Everything You Need to Know about Tokyo Subway

by Fidelia - TripleLights travel specialist

Let’s make one thing very clear here; Tokyo’s public transport system could be very, very complicated.

 

Just when you thought you’ve mastered the JR train system, you found yourself at lost when dealing with the Subway map. The names of the stations are more often than not similar, and it doesn’t help the fact that sometimes you need to deal with both (the JR trains and the subway) systems in order to reach your destination.

 

No worries!

 

After reading this article, I can assure you that you would at least get the basic grasp of Tokyo’s underground subway system. You would be able to navigate your way through Tokyo’s subway system like a pro!

Everything You Need to Know about Tokyo Subway

How does it work?

Before we started, I want to make sure that you know the difference between JR trains, private railways, and the subway trains.

 

JR trains refer to railways and trains that are owned by the government. The most well-known JR train in Tokyo is probably the JR Yamanote line, which circles Tokyo’s downtown area. If you have a JR Pass, you can use that in here.

 

Private railways are railways and trains that are owned by private companies. They usually intersect with JR lines, but some also built their lines in places where JR has not reached yet. You can not use your JR pass here.

 

Subway or the Metro refers to the train that runs (mostly) underground. In Tokyo, it is owned by the Tokyo Metro and the Toei Subway company. You can not use your JR pass here.

 

Everything You Need to Know about Tokyo Subway

Mastering the Subway system in Tokyo

Now that you’ve understood the differences between JR trains and subways, let’s get to the big question.

 

How do I navigate my way through Tokyo’s subway system?

 

Subways could be more efficient than the JR trains. It covers a lot more spaces than the JR lines, which cover distances rather than areas. Subways could be a better alternative for you to reach all the best spots in Tokyo.

 

Let me tell you something: the subway system is not as difficult as you might’ve initially thought.

 

As I mentioned before, all the subway lines are color-coded, and each has their abbreviation to help visitors remembers them easily. For example, the Marunouchi line symbol is a red “M” sign inside a red circle.

 

Here’s another tip:

If you have problems remembering the name of your stop, then you don’t need to.

 

You only need to remember the number of your stop. For example, Ikebukuro station is the 25th stop in the Marunouchi line. That means the sign for Ikebukuro in the Marunouchi line is M25, all colored in red.

 

It might be difficult for you to read all these information that I am telling you without seeing Tokyo metro map. I’ve searched online and I found this guidebook that includes Tokyo’s train and metro map. Not only that, the guidebook also includes a recommendation list for your Tokyo sightseeing trips. 

Don’t worry, you can download it for free!

 

Everything You Need to Know about Tokyo Subway

Alternative ways to get around Tokyo

If you think you are still not sure that you can get around Tokyo well enough, here’s a better alternative for you:

 

Hire a private tour guide!

 

They will get you to your favorite destination spots, without any problems! Here’s a list of things that a private guide can help you with:

  • They will help you find your way around Tokyo
  • Make your itinerary plan for you
  • No more language problems
  • Many, many more reasons here for you to hire a private guide! 

Considering on hiring a private tour guide? I recommend you to book one from Triplelights. They have the best selection of guides that will help make your Tokyo holiday a memorable journey.

 

Getting around Japan

Once you’ve mastered the train and subway system in Tokyo, I am sure you’ll be able to get your way through most places in Japan. However, if you still need help in getting a shinkansen to get to your next destination, you can click this link to find out how to ride shinkansen in Japan.

  

Since you’ve read this article, I hope that you’ve understood Tokyo’s metro system, how to get around Tokyo with it and a better understanding of how Tokyo’s public transportation system work. I wish you best of luck in finding your way around Tokyo!

Did you like my article?

If you are interested to know more and save your time during your trip to Tokyo, You can send a message to our local guides to get a customized itinerary and quotation for an unforgettable experience.

