Getting Around the City - General Info, Tokyo
For all the traveller like me, please make sure you get the correct train to your destination. Those JR Tokyo route map are available almost in every JR station. Refer to the sign board on the wall before to get up the train. Once you are inside the coach, basically all the route map are in Japanese. In order for you to know where is the next stop, you have to either listen carefully to the speakers or look outside to the next station sign board. Else you have to regconize the Japanese character.
The Suica Card is a pre-paid e-cash smartcard that comes in very handy when travelling on JR lines in Greater Tokyo. It can be bought at every station at a special ticktet machines and costs initially 2000 ¥ of which 500 ¥ are kept as a deposit. Inside this card is a special chip that whenever it touches the special Suica area at the automatic toll gate the the lowest fare is substracted. You are now free to go anywhere on the JR network and when you leave you simply touch the toll-gate and it opens. It helps saving time and it can also be placed on the toll-gate when its still in the wallet. When not enough money is left you can recharge it at ticket machines inside the toll-gate area or outside.
Starting now more and more shops throughout Tokyo take or will take the Suica card for purchasing goods with only one touch.
As previously noted, Tokyo (and Japan in general) seem to have a very efficient and oganised transport system. Whatever mode of transport we used was always clean, on time and user-friendly. The tickets are also cheap, especially if you get a Day's pass which cost about 730 yen and you can ride in any of the trains around the pink area in the Tokyo map you get from the info tourism desk at any station.
I recommend this or get the SUICA card which you can always replenish/recharge so you don't have to keep buying tickets every time you want to go out. With my young family we usually go to one to two areas as the places cover a wide are of walking ground!
There are maps, signs and numerous ways to help the average traveller get around the city.
However, it can still be tricky as it has a complicated system of subway, monorail, train and buses network. The best thing to know is there is always help at hand. One must not hesitate to approach a transport staff for help.Even ordinary Japanese commuter/s are willing to help even if they cannot speak English well! They are very polite and helpful people!
English is not widely spoken but most staff know a little English enough for you to get by. I shall have a separate post about commonly used Japanese/Nihongo for the average tourist with little or no grasp of the Japanese language.
The best way to get around Tokyo is to use the train and subway system. However you have to familiarise yourself with the different train lines servicing the city. Most of the attraction are serviced by the JR line.
Make sure you get a TOKYO HANDY GUIDE to tell you where to get on and off and where to exit as the stations are huge and crowds go past the trains the whole day. There is really no off peak hours in Tokyo as we experienced. The trains are always full but not unpleasant as Japanese people are courteous and do not push in! They are also mostly quiet inside the trains and are contented to stand or give way for you. Also the use of mobile phones are common but the sound is turned off so it never annoyed us and the Japanese rarely speak loud in trains as we observed!
Don't worry if you get lost, there is always help at the exit gates. A train staff is always present near the exit where the machines are for the tickets put in before leaving the station.
=GET A MAP=
Get a train system map of Tokyo in Chinese, English, French, German, Korean and Spanish
World Eki Net (by JR East)
KEIHIN KYUKO (KEIKYU)
in travel guides it's written "taxis in Tokyo are shamefully expensive", in general it is..but i dont think it's more expensive than in London, i took a taxi from my hotel located in Shinjuku till Asakusa, the ride took about 1 hour with the traffic, though both locations are considered to be in the center, anyway that cost me 40$, i wouldnt say i was shocked, looked normal.
another thing with short distances, even for 2km ride you will have to pay 6$.
one of the evenings i was supposed to have dinner with friend at Park Hyatt, funny thing i could see Hyatt from my hotel's window and it seemed being not to far and i was planning to have a walk to get there...but things are not that easy as seem sometimes..when i got out i understood i couldnt do it, with all these multileveled roads in Tokyo, Hyatt was like located in another dimension...and i was thinking...common Angela, just pay 10$ for a taxi and forget about it..and i did it, tough taxi driver was quite amazed, pointing to Hyatt ahead of me, but he took me there:)
The Toden Arakawa line doesn't really connect any notable places, but it is the only tram line in Tokyo, and so makes for an interesting trip if you get the chance, meandering through areas of Tokyo that few tourists really get to.
