Destination Guide | Tokyo Japan

Getting around in Tokyo

Tokyo's public transportation system is efficient, regular and safe (and quite notably, crowded!). Every form of transport is available. However, getting around and using the transportation system can be a bit overwhelming. Once you find your way around endless adventures await you!


No SmokingMost drivers do not speak English. If you study nothing else, at least learn “Taxi Japanese”. Have a map in Japanese and to know how to say your destination in Japanese. On the passenger side of the front windshield there is an indicator light. When it is red the taxi is available. Take smaller denominations with you for your fare as many drivers do not have change. Be careful when coming up to a taxi’s left rear door. It is opened and closed automatically by the driver.

Useful Taxi Japanese:
Right → Migi
Left → Hidari
Go ahead/Straight → Massugu
Turn → Magaru
Stop → Tomaru
Here → Koko
There → Soko
Receipt → Ryosyusyo


Tokyo BusBuses are a great way to get around in Tokyo, however, they can be a little difficult to deal with especially your first time out. Many buses have electronic displays that indicate a particular bus stop in both Japanese and English. Some displays are in Japanese only, so finding the correct stop can be a challenge unless you are familiar with the area. Bus route maps are available in English at many of the larger stations (Tokyo, Shinagawa, Shibuya, Shinjuku). Use a map to count the number of stops on the bus route until you learn about the area.

When you get on a public bus, the fare machine has three different slots. The one on the left is for bus cards; the one in the middle is for correct change (Adults- ¥200; Children- ¥100; Children under age 6 are free); the one on the right will give you change for coins only. Bills are usually accepted. Purchasing a bus card discount your fare i.e. ¥5,000 gives you ¥5,820

Subways and Trains

The mass transit services are JR (Japan Railway), private railways, the Tokyo Metro Subway lines and Toei (Metropolitan) Subway lines. Most commuter private-railways connect with the subway lines at one station at least. The subway line can also provide through trains (a reciprocal use of each other’s tracks).

At first sight, unraveling the subway map is daunting. Allow extra time for yourself to plan your route (including different transportation modes) and confirming transfer times. Using the internet to do this is very useful. Sights: or

Station names within the Yamanote line appear in English and Japanese. Lines and carriages are color-coded. Colored arrows also appear on the ground in the stations to guide you when transferring. Maps are available in English. An English version of the subway fare map is displayed at all major stations. However, when in doubt buy the cheapest ticket and make a fare adjustment at your destination.

Single trip tickets are sold at the station. To determine your fare, study the guide above the ticket machine. The number at your destination station represents the fare. Insert your money and a ticket is issued. Insert it at the gates at both ends of your journey. If you decide to go further than your original destination, simply do a fare adjustment at a yellow machine located near the exit. It will calculate how much more you need to pay. Always keep your subway or train ticket at hand. It is collected at the exit. If you lose your ticket, you may be required to pay the fare from the furthest point. Children aged 6-12 travel for half price and children under 6 are free.

Hyperdia (Search any travel route within Japan)

Tokyo Metro (Subway Information)

Pasmo (Pre-paid card)

Japan Railways

Commonly referred to as JR, this is the national network in Japan. JR links central Tokyo with outlying suburbs e.g. the Yamanote-Line. It forms a loop around central Tokyo. Buy a transfer ticket when transferring from JR to a private line. If you frequently use JR buy a pre-paid card called “Suika” or a monthly card, a “Teiki”.

JR East (Higashi Nihon)

JR Central (Tokai)

JR West ( Nishi Nihon )

JR Kyushu

JR Hokkaido

Private Railways

The private lines provide service to those outlying areas not covered by JR and the main railway companies operating in metropolitan Tokyo are Keisei, Keio, Keihin-Kyuko, Odakyu, Tokyu, Seibu, Tokyo-Monorail and Yurikamome. Here again, you can either buy a ticket each time or use a pre-paid card called a “Pasmo”.

Pasmo (Pre-paid card)