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. Avik says:

    Hi Takeshi

    I am in Japan for 13 days. Below is my itenary: Trip starts from 15th October
    Tokoyo – 5 days (15th October -20th October)
    Tokyo to Hakone -2 days (20th October-21st October)
    Hakone to Kyoto (21st October -25th October)
    The below travel is by flight:
    Kyoto to Hokkaido (25th October -27th October)
    Hokkaido to Narita

    I wanted to know if I should go for a 7 day pass and will the pass be useful in Tokyo and should I activate it on 15th October or do it later closer to my date of travelling to Hakone.
    I read in this website that I can still use JR pass in Tokyo in few lines, so if it saves my overall cost and is more convenient then I would activate it while I am there in Tokyo.


  2. Sam Gathercole says:


    Our itinerary is Tokyo Narita airport; stay Tokyo for four nights and travel to Kyoto for four nights.

    In Kyoto we will travel north to Kurama; travel to distillery and as many shrines as we can

    We then travel to Osaka for two nights, including trip to Nara

    After, we travel to Hiroshima for one night and Miyajima one night.

    From Miyajima we can either get aeroplane back to Tokyo or JR rail.

    Please confirm what the best option is for travel? Is it possible to travel JR from Miyajima to Narita airport in one day?

  3. fredy says:

    I just bought my JR pass here and I will tell you why. Its simple, JR pass is excellent for great distance (e.g. Fukuoka to Tokyo or Tokyo to Hokkaido) Obviously if you plan to stay within the same prefecture, then JR pass is not for you. But if you plan to travel further than 200 miles away.. then JR pass is an option. Dont forget that one way –> from Tokyo to Osaka (regular ticket) costs easily $120.. so now you can do the math, JR will turn out to be 60% cheaper when traveling around Japan.

  4. Joelle Lee says:


    i am planning to go to Osaka from Tokyo for a few days then back to Tokyo again..Can I use JRP for these travels including the lines in Tokyo? Can I even use the JRP to travel from Narita Airport to town as well?


  5. Rita Carton says:

    Hi – you have answered a previous inquiry that a 14 day JR pass would work best for me. But since I’m spending time in places where the JR is not taken/needed are wasting money on 14 days? We will spend 5 night sin Tokyo, visiting all the attractions as well as a day trip to Nikko. If having a 7 day pass would cost more than just the subway pass and trains, wouldn’t we be better off not using the JR pass until we leave Tokyo?

    Matter gets complicated since we leave Tokyo and go to Hakone for 2 days and I’m pretty sure the JR pass is not good there. From there we go to Kyoto and will spend 5 days there – going to Himeji Castle, Nara and sightseeing in Kyoto. It sounds as if the JR pass will not be used very much there either. From Kyoto we will go to Hiroshima and then Miyajima island for a night. From there to Naoshima and the pass is not needed there. Then back to Tokyo for 2 days until home. SO i’m totally confused as to what is more cost effective. I’ve gone on Hyperdia and can see costs with and without the pass but I cannot determine how much sightseeing around Tokyo will cost. Would love some help. I’ve been on all your sites re each regions and pass but it’s just all too confusing. Thank you

    • Hi Rita,

      You cannot complete the place from Hakone to Tokyo via Kyoto, Hiroshima, Naoshima in 7 days. You can use JR pass in Kyoto to visit Arashiyama, Fushimi Inari. You may use it for taking JR train to Nara, Himeji. You also need to take train from Hiroshima to Uno when you go to Naoshima. So you need 14 days pass. There is no other passes to cover all places in your plan.

      You guess if you use 14 days pass, you will waste money. But even if you have round trip of Tokyo – Hiroshima, it costs around 37,000 yen. You can spend another 10,000 yen easily in your trip. Even 14 days pass will give you saving.


      Takeshi /

  6. Elga says:

    Hi there,

    I will stay in Tokyo for 6 days and another 6 days in Osaka. I was wondering whether getting a Presto card and deposit money in it would be worthy than getting a 7 day JR pass? I will visit most central places in Tokyo as well in Osaka but also would go to some places that are far from the center that JR would not cover.

    Would appreciate your kind advice. Thanks!

  7. Cindy Loo says:

    Hi team!
    I am planning a trip in Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo for 11 to 12 days, wondering if i still need a JR pass if my flights include going in via Osaka and travelling out via Tokyo?
    Thank you!

  8. Ricard Garrit says:

    Hi Jess,
    I will go with my family (5 people) next august to Japan. We will be 5 nights at Tokyo, 2 at Hiroshima and 5 more at Kyoto. We want to visit Nikko, Kamakura, maybe Hakone, take a ship to Miyajima, Osaka, Nara. We will arrive at Tokyo airport and we will take off from Osaka airport.
    Do we have to get the 7 or the 14 days JRP?
    Thanks for your kind advice !

  9. Ap says:

    Hi, i am visiting Japan for 12 days. I plan to stay in Tokyo but wanna see Osaka & Kyoto too. Is is possible to use my 7 day railpass to visit the 2 places & staying in tokyo hotels the whole visit? Regards,

  10. Jess says:


    I’m visiting Japan I will arrive in Tokyo and visit all the main tourist spots incl. Disneysea then spend a day at Mount Fuji, then travel to stay in Osaka for three nights where I will visit Kyoto and leave from Osaka Airport. Is it worth me getting a JR 7 day pass? Can it be used in Osaka and Kyoto to visit the main attractions also?

    Would appreciate your kind advice. Thanks

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