If you’re looking to understand the metro Tokyo map better, then you’re in the right place. One of the most difficult things when it comes to travel in a foreign country is navigating public transport, am I right?
Especially in non-English speaking countries it can be a bit daunting making sense of the buses, trains and subways as you’re never really sure you’re not paying too much -or even travel in the right direction, for that matter.
One look at the Metro Tokyo Map and you might get a little restless. That’s why I’ve created this guide to help you through the basics of the Tokyo Metro, so that you can travel around with a bit of confidence, but still find enough adventure in figuring things out on your own.
Because there really isn’t a better place in the world to get utterly confused about things -while still feeling excited about doing so.
METRO TOKYO MAP, TICKETS AND HELP GETTING AROUND IN TOKYO, JAPAN
LET’S START WITH THE GOOD NEWS
Well, let’s start with the good news. In Tokyo, most signs are in English and if you’re at one of the smaller stations, or venture a bit out of the city, there is always a station attendant to help you out, I’ve found.
Sure, I broke some gates trying to insert my ZOO-monorail ticket instead of my actual metro ticket (whoopsie) and only figured out which stop I actually was when I already passed my destination about 7 stops ago (double whoopsie), but in the end I usually managed to get from A to B without making too much of a fool of myself.
TRANSPORT TOKYO: THE FACTS
I read on Wikipedia that Tokyo has the most extensive urban railway network of the world. Over 40 million passengers whiz around the city, using all of the 882 interconnected rail stations. ‘Only’ 282 of them are subway stations, so let’s just stick to them for this post, to narrow it down a bit.
The first thing to know about the subway in Tokyo, is that the lines (about 120 of them) are run by 30 different operators, producing their own maps with their own colour- and letter coding. This makes things a bit confusing, because for some of them you will also need different tickets, even though the trains share the same platforms often.
The only Government-run lines are the Toei Subway (4 lines) and Tokyo Metro (9 lines), which are the lines you will probably use the most anyway, so there is that at least.
Another line that you’ll perhaps use is the JR East (‘East Japan Railway Company’), which operates throughout the Greater Tokyo area as well. In this post, we’ll cover these three, to keep it simple(ish).
METRO TOKYO MAP: NOT FOR THE FAINT-HEARTED
No matter what name the metro company has, the maps are CRAZY. Below you can see the one you’ll probably use the most: the one of the Tokyo Subway.
HOW TO GET AROUND TOKYO WITH THE SUBWAY
Ok, so we’ve narrowed it down to the Toei, Tokyo Metro and JR Trains, now what?
A ticket, of course!
Remember that these 3 subway Tokyo operators all have different tickets with a different fare system, so pay attention to that when buying your ticket.
There are a couple of different ways to buy tickets, depending on what your plans are. There are single tickets, day passes and a couple of other options which we’ll go into below.
You can find a complete overview here: www.tokyometro.jp/en/ticket
How to get around in Tokyo in 7 Simple Steps:
- Take a deep breath
- Click ‘English’ (touch screen)
- Select number of passengers (left)
- Select correct fare (touch screen)
- Feed it with coins or paper money
- Collect ticket and change
- Take a deep bow for yourself
If you only want to go from A to B, just buy a single ticket at one of the ticket machines.
You can check the exact fare on one of the station maps above the ticket machines, but if you’re at a station where they don’t have English text on them, don’t freak out, just get a ticket for the cheapest price you can find.
When you get off the train, just before you go through the electronic gates, locate a yellow ‘fare adjustment’ machine and pay any remaining money if needed. Simple!
The tickets of the Tokyo subway have a magnetic strip and you feed them through the gates. It comes back to you at the other end, so don’t forget to take it (when the single ride is finished, the machine will eat your ticket)
Here you can read all about the Single Ticket > www.tokyometro.jp/en/
1-Day Open Ticket
If you’re planning to travel a lot by Tokyo metro (which you probably will if you’re only staying for a short amount of time), then it’s worth looking into day passes to get around.
