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. Robin says:

    Arrive 14/5 Narita travel to Kyoto stay 11 nights
    15/5 Higashiyama/ Arashiyama
    16/5 Kobe
    17/5 Nara
    18/5 Takayama
    19/5 Nagoya
    20/5 Kyoto races
    21/5 Osaka
    22/5 Hiroshima
    23/5 Kyoto
    24/5 Osaka
    25/5 Travel to Tokyo stay 8 nights.
    26/5 Roppongi/ Harajuku
    27/5 Fuch racecourse
    28/5 Hakone
    29/5 Kamakura
    30/5 Disneyland
    31/5 Yokahama
    1/6 Depart Tokyo fly home.
    My plan is to buy a 14 day Japan Rail pass and use it at the start of the trip.
    Is this the correct way to go?

  2. Gift says:

    Hello
    I’ve a question about a Jr Pass but not the 7 day pass
    Cos I’m gonna use a jr east pass special (flexible 3 days – it has a promotion for only 10,000 yen)
    Is it cover Rinkai line ?

    I’m plane to go to see nikko , hakone , Matsumoto (useing jr est pass) and gong to alpine>tateyama > Toyama then bus to takayama , shiragawa and the bus (discount ticket for only JR EAST pass holder) back to Matsumoto

    I like to ask about JR EAST PASS is that Include ltd. express wide view train from Matsumoto to Nagano?

    And also a Tokyo day pass ticket (including Jr line. Cost aroun 1,500 yen per day) does it cover to maihama station (connect to Disney line) or I have to pay more?

    thanks for ur kindness

    • JPRail says:

      HI Gift,
      1) First of all, Rinkai line is not covered by this pass.
      2) Wide View Shinano (Matsumoto-Nagano) is covered by this pass.
      3) If you mean Tokyo Tour Ticket, it include trip to Maihama from Tokyo. I don’t know where you will access to Disneyland from. But a single fare to Maihama is only 210 yen from Tokyo station. I think if you go to Disneyland, you will spend all day and no time to go to other places. Do you still want to buy 1500 yen day pass?
      Takeshi / JP Rail

      • gift says:

        Thanks for answering my question
        and for a Tokyo day pass question
        I need to travel to/from Maihama station everyday becos i stay at hotel in Disney Island
        i stay there for 2 nights and wanna explore Tokyo in that 2 days so right now try to design what a day pass is the best for me
        i plane to buy a Tokyo Free Kippu (1580 yen) ::: it say for Unlimited use of all subway lines (Toei and Tokyo Metro) and JR trains in the central Tokyo area on one calendar day
        but not sure that (the central Tokyo area) cover to Maihama or not?
        0r buy a Toei and Tokyo Metro One-Day Economy Pass (1000 yen) and buy a single trip ticket from Maihama to shinkiba

        may i ask Is there any interesting place in Tokyo that need to go with only JR line and cannot access (or have to take a long walk) by Tokyo Metro subway and Toei subway ???

        and one more question about a promotion of a jr east pass holder for a bus discount round trip (Matsumoto – Takayama) is it for Jr east pass special 3 days too? I plan to take those bus from takayama to matsumoto where can i buy them apart from the Narita Airport?

        thanks for your help

        thanks for ur answer again. ^__^

        • JPRail says:

          Hi Gift,
          You can go anywhere in Tokyo by subway. You don’t need to use JR lines. So as you mentioned, buy Toei and Tokyo Metro pass and buy single fare for Maihama-Shinkiba. This is the best option.
          If you have any kind of JR East pass, you can get a discount ticket to Takayama. You can purchase the ticket at Narita airport too.
          http://www.hida.jp/english/access/bus_ticket.html
          Takeshi / JP Rail

          • gift says:

            THANK YOU VERY MUCH

            this site is like a life-saver for a oversea traveler like me.
            i find that ur information in here is much more clearer than those in official website!!!!

            before i found this site, i planed my japan trio with a headache but right now it’s almost done. Thanks to JP rail. _/l\_

            One more Question, about the delivery bag service for alpine route. i’ll go up there from matsumoto -> toyama
            i read from somewhere that the counter at shinano omiche open so late around 9.00 am. is it correct?
            i plane to go up there very early. Do i have any option?
            is there only service company or there more?
            and if i’m not use this service and take a bag with me up on the route. (not a big luggage just a big backpack)
            on any vehicle up there will there be a storage space for bag???

            • JPRail says:

              Hi Gift,
              You are right. It is accepted at Alps Roman kan (souvenir shop and restaurant) beside Shinano-Omachi station between 09:00 and 11:10. If you stay somewhere in Shinano Omachi, hotel can accept it before 08:30am. Otherwise you need to carry your luggage yourself. You don’t have any other choices. You don’t have any vehicle either. There is only one company to deliver the luggage from Shinano Omachi to Toyama/Tateyam.
              There are some coin operated locker up there. So when you spend some time up there, you can store your luggage. But I’m not sure how big it is and not sure gig backpack can be stored. But several station up there can look after your luggage too. So you may be able to enjoy you time with no luggage.
              If you really want to deliver your luggage, you can use regular home delivery service. You need to pack up your luggage one day before. Usually it takes 1 day to deliver. So if you pack up your luggage and ask them to send your luggage in the morning day before, you can pick up your luggage at your hotel in Toyama. You can send it from most of convenience store or ask your hotel. They may take care of it.

