Various types of public transport are available in Tokyo, including trains, buses, taxies, airplanes and ships. Buying a ticket may involve a different process for each transportation service.
Train networks in Tokyo are composed of JR lines, private lines and subway lines. At each train station, electronic information boards tell you the arrival time and destination of the next available train. Some information is also displayed in English.
Train operation and timetable
The JR Yamanote Line and many other private lines that run through central Tokyo offer frequent services. It usually requires a wait of between 3 to 10 minutes to catch the next train, although the waiting time may be slightly longer in early morning and late at night. You may pick up a free timetable of local services at each station. Nationwide timetables are available at bookstores. You can also use an online transportation search to check routes, fees and travel time to your destination.
Tokyo Metro / Toei subway lines
Subway networks are well established in Tokyo and are very convenient. Subway stations are connected to ground level via numerous exits. Some stations are directly linked to major department stores and buildings via underground passageways.
Prepaid cards are convenient and allow you to go through an automatic ticket gate simply by touching the card on the reader of the gate without buying a ticket from a ticket machine. Suica (Suica pass) for JR lines and PASMO, the common service pass for almost all private lines, subway networks and bus networks are among the prepaid card systems available in Tokyo. Suica and PASMO are compatible with one another and can be reused many times by being topped up.
A variety of discount tickets is also available for many transportation services, including a one-day pass that allows unlimited use for the Toei networks (Toden streetcars, Toei buses, Toei subway lines).
- In addition to general bus networks and sightseeing bus services, some community-based buses are operated free of charge.
- PASMO and Suica are also valid for bus networks. On some bus routes, one PASMO card can be used as a bus commuter pass combined with a train commuter pass.
- Airport limousines operate directly between the Narita Airport/Haneda Airport and major cities in Tokyo. Long-distance highway coaches between Tokyo and other prefectures are also available.
- The capacity of a standard taxi is up to four passengers.
- For a standard taxi, the initial fare within the 23 wards of Tokyo, Musashino City and Mitaka City is 410 yen. In all other regions, the initial fare is 730 yen.
- You can catch a taxi from a taxi depot or hail an empty one on the street by raising your hand to notify the driver. You should see an "empty (kusha)" sign at the front of the taxi.
- The left rear door is operated by the driver and opens automatically, so that the customer doesn't have to open it by him/herself.
- You pay the total charge at your destination. Major credit cards or electronic money (such as Suica, Pasmo, etc.) may be accept by some taxis, which should be indicated inside the car.
- Narita International Airport and Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) are two major gateways for air transportation in the metropolitan area. While Narita Airport has been serving mainly international flights and Haneda Airport for domestic flights, Haneda has become a terminal for international regular flights since October 2010. Various means of transportation are available from central Tokyo to both airports to provide easy accessibility.
- Narita International Airport is divided into Terminal 1 and Terminal 2, and each terminal has its own train station. Passengers are advised to become familiar with which terminal their airline uses prior to the trip.
- Haneda Airport is divided into Terminal 1, Terminal 2, and International Terminal. Free shuttle bus is available to connect between Terminals 1/2 and International Terminal.
- Air tickets can be purchased at airline offices and travel agencies or online via their websites. For domestic flights, you may also buy a ticket at Midori-no madoguchi (ticketing office) and View Plaza (travel office) at JR stations as well as at ticketing offices of some stations on private lines.
- Water buses provide convenient transportation and also are fun to use for sightseeing in Tokyo from the waterways. Between the mainland and the Izu Islands and Ogasawara Islands, passenger liners operate from Takeshiba Port.