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

yamanote line e235Tips for Japan Rail Pass
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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.

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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. Patricia says:

    Hi Takeshi,
    I’m planning my trip (total of 14 days) in Japan. I will start visiting Yokohama for one day, so I can exchange my JRPass. From here, I will start using it on my 3rd day to visit Hiroshima and Miyajima island.
    My plan is the following:
    Day 1 – Haneda Airport – Yokohama
    Day 2 – Yokohama
    Day 3 – Miyajima
    Day 4 – Hiroshima – Osaka
    Day 5 – Osaka
    Day 6 – Osaka – Nara – Osaka
    Day 7 – Kyoto
    Day 8 – Kyoto
    Day 9 – Hakone
    Day 10 – Hakone – Tokyo
    Day 11 to 14 – Tokyo

    I am planning to start using JRPass on my 3rd day.
    My question is: do you think a 14 day pass is worth in this case?
    If I would by the 7-day-pass, I would be using it until Hakone. I saw there is a 2 days ticket in Hakone region (I’m considering to buy this one) that can include the trip back to Tokyo.

    I only can see few advantages to buy the 14-day JRP in my case: the way back to Haneda Airport, and some day trip that I can do from Tokyo.

    Thank you! 🙂

  2. Touchy says:

    Hello! Takeshi

    I would like to ask about JR East Pass (Nagano, Niigata area).
    I’ll go to Lake kawaguchiko for 3 days, then back to tokyo
    I will go Kusatsu onsen, Gunma. for 2 day.
    Travel around Tokyo for 2 days.

    I know for sure that JR East pass cover for Lake kawaguchiko only pay for Fujikyoko line, but I’m not sure that JR East pass will cover for Kusatsu onsen.

    Thank you in advance for your respond.

  3. Anthony says:

    Hello Takeshi-San, I would like to ask your help. Thank you so much.

    I am staying 10 days in Tokyo, April 26 – May 5 with one friend. Our hotel is at Shinjuku Station. We will witness the super crowds of Golden Week.

    I am sure I have mistakes in my travel plans regarding best use of Tokyo Subway Ticket, Suico, and PASMO. Also I think some travel routes are inefficient and need better strategy. For example, which day during Golden Week to take the trip to Kyoto & Osaka instead of Friday, May 4 (Day 9).

    My itinerary is:

    Day 1. Arrival at Narita 5 PM, take Skyliner to Nippori, take Yamanote to Shinjuku. Explore Shinjuku + Shin-Okubo. (Purchase combination Skyliner + 72-hour Tokyo Subway Ticket. Purchase extra 72-hour Tokyo Subway Ticket if possible. Do not begin 72-hour until Day 4. Use Suico for Yamanote.)

    Day 2 & 3. DisneySea, Disneyland. Chuo/Keiyo or Saikyo/Keiyo. Use Suico or PASMO.

    Day 4. Sanrio Puroland, Yomiuriland, Shibuya, Daikanyama, Naka-Meguro, Ebisu. Begin using 72-hour Tokyo Subway Ticket. Use Suico/PASMO otherwise.

    Day 5. Tsujiki, Akihabara, Ueno, Asakusa, Skytree, Higashi-Mukojima, back to Ginza at night. 72-hour Tokyo Subway Ticket. Use Suico/PASMO otherwise.

    Day 6. Yokohama, Kawasaki, Kashimada, Setagaya, Meguro, Shibuya, Omote-Sando, Harajuku. 72-hour Tokyo Subway Ticket. Use Suico/PASMO otherwise.

    Day 7. Yotsuya, Imperial Palace, Tokyo Station, Hamarikyu Gardens, Daiba, Shinagawa, Happo-en, Roppongi, Tokyo Tower. 72-hour Tokyo Subway Ticket. Use Suico/PASMO otherwise.

    Day 8. Nakano, Suginami, Ghibli Museum. 72-hour Tokyo Subway Ticket. Use Suico/PASMO otherwise.

    Day 9. Kyoto, Fushimi Inari, Osaka, Universal Studios. Purchase one day round trip to Kyoto and Osaka via Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen. Use Suico/PASMO otherwise.

    Day 10. Last day to shop and travel. Return to Narita via Yamanote. Refund Suico/PASMO. Take Skyliner.

    I would like to buy as few tickets as possible to save time, so I am thinking of using Tokyo Subway Pass, and Suico/Pasmo for coverage outside of Subway. I am not sure if I should buy any other pass or unlimited ticket.

