Just like the overground lines, there is an extensive Tokyo subway network that invisibly connects the city together.
Trains run every 6 minutes or so and it seems, in the bigger stations at least, that there are as many shops and restaurants below ground as there are above.
Reading The Tokyo Subway Map And Info
The Tokyo subway map is available in English and shows you 2 ways of locating your stations.
- Use the station names themselves as your guide - in Tokyo they are available in English, Korean and Chinese on the platforms and on signs
- If your prefer, each station is also given a letter and number code to identify it. The letter identifies the train line name e.g. Namboku line = N. The number reflects where on the line the station is. So you can get off at either Meguro station or N1, which is the first station on the Namboku line
To get an idea of what I'm talking about, have a look at the Tokyo subway map and see how the number and lettering system works.
For your complimentary downloadable copy of the subway map courtesy of Tokyo Metro, please visit our Tokyo train map page.
Tokyo Subway Ticketing System
Not all lines are run by the same company, however, the ticketing system is standardized so it doesn't matter where you are going, the method remains the same.
The ticketing machines have an English language option in the top left corner. Press that and you will hear a recorded message - usually set at 10 decibels or more - announce to the world that "All fare details will be displayed in English!"
After you get over the initial embarassment as all those around you quietly smile to themselves, you can go ahead and follow the on screen instructions to buy your ticket.
Above the ticket machines themselves or nearby, there is usually a subway map which shows all the station names as well as the price from where you are to each station on the line. It's a good idea to work this out before you get to the machine to avoid annoying other passengers.
Pasmo Rail Pass
If you don't want the hassle of purchasing a ticket everytime you travel, you can buy a Pasmo rail pass. This is a rechargeable plastic card, the same size as a credit card. The pass itself costs ¥500 and this fee is refundable if you hand the card back in at a Metro train station when you leave Japan.
Go to the Tokyo Metro Pasmo site for more details.
Once you have purchased the card - you can do this at the ticketing machine or at the ticketing office found at most larger stations - you choose how much money you want to put on the pass. The screen lets you choose from options of ¥1,000, ¥3,000, ¥5000 or ¥10,000.
The best thing about this pass is that although you buy it from the Tokyo subway, you can use it on all JR East trains and the buses as well. If you are staying in Tokyo and the surrounding area you won't need to buy another ticket : )