What's the best ticket for Tokyo transportation?

by Kaori - Japan Licensed Guide
(37) Reviews

I’m often asked  “What is the most efficient way to get around Tokyo by public transportation?”  

As a Tokyo local guide, the answer differs depends on your preferences and your itinerary in Japan.  I'd like to introduce the basic knowlege about Tokyo transportation and useful tips for travelers in this article.

3 transportation networks in Tokyo

What's the best ticket for Tokyo transportation?


At first, Tokyo has mainly 3 different transportation networks, making it difficult for tourists to understand the system as a whole. 

  1.  JR (Japan Railways)   - JR operates mainly ground trains and Shinkansen bullet trains throughout Japan.

  2.  Metro  - Tokyo’s main subway lines are actually run by 2 different companies.
    ・Tokyo Metro
    ・Toei Meto (Toei=Tokyo Metropolitan government Line)

  3.  Other Plivate Lines - Examples : Keisei Line for Narita Airport, Keikyu Line for Haneda airport, Yurikamome Line for Odaiba Bay area and more.

My 4 tips for travelers

(1) The most reasonable - Tokyo Subway Ticket

What's the best ticket for Tokyo transportation?

● Tokyo Subway Ticket  (24H / 48H / 72H) is recommended for people who want the most reasonable way. 
https://www.tokyometro.jp/tst/en/index.html
Best value for visitors, needs passport for purchase, offering unlimited ride during the limited  hours. Recommended for those who stay in hotel near Metro stations.
Advanteges : 
・The most reasonable with unlimited ride for a certain duration of time.
Disadvantages : 
・Only for 2 metro lines in Tokyo Metropolitan district. Not available for JR and other private lines. (However, most major spots are covered by these 2 metro company lines.)
・Need to understand the differences between metros and other lines in Tokyo. 

(2) The easiest - Welcome Suica (or PASMO PASSPORT)

What's the best ticket for Tokyo transportation?


●Welcome Suica for travelers is recommended for people who want the easiest. 
https://www.jreast.co.jp/e/welcomesuica/welcomesuica.html
Expire after 28days. This is new service for short-stay travelers since Sep 2019.
Advantages : 
・No deposit on purchase (unlike normal SUICA).
・No need to return.
・No need for understainding the whole transportaion system. 
・Available for most major lines and buses in other major cities as well by just tapping the card. 
・Can be used  at some convenience stores and some vending machines(drinks).
Disadvantages : 
・Expire 28 days after the purchase. (You can bring it back as a souvenir.)
・No refund (unlike normal SUICA).  
・Better to spend remaining e-money at available shops such as convenience stores before leaving Japan. 

●PASMO PASSPORT

Similar to Welcome Suica. Issued by Tokyo Metro with cute Sanrio character design. Disadvantage is issuing fee of ¥500. For Kitty lovers, recommended as good souvenior. 

(3) For repeaters -  nomal SUICA or PASMO

What's the best ticket for Tokyo transportation?

● (normal)  SUICA or PASMO 
Most Tokyoites use either one for daily use.  Those are recommended those who are sure to come back to Japan. SUICA is issued by JR East, PASMO is by Tokyo metro. Same function. (ICOKA is JR west) 
Advantages : 
・Available for most major lines and buses in other major cities as well by just tapping the card. 
・Can be used  at some convenience stores and some vending machines (drinks).

・Refundable.(When you return it, deposit and remaining e-money will be refunded.)
・Expire date is 10 years from the last use of the card. 
Disadvantages : 
・Needs deposit (¥500)on purchase.
・You need to return it at certain ticket counters to get money back when you don't need it anymore. 
・After 10 years no use, SUICA will be expired but can be issued again or refunded with handling charge. PASMO will be expired automatically without refund.

(4) How about JR-pass?

What's the best ticket for Tokyo transportation?

One more often asked question is “Can I get around Tokyo by JR-pass?” 

