Your Quick Guide to the Tokyo Metro!

If you're coming to Japan and spending your trip solely in Tokyo, you might be wondering about the best way of getting around the city. Many travelers who come to Japan opt to get the JR rail pass, which is wonderful and can save you money if you plan on traversing a lot of the country. Staying in Tokyo though doesn't really warrant forking out several hundred dollars on a rail pass that you won't get the value out of - it's really much more economical to just pay for individual trips on the train. This is where Tokyo Metro comes into the equation! It's my favorite way to get around Tokyo - and here is a bit of an introduction if you're thinking about using it too.

Some Tokyo Metro Tips...

The stations are designated by the "M" logo in white and blue that you see below

This is Omotesando Station - a popular spot in Tokyo for luxury shopping (and it's also a stone's throw away from Harajuku if you want to check that out too!) 

Stations are easy to find and locate when you're out and about with the clear signage. You'll also see that there's English on there too, so you won't need to worry about knowing where you are at if you can't read Japanese!

You'll see what lines go through the station with the color-coded symbols on the signage

For instance, you'll see at Omotesando Station there is a yellow circle with a G and the number 02, a purple circle with the letter Z and the number 02, and a green circle with the letter C and the number 04.

This means that there are three separate train lines that operate through Omotesando Station. The Ginza Line is the yellow circle (and Omotesando Station is the second stop, hence the 02!), The Hanzomon Line is the purple circle, and the Chiyoda Line is the green circle.

The train lines are coded with a color, a letter, and a number to let you know what line it is, and what stop on the line you're at!

All the metro lines and their color coding and stops can be found here.

This will help with planning out your itinerary and how to get from A to B. I particularly like the Ginza Line myself - it goes through a lot of great tourist spots such as Shibuya, Omotesando (a short walk from there to Harajuku), Ginza, Suehirocho (a 5 minute walk to Akihabara), Ueno and Asakusa. This can be handy if you aren't too confident with changing train lines and such - it is easy and user friendly once you get the hang of it, but I know when I first used the trains here I liked sticking to one train line until I felt comfortable branching out!

The Metro Stops have multiple exits

This can seem a little overwhelming at first - but if you're headed somewhere that is a well known tourist spot, it's clearly signed at the station advising you what exit is best to get out of. Again, it's in English as well as Japanese so it's very tourist friendly. 


When in doubt, check the maps by the exits!

There are also maps by a lot of the exits so you can get your bearings. If for some reason the attraction you want to visit isn't listed with which exit to get out at, it can be as easy as looking it up on the accompanying map. Plus, it might even give you some inspiration for other cool spots to check out!

Maps make it a lot easier to know which exit to take! via

Most Stations have free Wi-Fi

Super handy when you're traveling - if you're on a metro train you should be able to look for the ID Metro_Free_Wi-Fi and be able to connect for nothing. 


Paper or Electronic Ticket?

I'd say this is really a personal preference thing. I have a Pasmo Card which is the size of a credit card. You load it up with a certain amount of credit, and then you're ready to go - there's no need to worry about calculating fares, you just tap it on the turnstile and it deducts the relevant amount from your balance. To me it's easier than fumbling for coins or having to queue for a ticket machine if I need to be somewhere fast!

Pasmo Cards make train transport in Japan easy!

If your balance is too low to cover the fare, the barriers won't let you through and it will make a sound to indicate that your card doesn't have enough cash on it. Don't fret - it's as simple as reloading it at one of the machines at the station. Again, they have English instructions too (just press the main menu button for English and you'll be golden!)

Buying a Pasmo card has an initial 500 yen deposit which you get returned if you hand your card back at the end of your trip - but I personally think they make a neat souvenir from your travels! There is more information about purchasing a Pasmo card on the Metro Site here.

If you'd prefer to just buy paper tickets, you can do that too - but you might be wondering how to calculate what the fare is from your starting point to your destination. Google Maps or Hyperdia are two resources that can help you out - pop in your starting and finishing points, and it will tell you both how long it takes to get there as well as the cost for your ticket so you'll know how much to pay.

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Say for instance though that you didn't check the fare before you left, you can't read the Japanese signage, and you're concerned you won't know how much to pay to get from A to B. A way around this is to buy the lowest denomination fare on screen at the ticket machine - and when you reach your destination you can go to a fare adjustment machine (located before the exit turnstiles) to correct any amount that you might be short. It saves paying too much for a ticket if you're not sure.

If in doubt, you can buy the lowest priced ticket and fix any short-changing when you reach your destination! via

Hopefully this helps as a small introduction in navigating the Tokyo Metro. It's clean, timely, and a great way to get around this wonderful city!

Safe Travels, and Enjoy Japan!

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