The Ultimate Guide to Tokyo Transport for Tourists

The Ultimate Guide to Tokyo Transport for Tourists

A common question is how to get around Tokyo, so we have put together this quick overview of the major tourist options to help give you confidence right from the beginning to the end of your visit to Tokyo and more broadly Japan!

In this article we include options to get from and to both Tokyo airports as well as detailed information about the different public transport pass options to help you choose the ones which will suit you best.

Note that this article is sponsored by Klook, however our opinions are our own.

Join the Japan Travel Planning Facebook Group

You are also welcome to join our Japan Travel Planning Facebook Group – it is a great resource to enable you to be inspired and to ask questions about your upcoming trip to Japan!

Japan Travel Planning Facebook Group

Disclaimer:  This article contains affiliate links.  If you book after clicking on one of these links then we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Japan Transport Articles

You may also like to check out our set of Japan transport articles below:

About Tokyo Transport

Tokyo has the honour of being one of the most complex public transport systems I have ever experienced in the world – and I have travelled a lot!  A great question to understand is why is it so complex?

The thing which makes it different, is that in the majority of locations I have visited in Australia, USA, Europe, Hong Kong, Seoul and Singapore, is in each of these places the public transportation system is usually government operated or operated by a single transportation company. 

By contrast, in Tokyo (and more broadly Japan) the public transportation is operated by multiple companies, who each have their own ticketing, stations and train lines.  And to ensure they all get paid the right amount of money from tickets what this means is that you have to pay separately each time you switch from one company to another!

For example, Tokyo Station is actually two train stations which are beside each other.  You have the Metro Maranouchi Line, the Japan Rail (JR) Yamanote Line, the JR Keiyo line and also the Japan Rail Shinkansen Station for intercity travel.  If you stay within the JR system you can stay in the one station (with separate entry to the shinkansen section), just travel through to your destination and then pay when you exit, but if you need to use the Metro line you will have to exit the JR station and then find and enter the Metro station.

This model is repeated across Tokyo, and if you look at the train map below, every time you see intersecting train lines it means that you may have to change stations.  Note that this is a Subway map, so it highlights the Subway lines in colour, and the other lines are also in the map as faded and very thin grey and blue lines, however are also substantial transport options in their own right.

We got seriously caught out by this issue on our first visit to Japan!  Basically we got lost in Tokyo Station and also had some other issues which you can read about in our article…

Tokyo Train Map
Tokyo Train Map

About Klook

We have used Klook, an online travel agency, to make many travel bookings over the last few years.  Overall we are very happy to recommend them as a reliable provider of tickets, tours and transport options for Japan and other destinations.

You may like to read our detailed review of Klook at this link 😊.

Klook Collection Counter at Narita Airport near Tokyo
Klook Collection Counter at Narita Airport near Tokyo

Getting Around Tokyo

Tokyo Train Passes

Suica and Pasmo Local Public Transport Cards

The most common local transport cards are the Suica and Pasmo cards (or IC cards) which can be purchased in Tokyo – note that they each work the same but are issued by two different train companies!  There are also other IC cards issued across Japan, including the ICOCA card and many more options but they all work the same way.  You can use the one IC card for your whole visit to Japan as they will work in other cities and towns.

There are many other local transport pass options available in Japan.  In our experience the IC cards are the easiest option to use on transport across Japan as they can be used on almost every form of public transport including trains buses, trams and ferries, with the exception of the shinkansen bullet trains.

How to Use Your Suica or Pasmo IC Card

You get a starting amount of credit with each card, and you can then top up the credit (using cash) at any train station as you travel. You just tap in and out of each train station, and you will see the remaining balance on your card each time you go through the station.  You need a separate card for each person in your group. The cards will work for 10 years. 

Suica Card App

Another way to get around public transport in Japan is to use a Suica app (or other train company app) on your phone. Here are the Suica app links for iPhones and Android phones.

Once activated you can just tap on and off with your phone instead of using a physical card.  Just make sure you have a no fee international credit card when you use this option as otherwise you may pay substantial additional fees!

