As a born and bred Londoner, I thought I had city transport down to a fine art. Changing lines, making connections, finding the right bus stop and generally navigating my way around a metropolis was no big deal – until I got to Tokyo that is!
Though a little confusing, being lost in Tokyo is actually a lot of fun. There are few better ways of discovering the city than by exploring its buses, subway stations and action-packed streets. Exciting and unexpected sights lie around almost every corner and, if you start to get a little tired, there is always delicious food on hand to revive your flagging energy levels.
However, sometimes you need to get from A to B without too much deviation. So to help fellow travellers navigate their way around this spectacular city, I’ve put together a quick guide to the basics of Tokyo transportation.
Take one look at the Tokyo underground map and you’ll soon see why finding your way around the city takes a bit of skill. A maze of multi-coloured lines criss-cross the city, with the elegant but indecipherable Japanese script making life all the more difficult.
As both Narita and Haneda airports are connected to the city centre by bus and train links, getting into Tokyo shouldn’t be too difficult. Discount tickets are available for visitors who want to combine a ticket to or from the airport with a journey on the Tokyo subway.
If you’re going to be in Japan for a few weeks, it’s worth looking into purchasing a JR Japan Rail pass. Valid for 21 days, these great value passes allow the holder to travel on most buses, trains and ferries, as well as the Tokyo monorail.
If you’re just in town for a few days, you can purchase one, two or three day passes for the metro system. These tickets offer great value for money and are easy to purchase from ticket machines or booths.
If like me. you’re lucky enough to be staying somewhere like Palace Hotel Tokyo, there’s a good chance that your concierge will be able to help you navigate the subway system.
If not, try downloading the Tokyo Subway Navigation for Tourists app. Available in both Japanese and English, as well as Chinese and Korean, the app will help you to safely find your way through the maze of lines, stations and stops to your destination.
If you’re planning a trip to Tokyo, doing a little bit of research before you touch down will make navigating the city a whole lot easier. However if you do end up a little confused, remember that there are few places in the world that are better to be lost in, so try your best to just enjoy it!