Getting around – Tokyo public subways
Tokyo boasts a world class, high density public transport systems consisting of multiple subways, buses and taxis. Getting around the city is not a problem even for non-japanese speaking free and easy travellers like us. Taking the subways is our preferred choice of transportation in and around Tokyo. Take a look at Tokyo Transport.
Tokyo is served by 2 main subways, the Japan Railways and Tokyo Metro. We usually take the JR when we are using JRpass. But certain places of interest like Ometo-sando and Asakusa are more accessible by Metro, so make sure you plan your trip well. We always use Hyperdia when planning for train rides, this is an extremely useful app for free and easy travellers. It does seem a little complicated and takes some experimenting to get your desired results. Tokyo’s subway is incredibly punctual, so make sure you adhere to the proposed route and timing by Hyperdia, your trip could be ruined if you miss any station or train.
Our most used JR lines in Tokyo is the Yamanote line (山手線), as it links major districts like Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro, Akhihabara, Harajuku, Tokyo and Shinagawa.
Transport cost in Japan is quite high. A train ride from Shinagawa to Shibuya costs about JPY170 (S$2.10). A trip from Shinjuku to Maihama (Disneyland) costs about JPY390 (S$4.80), 2 train rides and about 40 minutes. Using Hyperdia, you can find cheaper and faster alternatives. Drop us a comment if you need help planning your route.
Trains in Japan are also highly efficient, no sudden jerking or stopping in the middle of nowhere due to train faults. Japanese seldom talk on their phones inside the train, and if they need to, they will move to the end of the carriage and whisper. Handphones are always on silent mode, we don’t recall hearing any handphone ringtones sounding during our many train rides there. The trains are amazingly clean too, eating and drinking are allowed.
Train tickets can be purchased at the automated self-service kiosk. English language is available so you should have no problem with it. Tickets are small magnetic stabs with your current station and fare printed on it. For longer rides like express or shinkansen, a different type of ticket is used, see above pic. For more detail guide, look here.
On some longer rides, there will be train conductors going around checking tickets. Sometimes, for whatever reason, you may be asked to pay for additional fares, this is most likely due to mistakes on your ticket purchase. Just pay and top up the difference, there is no reason to doubt the conductor, they don’t make mistakes, this is Japan.
On some lines, you might see trains named Express, Limited Express, Rapid, etc. These trains run the same lines as the Normal trains, but they skip certain stations, thus the name Express. Just make sure your station is not one of the skipped station.