Suica and Pasmo IC Cards for Children

You can also get child IC cards for children under the age of 12 years old, where they only pay 50% of the adult fare. You can only purchase child IC cards at relevant train stations, as you must show the child’s passport and have a specific card issued to them. Their name is printed on the card as well as the symbol for child.

When you use a child IC card at a station the turnstile emits a loud chirping sound to indicate that a child card is being used – I assume that it enables the gate staff to identify if an adult is using the card when they are not supposed to.

I can confirm that once your child turns 12 years old that these cards are no longer usable and you need to purchase adult IC cards.

How to Return Your IC Cards Before Departure

You can also return your IC cards before you depart Japan and get your 500 Yen deposit and any remaining credit back, however you MUST return your card to the company who issued the card.  Or take it home as a souvenir, and to lend to families and friends who plan to visit Japan, or to use when you undoubtedly decide to return to Japan! 😊

If you have remaining credit when you are due to depart, be aware that you can also use your IC cards to pay for things like food and souvenirs at the airport.

New Tourist IC Card Options

New alternative options are the Welcome Suica and Discover Pasmo cards which are aimed at the tourist market. They are only valid for 28 days and you cannot get a refund for your deposit, however otherwise work the same as the normal cards.

How to Purchase a Suica or Pasmo Card in Tokyo

You can either purchase your IC card after you arrive in Japan from most train stations.

Alternatively you can pre-order a Suica Card through Klook and collect it at a Tokyo airport on arrival and get a discount on price. Check out the link below to see further details.

Click here to check out and order your Suica Card through Klook.  Use coupon code MDE8G to get a $A5 discount off your first order!

Klook.com

Tokyo Subway Pass

The other great option to get around Tokyo is to purchase a Tokyo Subway Pass, which is also known as a Tokyo Metro Pass. 

This pass is a prepaid ticket which enables you to have unlimited travel around Tokyo on either the Tokyo Metro or Toei Subway Lines.  It is valid for either 24, 48 or 72 hours, which is important to note as it will expire that exact period after it has been activated.  The pass is easy to use, you just place it in the slot at the station turnstile and it will feed in and then pop out at the other end so you can collect it as you walk through.

The great thing about the Subway and Metro is that they enable you to travel more quickly across Tokyo, rather than always having to travel in a larger loop.  We used the Metro and Subway extensively on our recent visit to Japan and were pleased with their amenities and speed of travel.

This is a great option to pay a flat rate and not have to track your card balance like you do with a Suica or Pasmo Card.  The main thing is to ensure that you plan your travel route using only the Subway or Metro lines.

The Ultimate Guide to Tokyo Transport for Tourists
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How to Travel in Tokyo With a Tokyo Subway Pass

If you are planning to use a Tokyo Metro Pass to travel in Tokyo, you then need to set yourself up to optimise your travel options.  The best option is to ensure you book accommodation which is in close proximity to a station on located close to a Subway or Metro Station.  Recommended accommodation locations are detailed further below in this article.

In Tokyo the main Subway and Metro lines you will use as a tourist are as follows:

  • The Metro Maranouchi Line is most of a loop around Tokyo, and includes access to major stations such as Tokyo Station, Ginza Station and Shinjuku Station.
  • The Toei Subway Asakusa Line travels north to south and enables easy access to Asakusa Station, Oshiage Station to access the Tokyo Skytree, Nihombashi Station to access the Pokemon Café and Shimbashi Station.
  • The Metro Ginza Line also mostly travels from north to south and then heads west to Shibuya, and enables easy access to Ginza Station, Shibuya Station, Ueno Station and Asakusa Station.
  • The Toei Subway Oedo Line travels in a loop around Tokyo and enables easy access to Ryogoku Station to access the Sumo Wrestling area, Ueno, Korokoen Station to access the Tokyo Dome for baseball etc, Shinjuku Station, Yoyogi Station to visit Harajuku, Roppongi Station, and Shimbashi Station.
  • There are many more lines in Tokyo, you should use Google Maps to plan your route.

How to Purchase Your Tokyo Subway Pass

You can purchase your Subway Pass Tokyo either on arrival at either Narita or Haneda Airport, however you can also pre-order your pass through Klook at the below link. 

