4 Reasons Why Tourists Shouldn’t Be Intimidated by the Tokyo Train System

By on July 26, 2019

As a mecca for fashionistas, tech-geeks, and hardcore food lovers, Tokyo pretty much has something for everyone. Yet one of the biggest challenges for tourists deciding to visit Tokyo is making sense of the city’s convenient yet complex travel system.

Fortunately, getting your way around the place isn’t as scary as it seems for first-time travelers. In this post, we’re sharing with you the top reasons why Tokyo’s train system isn’t so hard to get used to and why many people actually love it.

1. It is highly organized (much like the rest of Japan)

The first thing you need to know about commuting using Tokyo trains is that you’ll largely be dealing with 2 different companies: Tokyo Metro and JR East, the largest train operator in the city. These operate separately from each other, so buying a single ride ticket for one company won’t get you on another.

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This doesn’t have to be a problem. Just make sure you have your phone with you, connect to the best pocket Wi-Fi Japan offers, and research the trains that will get you to your destination. The fare for these train rides are paid through rechargeable IC cards, and there are 2 major IC cards that you can use for Tokyo subways: Suica and Pasmo. Suica by JR East is used on JR trains; Pasmo, on the other hand, can be used on trains and buses operated by Tokyo Metro and other transport companies in the city. Tokyo

2. It can be your cheapest travel option

If you’re planning on spending entire days hopping from one destination to the next, taking the train can be your most affordable method of getting around—especially with the unlimited ride daily pass. Again, just make sure it works for the lines you need to use.

3. You get a taste of Japan’s unique culture

You’ll hear a lot of people say that Tokyo during rush hour is not for the faint of heart. If, however, you’re in the mood to completely immerse yourself in that scene, there’s no better time to do it than between the hours of 8 and 9 in the morning, and after 5 in the evening.

Taking the train around these hours, you’ll see just how busy the city can get. You’ll also be witnessing a diverse blend of people from all walks of life trying to squeeze their way into the jam-packed trains.

4. You can always ask

Confused about where you are or where you need to go? No problem. Every station in Tokyo has at least one helpful staff member. Most of them speak English and have experience dealing with tourists, so you’re never completely helpless. Even if they can only respond with a nod and a smile, they should be able to direct you to where you need to go.

Etiquette Tips for Using Japan’s Transportation System

Proper etiquette is deeply embedded in Japan’s culture, so it wouldn’t hurt for tourists to know and follow some of them. Below, we’re sharing some of the important ones:

  • Everyone lines up for the train or bus, and so should you. Just look for the markings on the ground indicating where the train doors will be located when the train stops.
  • On escalators, everyone stands on the left side and walks on the right side. This is the same for when using stairs.
  • Keep your phone on silent and avoid talking loudly inside the train. You’ll be surprised how—even though everyone is on their phones—you’ll never hear loud noises or music being played.
  • During rush hour, you can put your backpack in the overhead racks to free up more space for incoming passengers.
  • If you must smoke, do it in “smoking rooms”, which many stations should have.

Tokyo is packed with different activities and places to go to. Whether you’re looking for a spiritual experience, craving for some authentic Japanese ramen, or shopping for the latest fashion items, you’re likely to use the train to get to your next destination, so there’s no reason to be intimidated.


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4 Reasons Why Tourists Shouldn’t Be Intimidated by the Tokyo Train System