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Home - Travel - Sightseeing Guide - Kanto - Tokyo
Transportation

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How to get to Tokyo

By air - Tokyo has two airports: Narita Airport handles the majority of international flights and only a small number of domestic flights. It is located 60 kilometers outside of central Tokyo. The more centrally located Haneda Airport handles a smaller number of international flights and the majority of domestic flights.

By shinkansen - Most shinkansen lines lead to Tokyo. The trip from Osaka/Kyoto takes about three hours. There are also direct trains to/from Kyushu, Nagano, Niigata and various destinations in the Tohoku Region.

 
Basic Orientation

Tokyo is covered by a dense network of train, subway and bus lines, which are operated by about a dozen different companies. The train lines operated by JR East and the subway lines are most convenient for moving around central Tokyo.

Tokyo's most prominent train line is the JR Yamanote Line, a loop line which connects Tokyo's multiple city centers. The city's 13 subway lines are operated by two companies and run largely inside the Yamanote circle and the areas around Ginza and Shitamachi. Most of the many suburban train lines commence at one of the six major stations of the Yamanote Line (Tokyo, Ueno, Ikebukuro, Shinjuku, Shibuya and Shinagawa).

 
Major JR train lines in Central Tokyo

The map below shows Tokyo's major railway stations and the five JR lines that are most relevant to people who travel within central Tokyo.

Yamanote Line
Circle line that connects all major city centers.

Keihin-Tohoku Line
Runs parallel to the Yamanote Line on the eastern half of the circle.

Chuo/Sobu Line (Local)
Runs across the Yamanote circle (local slow service).

Chuo Line (Rapid)
Runs across the Yamanote circle (rapid service). Connects Tokyo Station with Shinjuku Station.

Saikyo Line
Runs parallel to the Yamanote Line on the western half of the circle. From Osaki Station, some trains continue running along the Rinkai Line in direction of Odaiba.

Shinkansen
Tokaido Shinkansen trains stop at Tokyo and Shinagawa, while bullet trains to the north stop at Tokyo and Ueno.

 
Subways

Tokyo's subway network is operated by two companies, the Toei Subways with four lines, and Tokyo Metro (formerly known as Eidan Subways) with nine lines. Together, they densely cover central Tokyo, especially the area inside the Yamanote circle and the areas around Ginza and Shitamachi.

Note, that at their terminal stations, the trains of some subway lines continue to operate on the tracks of different companies on suburban train lines. For example, the Chiyoda Subway Line is directly connected with the suburban Odakyu Line at Yoyogi-Uehara Station, and trains on the Fukutoshin Subway Line continue to run on the tracks of the Tokyu Toyoko Line at Shibuya Station.

 
Other railway companies

Besides JR East and the two subway companies, most other railway companies connect Tokyo with the metropolis' outer regions and surrounding prefectures. Their lines typically start at one of the stations of the JR Yamanote Line. Many of the private railway companies also operate department stores usually at their train lines' major stations.

Tokyu Railways
Serving southwestern Tokyo and Kanagawa.

Tobu Railways
Serving Saitama and Tochigi.
Connection to Nikko.

Seibu Railways
Serving the Tokyo Tama Region and Saitama.

Keio Railways
Serving the Tokyo Tama Region.

Odakyu Railways
Serving Kanagawa.
Connection to Hakone.

Keisei Railways
Serving Chiba.
Connection to Narita Airport.

Keikyu Railways
Serving Haneda Airport and Kanagawa.

Tsukuba Express
Connecting Akihabara with Tsukuba City, Ibaraki.

 
Tickets

A whole variety of day passes is available for the Tokyo area, however, most of them are overpriced and/or not very practical because they do not cover all of Tokyo's train and subway lines. Consequently, single tickets or prepaid cards usually come cheaper, especially if you plan your city sightseeing in a geographically wise way.

