No express surcharge! Fast, economical and convenient! Rapid service network in Greater Tokyo

Tokyo rapid lines map (Click to enlarge)
Tokyo rapid lines map (Click to enlarge)

Japan Railway operate Rapid trains throughout Japan. Especially lots of Rapid trains are operated in urban area, such as Greater Tokyo. In Tokyo, these trains are operated basically for commuters. But there are many operation routes. Of course you can use these trains for your exploring in surrounding Tokyo area. These trains connect Tokyo (=東京) and Shinjuku (=新宿) with Yokohama (=横浜), Kamakura (=鎌倉), Odawara (=小田原) (for Hakone (=箱根)), Utsunomiya (=宇都宮) (for Nikko (=日光)), Mito (=水戸), Narita airport (=成田空港) and even Atami (=熱海) (Izu peninsula hot springs (=伊豆半島)). These trains are fully covered by Japan Rail Pass. If you have Japan Rail Pass Green, most of Rapid trains in Greater Tokyo have double decker Green cars. You will feel same type of atmosphere in a commute train.


View Urban Rapid train network in Greater Tokyo in a larger map

There are several routing in Greater Tokyo. Tokyo, Shinjuku and Ueno are terminal stations in Tokyo. All lines connect these stations with major cities in Kanagawa pref., Saitama pref., Chiba pref., Ibaraki pref., Gunma pref., Tochigi pref, Yamanashi pref. and Shizoka pref.

Sobu-Yokosuka line

This line is operated between Chiba and Kurihama via Tokyo and Yokohama. Many trains depart and arrive at Narita Airport. Especially the train to Narita airport is called “Rapid Airport Narita” (快速エアポート成田). If you need more informations about this line, please check the post, Yokosuka-Sobu line.

Shonan-Shinjuku line

Shonan-Shijuku line connects Shinjuku, Ikebukuro and Shibuya with Yokohama, Kamakura, Odawara, Omiya, Takasaki and Utsunomiya. If you stay in Shijuku, Ikebukuro or Shibuya, this line is very convenient to use. Especially if you go to Nikko via Utsunomiya, this line might be faster than Tohoku Shinkansen. If you need more informations about this line, please check the post, Shonan-Shinjuku line.

Ueno-Tokyo line

This line was divided at Tokyo and Ueno as Tokaido line, Utsunomiya line and Takasaki line. On March 14, 2015, these three lines were connected and many trains run through downtown Tokyo without transfer.

This line connects Takasaki, Utusnomiya, Yokohama, Odawara and Atami via Tokyo, Ueno and Yokohama. Shinkansen does not have any stations in downtown Yokohama. Shinakansen’s station, Shin-Yokohama is a few stations away from Yokohama. This line is more convenient than Shinaksen when you go to Yokohama from Tokyo. If you need more informations about this line, please check the post, Ueno-Tokyo line.

Joban line

This line connects Ueno with some major cities in Ibaraki Pref, such as Tsuchiura, Mito.

Chuo line

This line connects Tokyo and Shinjuku with Hachioji, Takao and Otsuki. Some trains go through Fuji Kyuko line to Kawagchiko (Lake Kawaguchi in Mt. Fuji). Rapid trains on Chuo line do not have any Green cars but it will be introduced near future.


These Rapid trains are operated as a commute train. Please do not expect a luxury atmosphere. The standard seats are long bench seat and some box seats. You have to expect to stand up in the train when you take this in peak hours. But if you have Japan Rail Pass Green, it is a different story. All Rapid trains except Chuo line have double decker Green car. It gives you completely different comfortability. The Green seat in Rapid trains is non reserved seat. But Rapid train is operated very frequent.

*Sonic Rail Garden has copyright for all images of accommodations below.


Green seat
Rapid train Rapid train Rapid train Rapid train

Ordinary seat
Rapid train Rapid train Rapid train Rapid train

Sanitary space
Rapid train Rapid train

30 thoughts on “No express surcharge! Fast, economical and convenient! Rapid service network in Greater Tokyo”

  1. Hello Takeshi,

    Will be arriving in Tokyo & will stay there for 4 days. Part of our trip is to go to Mt Fuji & hakone..and if we have spare time we want to visit Nagoya. Then will depart via Osaka. Will stay there for 4 days & have a sidetrip to kyoto.
    I would like to ask if getting a JR pass is recommendable? Or should we just get different passes based on our itinerary? Pls help

  2. Hi Takeshi

    I know some trains in Japan have cars that seperate and go different places.
    For eg the aizu expess that starts from Asakusa -> Yunishigawa onsen, only the first 2 cars go all the way to yunishigawa onsen.
    Whereas the last 3-4 cars seperate at Shimo-imaichi to go Nikko.
    As I could not understand the announcement in Japanese, i got into the wrong car.
    May I know if there is any website that tells you which is the correct car that goes to your destination?
    I tried Hyperdia but there is no such information on the website, not even the platform number.

    Hope you can help.

    1. Hi Adrian,

      As far as I know, there is no website in English that tells you about Aizu Express.
      Usually this train is 6 cars formation. #1-2 goes to Aizu-Tajima (via Yunishigawa Onsen), #3-4 goes to Shin-Fujiwara (where is located between Yunishigawa Onsen and Kinugawa-Onsen) and #5-6 goes to Nikko. This train has signage on the train (outside) and in the train. You can find which station the train goes. You may find the signage photo in the link below:

      You may ask station staff to make sure the destination of the trains before on board.


