Tokyo’s subway map may look challenging, but it is actually very easy to negotiate. Each line has a different colour, there are alpha-numeric codes for each station, and signposts and directions are usually bilingual, in central stations even multilingual (Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean). Certain lines serving business districts can be very crowded during rush hour (07.30 to 09.00 and 17.30 to 19.30). There are two subway systems with 274 stations and 13 lines in total, carrying over eight million passengers daily.
Tokyo Subway Systems
Both Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway share a few stations, but you will have to buy extra tickets at the ticket barrier if you switch between the two line systems, unless you buy a special ticket from one of the vending machines at each station or you have a pass (PASMO or JR Suica). Many larger stations have connecting passageways to JR trains and other overland train lines.
- Tokyo Metro (9 lines):
Chiyoda Line (C) – 千代田線
Fukutoshin Line (F) – 副都心線
Ginza Line (G) – 銀座線
Hanzomon Line (Z) – 半蔵門線
Hibiya Line (H) – 日比谷線
Marunouchi Line (M) – 丸ノ内線
Namboku Line (N) – 南北線
Tōzai Line (T) – 東西線
Yūrakuchō Line (Y) – 有楽町線
- Toei Subway (4 lines):
Asakusa Line (A) – 浅草線
Mita Line (I) – 三田線
Ōedo Line (E) – 大江戸線
Shinjuku Line (S) – 新宿線
Tickets & transport passes
Tickets are sold at vending machines found at every subway station. Single tickets cost ¥160 on Tokyo Metro (available denominations are ¥190, ¥230, ¥270 and ¥300) and ¥170 on Toei Subway.
Another option for short visits are coupon tickets (回数券 kaisūken): regular kaisūken are a set of 11 tickets for the price of ten, off-peak kaisūken consist of twelve tickets for the price of ten, but can only be used between 10.00 and 16.00 on weekdays, and weekend/holiday kaisūken with fourteen tickets for the price of ten.
Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway offer special passes which are very useful if you ride the metro and trains a lot within one day. Tokyo Metro has a “1-Day Open Ticket” (¥710 for adults, ¥360 for children), Toei Subway a “One-Day Economy Pass” for ¥700 (¥350 for children). Common one-day tickets for both Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway are available for ¥1,000 (¥500 for children). Toei Subway has a “Tokyo One-Day Free Tickets” for ¥1,580 (¥790 for children) that can be used on Toei subways, Toei buses, the Toei Streetcar (Toden) Arakawa Line, and the Nippori-Toneri Liner, as well as Tokyo Metro and JR East trains within Tokyo’s 23 wards for one day.
The most convenient, but not necessarily cheapest way to travel around Tokyo is to use a rechargeable PASMO or a JR Suica stored-value card. They can be used on all private and JR trains, subways and many buses in the wider Tokyo area. You just need to tap the electronic sensor at the ticket barriers or on the bus and the correct fare will be deducted. They can be recharged at vending machines and ticket offices. When purchasing either card, you have to spend a mininum of ¥2,000, ¥500 of which is a deposit that will be returned along with the remaining value when you cash in the card upon leaving Tokyo. Most vending machines are bilingual.
Tokyo Subway Maps:
Click on the captions under the thumbnails to download the maps. Due to their size the maps can only be downloaded by JREF members; please sign up to do so.
Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway have released guidelines in regard to appropriate passenger conduct in stations and on trains and buses.
Women Only cars: during morning rush hours (from the first train to around 09:30 AM) special women-only cars run on Tokyo Metro lines as well as on Toei Shinjuku line, in order to give women, elementary school students, younger children and physically (or mentally) challenged passengers and their caregivers a “sense of security”. The designated boarding areas along platforms are marked with the “Women Only” sign clearly indicating the locations of cars that are for women only during rush hour.
Courtesy Seats: Courtesy seats are available for the elderly, the disabled, expecting mothers, and persons accompanying an infant. They can be found at the end of each car.
- Interactive Tokyo Rail & Subway Map
- JR Suica (in Japanese)
- PASMO Stored-value Card
- Toei Subway
- Tokyo Metro
- UrbanRail Tokyo
- Tokyo Subway Etiquette Posters
The Little Tokyo Subway Guidebook: Everything You Need to Know to Get Around the City and Beyond: This handy book was prepared with the official cooperation of Tokyo Metro and the Tokyo Metropolitan Bureau of Transportation to help readers confidently navigate the convenient but complicated Tokyo subway system. Included are color-coded diagrams of all thirteen Tokyo subway lines; information on ticketing, tourist fares, and commuter passes; a landmark finder; an exit finder; and full-color maps that include national railway, Yokohama, and airport connections. Also included are useful words and phrases, a guide to signs, and where to go for help. Concise and thoroughly up to date, this is the one book readers will want for getting around. Although published in 2007, most of the information is still valid.