Practical Life in Tokyo

Transport in Tokyo

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Although on the expensive side, the Tokyo public transport system is extremely well organised and the network is highly developed. Train and underground stations abound and Tokyo has one of the world’s most efficient train systems.

If you’ll be making multiple journeys the most economical way to travel on the highly efficient Tokyo subway system is with a One-day Open Ticket which covers the entire subway network and costs 710 yen. Tickets can be bought directly from the ticket counter or via one of the many tourist-friendly automated ticket machines.

Almost all subway signs and maps are in both Japanese and English.



Unless someone has specifically told you to travel to a certain destination by bus it’s best to avoid buses in central Tokyo since they tend to be slow and more expensive than the subway.


As mentioned earlier you may want to think about getting a Japan Rail Pass. You must buy the coupon before leaving home as it can’t be bought in Japan. The coupon is available from most travel agencies and should be exchanged upon arrival in Japan at a Japan Rail Pass exchange office or a Travel Service Center located in major JR stations or airports. You need to be a tourist or a Japanese national who lives permanently abroad to be eligible. When you get the pass you can tell them the date you wish to start your trip.



If you’re arriving in Tokyo by air you’ll almost certainly arrive at Narita Airport:

Narita has two terminals, both of which are connected to the NEX (Narita Express Japan Rail), Keisei Skyliner, Keisei limited express, and Airport buses (called limousines). A free shuttle service operates between the two terminals and runs every ten to fifteen minutes.


Taxis can be hailed on the street at any time but can be expensive. Between 11pm and 5am an extra night surcharge is also applied. Make sure you have your destination written down in Japanese. It is common for Tokyo taxi drivers to consult their maps in order to find the best route for your desired destination, so don’t worry if this happens. Note that the rear doors open automatically, so don’t stand too close when the taxi pulls up to let you get in!


If the weather is fine you may want to take a cruise on Tokyo Bay or along the Sumida River. The small cruise boats operating in the Tokyo area are known as Suijo-bus, and if you take one from Hinode Pier or Odaiba Seaside Park you will have fine views of Tokyo’s waterfront and the famous Rainbow Bridge. The journey takes about twenty minutes and costs 400 Yen. The Sumida River Line goes from Asakusa (either Asakusa or Ginza stations) to Hamarikyu Garden (35 mins/620 yen), or from Hamarikyu to Hinode Pier (5 mins/100 yen).


Don’t forget that like in the UK, the Japanese drive on the left, so go carefully when driving in Japan for the first time and gradually get acquainted with the local traffic rules. Note that pedestrians always have priority over cars.

Parking is a huge problem in central Tokyo, traffic jams are frequent, and there are heavy tolls on most motorways and bridges, so driving in and around Tokyo is to be avoided. Should you need a car you can rent one from Nippon Rent-a-Car (3485 7196) or Nissan Rent-a-Car (3587 4123). You will need to be in possession of an international driving license. The following website gives useful information on driving in Japan:


The bicycle is a popular means of transportation in Tokyo and bike theft is rare (although make sure your bike has a proper lock on it). If you plan to do some cycling in Tokyo don’t forget that although people frequently ride on the pavement this is illegal, as is cycling at night without lights.

Bicycles can be hired from Eight Rent (Sumitomo-seimei Bldg 1F, 31-16 Sakuragaoka-cho, Shibuya-ku, +81334622383, Shibuya station, south exit), don’t forget to bring your passport. However you will often be able to make the most of Tokyo by exploring it on foot.

Update 20/03/2008


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