It is very easy and convenient to get around Tokyo using the fantastic subway and train systems that go all over the city. The train stations are all well signposted in English and in Japanese. Get hold of a good train/subway map in English and Japanese and off you go! Train travel is very cheap in Tokyo compared with other parts of Japan. The average trip costs less than 200 yen. The map to your left is of the major train lines in Tokyo. Click to enlarge.
More Info:For information on how to get into Tokyo from Narita Airport check out this link: http://www.japanhotel.net/travel_info/airport_access.htm
For information on Tokyo's subway click this link: http://www.metropla.net/as/toky/tokyo.htm
I also found this totally cool interactive subway Map available in English, Japanese, Korean and Chinese: http://www.tokyometro.go.jp/network/map_english.html
The subway system is great. All trains run on time and can take you all over the city. But it can sometimes get complicated as there are many different lines. Most japanese have little maps with them. You can pick up such maps at the stations.
Or just look online first.
Map of the Tokyo subway at :
There is an extensive and efficient underground and rail network. However nothing technologically innovative as I expected. Prices are reasonable even if the way to get around is not the easiest I know. I got trapped several times in the labyrint of some of the biggest stations like the ones of Ikebukuro and Tokyo, before being able to find the exit or the underground I was looking for. This was due to the enormity of some stations, the unbelievable huge amount of commuters coming from every direction and the ease to get confuse because of the many signs placed in a way that remember me a russian matrioska. I mean, not a big clear map with all indications but a lot of small partial indications.
However, underground and Japan railway are the best way to get around if you don't like to spend huge amount of money by travelling on taxis, if you don't want to get lost somewhere inside a bus and if you want to reach places quicker.
Most of the travels I did were by travelling on the JR (Japan Railway) trains. The Yamanote JR line covers almost all the main Tokyo sights. I also wanted to experience the worldwide famous bullet trains called Shinkansen and Nozomi. So, I bought a 1 week JR Pass for £140; it's not that much if you consider that you can make unlimited travels throughout the whole Japan and get around Tokyo as well. But, you can buy it from abroad only. You have to pop in a japanese tourist centre from where you will get a voucher and once in Japan, you will have to redeem it from a specific JR booking-office of the airport. Perhaps, you will find a bit annoying the fact that all these operations will be carried out with many administrative steps and so many stamps!! But to me, this was all funny; I thought, why in the land of computers they still use all these stuffs??
I would say the easiest way to get around/in or out of Tokyo would be by any of the 3 subway. You can get to amost any part of Tokyo on subway plus another 15mins or more by walking.
The fare starts from 130/160/190yen respectively for the 3 owned subway.
The best way to get around in Tokyo is by the JR Trains and Subway services. The vast interlocking network covers most of the city. Color-coded, they are fast, efficient, frequent, on time, safe, clean and run from early morning to around midnight. If you do not know the fare to your destination station, buy the lowest fare from the automatic ticket dispensing machine and make up the difference at the other end. I did this most of the time. But nonetheless, it is not that difficult to read the trains & subway map once you get the hang of it
Well, you have NO CHOICE but to take the subway. Its nice but not as high tech and neon and futuristic as I expected. Some stops such as this one are extremely nice, but most are a little run down. You must buy your tickets for the next stop your going to and beware it is very expensive. You can also buy a prepaid card with money on it. Average fair to one stop is about 150 yen. People don't talk much and are lost in their phones or cd players. If you ask for help though most will happily ablidge.
For the most part, the crowds were not bad but during the busy times of the day - there were a lot of people!
The underground subway stations are clean and had kiosks selling candy, ties, and magazines.
Every station have helpful information desks where you could go to ask questions about getting to your destination.
