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the Main Loop around tokyo
the JR Yamanote line is the main loop of tokyo and you would not get lost here so I would suggest you master it before taking the other JR and other train lines to other areas but remember that tickets are generic here with a base of 130 yen regardless of what JR train you will be using. the JR Yamanote Line is running as a circle and it connects most of Tokyo's major stations and urban centres including the Yûrakuchô area, Shibuya, Shinjuku and Ikebukuro with all but two of its 29 stations connecting with other railway or underground (subway) lines. the JR Yamanote trains run from about 4:30 am to about 1:20 am at intervals of 2.5 minutes at peak time. A complete loop takes 61 to 65 minutes and all trains stop at each station.
Again, like what i said before, the JR Yamanote also acts as a fare zone destination for JR tickets from locations outside Tokyo, permitting travel to any JR station on or within the loop. This refers to stations on the Yamanote Line and the Chûô Line from Sendagaya to Ochanomizu. the color code of the yamanote line is yellow green!
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Travelling around Tokyo
Our local station in Tokyo was Hamamatsucho. The first trip we made via train was to Harajuku and was a little intimidating but once you do it once you begin to understand a little of how it works, even if you don't speak Japanese.
I think for most of our trip we went via the Yamanote Line which travels in a circle, so you're less likely to end up somewhere you don't want to be. I can't remember if we went on the underground but when in Tokyo you just have to work it our for yourself as best you can. I know there are a couple of lines which have seperate tickets that are non transferable (or something like that) so we bought mostly one way tickets as we were only in the city for 2 days.
One good thing about the Japanese trains is the fare adjustment machine, if you suspect you have paid the wrong fare into the ticket machine, when you get to your destination station you can use a fare adjustment machine, so you never pay more than is necessary.
Some ticket machines are available in English too which is good. To be honest, the train is probably the cheapest way of getting around the city (besides by foot) so its best to just jump right in and see how you go. We didn't find the trains too crowded and we enjoyed the cutesy music they play in the stations! :-)
Look up the Yamanote line on wikipedia for a better idea.
Green JR Line
We had a JR Pass and the main train line we used was the Green Yamanonote line. It stopped at many of the main places to see in Tokyo such as - Tokyo, Harajuku, Shibuya and Shinjuku.
The green line also has a tv display of the next station in English, which was a great help!
This is the loopline that goes around Tokyo, and stops at most places of interest. Tokyo station, Ginza, Ikebukuro, Ueno, Shibuya and Shinjuku in particular.
There will be plenty of times when the subway or one of the other lines is a better option, but just about anyone who spends any length of time in Tokyo will spend some time on the Yamanote line.
If you wanted to go the whole way around, it would take about an hour.
Where's the centre?
Unusually amongs the world's great cities Tokyo doesn't really have a single centre or downtown area, but several. This can be a headache when arriving and trying to get your bearings. Basically everything of interest will be in or near a station on the Yamanote rail line. The most useful ones to know are:
The Rail Pass
The RAIL PASS is a particular ticket which is only sold to in Japan to tourists visiting from other countries. There is a criteria to be met in buying these passes, one of which is that you must be a foreign visitor in Japan for sight-seeing, with a ‘temporary visitor’ entry. Be aware that during peak times, your seat cannot be guaranteed on any particular train. The pass is valid for buses, ferry boats and trains. The validity period is for 7, 14 and 21 days and the pass is valid from the first date it is used.
Riding the Trains
The rail system in Tokyo is the best way to get around Tokyo. The Yamanote (Loop) Line is run by the JR and hits all the major centers. From those you can branch off to the other subway lines. Yes, it does get packed very tightly in those things!
Using the main JR line to get around.
The JR Yamanote line (green color) is a loop that goes around the greater Tokyo area. It stops at most major stations such as Tokyo, Shinjuku, Ueno, Harajuku, Shibuya and Shinbashi.
This is the line to take to get to most of the major stations.
