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. Hello – this is good information. I live in Japan, and wanted to mention that for convenience, although not for savings, you might get a SUICA card as well, for the times you cannot use the rail pass. It lets you charge it up, then you can enter and exit the subways and non-covered JR stations if any, smoothly.

    Recently a few companies came together in Japan to allow the passes to be used across boundaries, so, you can get a SUICA from JR, and use it in the subways as well, or, in other cities. See –


    • JPRail says:

      Hi Rick,
      Thanks for sharing useful information.
      As you mentioned, all IC cards can used throughout Japan. But we cannot cross the border by card., like going from Tokyo to Mishima. hat’s the thing they should fix next.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

  2. Gunawan Hidajat says:

    If I have the JR Kanto Area Pass 3 days, can I go up and down subway Toei Line or Metro Line for free??? or only applies to JR just diving 3 days in a row,
    Thank you

  3. Nuchi says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    I will be in Japan for 7 days. The plan of my trip is as followed;

    – Tokyo for 3 days in the city
    – Kyoto for 2 days (may go to nara and arashiyama)
    – Osaka for 2 days then take a train to Kansai int. airport

    Should i buy 7- days JR pass? Will it be too much?


  4. Lolita Gilles says:

    Hello !
    Very good topic !!
    It answered a lot of questions I had about le JR Pass in Tokyo !
    Well, I’m relieved; almost all I want to do is available with the Pass. (I’m coming in october 2013 and will take the 21 days pass…)
    Thanks a lot !!


  5. Pika says:

    Dear Sir,
    I will travel from Haneda Airport to downtown Tokyo both ways and I will be in Japan for 8 days. I also would like to visit Mount Fuji, Disneyland and Tokyo (Shinjuku, Shibuya, Tsujiki market). Should I buy JR Pass? Should I buy it now since I would go there in may?

  6. Kirsten van den Steene says:

    This will be so helpful! Travelling for 3 weeks this summer throughout Japan. Seems overwhelming to plan everything, so this is great. Concerned though about language barrier. Would there be subtitles in english in stations (and elsewhere for modes of transporation) to help with navigating? As well, not sure if you know or not, but how prevalent is WI FI in Japan. Hoping to use APP on my phone which will help translate english to japanese. THanks! Now I’m hoping I can print your info off to add to my binder of info-my “bible” of information so to speak when we go.

    • JPRail says:

      Hi Kirsten,
      I’m happy to hear your comment.
      Don’t worry. It will be much easier than what you think. 🙂
      Takeshi / JP Rail

  7. Shana says:

    Thank you so much, you have answered many of my questions and provided a lot of information about travel around Tokyo. I will be traveling to Japan in August for three weeks, spending one week in Tokyo and was a bit confused about which tickets to buy. I will probably stick with the three week JR Rail Pass and buy a few tickets here and there when I get to Tokyo.

    Thanks again! 🙂

  8. David says:

    Dear Sir,
    Which pass should I purchase, you see I will travel from Narita Airport to my Hotel at downtown Tokyo both ways and most of my times will travel right in the city of Tokyo.
    Please advise.

  9. stephen pepper says:

    Excellent….very useful and interesting information..i have spent a long time reading all the advice,suggestions and tips and now i am ready to validate my pass..thank you very much..a wonderful service…in the very best Japanese tradition

  10. Aviva Rodrigues says:

    Will be in Osaka for 2and a half days.Whats the best way to do sightseeing in Osaka Nara and Kyoto and what are the best things to seeHave a JR pass

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