Some travelers seem to think that they can get around Tokyo easily by JR-pass without paying extra. Unfortunately it’s not happening here. As I mentioned above, Tokyo has 3 transportation networks, JR, 2 metros and other private lines. JR-pass is only for JR trains. Not available for metros nor other private lines.

Actually 2 metros cover more detailed sightseeing spots than JR, including Asakusa and Tsukiji Market.  We take more metros than JR trains for general sightseeing in Tokyo. Your JR-pass will be useful when you visit the places where JR covers in Tokyo. 

Now,  ready for a new adventure?

My private Tokyo tours might help you understand  these systems so that you can get around Japan more freely!  Thank you for taking the time to read this article.
Tokyo Highligts for first timers
Eastern Tokyo Highlights
Western Tokyo Highlights
Tokyo One-day as you like

Did you like my article?

You can send me a message to get a customized itinerary and quotation for an unforgettable experience. Let's explore Japan Together.

I'll be waiting for you, so please check my profile and get your trip plan now


Kaori

Licensed Guide
(37) Reviews

Related Blogs

15 Most Popular Foods You Have To Eat In Japan (2019)

by Ro
As many of you already know, Japan has a wonderful and unique cuisine but mostly when we think about Japanese food, what automatically comes...

10 Best Places for Pokémon Go in Tokyo

by Coelho
TLDR: The 10 best places for Pokémon Go in Tokyo are: Senso-ji Temple, Shibuya, Meiji-Jigu Shrine, Akihabara, Roppongi, Tokyo Tower,  Ueno P...

10 Useful Apps while Traveling in Japan (2019)

by Mieke
Glued to your phone Especially in a country as gadget-loving as Japan, being glued to your phone only makes you blend in with the Japanese....

Tokyo's Top 10 Sites for Anime and Manga Lovers

Tokyo, and in particular Akihabara, has a plethora of museums, shops, cafes, and other sites targeted towards anime and manga lovers.  As su...

10 Foods You Must Try in Osaka

  Osaka is the largest city in West Japan. Here there are lots of dishes that few Japanese people living outside of Osaka know exist. So, I...

10 Must-Go Shopping Destinations in Shibuya

by Yuri
Shibuya is a popular shopping district within Tokyo where you can find a variety of places for entertainment and recreation such as shopping...

Tours by Guide

Private Hakone - one day trip from Tokyo

(37) Reviews
by Kaori
Private day trip to Hakone only for you and your group, starting from Tokyo. Surrounded by great nature with Mt.Fuji view, museums and hot springs, Hakone ...
10h $ 331

Tokyo Highlights for first timers

(37) Reviews
by Kaori
If you have only one day for Tokyo, I recommend this tour, including ・Asakusa (Senso-ji Temple, Asakusa Shrine) ・Sumida Boat Cruise ・Hamarikyu Gardens ...
8h $ 265

Western Tokyo Highlights

(37) Reviews
by Kaori
This is private tour for you and your group, basically using public transportations. My Tokyo Western highlights includes ・Tokyo Metropolitan Governm...
8h $ 265

Eastern Tokyo Highlights

(37) Reviews
by Kaori
This is private tour for you and your group, basically using public transportations. My Tokyo Eastern highlights includes ・Imperial Palace ・Ginza (s...
8h $ 265

Tokyo Half-day as you like

(37) Reviews
by Kaori
This half day tour fits you all, from first timers to repeaters who love local experiences. Families, friends, colleges, solo travelers such as. Why? Becau...
4h $ 132

Tokyo One-day as you like

(37) Reviews
by Kaori
This tour fits all, from first timers to repeaters who love local experiences, because it's "as you like". If you have specific spots in your mind, I'll m...
8h $ 265

Private Mt.Fuji -one day trip from Tokyo

(37) Reviews
by Kaori
Private Mt.Fuji only for you and your group, starting from Tokyo and ends-up in Tokyo. Basic plan uses Express Bus from Shinjuku to Kawaguchi-ko (one of th...
11h $ 331

Private Kamakura - One day trip from Tokyo

(37) Reviews
by Kaori
Kamakura is one of the most popular day-trip destinations, located just one hour south of Tokyo. This coastal city used to be the center of Japan during th...
8h $ 265

