Translated by Lester Somera
Tokyo Station Guide - Helpful Tips To Navigate Its Labyrinth
Written by Kunihisa
Getting around the gigantic Tokyo Station might be intimidating to travelers. The distances between platforms are quite long. Here are some tips to make your way safe and hassle-free in Tokyo Station.
Tokyo Station - The City's Central Transportation Hub
For first-time visitors, and even for international residents of Japan, the first confrontation with the gargantuan Tokyo Station can feel quite daunting. The station’s size is such that just walking from the Shinkansen platform to the platform for the trains bound for Tokyo Disney Resort can take as long as 20 minutes.
Tokyo Station is a nexus for travelers heading to every part of Japan, either via regular train or via shinkansen. Moreover, the interior of the station and the connecting facilities are home to a bounty of shops that stock rare items.
Use this guide to Tokyo Station to find your way effectively.
We highly recommend travelers use the JR Pass and the Tokyo Subway Ticket to save money on traveling on JR trains, the Tokyo Metro, and Toei Subway. These discount passes not only help with navigating to and around Tokyo Station, but throughout the rest of Tokyo and beyond.
Distinguish Between Train Lines by the Color and Shape of their Symbols
The simplest way to avoid getting lost in Tokyo Station is to look at the color of your train line. As long as you know the name and color of the train line you need to take, all you have to do is follow the signs.
JR lines, which you can switch to from inside the station, are indicated by white rectangles on signs. The Marunouchi and Tozai subway lines, which are outside the ticket gates, are indicated by circles on yellow signs.
The color code for train lines is as follows.
・Yamanote Line - yellow-green
・Chuo Line - orange
・Keihin Tohoku Line - light blue
・Tokaido Main Line - deep orange
・Yokosuka Line/Sobu Line Rapid Service - blue
・Keiyo Line - red
・Musashino Line - red
Remember the Two Main Exits
Remember the Yaesu and Marunouchi exits and you should be fine.
The Yaesu exit, located on the west side of the station, is comparatively close to the boarding locations for the shinkansen, and is close to the Daimaru Department Store. For more about the Tokyo Station Daimaru location, check out our Tokyo Station shopping article.
The underground shopping mall beneath the Yaesu exit, the Tokyo Station Ichiban-gai, is home to plenty of souvenir shops as well as the Tokyo Character Street, with merchandise featuring many famous characters from anime and manga. For more on the Street, check out our Tokyo Character Street article.
On the Marunouchi exit side, which is on the east side of the station, you will find the multipurpose commercial complexes KITTE and the Maru Building, and a direct connection to the Tokyo Station Hotel. This exit is convenient if you want to go to the Otemachi area or to the Imperial Palace.
The repairs to the roof and interior of Tokyo Station’s Marunouchi building, which were damaged during World War II, were finally completed in 2012. The building’s red brick facade has returned to its original beauty. The Tokyo Station Hotel is housed in the Marunouchi building, and had its post-renovation grand opening in the same year.
Situated opposite the station’s Marunouchi exit, this is KITTE. A multipurpose commercial complex opened by Japan Post, the stores here stock Western apparel and foodstuffs as well as general goods and accessories with a Japanese flair. There are also restaurants where patrons can enjoy traditional Japanese dishes and regional cuisine.
For more information, check out our KITTE article.
Where Can I Board the Shinkansen?
Platforms 14 through 23 at Tokyo Station are for all shinkansen trains.
Platforms 14-19 are for the Tokaido shinkansen and Sanyo shinkansen trains. Travelers headed to cities in western Japan like Osaka, Kyoto and Hiroshima will board at these platforms.
Platforms 20-23 are for the Tohoku, Yamagata, Akita, Hokkaido, Joetsu and Hokuriku Shinkansen trains. People headed to the ski slopes at Yuzawa in Niigata Prefecture or Kami-Kochi in Nagano Prefecture will board at these platforms. While shinkansen trains run routes to every region in Japan, there is no direct shinkansen to Kyushu, so you’ll have to make a transfer en route.
Where Do I Board the Train for Disneyland?
The small Uniqlo branch inside the ticket gates is your landmark for the passageway to the Keiyo Line, which heads to Disney.
As the Keiyo Line was constructed relatively recently, it is located far away from many of the other station platforms, on the B5F level. Head straight down the passageway before Uniqlo and go down several floors to reach the Keiyo Line platform.
Tokyo Disney Resort (Tokyo Disneyland/Disney Sea) is a 15 minute ride away at Maihama Station.
People going to Disneyland for the first time might be a bit anxious about how to get to the Keiyo Line, but you’re on the right track if you see the walkway in the photo above, so keep going!
Where Can I Switch to the Marunouchi and Tozai Lines?
To switch to the subway, you have to exit the JR ticket gates. To switch to the Marunouchi Line, use the Marunouchi subway central entrance on B1F.
To switch to the Tozai Line, aim for the Marunouchi subway north entrance. Exit the ticket gates and head straight down the underground passageway, and in about seven minutes you will arrive at Otemachi Station on the Tozai Line. We have to warn you that there is no Tokyo Station on the Tozai Line. When transferring from JR Tokyo Station to the Tozai Line, remember that you should use Otemachi Station.
How Should I Go to Narita Airport? By Train? By Bus?
There is a 1000 yen bus from Tokyo Station that goes directly to Narita Airport, and it leaves from the Yaesu exit. The bus stop is diagonally across from the Daimaru department store.
The Access Narita bus, also bound for the airport, departs from the Yaesu south exit. Both buses take about an hour to reach Narita. For more information, check out our Keisei Bus Airport Shuttle article.
If you take the train, ride the Narita Express to reach the airport in under an hour. The boarding location is underground on the Marunouchi side, just like the Yokosuka and Sobu Lines. There are signs for the Narita Express, so you shouldn’t have to worry about getting lost.
Gourmet Food Inside the Station
There are many delicious restaurants inside the station, and Tokyo Ramen Street is home to a collection of famous ramen shops from around Japan. We particularly recommend Rokurinsha and Ikaruga, two spots where you’ll definitely need to join a queue. Read our Tokyo Ramen Street article for more.
On Keiyo Street inside JR Tokyo Station, you can find vegan-friendly ramen at T’s Tantan, with noodles made using zero animal products. The kitchen uses the natural flavors of vegetables and fruit to create an addictively spicy, sweet broth which is very refreshing. The chewy noodles are made with Japanese flour and no eggs, and form a delicious pairing with the broth. For more information, check out our T’s Tantan article.
Navigate Efficiently through Tokyo Station!
Hopefully reading this article has made the massive Tokyo Station somewhat less intimidating. For travelers riding the Shinkansen trains, going to Disneyland, or shopping around Tokyo Station - remember the tips we gave you to navigate effectively in the station and enjoy your trip to the fullest!