Each person in your group needs a separate pass.  You will collect your pass at the Klook counter at either Narita or Haneda Airport and also get a discounted price.  You can purchase multiple passes to suit the length of your visit to Tokyo.

Click here to Check out and Purchase Your Tokyo Subway Pass through Klook

Klook.com

Greater Tokyo Pass

An alternative Tokyo 3 day pass option is to purchase a Greater Tokyo Pass.  This pass is like the Tokyo Subway Pass plus a lot more, as it also includes use of many bus lines around Tokyo, as well as transportation to and around Nikko to the north of Tokyo and to Yokohama to the south of Tokyo. 

Click here to see a detailed map of what is included – please note however that this pass cannot be used on JR lines – they are shown on the map and greyed out to indicate that they are not included.  Also note that use on limited express services is not included so you may have to pay a surcharge when using those services.

Toshogu Shrine in Nikko
Toshogu Shrine in Nikko

How to Purchase Your Greater Tokyo Pass

You can purchase your Greater Tokyo Pass either on arrival at either Narita or Haneda Airport, however you can also pre-order your pass through Klook at the below link. 

Each person in your group needs a separate pass.  You will collect your pass at the Klook counter at either Narita or Haneda Airport and also get a discounted price.  You can also mix and match your Tokyo Subway Pass and Greater Tokyo Passes to suit the length of your visit to Tokyo.

Click here to Check Out and Purchase Your Greater Tokyo Pass through Klook

Klook.com

Japan Rail Pass Options to Travel Around Tokyo

The first decision you need to make is whether you plan to purchase a Japan Rail Pass for your Japan trip, as this will guide your subsequent choices.  You may like to check out our detailed Japan Rail Pass article to learn more about what is a Japan Rail Pass and how to use it for your trip.

If you only plan to visit Tokyo then DO NOT purchase a Japan Rail Pass – they are only worthwhile if you plan to do inter city travel on the shinkansen or bullet train!

How to Travel in Tokyo With a Japan Rail Pass

For Japan Rail Pass users, the best option is to ensure you book accommodation which is in close proximity to a station on the JR Yamanote Line, which travels in a circle around Tokyo and provides good access to many tourist attractions.  Recommended accommodation locations are detailed further below in this article.

A Japan Rail Pass will enable you to travel on most (but not all) JR shinkansen (bullet trains) and local JR trains in Japan. However, there are a lot of other train companies in Tokyo and Japan for which you will not be able to use a JR pass. Therefore even if you purchase a JR pass you should also plan to purchase an IC card or pass to use on most other transport services in both Tokyo and across Japan.

Japan Rail Pass
Japan Rail Pass

In Tokyo the main JR lines you will use as a tourist are as follows:

  • The JR Yamanote Line is a loop line around Tokyo with very regular services which will enable you to access most popular tourist areas. The map below will give you a better idea of the JR Yamanote Line route around Tokyo.
  • The JR Keiyo Line goes from Tokyo Station east to the Tokyo Disney Resort Area, you travel to Maihama Station to enter the resort area where you will have to separately purchase tickets to use the Disney Monorail Loop line.
  • The JR Chuo Line goes from Tokyo Station to the west, and is a faster option to travel more directly to Shinjuku Station, and also to travel further west to Nakano Station where you can visit Nakano Broadway and also Kichijoji Station or Mitaka Station to visit the Ghibli Museum.
  • The Tokyo Monorail runs from Haneda Airport to Hamamatsucho Station, and is included in your JR Pass. At Hamamatsucho Station you can easily transfer to the JR Yamanote Line.
  • The Narita Express train runs from Narita Airport to Tokyo Station, Shinjuku Station, Shibuya Station and Shinagawa Station, and is included in your JR Pass.

Click here to check out how to purchase your Japan Rail Pass through Klook

Klook.com

1 Day Pass Tokyo

There are a selection of other useful one day ticket Tokyo options for tourists as follows:

  • The Tokyo Metropolitan District Pass (or Tokunai Pass) enables you to have unlimited use on JR lines across central Tokyo (which includes the 23 wards). You can purchase this pass at most major JR train stations.
  • The Tokyo Furii Kippu is a one day ticket which can be used on all Tokyo Metro and Subway Lines, JR Lines and buses and trams in Tokyo. You can purchase this pass at most train stations.

