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. Shiela says:


    I was wondering if I can use the 7-day JR pass to take the limited express train from Namba to Kansai International Airport?


  2. 1) We have bought a Japan Rail Pass. Can I use my JR pass to travel from Tokyo to Mt Fuji in September? OR do I have to buy additional train / bus tickets. If so, what are the routes and what is the cost?.
    ) I am travelling with my wife. What are the best seats to book in Shinkasen, when travelling from (i) Tokyo to Shin Osaka (ii) Shin Osaka to Hiroshima (iii) Shin Oska to Nagasaki (iv) Shin Osaka to Kyoto (v) Nagasaki to Okayama (vi) Okayama to Tokyo
    Thank you.

  3. Anna says:


    I’ll arrive in Tokyo on 20 Nov, 10.30pm. I wish to go to Kyoto by Shinkansen service. If I buy a 7-day JR pass, can it be used for shinkansen/hikari ? Do I have to pay additional amount?

    I’ll be in Japan for about 10 days so can u suggest the route? I plan to go to Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Nara. If u can suggest me other interesting places, do let me know.

    Thanks for your help.

  4. Hi Takeshi San,
    I shall be in JP from Sunday 26th of August until Saturday 8th of September:
    – round-trip from Tokyo to Hiroshima, Kyoto and Nara and back to Tokyo from 26-8 until Saturday 1-9. So no question/problem about buying a 7 days JR-pass.
    – However during the last week in Tokyo (Sunday 2-9 until Saturday 8-9) I will have to travel at least twice from Tokyo to Yokohama (and back). The rest will be only using trains/tube in Tokyo for usual touristic purposes (and of course, on the last day, going back to Narita).
    – Would you recommend to buy a 14 days JR-pass or a pass only for 7 days and using single tickets (or round trip for Yokohama) during the last week?

    Thx, regards,

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      JPRail says:

      Hi Hilde san,
      Don’t buy 14 days. Using 7 days pass for your trip to Hiroshima, Kyoto and Nara is fine.
      The fare for Tokyo-Yokohama is only 450 yen. You can never get your 14 days pass money worth to do this short trip. Single fare is completely fine. Or you can use Suica too.
      Takeshi / JP Rail

  5. Linda says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    How do i access from shinjuku station to Tokyo sky tree? Or for that matter, is there a spot that i can take a good photograph shot of the Sky Tree? Thank you!

  6. 5 paxs of us are coming to Toyko -Haneda airport on Aug 2012 for 6 days.
    Arrive airport will be very late around 22.50. (exclude the journey to hotel). Can you tell me how to get a limousine bus or train to Shinokubo station at this late hour.? Of cos, bus is more preferable.

  7. yuanhj
    jason says:

    Hi Takeshi San

    I am going to Japan for conference on 31st Aug, 2012 and will arrive Narita airport on 1st Sep around 6:05 am, I will take dometic flight to Osaka at Narita airport at 16:55. pm same day.

    I wish to take this opportunity for sightseeing in Tokyo, considering to and from Airport by using NRX express train and metro train, could you please kindly advise which ticket is best for me? (I am from Sydney, Australia, may eligible to buy special ticket?)

    I will be back to Tokyo from Osaka by domestic flight on 4th Sep @ 8:15am, may wish to see MT Fuji on the day before departing Japan at 2030pm to Sydney.. Which ticket should I buy?

    Many thanks for you help again.



  8. I have a 7 day rail pass. I want to travel from Tokyo to Hiroshima to Kyoto to Tokyo.
    Any suggestions?
    Appreciate any help,

  9. vivi says:

    Hi Takeshi San,

    Thks alot for your kind reply and advice.

    I will try my best to fullfil my itinerary :))
    If I use night train or bus, and overnight in train / bus, I think that I will saving time and also money.
    Could you pls let me know which destination is better for using night train.
    Since my time is really tight, I only plan to Spporo, Otaro, Hakodate & Lake Toya in Hokkaido…(or you can give me other suggestion ??)

    B. Rgds,

  10. VIVI says:

    Hi Takeshi San,

    I have plan to japan this autumn, will be arrive in narita on 17 Nov 09.00 am in the morning & leave Japan on 30 Nov on 12.00.
    During my holiday in Japan, I only plan to buy 7 days JR Pass & N’EX (I still confuse should buy single or double trip), pls kindly advice..
    Here are my favourite place to visit during my vacation :
    1. Tokyo – about 2 or 3 days, 1 day especially for visit Disneysea
    2. Mt Fuji – Hakone – Lake Kawaguchi
    3. Hiroshima – Miyajima
    4. Kyoto – Kinkakuji, Ginkakuji, Roanji temple, Kyoto Place, Sanjusangendo etc (1-2 days)
    5. Osaka
    6. Nara – Todaiji, deer Park, Kasuga Shrine
    7. Kamamura
    8. Yokohama (optional)
    9. Hokaido (2-3days, must)
    Pls advice if I have enough time to visit all these places ?
    I Also need your kind advice how & when should I using 7 days JR Pass
    It’s also will be glad if you let me know the best itinerary during my vacation
    Thks in advance for your kind reply.

    B. rgds,

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      JPRail says:

      Hi VIVI,

      First of all, please refer the following page about 7 days sample itinerary.

      If you use 7 days pass, don’t use the pass for Tokyo, Mt. Fuji, Hakone, Lake Kawaguchi, Kamakura and Yokohama. So the key is Kyoto, Nara, Hiroshima (& Miyajima), and Hokkaido.
      I put Kyoto and Hokkaido in above 7 days itinerary. I don’t know which part of Hokkaido you want to go. I spend 3 nights in south part of Hokkaido in this itinerary. As you see, it is very tight.
      You also put Hiroshima and Miyajima on your wish list too. So basically it is almost impossible to complete in 7 days by only rail travel.

      If you really want to do these cities and area in 7 days, you need to think about using domestic flight.

      Day1 Tokyo-Kyoto
      Day2 Kyoto
      Day3 Kyoto-Nara-Osaka
      Day4 Osaka-Hiroshima
      Day5 Hiroshima-(flight)-Sapporo (Only one flight 10:40 dep >12:30 arr by Japan Air Lines)
      Day6 Sapporo or somewhere in Hokkaido
      Day7 Sapporo-Tokyo

      But you have many places on your wish list about Kyoto and Nara. I think you may spend 2 days to get everything in Kyoto. It will be very tight to do everything you want in above 7 days suggestion too.

      Regarding Fuji and Hakone, as probably you know, Fuji Hakone Pass is the best option for you.

      I don’t know where you will stay in Tokyo. If you stay in major hotel in Tokyo, limousine bus may be better than Nex.

      And also you can buy limousine and subway combination ticket.

      So you can do it in 7 days. But it is very tight. If you want to have a relax and slow trip, I suggest you to extend one or two days for the trip of Kyoto-Nara-Osaka-Hiroshima-Hokkaido.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

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