2022 10/15

Useful Guide - Public transportation in Tokyo

Tokyo is a quite big city and it is considered to have a trustworthy, rapid, and accurate public transportation system that you can navigate and use easily.

But there is a lot of information about it and you may become confused, or it could prove to be difficult to choose which public transportation system is the best for you to get around in Tokyo.

But please don’t worry, let us explain all about the public transportation system in Tokyo and help you to move around comfortably – stress-free.

So let’s get started!

What sort of public transportation is available in Tokyo?

One of the tips for living in Tokyo is to get to know about public transport.

Let’s see what sort of public transport is available in Tokyo.

- Subways/Underground/Tube/Metro

These are called ‘Chikatetsu’ in Japanese, and it is an underground network of trains. There are two operators – ‘Tokyo Metro’ and ‘Toei Subway’.

Trains come very frequently, about every 2-3 minutes, and they are usually on time.

You can go to most of the popular places in Tokyo by subways, such as Shibuya (Shibuya crossing), Shinjuku (Metropolitan government office, Kabuki-Cho), Ginza (Department stores, Luxury shops), Asakusa (Senso-ji temple, Nakamise shopping street), Ueno (Ueno zoo) and many more.

There are 14 different lines and each one has a particular color for easy reference. The trains take you from East to West, North to South, and all over Tokyo.

・Ginza line

・Marunouchi line

・Marunouchi line branch line

・Hibiya line

・Tozai line

・Chiyoda line

・Yurakucho line

・Hanzomon line

・Namboku line

・Fukutoshin line

・Asakusa line

・Mita line

・Shinjuku line

・Oedo line

Here is a Tokyo subway map in English for you:


- JR East Yamanote line

The JR Yamanote line (山手線) network is operated by JR East (JR東日本/East Japan Railway Company). There are 30 stops on the line and the length of the line is 34.5km in total runs in a circle around Tokyo. It is one of the busiest and most important lines as it connects most of the major stations, such as Shinjuku, Shibuya, Shinagawa, Tokyo, Ueno, and Ikebukuro.

The whole JR Yamanote line takes just over one hour to travel and connects with the JR Chuo line, JR Keihin-Tohoku line, JR Sobu line, and the JR Saikyo line.

- Shinkansen/Bullet train

The Shinkansen is one of the most famous and popular trains in the world and runs at speeds of up to 320km/h, so fast, comfortable, punctual, efficient, and very safe. You can take the Shinkansen from Tokyo station and travel outside of Tokyo, from Hokkaido to Kyushu, with the popular destinations in between such as Kyoto, Hakodate, Sendai, Kanazawa, Nagoya, Osaka, Hiroshima, Fukuoka, and Kagoshima.

- Buses

You might need to gain some confidence when taking buses, but buses can be an alternative means of travel to trains and subways for getting around Tokyo. There are many bus companies such as the Tokyu bus, Keio bus, Seibu bus, and then the Tokyo metropolitan bureau of transportation. Most buses take routes that are connected to train stations.

One of the benefits of taking a bus is the fare. You only pay a flat fee of 210 yen for adults and 110 yen for children.

Here is a useful website for the Toei bus route:


- Taxis

Taxis are not a cheap way to get around when compared to subways, trains, or buses. In general, the basic rate of the first 1,052km will be charged between 380yen to 410yen, then increases by 80yen every 237m.

But there might be many reasons for you to take a taxi. For example, when you are carrying heavy bags, in bad weather, are too tired to take trains, not feeling well, or you missed the last train.

You can get a taxi at taxi stands usually in front of stations, or catch them on the road by waving one down.

There are also taxi apps such as ‘Japan taxi’, ‘Line taxi’, as well as ‘Uber’. You just tell a taxi driver the address you would like to go to, as they usually have an in-car navigation system.

Easy way to take public transport in Tokyo

It is said that 84% of commuters in Tokyo use public transport rather than driving.

Mainly because these are very reliable, accurate, convenient, and have many connections. Especially the trains and subway, as they run from early morning, like 5 am, till late at night, around midnight.

On top of these reasons, there are ways to make using public transport easier, these are payment methods.

You can buy a ticket from the machine at a station, but there are also IC cards such as Pasmo and Suica. You just simply touch the card to the card reader.

Please read our featured article about “IC cards”.

Also, we would like to recommend you download a transfer navigation app onto your smartphone.

If you choose ‘Japan Transit Planner’, ‘Japan Travel by Navitime’or ‘Japan Official Travel App’, you can search for everything in English.

We’re 100% sure those apps will make your travels so much easier.

Public transport in Tokyo

Have you got an idea about the public transportation system in Tokyo?

Once you start using it, you will soon get used to it.

We hope you will enjoy getting around Tokyo – both easily and with confidence.

Reference Sources:

- Tokyo subway Wikipedia


- Tokyo metro map


- Yamanote line Wikipedia


- Toei bus route