While the train and subway system is one of the best things about Tokyo, I spent quite a bit of time walking around. I once walked from Musashi-sakai (on the Chuo line) to Nakano, a five hour walk. Another time, I walked from Nakano to Ginza, four hours through the heart of Tokyo. I recommend walking for really getting a picture of how Tokyo works. The character of different neighborhoods can change rapidly, and it was fascinating to see how the city changes from business district to urban residential to suburban. Spending all your time around the train stations, you begin to think that every part of the city is the same, with the same arrangement of ramen stalls, karaoke boxes, hair salons, and English teaching megacorporations. Further afield, endless armies of convenience stores and vending machines decorate the narrow streets and walled residences which house the 28 million population of Tokyo.
The subway system is extensive and not all that hard to figure out. It is crowded during rush hours (want to feel like a sardine?) but at other times, it didn't seem that bad. My friend Ai (picture) even got to take a nap!
We did have a funny incident: at one point, Synne and I wanted to make sure we were going to take the right line to get to Shibuya, so we asked a Japanese man. He told us that the subway was too difficult, and that we should just immediatly exit the station and catch a taxi. A gaijin (foreigner) man overheard and stepped in saying 'Sir, these are gaijin, not idiots!' and then the two got in an argument and we slinked away, easily finding our way on our own!
First check the stations at which you wish to get on and off using a subway map. Remember the line’s name and the symbol color. There are 12 subway lines in Tokyo. Of these 8 are TRTA lines and 4 are TOEI lines. All the 12 lines are operated from 5 a.m. to a little past midnight.
Station entrances are indicated by distinctive symbols and the name of the station.
In underground passageways, color-coded circles and arrows indicate lines. Follow the arrows to your line.
The fares for TRTA lines are indicated in English on a fare map posted by the ticket vending machines. A red circle indicates the station you are at.
All tickets can be bought at automatic vending machines. Tickets and change (if any) are released automatically.
Most stations are provided with Automatic Ticket gates. However, when you need to go through a man-attended ticket gate, you need to show your ticket to the gate attendant.
After passing through the wicket, all you have to do is follow the signs to the desired platform and track number. The large-scale line maps near the wicket and on the platform are useful for checking your destination.
You will find the name of the station, the line symbol color, a direction arrow and the name of the next station on the walls on both sides.
Exits are indicated by signs with yellow letters on a black background. All exits and entrances are numbered. When alighting the train, look at the yellow board that shows the number of the closest exit to your destination. Similar boards can be found in the concourse including a map of the area as well.
You can ask for information in English at Subway Information Desks located at TRTA Gina, Shinjuku, Nihombashi and Otemachi stations.
A Tourist Information Center is available to help foreign travelers. You may ask them in English for information about how to ride the subways as well as other things. Phone: 3502-1461
You don't have to worry about the monster Godzilla in Japan the biggest monster you have to worry about is The Tokyo subway system. Each stop has it's own price. You look at the map , see what the price listed for your stop is, insert the proper fee, hit the touch screen for that listed amount and out pops your ticket. You put it in the turnstyle to enter and you must keep it to insert it in the turnstlye at your destination. If the price you paid doesn't correspond to the price at your destination an alarm will sound and you'll have to go to the fee desk to pay the difference. The most difficult things about the subway system are 1) The choices of lines can be huge at some stations and a bit perplexing to find your subway line let alone find it on the map 2) All the stations show a map by the machines and sometimes the stops are written in english, many times they are not and only identified by Japanese characters. That is when you ask the nearest person to you as to what the cost of your stop would be and hope he can understand you. Luckily the people are very cordial and helpful. One important thing to know is if you need to ask someone in english something it is better to try a younger person than an older person. The young people are taught english in schools some of the older peopke will not understand you and will not be able to help.
Tokyo is best covered with its well connected subway and trains. A subway map of this crowded city is available at Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau - an excellent site to visit before one lands in Japan. A phrasebook is also a must if you don't speak Japanese. Trust me, I've been there more than 10 times in the last 3 years! Don't take chances unless you've lots of cash to burn & never never take the taxi (it costs as much as a flight from Vegas to San Francisco!).