Plan your trip to Tokyo with Kaori

Chat with a local tour guide who can help organize your trip.
Send a message

Recent Tour Reviews in Tokyo

“ Short but sweet trip ”

Excellent
1 week ago Traveler: Kevin -   Tour Guide: Kaori

We had a 11 hr layover in Tokyo and Kaori did a wonderful job of laying out a short day of touring the city. We saw several sights and the had to go to the airport. It was ever nice trip.
read more

“ Tokyo for First-timers ”

Excellent
1 week ago Traveler: Jude -   Tour Guide: Kaori

Kaori was a wonderful guide. She had a great command of English and was able to accomodate all of our requests. The day ran very smoothly with Kaori guiding us through metro stations, across parks and gardens, around neighbourhoods, on a river cruise, to markets, to upper end shops, to view latest technology, to numerous monuments, buildings and lookout points and a stop to eat a yummy raw seafood...
read more

“ Two wonderful days touring Tokyo and Mt Fuji ”

Excellent
2 weeks ago Traveler: Judith -   Tour Guide: Kaori

Kaori planned two fascinating and fun days for us-- one seeing the major sights of Tokyo and the other going to the sacred ponds and a lake near Mt Fuji. She was attentive to detail, flexible in meeting our needs ( one of us was having trouble with climbing stairs) and went out of her way to help us make arrangements for activities and travel on subsequent days. She told us how to get one act Kabu...
read more

“ Excellent guide ”

Excellent
2 weeks ago Traveler: David -   Tour Guide: Kaori

I can't recommend the tour of Western Tokyo highly enough. Extremely flexible, interactive, informative, and accommidating. You'll feel like an old soul after this tour.
read more

“ Excellent day with Kaori san ”

Excellent
3 weeks ago Traveler: Dilip -   Tour Guide: Kaori

Kaori san was at the hotel even before we checked in and dropped us back at the hotel knowing it was the evening rush hour , going out of her way to make things very pleasant for us. She took us through the tour explaining sites culture and tradition of the Japanese society. Wonderful experience.
read more

“ Lovely day out! ”

Excellent
3 weeks ago Traveler: Yasmine -   Tour Guide: Kaori

Had a great day with Karoo-san! She was super flexible and very knowledgeable about the history. She also answered everything we asked, even questions that had nothing relating to the tour!
read more

“ Wonderful guide, ”

Excellent
1 month ago Traveler: Christopher -   Tour Guide: Kaori

Kaori was just amazing. Our groups was a mix of people in their mid 60s and mid 30s she kept out attention throughout the day. We covered all the shrines and other points of interest in a timely manner. She planned the trip using a series of trains and walking, the pace of walking was appropriate. She also escorted us through Tokyo station and assisted us in buying tickets to get us to the Rugby ...
read more

“ 2 days with Kaori ”

Excellent
1 month ago Traveler: Saras -   Tour Guide: Kaori

Kaori was punctual, polite, and explains about the places we were going... she gave us an insight about Japan’s way of life.
read more

“ Kaori is the best! ”

Excellent
1 month ago Traveler: Carol -   Tour Guide: Kaori

Kaori is kind, flexible, detail-oriented and organized! She was the first person we talked to on our 2nd day of Japan and she was instrumental to us. She showed us lots of cool neighborhoods, temples and shrines, and picked out a great lunch spot. She also gave us great additional personal recommendations after she had quickly figured out our tastes in shopping/museums/art. She stayed later past o...
read more

“ Excellent Guide for a Custom Tour ”

Excellent
1 month ago Traveler: Leigh -   Tour Guide: Kaori

I needed help with navigation and language during a trip through Tokyo, and had very specific ideas of what I wanted to see and do in a very tight timeline. A few places I wanted to go were not typical tourist destinations, but Kaori-san was happy to take me to game cafes and escape rooms, and we actually managed to escape one! Kaori-san went out of her way to learn more about the things I was i...
read more

Related cities