Rail - In and out of Tokyo by Train, Tokyo
This is a quick route from JR East for trips from Shinjuku to Tokyo stations. Instead of taking the JR Yamanote Line and encircling half of the loop, why not take a direct route? This line bypasses a lot of stations in between, thus called Chuo Rapid Line. It is the fastest route between JR Shinjuku and Tokyo Stations.
Japan Railways (JR) operates the biggest train network in Japan. There are smaller private train companies that operates smaller subways and train routes. For the normal traveller, JR is good enough to get you around.
The main hub for JR West is Oaska and the hub for JR East is Tokyo. Their URLs are here;
For JR, there are mainly two classes of trains;
Normal trains that comes as Local, Rapid or Express. And Shinkansen trains or Bullet trains that run really fast - more than 200km/hr sometimes.
If you travel inter-city, you can buy the Japan Rail Pass outside of Japan that is valid for 7 days, 14 days or 21-days. The pass gives you unlimited travel on local trains and the Hikari-class Shinkansen (Nozomi class NOT accepted). The tour agency can book one for you and give you a "exchange letter". This letter you must bring to exchange it into the actual rail pass at the following stations;
Tokyo, Shinjuku, Ueno, Narita airport, Ikebukuro, Kansai airport etc...Check the website.
If you opt not to buy the rail pass because it is NOT worth the cost, you can buy tickets as and when needed. It is not as troublesome as it might sound.
Shinkansen tickets can be purchased from JR ticket counters with the "green seat" signs. Just join the queue and speak to the counter staff in English about where you want to go, what time and the number of persons going. There are 2 types of Shinkansen tickets - reserved and non-reserved. Reserved means your tickets will have a reserved seat in a specific car on a specific train that will pull into the station at a certain time. You must board the right train at the right platform. Non-reserved means you can take any trains going towards your destination. But, you are NOT guarrantee a seat. Usually, car numbers 1 to 3 are for non-reserved seats. Cars from 4 onwards are for reserved seating only.
To get out of Tokyo, you have to try the Bullet Train. Book as far in advance as possible as the ticket system seems to penalize you on last minute fares. Also, do not expect the rates to be comparable to European train fares. They are more like US airline fares. Can you put a price on traveling at 200 mph on this high tech machine?
The best way is on foot and by subway. We found all of the streets and trains to be very clean. This is the best way to learn the city and the people. It also helps the budget.
Shinkansen - bullet train - although more expensive than the regular trains, they can be 3x faster.
I only travelled to/from Tokyo by train, as I flew into Japan at Osaka, and out of Japan from Nagoya.
The photo is of the 'Japanese-style' toilet on the shinkansen - caption should read: 'NOW what am I supposed to do?'
The subway is complex, but efficient. I never saw any of the crowd-pushers, even though I travelled a few times at rush hour - but it was never more packed than Toronto.
Tokaido Shinkansen is a convenient way to travel from Tokyo to Kyoto, Osaka, Himeji up to Fukuoka and the other way around.
It only takes about 3 hours from Tokyo to Kyoto/Osaka via Shinkansen.
Tokyo has the most advance subway system in the world. You can reach any place by train. Correct me if I am wrong. I think Japan has the most complete rail network.
From Izu (Hatami) to Tokyo we travelled by Shinkansen, the bullet-train, crossing part of the Tokyo and Yokohama prefecture in less than 30 minutes.