How to Get From Narita Airport to Tokyo

There are multiple options to get from Narita Airport to Tokyo and in reverse.  The important thing to understand is that on arrival after a long flight that trying to work out how to travel in Tokyo using public transport Is not a great idea – as we discovered on our first trip to Japan

Narita Airport is located 70 km to the east of Tokyo Station so it is a much longer trip than arrival into Haneda Airport which is 20 km south of Tokyo Station.

On our more recent trip to Japan we booked a private transfer from Narita Airport to our accommodation in Asakusa and in contrast we had a really relaxed arrival and were ready to get started to enjoy our trip! Consider your flight length, jet lag and arrival time before deciding which option will suit you best.

Here are our recommended options to get from Narita Airport to Tokyo which are also applicable for your departure from Narita Airport.

Narita Express Train

The Narita Express train runs express to Tokyo Station, Shinjuku Station, Shibuya Station, Shinagawa Station, Ikebukuro Station or Yokohama Station, and is a convenient option to travel if you are staying in those locations.

The Narita Express is included in your Japan Rail Pass, or alternatively you can purchase single or return tickets.

Click here to check out how to purchase your Japan Rail Pass through Klook

Klook.com

Tokyo Skyliner Express Train from Narita Airport

The Tokyo Skyliner Express train travel at shinkansen like speeds from Narita Airport to Ueno Station, on the northern side of Japan. From there you can transfer to other subway or metro trains or a taxi to get to your final destination.

This is the fastest option to get from Narita Airport to Tokyo and is a very comfortable journey.  We used this option to get to Narita Airport on our first trip to Japan and found it to be a very easy and fast option.

You can purchase single or return Tokyo Skyliner Express tickets through Klook at a discounted price.

Click here to check out how to purchase your Tokyo Skyliner Express Tickets through Klook

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Klook also has a great combo deal where you can purchase both your Tokyo Skyliner Ticket and Tokyo Subway Ticket.

Click here to check out how to purchase your Tokyo Skyliner Express Tickets and Tokyo Subway Ticket Combo through Klook

Klook.com

Limousine Bus Shared Transfer from Narita Airport

The Limousine Bus provides a convenient and affordable option to travel direct to your accommodation on a shared transfer bus.  There are multiple routes which service all of the major Tokyo tourist areas, so either look for accommodation which is a specific Limousine Bus stop or is close to a stopping point.  There are maps to help you find the correct route for your destination.

Klook has a great option for you to purchase discounted Limousine Bus tickets.  Check out this link to see the specific hotels and areas of Tokyo which are serviced by the Limousine Bus service.

Click here to check out how to purchase your Limousine Bus tickets through Klook

Private Transfer Service from Narita Airport to Tokyo

Another great option is to book a private transfer between Haneda Airport and your accommodation in the 23 wards of Tokyo, which includes Tokyo Disneyland.  This option is great to just relax and let your driver take you direct to your accommodation. 

As mentioned above we booked this Klook service for our recent arrival in Japan and were very happy that we chose this option.  As a family of five of us this option was not a lot more expensive than the individual fares would have been, and we had a stress free arrival to our accommodation in Asakusa, unlike our first visit to Japan as mentioned above!

Klook Private Transfer from Narita Airport to Tokyo
Klook Private Transfer from Narita Airport to Tokyo – a very comfortable and relaxed way to arrive!

The vehicle was clean and tidy and modern, and the driver was easy to find for pick up – he messaged me via Whatsapp so after we arrived and collected and set up our pocket wifi rental, and told us where to go to meet him.  He promptly found us, loaded the vehicle with our bags and we were ready to go.  We had a smooth journey to our accommodation in Asakusa.  We then quickly checked in and put our bags into our room and were ready to head out and explore and find a good dinner option! (you may like to know that ramen was our meal of choice… 😊 ).