If you find that the time it takes to get around the loop is too long, there are subways that cris-cross the Tokyo area. These will bring you to your destination faster sometimes. You must check the JR metro/subway maps for details.
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Taking trains for Newbies
For normal trains, these are slower and normally used for travel within the city. To buy a ticket, follow these steps;
1. Go to the ticket vending machines, and look at the English train map (In smaller stations, train maps are in Japanese only). You can see how much you need to pay for your destination. The price on the top is for adults and the price on the bottom is for children.
2. Put money into the vending machine first and look for the fare box to light up.
3. The default is always single adult fare. You can change this by pressing on a button in a row of buttons showing various combination of 2-adults, 3-adults, 1-adult & 1-child etc. Note, for some strange reason, you can only change this AFTER you put in some money, not before.
4. When the appropraite fare lights up, push the fare button to get your ticket. Note, some vending machines are touch-screens, some are buttons.
The ticket for children will have the Chinese character for "small" printed on it. Using the ticket is the same as our MRT.
Go to the platform showing the train line that you want to take by following the signs. On the platform, there is normally two tracks. Pick the right one by looking at the LCD display on the ceiling. Details are in Japanese but will change to English after a while and then change back. It will usually tell you the destination, time the train will leave and whether the train is a RAPID train or not. RAPID means they by-pass smaller stations and stop at major stations only. On the JR train maps, major stations are usually listed in white against black. Local trains means they stop at all stations along the route.
In case you decide to go further than your station and your fare is short, there are fare adjustment machines near the ticket gates. Put your ticket into the machine and the machine will show you how much money you need to top up with. Put in the money and collect the "new adjusted" ticket to go through the gate.
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Tokyo area Trains
Trains are a staple of Japanese life. They take you everywhere you need to go and run with enough frequency that you generally don't need to worry about schedules.
Some tips about trains in Tokyo:
- If you are unsure how much a ticket is, buy the minimum ticket amount (usually 120 yen) and sort it out when you get to your destination (use the automated machines or just give it to the attendant)
- There are signs in the subway that tell you which car to enter to be near the exit at your destination. This saves you from having to walk the length of the platform through a crowd. Especialy useful at busy stations or stations with only one entrance/exit
- Use the URL below to figure out a route between two points. It includes trains, planes, buses and ferries.
JR rail line, this could become your besat friend if you plan to travel around a lot! It's a circular line all around the city with stops at Tokyo and Ueno stations too as well as many links to the subway. Like to know how many journeys we made on it! JR rail passes are valid but it's usually very busy. The photo was taken at around 22:00 at Ueno station!
The JR Yamate line covers main hot spots in Tokyo.
The JR Yamate line covers main important points in the central area of Tokyo. Main Stations are Shinjuku , Shibuya , Ikebukuro , Shinagawa , Ueno , Akihabara , Yurakucho , Tokyo , Ueno. The trains run every 5 minutes,so you do not have to wait long. The Yamate line looks like the underground Circle line in London.
In Tokyo you can totally rely...
In Tokyo you can totally rely on the public transportation. The network of commuter trains and subway lines in and around Tokyo is thorough. You can go anywhere. And for the famous crowds during rush hours, well, you get used to it, or you just avoid those hours. (It's fun to try it once though). The Yamanote-sen (see pic) is a trainline that goes round and round in a circle in central Tokyo. It's great to take, especially if you are not so familiar with the city, beacuse sooner or later you will end up where you started. The Yamanote line is marked green on the subway/railway maps.
All squeeze aboard!
If any criticism can be made of the trains in Tokyo, it is the sheer number of passengers they have to cope with. The station at Shinjuku, a major connecting point for local and underground lines, sees three million passengers pass through every day. Shinjuku is one of the main stops on the circular Yamanote line, which encloses central Tokyo in a 30-station loop.
Tokyo have very good train netwrok, covering most area in Tokyo. Tomanote line cover many main downtown areas including Shinjuku, Yoyogi, Shibuya, Harajuku, Ebisu, etc.
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