The 1-Day Open Ticket allows unlimited rides on the Tokyo Metro for 24 hours from first use. You can buy them on the day itself, or in advance. The ticket starts working when you first use it.
There is also a combination day ticket for both the Tokyo Metro as the Toei Subway
Here you can read all about the 1-Day Open Ticket > www.tokyometro.jp/en/ticket/1day
Tokyo Combination Ticket
Train Geek? Don’t like sunlight? The Tokyo Combination Ticket gives you unlimited rides on the Tokyo Metro, Toei Subway, Toei Streetcar (Toden), Toei Bus (except buses with allocated seats), all sections of Nippori-Toneri Liner as well as all JR lines within the Tokyo metropolitan area for one day. Go for it if you must.
11-Ride Ticket (Coupon Tickets)
At the ticket machine, on the left-hand side, you’ll also see the 11-ride ticket option. This gives you 11 rides (of any normal single fare) for the prize of 10. Valid only on the Tokyo Metro, but no time restrictions.
So these are just a pack of single rides for a bit cheaper. Handy if you’re travelling with a partner or in a group.
PLAN METRO TOKYO WITH PASMO (IC CARD)
Already getting the beginning of a headache thinking about buying tickets in Tokyo? Then the PASMO (IC Card) is something for you perhaps. I’ve never used it myself, but it seems similar to the Oyster Card they have in London.
In short, it’s a prepaid transportation card with a chip in it, so you can simply swipe your card on the reader at the tickets gates and get in and out. You can recharge it and use it over and over. Apparently you can use it not just for the subway, but also for buses and to pay for in shops and (because Japan) vending machines.
Super easy if you don’t exactly know much money you need for a single ride, and no hassle adjusting prices. Even if you don’t have enough money left on the card, you can still go on and that money will be evened out when you recharge. You can recharge the card from 10 yen up to 20.000 yen in 10 yen units.
Here you can read more about PASMO > www.tokyometro.jp/en/ticket/pasmo
Want to know the difference between off-peak and rush hour in transport Tokyo? Let my brother give you the answer below:
GETTING AROUND IN TOKYO WITH SUICA
Another prepaid transportation card you can choose comes from JR East and is called SUICA. The Suica can be used not only for JR East trains, but subways and buses as well. And similar to the PASMO, you can use this card to pay for things in shops and vending machines with e-money.
You can buy the SUICA card in major JR EAST stations at Multifunction Ticket Vending Machines, JR Ticket Offices (Midori-no-madoguchi) and Travel Service Centers.
Please note: You cannot use the SUICA for travel on the Shinkansen and you need to purchase additional tickets to use the SUICA for travel on so-called limited express, express and Green Car trains.
Read more about the SUICA here > www.jreast.co.jp/e/pass/suica
Hope you found this guide to Tokyo transport useful! Only question left is: where to next? Let us know what your Japan travel plans are!
- Tokyo Metro – www.tokyometro.jp/en
- Toei Subway – www.kotsu.metro.tokyo.jp
- JR East – www.jreast.co.jp
- Tokyo Subway Navigation APP – APP STORE
- Tokyo Subway Navigation APP – GOOGLE PLAY]
- Tokyo Metro <> Airport Guide – www.tokyometro.jp/en/tips/from_airport
- Japan Rail Pass – www.japanrailpass.net
DOWNLOAD BROCHURE TOEI SUBWAY MAP
PLAN YOUR TRIP TO JAPAN
XXX TOKYO GUIDE
- Lonely Planet Japan – The most complete travel guide
- Skyscanner – Find the best flights to Japan
- Booking.com – Find the best hotels in Japan
- Sakura Hostel Tokyo – My favourite hostel in Tokyo
- World Nomads – Worldwide travel insurance
- Get Your Guide – The most popular tours & activities in Tokyo
- Get Your Guide – The most popular tours & activities in Japan
- ViaHero – Plan your Japan trip with the help of a local
- Magical Trip – Discover Tokyo, Osaka & Kyoto at night with a local
- G Adventures – Group trips to Japan
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