Click here to check out how to book your private transfer from Narita Airport to Tokyo through Klook

Klook.com

How to Get From Haneda Airport to Tokyo

There are multiple options to get from Haneda Airport to Tokyo and in reverse.  The important thing to understand is that on arrival after a long flight that trying to work out how to travel in Tokyo using public transport Is not a great idea – as we discovered on our first trip to Japan!

Here are our recommended options to get from Haneda Airport to Tokyo which are also applicable for your departure from Haneda Airport.

Local Trains from Haneda Airport to Tokyo

There are two main train lines that you can catch from Haneda Airport into Tokyo as follows:

  • The Tokyo Monorail travel direct from Haneda Station to Hamamatsucho Station, and from there you can transfer to either the JR Yamanote Line or other lines to get around Tokyo. The Monorail is included in your Japan Rail Pass.
  • The Keikyu Line is the subway option to travel from Haneda Airport into Tokyo. It goes to Shinagawa Station direct, and from there you can catch other lines to get around Tokyo.

Which train you catch depends on where you are staying in Tokyo.  For the western side of Tokyo I recommend you catch the Keikyu Line to Shinagawa Station,  If you are heading to the northern or eastern side of Tokyo I recommend that you catch the Monorail.  From Hamamatsucho Station you can then catch either the JR Yamanote Line to Tokyo Station, the Toei Subway Asakusa Line to Asakusa or the Toei Oedo Line to many other destinations.

Limousine Bus Shared Transfer from Haneda Airport

The Limousine Bus provides a convenient and affordable option to travel direct to your accommodation on a shared transfer bus.  There are multiple routes which service all of the major Tokyo tourist areas, so either look for accommodation which is a specific Limousine Bus stop or is close to a stopping point.  There are maps to help you find the correct route for your destination.

Klook has a great option for you to purchase discounted Limousine Bus tickets.  Check out this link to see the specific hotels and areas of Tokyo which are serviced by the Limousine Bus service.

Click here to check out how to purchase your Limousine Bus tickets through Klook

Klook.com
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Private Transfer Service from Haneda Airport to Tokyo

Another great option is to book a private transfer between Haneda Airport and your accommodation in the 23 wards of Tokyo, which includes Tokyo Disneyland.  This option is great to just relax and let your driver take you direct to your accommodation. 

This service enables groups of 1-6 or 7-9 passengers to be accommodated.

Click here to check out how to book your private transfer from Haneda Airport to Tokyo through Klook

A great alternative private transfer option enables various options of up to 16 passengers and luggage to be transported to the 23 wards of Tokyo including Tokyo Disneyland.

Click here to check out how to book your larger group private transfer from Haneda Airport to Tokyo through Klook.  Use coupon code MDE8G to get a $A5 discount off your first order! 

Klook.com

Fun Tokyo Activities

Through Klook you can also book many fun activities in Tokyo.  I have summarised the most popular options below.  You may also like to check out our detailed article on How to Sightsee Stress Free in Japan with Klook.

Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku

The Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku is one of the top tourist attractions in Japan, and rightly so.  The Robot Restaurant Show is a glorious spectacle of light, performance, the robots and a thumping soundtrack.  We really loved seeing and show and you will too 😊 . 

The Robot Restaurant Taiko Drumming Set
The Robot Restaurant Taiko Drumming Set

Note that this show is suitable for children and they provide headphones to reduce the noise levels.

Click here to check out and book your Robot Restaurant tickets through Klook

Klook.com

teamLab Borderless in Odaiba

The teamLab Borderless Digital Art Museum has exploded as a very new major attraction in Tokyo.  The experience is fully immersive with light and sound, as well as a more physical interaction area upstairs where you can climb through a forest, bounce on a planet and much more.  Our family loved the experience, and we definitely recommend it for both adults and families as a great unique experience in Japan.

Click here to check out and book your teamLab Borderless tickets through Klook

teamLab Planets - The Crystal Room
teamLab Planets – The Crystal Room

Street Go Kart Experience in Akihabara and Asakusa

Another really popular Japan activity is to drive Go Karts around the streets of Tokyo and other locations!  We did this activity during our recent visit to Japan and loved it! 

Klook offers a great range of Street Go Karting experience in Tokyo in Akihabara and Asakusa – we did the Asakusa option and loved driving around Ueno Park!