Prepaid IC cards are generally the recommended way to get around Tokyo. Prepaid cards don't give you any discounts over single tickets, but they provide convenience as you can ride virtually any train or bus in Greater Tokyo (and many other major cities in Japan) with just a simple swipe over a card reader. They can also be used to make quick purchases at a constantly increasing number of shops in Tokyo (and across the country).

Two types of IC cards are available for purchase in Tokyo: Suica cards at JR stations and Pasmo cards at non-JR stations. Furthermore, eight IC cards from other major cities of Japan can also be used on the trains and buses of Tokyo, including Icoca, Kitaca, Toica, Manaca, Pitapa, Sugoca, Nimoca and Hayakaken.

Only on days when you use trains or subways a lot, can it make sense to consider one of Tokyo's day passes. Day passes are sold at train stations and vending machines and are valid from the first train in the morning until the last train in the evening rather than for a 24 hour period.

Tokyo Free Kippu (aka Tokyo Tour Ticket) (1590 yen)
  Unlimited use of all subway lines (Toei and Tokyo Metro) and JR trains in the central Tokyo area on one calendar day. It is also valid on buses and streetcars operated by Toei. The pass is overpriced and will unlikely provide any savings over regular tickets or prepaid cards.
Tokyo Subway Ticket (1-day: 800 yen, 2-day: 1200 yen, 3-day: 1500 yen)
  Unlimited use of all subway lines (Toei and Tokyo Metro) on one calendar day. Not valid on JR trains. The pass is only sold at Tokyo's Narita Airport and Haneda Airport and at travel agencies outside of the Kanto Region.
Toei and Tokyo Metro One-Day Economy Pass (1000 yen)
  Unlimited use of all subway lines (Toei and Tokyo Metro) on one calendar day. The pass only pays off if you use the subways excessively. The pass is not valid on JR trains. Unlike the lower priced Tokyo Subway Ticket (see above), this pass can be purchased at the subway stations in central Tokyo.
Tokyo Metro Open Ticket (1-day: 600 or 710 yen; 2-day: 980 yen)
  Unlimited use of the nine Tokyo Metro subway lines, but not the four Toei subway lines and JR trains. A regular one day pass costs 710 yen, while a tourist version is available for 600 yen (one day) and 980 yen (two consecutive days). The tourist version is only available to foreign tourists at Narita Airport and Haneda Airport, while the regular version is available at ticket machines at Tokyo Metro stations.
Toei One-Day Economy Pass (700 yen)
  Unlimited use of the four Toei subway lines, buses and streetcars on one calendar day. It is not valid on the nine Tokyo Metro subway lines and JR trains. The pass is available at ticket machines at Toei stations.
Tokunai Pass (750 yen)
  Unlimited use of JR trains in the central Tokyo area on one calendar day. The pass is available at vending machines at JR stations.

The Japan Rail Pass, JR East Pass and JR Kanto Area Pass are valid only on JR trains and the Tokyo Monorail. They cannot be used on subways or any other non-JR train.

Any Questions? Ask them in our question forum.

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User Feedback
We strive to keep japan-guide.com up-to-date and accurate, and are always looking for ways to improve the user experience. If you have any updates, suggestions, corrections or opinions, please let us know:

English Links
JR East
Official English website.
Tokyo Metro
Official English website.
Toei Subway Information
Official English website.
Odakyu Electric Railways
Official English website.
Keio Electric Railways
Official English website.
Keisei Electric Railways
Official English website.
Keikyu Electric Railways
Official English website.
Tokyu Railways
Official English website.
Tobu Railways
Official English website.
Seibu Railways
Official English website.
Tsukuba Express
Official English website.

Japanese Links
JR East
Official website.
Tokyo Metro
Official website of Tokyo Metro.
Toei Subways
Official website.
Odakyu Electric Railways
Official website.
Keio Electric Railways
Official website.
Keikyu Electric Railways
Official website.
Keisei Electric Railways
Official website.
Tokyu Railways
Official website.
Tobu Electric Railways
Official website.
Seibu Electric Railways
Official website.
Tsukuba Express
Official website.

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