November 2019

Our monthly online newsletter,"L'ESPACE".
L'ESPACE is a diverse French word that means place,area,cosmos,and gap.

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Riding the Train

There are many different train lines running in Tokyo. All of them are on precise timetables, and there’s no need to worry about traffic jams like when you’re driving or riding a car. If you can learn to use the trains well, traveling around within the metropolitan area is a breeze.

Types of Trains

Trains running above-ground

Above-ground trains in Tokyo include the JR lines and private railways.

The JR Yamanote Line, which loops around central Tokyo, is one of the most-used train lines in all of Japan. Some other JR lines that run in Tokyo include the Chuo Line, Sobu Line, Keihin Tohoku Line, and Saikyo Line.

Riding the Train

A route map showing the JR lines in Tokyo and the surrounding areas is available below.

JR East Kanto Area Route Map (Japanese)
JR East Kanto Area Route Map (pdf) (English)

There are also a variety of private railway lines. Using private railways is convenient when you’re traveling from Tokyo to destinations like Kanagawa, Saitama, and Chiba.

Underground trains

Tokyo’s underground trains include the Tokyo Metro and the Toei Subway.
The Tokyo Metro has 9 lines, and the Toei Subway has 4.
Using the subway is a convenient way to get around in central Tokyo.

Trains that stop at all stations and trains that only stop at major stations

Trains that stop at all stations are called futsu or kakutei.
Some trains that stop at only large stations include tokkyu, kyuko, kaisoku, and junkyu.

Before getting on a train, check the information board to make sure it stops at the station where you want to get off.
If you’re not sure, ask one of the station staff.

Riding the Train

Investigate routes

If you use a route and fare search site, you can find out the following information before getting on the train.


This site helps you to search routes and fares. Available languages are English, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, Indonesian, French, Russian, German, Spanish, Portuguese and Arabic.

Japan Transit Planner

Paying train fare

The fare you pay for riding the train is called unchin. There are two different ways to pay it.

<Buy a ticket>

Buy a ticket from a ticket machine called a kenbaiki. Some of these machines have foreign language display options.

<Use an IC card>

To use an IC card, charge it to load money onto it. If you touch it to the ticket gate, your fare will be deducted. If you use an IC card, your fare will be slightly cheaper than when buying a ticket.

There are two types of IC cards you can use.

Riding the Train

This IC card is sold by JR. You can purchase one from a ticket machine with the Suica logo.

JR East Suica (Japanese)
JR East Suica (English)

This IC card is sold by private railways and subways. You can purchase one from a ticket machine with the PASMO logo.

PASMO (Japanese)
PASMO (English)

Either one of these cards can be used for riding JR lines, private railways, and subways, as well as buses, taxis, and shopping. You can charge your card with more money at a ticket machine.

Things to be Careful of When Riding the Train

Getting on the train

On the train platform, line up and wait for the train to arrive. This is called seiretsu josha. Also, there are often large numbers of people lined up in the area of the platform near the stairs. Try to wait in areas where there are fewer people.
When the train doors open, wait for the people inside to get off before boarding. Don’t get on the train until the people getting off have all exited.

Getting off the train

When getting off a crowded train, you shouldn’t push people in front of you without saying anything. Always say “orimasu” (I’m getting off) first.

Rush hour

During the morning and evening rush hours, large numbers of people use the train to go to their workplaces and schools. For this reason, the train can sometimes be delayed. Try to leave home a little early in the morning just in case.

When the train is late

When the train is delayed due to factors such as accidents, rain, or snow, you can get a piece of paper proving the delay. This is called a chien shomeisho. This paper is distributed at the ticket gates, so don’t forget to pick one up if necessary. You can also get a chien shomeisho online. Check the applicable railway company website for details.

While on the train

Maintain good manners on the train.

  • Don’t speak in a loud voice.
  • Set your cell phone to silent mode, and don’t make or receive calls.
  • Don’t eat.
  • When the train is crowded, take off your backpack and hold it either in front of you or in your hand.
Riding the Train

Women-only train cars

During the morning rush hour, there are train cars only women can ride on called josei senyosha. Look for pink stickers on the platform and the windows of the train to identify them. Small children, disabled people, and their caretakers can also ride in these cars even if they are male.

Tokyo International Communication Committee

Ono Bldg. 3F, 17-15 Kandamatsunagacho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 101-0023
TEL:03-5294-6542 FAX:03-5294-6540