Click here to check out and book either the Akihabara Go Kart or Asakusa Go Kart experiences through Klook

Street Go Karting in Asakusa, Tokyo
Street Go Karting in Asakusa, Tokyo

Studio Ghibli Museum

The Studio Ghibli Museum is an amazing way to experience Japanese culture, and if you have seen any of their movies such as My Neighbor Totoro you will love learning more about the history of animation in Japan.

Ghibli Museum on the Roof - our family with the Robot
Ghibli Museum on the Roof – our family with the Robot

We really loved learning more about how the Studio Ghibli movies and ideated and created, there is so much craft to it!  And it was also great fun to wander around and be immersed in the Studio Ghibli world.  Our family really loved the experience 😊.

Click here to check out and pre-order your Studio Ghibli Museum tickets through Klook

Klook.com

Mt Fuji One Day Tours

One day Tours from Tokyo to the Mt Fuji area – either Hakone or Kawaguchiko.  There are quite a few options which you can check out at the below link, including season specific tours for cherry blossom season, autumn foliage and winter snow options.

View of Mt Fuji at from Oshino Hakkai Village
View of Mt Fuji at from Oshino Hakkai Village

Click here to check out our detailed article on One Day Tour Options from Tokyo to Mt Fuji through Klook

Klook.com

Where to Stay in Tokyo to Get Best Use out of Your Tokyo Rail Pass

If you are planning to use a Japan Rail Pass or Tokyo Subway Pass to travel in Tokyo, you then need to set yourself up to optimise your travel options. 

For Japan Rail Pass users, the best option is to ensure you book accommodation which is in close proximity to a station on the JR Yamanote Line, which travels in a circle around Tokyo and provides good access to many tourist attractions.

For Tokyo Metro Pass users, again you should plan to stay in accommodation which is close to either a Metro or Subway Station to enable you to get maximum value out of your pass. 

Below are our recommended stations for both pass options, you can also stay closer to the smaller stations on each line.  Before booking your Japan accommodation ensure you check your travel times in Google Maps to get to your preferred tourist destinations to understand the likely travel times.

The Centurion Classic Hotel Akasaka King Suite
The Centurion Classic Hotel Akasaka King Suite

Central and Northern Tokyo Accommodation Options

  • Tokyo Station. Click here to check out accommodation options through either Booking.com or AirBnB.
  • Ginza Station (Metro and Subway Pass only). Click here to check out accommodation options through Booking.com and AirBnB.
  • Akihabara Station. Click here to check out accommodation options through Booking.com and AirBnB.
  • Asakusa Station (Metro and Subway Pass only). Click here to check out accommodation options through Booking.com and AirBnB.
  • Ueno Station. Click here to check out accommodation options through Booking.com and AirBnB.
Booking.com

Western Tokyo Accommodation Options

  • Ikebukuro Station. Click here to check out accommodation options through Booking.com or AirBnB.
  • Shinjuku Station. Click here to check out accommodation options through Booking.com and AirBnB.
  • Shibuya Station. Click here to check out accommodation options through Booking.com and AirBnB
  • Also check out our great partner Tokyo Family Stays who offer a great range of licenced family friendly options near Shibuya and Harajuku Station.  Use coupon code PRETRAVELLER to get a 5% discount.

Southern Tokyo Accommodation Options

  • Hamamatsucho Station. Click here to check out accommodation options through Booking.com and AirBnB.
  • Shimbashi Station. Click here to check out accommodation options through Booking.com and AirBnB.

Eastern Tokyo Accommodation Options

  • Tokyo Disney Resort (JR Pass Only)/Maihama Station. Click here to check out accommodation options through Booking.com and AirBnB.
Booking.com
Khaosan World Ryokan and Hostel Asakusa Family Room
Khaosan World Ryokan and Hostel Asakusa Family Room

Join the Japan Travel Planning Facebook Group

You are also welcome to join our Japan Travel Planning Facebook Group – it is a great resource to enable you to be inspired and to ask questions about your upcoming trip to Japan!

Japan Travel Planning Facebook Group

Disclaimer:  This article contains affiliate links.  If you book after clicking on one of these links then we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

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