In the TripleLights website you can find the best professional guides all over Japan to help you plan your trip. Check our local guides for Tokyo


Plan your trip to Tokyo

Chat with a local tour guide who can help organize your trip.
Get Started

Recent Tour Reviews in Tokyo

“ in depth tour of Zojo-ji ”

Excellent
2 months ago Traveler: Prasanna -   Tour Guide: Kazuharu

We were looking for an in-depth understanding of Zojo-ji, and it is not one of the popular spots in Tokyo. Kazuharu prepared and came with lots of notes and tried his best to answer all our questions. He was patient and enthusiastic.
read more

“ The best way to get around Tokyo ”

Excellent
5 months ago Traveler: Catarina -   Tour Guide: Mitsuru

Mitsuru was very careful when planning our visit, and made sure we got exactly the experience we wanted from Tokyo, with the right balance of tourist hotspots and local finds. His patience when explaining local habits and teaching us how to ride the tube were the reason we were able to get around the rest of the country, and his impecable guidance made it able for us to cover all of Tokyo in the l...
read more

“ Delightlful .... ”

Excellent
6 months ago Traveler: Jerome -   Tour Guide: Aki

Aki was very easy to work with and accomodating to our group of 6. As requested, he put together a 3 day itinerary for us based upon our interests and desired activity level. He is quite knowledgeable about "all things Tokyo" as well as the Japanese culture and history. He is a master of the Tokyo transit system and without him we would have had a difficult time navigating around. We asked Aki...
read more

“ KOJI--OUR WONDERFUL GUIDE! ”

Excellent
6 months ago Traveler: JEFF -   Tour Guide: Koichiro

In the midst of the ongoing COVID drama sweeping the world, my partner and I decided to continue on with our trip to Japan. We were a bit nervous and wary but ended up having an incredible, once in a lifetime trip and a large part of this was our time with Koji. Koji has youth and energy, knowledge about Japanese culture, food and life, and was a wonderful host during our stay in Tokyo. We felt...
read more

“ Great guide ”

Excellent
6 months ago Traveler: Kerry -   Tour Guide: Yasuro

Though it rained most of the day we had a good look around Tokyo. Yasuro was a polite patient guide with great knowledge.
read more

“ March 7 2020 Tokyo ”

Excellent
6 months ago Traveler: Teresita -   Tour Guide: Noriko

Due to lack of time I decided to hire a Tokyo local guide to make use of our time,most especially for 7 hours. I did not regret to choose Noriko ,she was professional ,punctual ,very knowledgeable and she can feel the feelings of what we really wanted to see. We were so happy because we saw the places we wanted in 7 hours time. We recommend Noriko to all travellers who wanted to see in a short ...
read more

“ First day in Tokyo ”

Excellent
6 months ago Traveler: Nathan -   Tour Guide: Nobu

Nobu was wonderful. He accepted our last minute booking and met us at our hotel at 10am. A lot of things where closed, but Nobu had a great iteneriary for us. He spoke great english and did a great job of explaining the local culture and history.
read more

“ einen Tag in Tokio, einen Tag Teezermoniechmarkt. ”

Excellent
6 months ago Traveler: Maria -   Tour Guide: Yukiko

Es war wunderschön .Yukiko Hat uns mit ihren liebenswürdigen Art und viel Wissen über die Geschichte Tokios und besten Deutschkenntnissen, Tokio zu einer der Liebenswertesten Städte der Welt gemacht, man kann sie nur empfehlen und wir hatten wunderschöne Tage, sollten wir mal wiederkommen,Dann nur mit Yukiko.Liebe Grüße aus Rosenheim Marisa, Susanne und Tanja
read more

“ I had a wonderful time with Juliana. ”

Excellent
6 months ago Traveler: Arnold -   Tour Guide: Juliana

OMG, I had a fabulous day with Juliana. She was very informative and very professional while showing me around Tokyo. I've requested to Juliana to take me to the snoopy museum. Despite being closed because of the virus, she took me there anyway to visit the Peanut cafe and Snoopy town. That's when i learned she too was a Snoopy fan. Her command of the English language is very fluent. I have learn...
read more

“ 8 hour tour worth every penny! ”

Excellent
6 months ago Traveler: Chris -   Tour Guide: Maru

Maru was quick to respond to my request and assembled a nice customized itinerary for our day in Tokyo together. The shrine we visited was incredible! She has good local knowledge and is very personable and friendly. Maru's English is excellent and she was able to help me put together a few key phrases that I used during the rest of my stay in Japan. I would highly recommend her!
read more

Related cities

Plan your trip to Tokyo

Chat with a local tour guide who can help organize your trip.
Get Started