      Takeshi / says:

      Hi Evelyn san,

      If you are sure to visit Osaka, Kyoto and/or Kobe from Tokyo, JR pass is worth using.

      If you intend to visit Nara, Osaka and Kyoto as day trip from Tokyo, you will spend 6 hours for round trip to Osaka or Kyoto by Shinkansen (bullet train). You have to be in the train for many hours.


      Takeshi /

  9. shaggylove
    Gits says:

    Hello Takeshi San,

    Thank you so much for the information given in your website.

    So is it worthy to buy the 7-days JRP if my plan is to only stay in Tokyo for 6 days?

    I want to take my kids to Disneyland and Ghibli Museum and Tokyo Tower, as for me and husband, we want to go to several shrines insde Tokyo, and so some shoppings at Roppongi and Shinjuku.

    Please advise.

    Thank you.

  10. Evita says:

    Hi Takeshi San,
    Thank you for the information in your websita.
    I am still confused on which JR PASS to use (to use it or not to use it?) while staying in Tokyo.
    My plan is to visit Japan during 21 days. The first week (7 days), I will stay in Tokyo, and visit the city and do short trips to near places around (like Kamakura, Hakone, Saitama).
    Then, the next two weeks (14 days) will travel to Kyoto, then Osaka, Hiroshima, then perhaps going to Fukuoka (or instead, going to Shikoku Island, maybe crossing in a Ferry from Hiroshima?), then return to Tokyo.
    My specific question: is it worth to buy a 21 day JR Pass, or only use a 14 day pass? My question is if it is worth the 21 day pass, on account that one week I will spend it in Tokyo area.
    Thank you very much for your kind advice.

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