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How to get around Tokyo

How to move around in Tokyo:

The best way to get around Tokyo is to use its extensive train and subway network. Most of the city's points of interest are located along the Yamanote JR Line, known as the loop line. The only exceptions are Roppongi and Asakusa, which are only a few metro stops from the Ebisu and Ueno stops on the Yamanote line.

We do not recommend buses because of the traffic density in this city, nor taxis because of their high cost.

To pay for trains and subways in the city, it is best to use a prepaid card such as Suica or Pasmo, since buying each ticket separately is quite complicated (see info below). For trains, you can also use the JRP, along the route we will indicate when it is convenient for you to use it.

Where to buy Suica or Pasmo cards and how to use them:

These cards are totally interchangeable, it does not matter to buy one or the other and both serve to pay for the subway, train and buses of Tokyo, as well as pay in some shops and vending machines. When you buy it for the first time you will be charged 1,000Y, which includes 500Y deposit and 500Y credit. We recommend you charge it with about 1,000Y per day that you are in Tokyo.
  • Pasmo cards are purchased in cash at the vending machines of any Tokyo subway station.
  • Suica cards are purchased in cash at the vending machines of any JR train station.
  • You can buy any of them at the train station at Narita or Haneda airport.
  • You can recharge any of the two in cash at the vending machines of any train or subway station or on buses.
  • If you have purchased your SIM card using KLOOK (our recommendation), you can also pre-purchase the Suica card with them (they will deliver it to you at the airport, charged with 1,500Y + 500Y deposit, ready to use. They charge 300Y per card).
  • Children 6-11 years have a cheaper rate, so you have to buy a specific card (children under 6 do not pay).
You will have to validate your Pasmo or Suica card in the readers that are at the entrance and exit of the subway or train. If you did not have enough balance when leaving, the barrier will be blocked and a whistle will sound. You then have to go to the rate adjustment machines (sixanki ?ç®? æ©?, they are usually close to the exit lathes and have yellow panels) and recharge your card there.

Before leaving Tokyo do not forget to return the card at a sales office (subway for Pasmo, train for Suica) and you will be reimbursed for the remainig balance and the deposit, minus 220Y fee. These cards can also be used in Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, Hiroshima... but they will not return the deposit or the remaining balance in these cities.

How to buy metro tickets in Japan:

 Ticket clerks do not usually speak English and it is therefore easier to buy your ticket from the station's automatic vending machines. As this is not an easy process, some help is given below:

  • Find the destination station on the map displayed above the machines. The fare for the journey is shown on the map.
  • Calculate the cost for the number of people travelling.
  • Insert this amount or more to activate the machine (it gives change).
  • Enter the number of tickets you require.
  • All the possible prices then appear on screen. Choose the appropriate price for your destination.
  • Once the price has been selected, the machine issues the tickets and gives change.

Insert the ticket in the automatic doors at the entrance to and exit of the station.

If the station maps are only in Japanese, select the lowest possible fare. You may pay the difference using the Fare Adjustment Machines (Norikoshi) at the destination station. This is acceptable practice and a lot of people do it. Insert the ticket and the machine will tell you how much remains to be paid.

In Tokyo, some transport tickets are valid for a whole day. These are not recommended, however, as it is hard to get your money's worth (for the Smart Route recommended here, it is not worth your while).

The main full-day tickets are:

  • The Tokyo Free Kippu: covers all Tokyo's metro, train and bus lines. It costs ¥1,580 and provides unlimited use for 1 day. It can be bought at the ticket offices of any station.
  • Tokyo Metro Open Ticket: provides unlimited use of the Tokyo Metro trains (not Toei Lines) for one day. It costs ¥710 if bought in Tokyo, and ¥600 if bought at Narita airport, where for ¥980 you may also buy a pass valid for 2 days.
  • Toei and Tokyo Metro One-Day Economy Pass: provides unlimited use of the Toei and Tokyo metro lines for 1 day. It costs ¥1,000 and may be bought at any metro station.
Hereby you can download a full map of Tokyo's metro.