If you are spending a few days in Tokyo, you must must buy the Suica!
It's seriously a lifesaver. You don't have to hassle with fare changes and top-ups.
Just tap and go.
The Suica is only valid on all JR train lines, Toei Subway lines, Tokyo Metro subway lines.
Not valid on Private railways.
Plus there's a packaged deal.
for 3500yen, you can get a one N'Ex ticket to Tokyo and a 2000yen Suica with 500yen refundable deposit value and 1500yen actual traveling value.
Always carry two maps. One in your language (probably English) and one in JAPANESE. Find your destination on your map, check the letter and number (For example: E01) and point to it on the Japanese map. Japanese people tend to get shell shock when someone speaks English to them. Having a Japanese map can help them relax. If they speak great English, there is no need to show the Japanese map.
Here is a URL link below. It's a neat tool that helps you to find out how to get to a place from another by trains and airplanes.
You will have the result by the exact names of the stations that depends on when to depart or arrive and also prefer or not taking the expresses.
The Narita express is a great way to get from Tokyo station to Narita airport. It costs about 2700 yen and departures are frequent.
One of the advantages of the Narita express is that some services go to destinations such as Yokohama, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro, Shibuya, Shinagawa and Omiya amongst others.
To get around Tokyo efficiently, subsurface transportation is the only way. Traffic can be unpredictable and keep you stalled for hours, while the trains always run on time. They are numerous and between the JR lines and the metro, go pretty much everywhere in the greater Tokyo area that you would want to visit. However, to increase your efficiency, I recommend getting a Suica or Pasmo card, which will save you the inconvenience of buying tickets. You can buy one at any JR ticket window and you put a few thousand yen on the card and you get automatic entry until you exhaust the money. Updating the money on your card is easy. You'llnever regret a Suica card.
Shogi Kaikan in Sendagaya is the headquarter of Japan Shogi Association where major pro matches are played. It also has a dojo for visitors and a shop to buy a wooden boards, pieces, traditional paper fans and even English books on Shogi, Japanese variant of chess. To get to Sendagaya station from Tokyo station, however, is really complicated. The first step is to find Chuo Line. It is one of the JR local lines. Follow the signs in orange line which lead to platform #1-2 where Chuo line starts. When you get on Chuo Line be sure to change trains to local train at Ochanomizu. It is the only way you can get on local train to Sendagaya. (No direct line to Sendagaya from Tokyo). To be continued to Part 2.
Getting around the subway in Tokyo can be confusing, since the rate depends on the destination, there are several lines with different operators etc, the solution = the Suica Card. The SUICA card, is an electronic cash card that can be used in Tokyo subway system. You can get the card in almost all of the Cashier counters in the subway station. The card is cost 500 yen, and you can charge it once you have it, over and over again.
Once you have the card, no need to pounder on how much is the fare, or anything like that, you just put your card on the gate, and go on through... Make sure you charged it with enough money though...
Highly recommended, very handy, and makes life in Japan much easier, since to get around Tokyo, the easiest way is to use the subway...
Tokyo has a very extensive train and subway network that is fairly well integrated. Coming from a city of over 1 million people with a useless public transport network, I shouldn't knock Tokyo's, but there are a few silly things about Tokyo's train and subway network.
1. The subway closes down at midnight. Tokyo does sleep!
2. There are two subway networks and even though they often share stations, they have seperate ticketing! This caught us out at first and we couldn't understand why the ticket we bought when we entered a subway station wouldn't work when we went through a ticket gate! We learnt that the four Toei lines are the odd ones out (and more expensive). All the other subway lines were called Tokyo Metro lines.
3. Don't buy a JR ticket when you want to take the subway. The machines may be at the entrance to a subway station, but they're for use on the overland JR network. Usually they're green machines, so that makes it easy to remember.
4. Get a handy Tokyo Metro Guide in English as soon as you can and study it carefully. It is very very useful.
5. The first few times you use the rail network will be very confusing. Give yourself plenty of time and take it slowly. Everything is actually pretty well signposted, but it just takes a while to get used to it.
In the end, I loved the Tokyo rail and subway network. It was great fun working out routes and getting around stations!