Honor's Tokyotopia

July 2008 - Honor's Tokyo Train & Travel Tips

When I first arrived in Tokyo, getting around was a new experience. Coming from a relatively sleepy town in the north of England, I was definitely not ready for the size and complexity of Tokyo's transport system! There are local trains, express trains, semi-express trains, limited express trains.... gaaahh!

How did I learn the difference? The day that I ended up on the limited express train rather than the local train. We flew through my station at a rate of knots that left me wondering just how many stations this train would bypass. Luckily it wasn't too bad. I got off at the next station and caught the local train back - a total of 3 stops.

First tip. The local trains stop at all stations - if you are at all unsure about which train to catch, take the local. The express train is next and will usually stop at every 3 to 4 stations on the line. The limited express, once it leaves the boundaries of the city, may stop only once every 10 or so stops. Be careful!

Second tip. Get your hands on a good map. There are different maps for the subway trains and the overground trains. You can download both at my site - just follow the link at the bottom. It's worth taking a few minutes to really get your bearings and understand how the lines connect. Find out what area you will be staying in and which lines you will use the most - then make friends with them! I promise it makes life a lot easier.

Third tip. This is the best way to get around Tokyo. You can get anywhere you need to go, including to all the major tourist attractions, on the train. It is cheap, clean, reliable and convenient. Just be ready for a few stairs and walkways when you change trains. Sometimes you'll end up going up and down 3 or 4 sets of stairs as you make your way through the maze of connecting passageways.

Last tip. If you don't like crowded places, don't take the trains during rush hour. This is usually 7 - 9:30 in the mornings and 5:30 - 7:30 in the evenings. If you do find you need to take the train during these times, be prepared to give up your personal space. Sardines in a can is a very apt expression for rush hour Tokyo trains.

Enjoy your trip!

If you'd like to find out more about Tokyo trains and transport, visit my website TokyoTopia - Tokyo Made Simple