Rail - Metro - Subway, Tokyo
Several points to take note of when using the JR lines + subways, which are a great way to travel but come along with their fair share of frustrations. I was in Tokyo with my wife and young kid for 7 days and relied mainly on subways for travel to Shinjuku, Harajuku, Otomesanto, Asakusa, Disneyland etc. Our kid was largely in the pram.
(1) The stations have many exits - Always observe which exit to use for your destination as that can save you lots of trouble. A wrong exit means lots of walking.
(2) Lots of frustration if you intend to bring along your kid(s) in prams!!! Most of the exits do NOT have escalators or lifts, which means climbing up the staircases, which can be awfully long. This is especially problematic if your kid(s) is/are asleep in the pram(s). Solution is to look for exit with escalator or lift - which is oftentime located far away from your intended exit/destination. By the way, we discovered to our horror that there are some stations with no escalators/lifts at the exits at all!
(3) Make sure you get a map of the subways + JR lines which include BOTH English and Japanese names for the stations from your hotels. Believe it or not - Maps at the ticket booths often do not have English names! This means you need to compare Japanese names on both maps to know where you are headed.
(4) There have been suggestions on buying Passnet - For us, we find the Toyo Metro single day pass which cost Yen710 very useful if you intend to keep using the subways. Note however that it cannot be used for JR lines or other metro lines. We made the mistake of trying to travel on the Asakusa line - not realising that it was by a different operator from the Tokyo Metro subway line and had to use the Ginza line instead.
The metro of Tokyo seems to be like other famous ones in London and Paris; but it ISN'T.
After 10 days of traveling with this metro I finally managed to see through the way how to change over on another line without losing your ticket resulting in buying a new one.
Most people sleep in the metro. The ones who doesn't, they play with their mobile phone. Girls sitting in front of you thinking that they look good don't even look up from their phonescreen till their station finally is there.
It's amazing to see how people rarely talk with each other in the metro. Good point is the order to switch off your mobile phone sound when entering the metro. For the rest; the metro is very efficient; people stand in a row before the trains arrive.
There are two nests of subway lines, a maze of train lines, and many feeder lines from the suburbs. Use a good map of the system and figure out your route.
Approach the entry turn styles and look for the ticket machines (they will be near by). Go to the machine and find one that has an English button. Turn the machine to English and begin to pump money into it. Push the button with the lowest fare and get your ticket. Never worry about having the correct fare because when you exit you will adjust the ticket. You could try to figure out what the correct fare is at the entrance – but you will only screw it up.
Understand how the turn styles work. Walk up to them, look for the green entrance arrow and feed your ticket into it. It will shoot through the machine and pop out the other end. Walk through the entrance and retrieve your ticket. Walk through like you have lived there all your life – it will make you feel better.
Board the subway/train and start counting stops. This implies that you know how many stops to your destination. Never try to read the names of the stops as you pass through the stations. They are Japanese names after all – names like Aoymaichi-chome. Even if you can manage to recognize them – the two thousand people packed onto the subway with you will obstruct your view of the platform names.
Never sit down because with two thousand people jammed into the car with you, getting up is rather difficult.
You must present your ticket on entering and exiting. So hang onto it. Before you exit however, you will have to adjust the ‘fare’ on the ticket (assuming you followed my advice above). Find a machine that says ‘fare adjustment’ – many of them actually have English above them. Stick your ticket into the machine and it will automatically display how much money is owed on the fare. Drop some coins into the machine and a new ticket will pop out. You may now exit.
The Subway in Tokyo is operated by two Separate companies.
Tokyo Metro, who operate the Ginza, Marunouchi, Tozai, Yurakucho, Hibiya, Chiyoda, Nanboku, Hanzomon and New Line, and Toei Metro who operate the Oedo, Asakusa, Mita and Shinjuku lines.
Tokyo Metro's day pass is 710 yen, and Toei Metro's day pass is 500 yen. Alternatively you can buy a 1000 yen pass which covers both systems.
Getting around Metro Tokyo is best by train..it is faster and very affordable..you can use coins or train card for payment..if you used to travel a lot you can top-up your card. During pick hours train is full-pack of passenger..it is normal so don't wait just get in. The train will always come on time. If you visit here first time, try to pick a train route map in the train station, it will shows train route with corresponding train name and time.