    Thank you, Takeshi-San.
    –Anthony

  4. kerira steedman says:

    Hello
    My itinerary is
    Tokyo 5night
    Kyoto 3 night
    Hiroshima 2night
    Osaka 3night
    Takayama 2night
    Tokyo 5 night

    Whilst in tokyo want to see disneyland, akihabara,shinjuku and tsujuki fish market.
    In kyoto want to go to Kurama
    In Osaka want to go Universal studios

    Already planned on gettin 21 rail pass but will it be worth getting another pass for transport around city centres?

    Arigatou

  5. Cora Dick says:

    Hello

    I have been to Japan several times with my nephew and always get the 7 day rail pass. Last year we tried a 14 day rail pass, but I still ended up buying local rail tickets in Tokyo and Osaka. This summer, I am bringing an additional nephew so there will be 3 of us, and I am wondering if the 21 day rail pass is worth the cost.

    Here is our schedule:

    Arrive in Nagoya (1 Day)
    Osaka (6 Days with day trips to Kyoto, Nara, Universal Studios, and Himeji)
    Hiroshima and the island (2 Days)
    Toba (2 days)
    Tokyo (5 Days with day trip to Mt. Fuji)
    Sendai (1 Day)
    Sapporo (2 Days)
    Yokohama (2 Days)
    Nagoya (Just to fly home)

    I appreciate any help you can be. Thank You.

  6. Rodney says:

    Hi Takeshi

    My Japan trip is planned with me going to:
    Tokyo for 5 nights
    Osaka for 4 nights
    Hiroshima for 3 nights

    I was planning on buying the 14 day pass but now after reading the above information I’m not so sure if that’s the best thing to do. I am planning on visiting different sights around the different cities such as the Nishi-Shinjuku junction, DisneyLand, Sega Joypolis in Odaiba and the varius temples and castles and I’m not sure if the JR pass would be worth the money. Would you recommend getting the subway pass instead and just paying for a single fare for the bullet trains from city to city?

    Kind Regards
    Rodney

    • Hi Rodney,

      Are you going to arrive in Tokyo? And which airport you will depart from? And where are you going to visit when you are in Osaka and Hiroshima.
      I would like to know the detailed trip plan before I give you suggestion.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  7. Fran says:

    Hello Takeshi,
    I’ve planned my trip like this:
    3 days in Kyoto
    1 day in Nara
    2 days in Hiroshima
    1 day in Himeji
    6 days in Tokyo
    I was wondering if it’s enough buying the 7 days JR Pass
    Thank you!

  8. Christine says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    I was wondering if this rough itinerary was worth getting the 7 day JR pass for my group:

    Tokyo (4 nights)
    Nagano (1 night)
    Nagano to Osaka (3 nights)
    Kyoto (1 day trip from osaka)
    Nara (1 day trip from osaka)
    Nara to tokyo (1 night)

    I was going to activate the JR pass sometime during the tokyo trip because our group plans on going to disney sea. This will cover the last 7 days of our trip. What would you advise in this case with the JR pass?

    Thanks so much in advance for your guidance!

  9. Sukirno Maskur says:

    I have planned my Japan trip as follows:
    1 st day, I want to visit Tokyo Disneland.
    2 nd day, visit to Gala Yuzawa
    3rd day , visit to Kawaguchiko Lake view Mt. Fuji.
    4th day , around Tokyo.
    During 5 days I stay in 5 chome-23-19 minamidai.
    what your suggestion for transportation from Minamidai to any where during in Japan?..thank you.

    • Hi Sukirno,

      Hounancho station of subway Marunouchi line is the nearest. You can take this subway line to Shinjuku and change to the train to Lake Kawaguchi via Otsuki. And take this subway to Tokyo. And then change JR trains to Gala and Disneyland.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  10. Anne says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    I have planned my Japan trip as follows:
    Osaka 2 Nights
    Hijemi 1 night
    Hiroshima 2 Nights
    Noashima 1 Night
    Kyoto 4 nights
    Hakone 2 Nights
    Tokyo 4 Nights

    I’m pretty sure that I will need the 14 day JR-pass. The only thing I’m not quite sure about is when to activate it. Was thinking on activating it when I leave Osaka so that I can use it until the end of the trip, including on the narita express. However, in Tokyo I’m planning to stay in Roppongi. So I was wondering what you would advise with the JR Pass?

    Thanks in advance!

    Kind regards,
    Anne

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