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How to Get Around Tokyo by Train

The Tokyo train system is internationally famous for its complicated structure and polite conductors. It is true that the trains are very convenient with train stops all over the city but the intricate system can be intimidating for newcomers.

  • Which train line to take?

    Which train line to take?

    Which train line to take?

    The train system is divided into three different sections: JR, subway and private companies like Keio or Odakyu. The JR line runs above ground and is the best way to get to major sightseeing spots around the city while the subway systems, Tokyo Metro and Toei, run underground mainly in central and eastern Tokyo. The private companies run to the suburbs and are normally not used for sightseeing.

    The JR line is the easiest to take and stops at all major stations. The green JR Yamanote line runs in a continuous loop around Tokyo, stopping at all the major city centers such as Ueno, Shinjuku, Shibuya, Shinagawa, Tokyo and Ikebukuro. The orange JR Chuo Line is another popular route that runs west towards Shinjuku, Nakano,Koenji and Kichijoji. Every JR line besides the Yamanote has local or rapid options. The rapid train only hits the major train stations while the local line stops at every single stop. Be sure to double check if the destination is on a local or rapid line.

    In some cases a train transfer is necessary. When switching trains for the same company, for example from the JR Chuo to JR Yamanote, there is no need to exit the ticket gates. To switch trains for a different company, for example from the JR Chuo to the Tokyo Metro, riders have to leave the ticket gates to officially enter the Tokyo Metro side.

  • How to pay

    How to pay

    How to pay

    How to pay

    How to pay

    Having an IC card makes train travel much simpler. Simply tap the card against the card reader on the ticket gate when entering and exiting the station. Major stations such as Ueno offer signage with English to help navigate registering the prepaid card. Riders can purchase cards in set values, from 1,000 yen to 10,000 yen. The Suica card is the mascot of the JR stations while other stations offer different cards. Don’t worry, every IC card is the same and can be used all over Japan on every train system and most buses and monorails. This makes train travel much easier, rather than buying individual one trip tickets. To refill the IC card just use the ticket kiosk at the station and enter the desired amount. There is a 500 yen deposit for the card and will be given back when returning the card. English is available on all machines at all stations.

    Arrive at the destination and don’t have enough money on the ticket or IC card? Just head to a fare adjustment machine before exiting the ticket gates and pay the leftover. If for some reason the machine is not working, talk to a stationmaster near the ticket gates. Tell them the previous destination and they will calculate the total.

  • Tips and Tricks

    Tips and Tricks

    Tips and Tricks

    Tips and Tricks

    Tips and Tricks

    Don’t forget that the trains stop running late at night. From around 1AM to 5AM the trains cease operation and it is common to get stuck out in the city. Be sure to check the last train before heading out for the night!

    It is true that the train get very crowded during rush hour. From 8AM-9AM the trains running to the city are packed with workers, children and university students while 5PM is the evening rush returning to the suburbs. Try to avoid these times as much as possible. Trains run fairly often so if a train car is too packed just wait a few minutes for the next one. There will likely be less people.

    Generally eating, talking on the phone and being loud and disruptive is frowned upon in the train. However, many locals tend to break these rules, especially towards the last train.

    Tokyo
    Address
    Tokyo Chiyoda-ku Marunouchi 1 chome
    Phone
    Shinjuku
    Address
    Tokyo Shinjuku-ku Nishishinjuku 1 chome
    Phone
    Koenji
    Address
    Tokyo Suginami-ku Kouenjiminami 4-chome
    Phone
  • Kichijoji
    Address
    Tokyo Musashinoshi Kichijoujiminamichou 2-chome
    Phone
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