WJS Magazine › CULTURE › Tips and Hints on how to use the Tokyo Train System


Tips and Hints on how to use the Tokyo Train System


WJS Magazineをシェアしよう!

If you get lost in station

When you go around on your own and get off at a big station, the easiest thing really is to just step aside, somewhere near a wall where you are not in anybody's way. Look around you. Where do people rush to? Can you see anything written in Roman letters? Can you see a station map somewhere? The name of the station? Can you see the restroom? Take your time to get used to the crowd and the station!

You don't have to worry about not being able to read Japanese.
Unless you are far far off in the countryside, there will be signs on the platform as well in the passageways of stations with both Japanese and Roman characters on them.
Not only the big stations have electronic sign boards that alternate between Roman characters and Japanese.
Some trains have announcements in English as well.

When you go sight-seeing from one of the suburbs of Tokyo, don't think everything will be close to Tokyo Station, just because the station's name is Tokyo.
This might be the case in some European cities, where there's one major TRAIN station and several dozens of tram or subway stations - don't forget that Tokyo is a city with millions of people living and working here.


train sort

In Tokyo the main railway system are Japan Railways(JR), TokyoMetro, and Toei subway.
JRtrain stations names are written on the map and distinguished using color for the difference line.

Meanwhile, Tokyo Metro and Toei subway stations are distinguished using an alphabet(subway line), a number(station location), and circled with color representing the subway line.

train map

How to take the train

The railway system in Japan has a high reputation for punctuality and safety. Most trains will start operation around 5am or earlier and stop around midnight. Tickets for short distances are available from ticket machines that are installed at each train station whereas tickets for long distances and reservations are dealt with at ticket offices at major stations.  If you do not know your fare you can buy the cheapest ticket on the ticket machine and pay the difference at the adjustment office when you reach your destination station. You need to know that certain trains do not stop at all the stations. 

Make sure the train you are taking stops at the station you want to go. 

Train category:

普通(Local) = Stops at every station

快速(Rapid) = Will bypass some stations

急行 (Express) = Stops at fewer stations than rapid trains

特急 (Limited express) = Stops at major stations only

1)Buying a ticket

Buy ticket

a) You can buy your ticket at the vending machine. Determine your current station and where you wish to go on the map above the vending machine. Ticket prices are shown beside the station name. Insert money and select the amount of your ticket. If you are buying for more than one person, select the number of tickets. Lastly, collect the ticket(s) and change. 

b) You can buy railway passes like SUICA (JR) and PASMO (Metro, Toei) for convenience. Check out our video on how to do this.

2) Entering the platform


Insert your ticket into the slot, walk through the gate and pick up your ticket on the other side.

If you are using a railway pass, touch it at the panel near the slot. 

Usually there would be a LED information board above the ticket gate that will tell you which platform your train will arrive. 

If not, find your platform by searching for your train line and direction.

3)Entering the train

Line up at the platform and wait for passengers to alight before entering the train. Place your backpacks on the floor or onto the baggage shelves above the seats. It is also common to hold your backpacks in front of you so that you do not block people standing behind you.

4)Arricing at your destination

Most trains have electronic display indicating upcoming stations. If not, look out of the window when the train stops and check the station names on the signs hanging from the ceiling or pillars. 

Once you have arrived at your destination, exit the station through the ticket gate. If you are using a ticket, it will not come out the other side. For railway passes, touch the panel and walkthrough the gate.