Most Japanese hardly speak English so be ready to learn some basics of their language.
From Narita Airport, the best train to Metro Tokyo is the Narita Express, from Narita it will travel to Shinjuko which is in the vicinity of Tokyo.
If you are in Tokyo and have a scheduled flight at Narita Airport, when you take Narita Express, your ticket will be inspected as if you are already check-in in the Airport. So don't worry that you will miss your flight. Narita Express Train has scheduled that you can match to your scheduled flight.
The Tokyo metro is much like the Paris metro. I actually heard a rumor that the Tokyo metro was designed after the Parisian metro. Anyhow, it is very easy to use and there is English right underneath the Japanese Hirigana, Kategana, and Kanji for each stop. Just buy a metro card from the ticket booth and begin your travels. Get yourself a map, just ask for one at the counter, and that should provide you with a good view of what the metro can provide. Examples of hot places to go include Rappongi and Shibuya. But there are many more.
Metro in Tokyo is fast, reliable and, probably, always on schedule (see my picture). There are two separate metro companies in Tokyo: Tokyo Metro and Toei. You can use both or either one of them to get pretty much everywhere in the city (Toei network is somewhat thinner....). Since I was moving around the city quite a lot, I've opted for daily tickets and used only Tokyo Metro company. The price was 710 yen. Considering that one ride only cost anywhere from 160 to 230 yen, the daily ticket starts paying off after some four rides only. If you travel a lot, this is definitely your choice!
The most challenging is, by far, using the right metro exit, to get you to the place you're heading to. Metro stations are big (or virtually hudge....) and have many exits. What you shoud know is that there are maps of the vicinity as well as the maps of metro exit network on EVERY station. Just look for them (on the walls), find them, study them and figure out which exit you shoud use to reach your spot.
I did not use Toei metro or JR trains at all.
Tokyo's subway system is not the most beautiful in the world by any means, but it is one of the most extensive, and is pretty cheap as well, with journeys beginning from 160 yen (less than half of what you'd pay in London for example).
It's a great way to get about the city once you learn to navigate your way around.
There are 13 lines, run by two separate companies.
You can either buy day passes for one or both companies, or buy a passnet pay as you go card which you put into the wicket as you go, meaning you don't need to buy a ticket for each individual journey.
When you first arrive at Tokyo at Narita Airport and catching your first train could be very daunting. We spent around 20 mins observing locals buying a ticket at the ticket machine. After observing for a while since everything is in Japanese and not in english (which is fair enough we are in Japan : )) on the top right hand corner there is a little square small box. I cant remember if it says english in english or english in japanese but thats the button u press to get the english menu up.
I bought several book and subway guides for Tokyo, but this one proved to be the best:
It has VERY good maps and diagrams of the subway stations so that you can look for which exit to take. Plus it has maps of all the surface streets, too. THE BEST PART is that all the names are also printed in Japanese, so asking for help is very easy.
Tokyo has such a great subway service that any other form of transportation is mute. Cabs are way too expensive to consider and traffic will make them a very slow way of getting around anyway. However, you need to be careful because the Tokyo Metro System is run by private companies and the ticket you buy for one line may not be good for another.
One can travel around Tokyo cheaply using the Tokyo Metro trains costing only 710 yen. Using the ticket vending machine, buy a One Day pass that will take you to many tourist sites using the liens of Tokyo Metro.
Tokyo has a perfect system of subway and local trains - and it's easy to use, even for foreigners.
During rushhours it's a bit crowded at the major stations.
Just imagine, at Shinjuku station about 12 Mio. passengers are changing/entering daily.
Don't even think about using a rental car, you won't find your way, and there are no parking lots.
I was expecting some real horrific subway rides in Tokyo packed in a like a sardine with my nose pressed against somebody's armpit. But outside of the rush hour and at weekends the Tokyo subway is not too bad at all. Although I rarely got a seat there was always plenty of standing room. It's a cinch !
After using Beijings' 3 line metro map, the Tokyo metro map with its myriad of twisting lines, makes spagetti look organised. There are two metro companies but you would only know this by the fact that you have to pay separately for each company.
It is worthwhile buying a prepaid card which will save you the hassle of having to look up the price of you destination each time you go to use the metro. The prepaid card comes in several denominations.