Travelling Like a Local
An Insider’s Guide to Living in Tokyo
This Tokyo relocation guide has been designed with the explicit intention to provide expats and travellers with all they need to know about moving to Tokyo.
This exciting chapter covers Travel & Transport.
Within this chapter, we will be covering the many forms of transport in Tokyo, along with the best ways of how you can travel like a local. Travelling can often be a daunting and sometimes stressful experience, especially in a new country. This guide and chapter will help to alleviate any anxieties
Travelling like a Local
When arriving in Tokyo, you’ll find yourself in a completely new world. You’ll no doubt say something along the lines of “I guess we’re not in Kansas anymore”. Whether you landed in Haneda Airport or Narita Airport doesn’t matter, you’ll be outside of Tokyo when you land and will need to get in.
There are many ways to travel across the city of Tokyo and the islands that make up Japan. From the train, subway, bus, taxi and shinkansen lines, you won’t be stuck for options on how to travel in the area.
Once you know the best ways to get around the city with ease, you’ll be as sophisticated and erudite as any local.
2.1: By Rail
Every major city has a rail system. It’s one of their defining features and enables those outside of the city to access its resources and facilities. When looking at the dense and versatile railway networks in Tokyo (and indeed the world) it’s difficult to think of a time when they were not present. We can always go back to horse and carts.
Trains in Tokyo are efficient clean and dependable. It isn’t like in in London where trains are largely a mess, inefficient and wholly unreliable. There a variety of lines both in the centre and urban-centre so you can get around the city with ease and not be stuck in a new travellers nightmare of not getting to where you need to go.
Some of the rail lines in Tokyo are:
- Yamanote Line
- Keihin-Tohoku Line
- Chuo/Sobu Line (Local)
- Chuo Line (Rapid)
- Saikyo Line
The Shinkansen line is for the ‘bullet trains’, setting off at super speeds and taking travellers like you to other parts of Japan faster than Superman. While they are a bit redundant travelling across the city, they are more than ideal when it comes to taking an adventure outside of the city.
2.2: By Bus
While buses aren’t the most traditional method of transportation in the city, they are a secondary means of travelling around Tokyo. The buses operate in a different fashion than ones in other countries. Here’s a few handy steps to navigate the bus service:
- Enter the bus through the back door
- Pick up a ticket from a small machine next to the door. You’ll see a number is printed on the ticket, which will later determine your fare. If you use an IC card to pay the fare, touch your card against the sensor
- A display above the driver shows the next stop and the fares for that stop in yen. To determine your fare, match the number on your ticket with the number and fare on the display. (If you use an IC card, then you do not have to worry about this)
- When your stop is approaching, press one of the buttons on the wall to signal the driver to stop
- If you do not have the exact fare, use the changing machine to get small coins
- When getting off, put your ticket and the exact fare into the box next to the driver. If you use an IC card, touch the card against the reader near the driver.
Simple right? Personally, we recommend to get an IC Card to make travel on the bus easier and quicker for you.
For those that want to see the attractions of the big city, the big bus tours are the way to go or via another tour company like Viator or one of the many others. Search long and hard on the web to find the best deal for you and your budget.
On these tours you’ll be able to see exceptional attractions like:
- Meiji Shrine
- Imperial Palace
- Senso-Ji Temple
- Ginza Shopping District
- Tokyo Tower
- Sumida River.
And many more.
2.3: By Subway
The subway network also functions in this city. Unsurprising since Paris, London, New York and more cities have a similar system.