How much can we use Japan Rail Pass in downtown Tokyo?

Yamanote line is the busiest train service in Japan.
Yamanote line is the busiest train service in Japan.

I wrote the post about Tokyo subway long time ago. I mentioned that Subway is the best for sightseeing in Tokyo. But some of you travel in Japan for 7 days that include Tokyo. You still can use Japan Rail Pass 7 days pass to explore in Tokyo. So I would like to explain more about Japan Railways local trains in Tokyo. And also I will tell you which popular spot you cannot access by Japan Railway.

Overview Japan Railways local lines in downtown Tokyo

First of all, let’s make sure how many lines Japan Railway have in downtown Tokyo. Please see the map below. I show you Japan Railways’ lines that you need to take in Tokyo. I don’t show you all stations and lines. I show you only major lines and stations.

View How much can we use Japan Rail Pass in downtown Tokyo? in a larger map

Chuo line has orange color (left) and Keihin Tohoku line has sky blue color (right).

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, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro and Ueno. This is the busiest line in Japan. The train comes every 2.5 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. Even if you use a subway one day pass, you may take Yamanote line.

Sobu line has Yellow color.

Chuo-Sobu line (line color Yellow)

This line connects Chiba with Mitaka via 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. If you go to Chiba, don’t take this train. Take Yokosuka-Sobu Rapid train. This is way faster than Sobu line train.

Chuo line Rapid (line color Orange)

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.

This line goes along Tokyo bay area.

Keiyo line (line color Wine Red)

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.

Tsukiji Fish Market

Which spots you cannot go by Japan Railway trains?

Please see the map above again. I put most of popular spots in Tokyo on the map. They are shown by the icon of camera, shrine and shopping bag. 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 need to take Subway. Please see the details at the post, How to access to Asakusa.
  • Roppongi
    Roppongi is located in south part of downtown Tokyo. It is not accessible by Japan Railways. Take Tokyo Metro subway Marunouchi line from Tokyo station to Kasumigaseki and transfer to Hibiya line to Roppongi. The fare is around 160 yen and takes 15 minutes. If you access from Shinjuku, take Toei subway Oedo line to Roppongi. The fare is around 210 yen and take 10-15 minutes.
  • National Diet
    It is near Roppongi and not accessible by Japan Railways either.
  • Tsukiji Market
    You can walk from Shinbashi 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 260 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. The fare is 170 yen for subway and take 20 mintues altogether.
  • Odaiba
    This waterfront is located in the island. It cannot be accessed by Japan Railway. You need to take Yurikamome (automated train service) at Shinbashi statoin on Yamanote line. The fare is 310 yen for Yurikamome and 15 minutes from Shinbashi.
  • Tokyo Sky Tree
    This is the newest spot in Tokyo. This highest tower in the world (not highest building) is located at east of Asakusa and cannot be accessed by Japan Railway. If you access from Tokyo station, take Tokyo Metro subway Hanzomon line at Otemachi station. Otemachi station is located at same place as Tokyo station. The fare is 190 yen and take 15 minutes.

Do we need to buy subway pass?

As you have seen, you may need to take subway even if you use Japan Rail Pass. The single fare is not expensive. But you can buy one day pass at 710 yen for Tokyo Metro and 1000 yen for both Tokyo Metro and Toei subway lines. There are two subway companies in Tokyo. So if you have a plan to visit several place that cannot be accessed by Japan Railway, I recommend you to buy
Subway pass. But Yurikamome to Odaiba is not included in Subway lines. You need to buy a single ticket anyway. Please see the details about subway pass at the post, Fast, economical and convenient for sightseeing in Tokyo. Learn about Tokyo Subways.

480 thoughts on “How much can we use Japan Rail Pass in downtown Tokyo?”

  1. I am visiting Japan in April and plan to stay in Tokyo for 5 nights then travel to Kyoto, Nara and Hiroshima. whats the best route to these journeys? go to Hiroshima first and then to Kyoto?

    1. Hi Sinemk,

      It depedns on the location of departure. And also it depends on the trip to Nara.

      If you leave from Tokyo, it is a long trip to Tokyo from Hiroshima. You may stay in Kyoto on the way back. But if you intend to stay overnight Nara too, you can visit Kyoto on the way and visit Nara on the way back.

      If you leave from other location, such as Osaka, it doesn’t matter whether you visit Kyoto on the way or way back.


      Takeshi /

      1. Thank you Takeshi. I also wanted to find out about the JR pass I read your comments on the interrail/metro lines, I plan to stay near Akasaka station, can I use my rail pass to go in and out of that station or do we then require a separate metro pass? Also, landing at Haneda airport would the activated rail pass bring us all the way to akasaka station?

        1. Hi Sinem,

          Unfortunately JR Pass does not cover any metro subway lines. Akasaka station is no Tokyo Metro Chiyoda line. You have to pay for the taking Tokyo Metro.

          For the trip from Haneda, you can take Tokyo Monorail from Haneda to Hamamatsucho by JR Pass. You can take JR Yamanote line from Hamamatsucho to Harajuku. This trip is also covered. And then take Tokyo Metro Chiyoda line from Meijijingumae to Akasaka. This is not covered. Harajuku and Meijijingumae are same location. Please find the movie in the link below how you change trains at Harajuku:

          At Hamamtsucho, it’s easy to change trains but you can find some info in the link below:


          Takeshi /

  2. Hi Takeshi,

    Thanks for the informative article. May I know if the jr sobu rapid line has a normal ticket ike metro ticket? Or is it only strictly for JR pass holders?

    Thank you.


  3. Dear Takeshi,

    Our family of 5 adults will be visiting Japan on Dec 27 to Jan 9 (it will be our 4th trip to Japan). This time around we would like to cover most of Japan using a 7 day JR Pass. We will arrive at Narita Airport on the first day and plan to proceed to Hokkaido and stay there 2 nights then on to Osaka and other destination. We plan to stay in Tokyo for the last 7 days of our trip. Our problem is, since we will stay for a total of 12 days, each one of us is bringing a checked luggage of 20kgs, is it possible to bring them on trains wherever we transfer to a destination using the JR Pass?



    1. Hi Gaudencio,

      You can bring over 20 kg luggage on the train. However many trains do not have any luggage spaces. You sometimes must keep your luggage in your seat. Overhead luggage space is probably too small for full size suitcase. Please see the link below to find some info:


      Takeshi /

  4. this is so helpful, thanks for creating and sharing this! i’m travelling all across Japan without paying any extra (outside my JR Pass fee that is :)).

  5. Hi there I am going Japan for two weeks, we are spending four nights in tokyo then heading out to kawaguchiko for 3 days and climbing mt fuji then going to kyoto for 3 days then osaka for 1 day and back to tokyo from osaka, im really confused on how to get from lake kawaguchiko to kyoto using the JR Pass.

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