Written by MATCHA_En
Tokyo's Railway Network Explained - Trains, Subway And Discount Passes
In addition to JR (Japan Railway) lines, there are several other railways operating in the Tokyo area, including the underground lines of Tokyo Metro and Toe Subway. Find out what are the convenient discount passes that each of them issues.
The Underground Railway Network of the Tokyo Area
Tokyo Subway Route Map available on the Toei Subway website
There are two major railways operating underground trains in the Tokyo area: Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway. Let's see what are the differences between them and the convenient discount tickets they each offer.
Tokyo Metro operates a total of nine subway lines, which ensure smooth transportation throughout the Tokyo metropolitan area. Many of the Tokyo Metro stations offer convenient connections to surface lines such as the JR and other railways.
The Ginza Line, whose symbol is an orange circle with a capital G inside it, connects Shibuya and Asakusa, with stops at major shopping and sightseeing areas in Tokyo such as Ginza, Nihonbashi, and Ueno. To see all the stations on this line and the available connections, please refer to this map of the Ginza Line.
The Tozai Line, marked through a sky blue circle with a T inside it, traverses Tokyo from east to west connecting the Nishi-funabashi Station in Chiba prefecture with Nakano Station in central Tokyo. Some of the major stations on the Tozai Line are Otemachi (close to Tokyo Station), Nihonbashi, Waseda and Takadanobaba.
See all the stops on the Tozai Line on this official map.
The Namboku Line, marked by an emerald green circle with a capital N inside it, traverses the metropolitan area from south to north, connecting Meguro Station (which is south of Shibuya) to Akabane-iwabuchi Station in the north. If you wish to check out the stations on the Namboku Line, please refer to this map.
The Marunouchi Line, which can be identified by its symbol - a red circle with an M inside, makes an almost complete loop around the center of Tokyo, connecting Ikebukuro Station with Ogikubo Station. The trains on this subway line also stop at Shinjuku, Ginza, and Tokyo among other stations. Find a complete list of the stations on Marunouchi Line here.
The Hibiya Line, marked by a silver circle with a capital H inside, connects Naka-meguro Station in the western area of Tokyo with Kita-senju Station in the northeast. Major stations on the Hibiya Line include Roppongi, Ginza, Tsukiji, Akihabara and Ueno. For details on Hibiya Line please refer to this page.
The Chiyoda Line, whose symbol is a green circle with a capital C in it, connects Yoyogi-uehara Station (south of Shibuya) with Kita-ayase Station (east of Tokyo). The trains of the Chiyoda Line also stop at Omotesando, Otemachi and Nishi-nippori. A detailed map of the Chiyoda Line can be found here.
The Yurakucho Line, marked by a golden circle with a capital Y, connects Wakoshi Station in Saitama prefecture with Shin-kiba Station. The Yurakucho Line trains also stop at Ikebukuro, Iidabashi and Tsukishima. For details on the Yurakucho Line, refer to this page.
The Hanzomon Line, marked by a purple circle with a capital Z inside, connects Shibuya Station with Oshiage Station (Tokyo SkyTree area). It also has stops at Omotesando and Otemachi among other stations. The Hanzomon Line is directly connected to the surface train lines Tobu Skytree (which goes northeast of Tokyo) and the Tokyu Den-en-toshi Line, which allows access to the southwestern suburbs of the metropolitan area, including Yokohama.
You can check out all the stations on the Hanzomon Line on this page.
The Fukutoshin Line, whose symbol is a brown circle with a capital F, connects Wakoshi Station with Shibuya Station, with stops at Ikebukuro and Shinjuku-sanchome. You can find details on the Fukutoshin Line here.
Toei is a transportation network operated by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. There are four Toei Subway lines, along with two surface lines: the streetcar Toden Arakawa Line, and the Nippori-Toneri Liner.
We will introduce the four Toei Subway lines. Please be aware that they can be easily confused with Tokyo Metro lines, but they are essentially a different network, requiring separate tickets.
Toei Asakusa Line
Toei Asakusa Line, whose symbol is a rose red circle with a capital A, connects Oshiage Station (Tokyo SkyTree) with Nishi-magome Station in southern Tokyo. The Toei Asakusa Line also stops at Narita Airport, Haneda Airport and Asakusa, so it's very convenient to move around efficiently in Tokyo.
Toei Mita Line
The Mita Line, marked by a dark blue circle with a capital M inside, stops at stations such as Suidobashi (Tokyo Dome), Otemachi and Meguro.
Toei Shinjuku Line
The Shinjuku Line can be identified by a leaf green circle with a capital S inside. It stops at stations such as Shinjuku, Ichigaya, and Suidobashi.
Toei Oedo Line
The Oedo Line, whose symbol is a magenta circle with a capital E inside, is convenient when you want to travel to and from Shinjuku, Roppongi, and Ryogoku.
Toei Subway offers the very convenient Toei One-Day Pass (Toei Marugoto Kippu) which allows unlimited use of the entire Toei transportation network (Toei Subway, Toei Bus, Toden Arakawa Line, and Nippori-Toneri Liner). This pass can be purchased for 700 yen for an adult and 350 yen for a child passenger.
Visitors from abroad can also use the Tokyo Subway Ticket, issued by Toei Subway in collaboration with Tokyo Metro. This ticket is available in 1-Day (800 yen), 2-Days (1200 yen), and 3-Days (1500 yen) versions, and allows unlimited use of all the Toei Subway and Tokyo Metro lines. For details on this extremely convenient ticket that can be used only on the underground train lines in Tokyo, please refer to the Toei Subway information page.
Know Before You Go - Tokyo's Transportation Labyrinth
The trick to figuring out Tokyo's train system is distinguishing between surface train lines and underground train lines, as well as understanding that there are various railway companies operating these lines.
A different railway network means separate fees, so if you wish to save up on transportation costs, you should try to stick to one railway network (either surface trains or underground trains) and use it as much and as efficiently as possible. We also recommend checking out the convenient discount tickets and passes offered by each network. Some of these tickets are available only on a particular network of train lines but are very cost-efficient.
Last but not least, we strongly recommend the use of IC cards (Suica or Pasmo), which can be charged and used on any train (surface or underground) and bus line in the Tokyo area. You can save yourself a lot of precious time and money by using a rechargeable IC card instead of buying train tickets all the time. For details on how to buy and use IC cards, please refer to our article: Get Around With Ease: How To Buy Your Own Suica.