              I’m not very familiar with this area because I’ve never been there. I hope other readers will reply to your question.

              Takeshi / JP Rail

  3. Kenna says:

    Hi there,

    I will be traveling to Japan in June. I’ll be in landing in Tokyo on June 9th and will sight see until the 12th. From 12th-16th I have a conference in Yokohama and from 17th-21st will continue to travel around Japan. I hope to see, in no particular order (unless you have a recommendation), Tokyo, Mt. Fuji and/or Hakone, Kyoto, Nara, Hiroshima and Miyajima. Would you recommend I buy the JR pass for 14 days or should I buy individual/regional tickets as I travel? Also, are there any limitations using the JR pass where I plan to go? I haven’t found any limitations yet from what I’ve read, but I’m sure you know better.

    Thanks for your help!

    Kenna

  4. Rina says:

    Hi Takeshi San,

    I wrote to you earlier and thanks for your prompt reply & advice.

    I will be spending 3 days in Tokyo, then off to Takayama for 2 nites follow by Gero (1 nite) before heading back to Tokyo to catch a flight back.

    Based on above itinerary, do you think a 7 day Japan Rail Pass is value for money since subway is more suitable for moving around in downtown Tokyo and the pass is useful for travelling for long distance to other parts of Japan.

    Appreciate your input in this regard. Thank you.

    • JPRail says:

      Hi Rina,
      Don’t worry to buy 7 days. Because the round trip ticket from Tokyo to Takayama and limited express charge is almost same amount as 7 days ordinary pass. And also you get off the train at Gero. Soi the basic fare is more expensive than round trio to Takayama. 7 days pass gives you a great deal. Go ahead to purchase it!
      Takeshi / JP Rail

  5. Julia says:

    I just wonder when I arrive at Narita will be 7:30pm, with immigration, luggage pick up and then exchange JR pass, and then reserve a seat, am I still able to catch Narita Express into town? Is this route included in the pass? Also with 7 day pass, is it 24 hours count, since I arrive in the evening, is it consider a day or it is valid till the next evening as 1 day? I try to look for buses that are included, can’t find a site. What are the options when I arrive in Kyoto and Osaka?

  6. Sangsahwa says:

    Hi,

    I will buy a 14 days JR Pass and on the last 2 days I will be in Tokyo.
    So I can use the Pass for the JR trains in downtown Tokyo.
    Can I also travel to Izu Peninsula Ito with the JR Pass?
    It seems a good destination for a side trip from Tokyo.

    Regards,
    Sangsahwa

  7. Andy says:

    I was in Tokyo recently for 3 days and only used JR, we stayed in Shinegawa, and visted, Ueno, Motomachi, Shibuya, Aoyama, Yokohama, Enoshima, kamakura,Asagaya and Shinjuku. To me It was a great way to see the city rather than goining underground.

    A JR pass might seem a bit much, but a local area pass is a great idea.

    Again thanks for the site.

  8. W E Ng says:

    Comments to : How much can we use JR Rail pass in downtown Tokyo

    I will be staying 3 days in Tokyo and would be using the JR pass in other parts of Japan. Thought of maximising the pass during the 3 days in Tokyo. From your comments, looks like I will not be able to maximse the card for travel within Tokyo city.

    Any other suggestion, how to use the JR pass in an effective way if I do not have sufficient time to go to other areas outside of Tokyo. (after the 3rd day, I will use the JR pass to travel from Tokyo to Kyoto.
    I will activiate the card when I travel from Kansai airport to Kanazawa.

    • JPRail says:

      Hi W E,
      You still can use Japan Rail Pass in Tokyo. If you don’t have much time to go to even Yokohama, Nikko as day trip, you don’t need to use Japan Rail Pass.
      But 7 days Japan Rail Pass is still cheaper than round trip to Tokyo from Kansai airport. As long as you have a round trip in 7 days between Kansai and Tokyo, You should better to use Japan Rail Pass.
      Takeshi / JP Rail

  9. Loefet says:

    I agree with you that you can use the rail-pass to explore Tokyo, but I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s pretty hard to ride enough JR trains in Tokyo alone to justify the cost of a rail-pass. A Suica/PASMO card would be the better choice, since it covers almost all rail lines in Tokyo and a lot more (with the Suica card you can also get rebated NEX tickets).

    If you on the other hand decide to go somewhere else during the week with Shinkansen then it might be worth to get a rail-pass. It all comes down to planning your trip. If you know what you are going to do, then you can also calculate the amount of money you have to spend on train fares (by using Hyperida, Jorudan, etc.), then you know if your planned journeys justify the cost of the rail-pass.

    Thanks for a great site!!

    /Peter

  10. JAyre says:

    Passengers travelling to Odaiba from western Tokyo (Ikebukuro, Shinjuku, Shibuya), Omiya and Kawagoe also have the option of taking trains on the Tokyo Waterfront Rapid Transit “Rinkai Line”. For passengers on the JR Pass, there is risk involved in this, as many trains traversing the Kawagoe/Saikyo Line continue straight on when changing to the private section.

    The JR Pass does NOT cover the Rinkai Line between Osaki (connected to the Yamanote Line) and all stations through to Shin-Kiba at the other end (connected to the Keiyo Line). Therefore, you have to be careful when taking these trains on the JR Pass to ensure you either get off at Osaki or have an appropriate ticket for the Rinkai Line.

    Best regards,

    – Jonathan Ayre –

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