Tokyo is one of the biggest metropolitan city in the world. Not only that, Tokyo is also known as a city that has one of the best public transport systems in the world. You can get to your destinations quite easily!
Well, if you know how to navigate around them, that is.
Look, Tokyo’s public transport system is a mess. Yes, it’s effective, but it could also be quite hard to handle. No worries! In this article, I will review the things you need to know regarding Tokyo’s public transport system. Hop on!
Tokyo has trains and buses as the main public transport system. Sounds easy, right? Well, wait until you looked at the maps! To make it easier for you to navigate around Tokyo, I will make a brief introduction of each available options.
These are all the train lines and trains that are owned by the “government”. They covered most major areas around Tokyo and also have access to neighboring areas such as Yokohama and Chiba. Shinkansen are also owned by JR. You can use your JR Pass with these trains
These are all the trains that do not start with JR in their names. Some examples would be the Keio Railways and the Tobu Tojo Railways. They are owned by private companies and usually caters to places that do not have access to the JR lines. Their stations, however, could be in the same spaces as the JR stations, so you could easily change lines.
You could use your IC Card on these trains. On the other hand, you would not be able to use your JR Pass with these trains.
The metro or subway lines are all owned by Tokyo Metro. They mostly run underground, but some also run alongside JR Lines. Unlike JR Trains, they covered more detailed area that the JR trains do not stop by. These metro lines only operate in Tokyo Area. You can’t use your JR Pass here.
The bus system in Tokyo is a little bit more complicated since it caters even more detailed areas. Moreover, some buses also do not have any English translation written for their stops. However, you’d be fine with using just the JR lines and the Metro for your trip.
How to Ride Tokyo's Public Transports
In order to use all the public transport system in Tokyo, you would need either of these two options; a ticket or an IC Card. I will explain about each available options below.
You can buy one-way tickets to your destination. Just simply look at the giant map that is usually placed above the ticket machine, find your destination and look at the fare, then press the right fare button in the ticket machine. However, some stations might not have the English words written for your destination, so this option is a little bit difficult.
IC Card is a very convenient option for those of you who want to travel in Japan (not just Tokyo!). You can simply tap this card through the ticket gate at train stations or in buses, and tap once more when you’re getting out. You can also buy and re-charge it at the ticket machines that are available in every station.
In addition to that, the fares for those who are using IC Cards would be a little bit cheaper rather than the train tickets.
Getting Around Tokyo
Here’s the thing:
There a “loophole” that would help you navigate easier around Tokyo.
That is the JR Yamanote Line, which trains route shaped literally like a loop around Tokyo’s most famous destination. This line would also loop back to the same stations, which means that you would never get lost (but you could definitely miss your stop if you’re not paying attention).
The JR Yamanote line is usually colored green and would come by every three minutes or so. I would definitely recommend you to get an accommodation that is located near a station where the JR Yamanote Line stops.
Even with all these information, navigating around Tokyo could be a challenge.
I got you covered! In order to save yourself from the trouble, I strongly recommend you to hire a private guide instead.
Hiring a guide is not as troublesome and as expensive as you might think. In fact, when you truly consider about hiring a local guide that knows their ways around Tokyo, you might found that you would get many benefits from it.
First, you would be able to spend your time in Tokyo more effectively. Your guide would be able to take you to all the major tourist spots and even the lesser-known ones without any troubles. You can get an insider look at Tokyo’s locals.
Second, you can overcome the language barrier! Your guide will be able to help you say what you really want to the restaurant staffs or other establishments.
As you know, English is not widely spoken in Japan, so language problems are quite common. If you hire a guide then you would easily overcome this problem.
If you are planning to hire a guide, then I do recommend you to get one from Triplelights! They have a list of professional guides that would cater to your travel needs. Not only that, but their excellent customer service would be able to make sure you’d get the best guide that suits your tastes.
In this article, I have reviewed about the ways you can get around Tokyo, how to do it, and an easy solution to get to your destinations. Here’s to a great trip in Tokyo!