      Takeshi /

  3. What is the fastest way from Tokyo to Kintetsu Toba Train Station? I plan to leave on 20th Nov morning from Tokyo and arrive Kintetsu Toba Train before noon. Do I need to stop by Nagoya? Can you provide me the train schedule and connecting time to the next train if there is stop over? Thanks.

    1. Hi Grace,

      The fastest route is Shinkansen (Tokyo-Nagoya) and Kintetsu Railway Limited Express (Nagoya-Kintetsu Toba).
      You can find the timetable at Hyperdia:

      You may find Shinkansen timetable at the links below also:

      Kintetsu does not have this kind of PDF timetable. Hyperida is only way to find it.


      Takeshi /

  4. Hi Takeshi,

    I just want to ask if I buy JR pass can I use this pass for Tokyo Metro ? What is JR pass included ?

    Thank you.

      1. Dear Sirs,

        I just wonder if I buy JR Pass, is it cover my trip from Tokyo to Sapporo reserved seat ? Can I use my JR Pass to in Sapporo, Hakodate, etc ?

        Thank you.

          1. Hi Mr. Takeshi,

            Thank you for your reply.
            I just want to ask you. Do I have to pay extra for Seat Fee ( Reserved Seat ) if I have JR Pass from Tokyo to Sapporo ?.
            Because when I open HyperDia, Beside Ticket Fare Yen.14,470,- I have to pay extra Yen.10.070,- to Yen.11,530,- for the Reserved Seat Fee.

            Thank you.

            Best Regards,


            1. Hi Hendra,

              Not required. Reserved seat fee is covered by JR pass fully too. If you want, you can book all trains ticket when you exchange JR pass. Once you get actual pass, you can book anytime at any major JR stations. When you are in major cities, like Tokyo, Osaka, you can book it at any JR station.


              Takeshi /

              1. Dear Mr. Takeshi,

                Thank you very much. But could you inform us if we can use JR in Local like in Sapporo and Hakodate area ?
                Thank you.

                Best Regards,


  5. Hi,

    I am arriving on 28 Sep at Narita. I need to travel to kyoto that night. I will return to Tokyo city on 2 Oct. I then need to go to Hitachi (Joban line, Omika station), on 3 Oct and return the same day. Then i need to go to Narita on 4 Oct to catch my flight. Will the Japan Rail Pass work for all of these train rides?


  6. I will be arriving at Haneda airport next saturday 9th August 2014 from the UK ,i would like to know the easiest way to reach Sakuragicho station . I will be getting a 7 day JR pass at the airport on arrival. Many thanks for any help you can provide.

    1. Hi Alan,

      Sakuragicho is one station away from Yokohama by JR Negishi line.

      If you exchange JR Pass at Haneda and start to use right after arrival, your route is the following:
      Haneda – (Monorail) – Hamamatsucho – (JR Yamanote line) – Shinagawa – (JR Tokaido line) – Yokohama – (JR Negishi line) – Sakuragicho

      If you don’t care about JR Pass, the route below is easier.
      Haneda – (Keihin Kyuko) – Kamata – (Keihin Kyuko) – Yokohama – (JR Negishi line) – Sakuragicho

      But if you take this route, JR Pass does not cover Keihin Kyuko from Haneda to Yokohama. You can find more info at Hyperdia:


      Takeshi / JP Rail

      1. Thankyou for the prompt response to my question about travel Haneda to Sakuragicho could you also tell me are the stations signposted in English or announcements on the train in English when you are approaching stations, and is access easy through stations when carrying heavy cases ?

        1. Hi Alan,

          Mostly the announcements are not in English. But there are lots of English signage. You can find the way easily.
          Trains are commute trains. It’s sometimes very crowded and a bit tough to handle the suitcase.


          Takeshi / JP Rail

  7. Dear Takeshi,

    I have a question which i hope you can help me, it has been confusing me searching online.
    I arrive into Toyko Narita International airport on the 28th at 530pm (Most likely 7pm by the time we get out of the airport), and need to get to Nagasaki before the morning of 29th for a wedding.
    What is the best and easiest way to get there?

    Then from Nagasaki, we plan to make our way back to Tokyo slowly seeing the sights of Japan via Osaka and Kyoto.

    One question can we do this using only JP rail?

    Many thanks for your help in advance.


    1. Hi SCho,

      You have to take the domestic flight next morning. There are several flight that depart in early morning from Haneda.

      As I saw the link above, the last flight to Nagasaki departs at 19:05. Haneda is 2 hours away from Narita. So you need to stay in Tokyo on arrival day and take a domestic flight on next morning. Ask your travel agent about domestic flight ticket. Otherwise access flight company’s website and book it by yourself. I have no idea about deals of flight.

      Regarding the last question, do you mean you want to use JR Pass? If so, you can use it. If you complete from Nagasaki to Tokyo via Osaka and Kyoto in 7 days, 7 days pass will work. 14 days pass is more expensive than single ticket.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

  8. My point is if I had the JR Kanto Area Pass 3 days ago from Tokyo to Yokohama to Odawara using Tokaido line with the Shonan Train, if I can use the train or have to use other train JR?, Thanks

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