7 tips to avoid getting lost on the train lines in Tokyo! Make your trip more comfortable by preparing and checking

thinking, “I’m planning to go sightseeing in Tokyo, but there are so many routes that it’s too complicated.” “I’m really worried about whether I’ll be able to reach my destination safely.”

As of February 2024, Tokyo has 85 lines and over 600 stations. Beginners will find it difficult to understand the intricate maze-like routes.

The key to not getting lost in Tokyo is to prepare and check thoroughly in advance. In this article, we will introduce seven tips. Please take a look.

■Two reasons why you can get lost on the train lines in Tokyo

The following mistakes are often made at major stations in Tokyo such as Tokyo Station, Shinjuku Station, and Shibuya Station.

・I took a train at the same time, but it was a rapid train and passed my destination station.
・I got on the opposite line on the same platform and headed in a different direction.
・I didn’t know which line I wanted to take, so I got lost inside the station and missed it.

There are two main reasons why you get lost on Tokyo routes even if you are used to them.

1.Too many routes in Tokyo
2.The station is so large that it is difficult to grasp the overall structure of the station.

Let’s dig a little deeper into these two issues.

Too many routes in Tokyo

As of February 2024, there are 85 lines in Tokyo, which is 1.5 times larger than the 54 lines in Osaka Prefecture, one of Japan’s six largest cities. As many as 4,100 trains arrive and depart from Tokyo Station every day, and Shinjuku Station has 2.74 million passengers a day, a Guinness World Record. As you can see, Tokyo has a lot of routes and people.

While it is very convenient as you can access anywhere in Tokyo, it is also a source of headaches for many tourists visiting Japan as there are so many routes.

The structures of large stations such as Tokyo Station, Shinjuku Station, and Shibuya Station are too complex.

The structures of Tokyo Station, Shinjuku Station, and Shibuya Station, which are among the largest in the metropolis of Tokyo, are like dungeons. Even Japanese people will not be able to reach their desired exit or location if they do not have a solid sense of direction or do not follow landmarks or guide boards.

Tokyo is a city that developed by prioritizing railways over roads. The reason why the station became so complicated was that it was originally a single-track station, but as the city developed, it gradually became a double-track station and the station structure became more complex. As a result, people are confused about where they are and which train they should take.

■Let’s learn about Japanese train etiquette.

When many foreigners come to Japan for the first time, they are often surprised by the good etiquette of Japanese trains. In public places, this can be said to be a rule unique to serious Japanese people who try not to disturb those around them.

To avoid getting into trouble in Japan, we will explain typical train etiquette, divided into “before getting on the train” and “on the train.” Please use this as a reference when using the train.

① Before getting on the train

When walking on stairs, be sure to go through the areas marked “up” and “down”. Walking on the opposite side or in the middle can be extremely dangerous and a nuisance during busy times.

Before getting on the train, you must “board in line.” If someone is getting off the train, give priority to those getting off by the side of the door that opens. There are rules for giving in and giving consideration to each other.

② Inside the train

Avoid talking on the phone on the train and set your phone to silent mode so that the ringtone does not ring. In Japan, it is bad manners to make phone calls on the train. The same goes for sound leakage from headphones.

It is also a good idea to avoid sitting in priority seats reserved for the elderly, small children, and the visually impaired. In some cases, you may place your luggage on your seat, but you should also place your luggage on your lap or on a shelf and carry your backpack in front of you so that it does not get in the way of those around you.

■7 tips to avoid getting lost on Tokyo routes

Here are 7 tips for not getting lost on the train lines in Tokyo.

1.Purchase Suica
2.Utilize smartphone apps
3.Look carefully at the information board inside the station
4.Memorize station names, times, and routes as a set
5.Look at the route map and understand the entire building.
6.Know the station structure of Tokyo Station, Shinjuku Station, and Shibuya Station
7.Listen carefully to announcements on the train

If you keep this knowledge in mind, your antennae will naturally become higher and your ability to gather information will increase. Please refer to it.

①Purchase Suica

Suica not only saves you the hassle of buying train tickets, but it can also be used as a payment method for buses, convenience stores, etc. It is a good idea to purchase one as it is very convenient when sightseeing.

Suica can be purchased at the Midori-no-madoguchi counter, and you can charge it not only at stations but also at convenience stores. It can be reissued even if lost. WelcomeSuica is also sold at Haneda Airport for tourists visiting Japan. Prices start from 1,000 yen.

There are three differences between welcomeSuica and regular Suica:
1.No deposit required
2.Amounts charged within 28 days are non-refundable.
3.Design inspired by Japan
You can purchase it with a credit card and take it home with you as a souvenir of your visit to Japan, so why not consider it?

②Use smartphone apps

Be sure to install a convenient multilingual train transfer app for foreign visitors to Japan. Among transit apps, NAVITIME for Japan Travel is widely used by foreign visitors to Japan and is easy to use.

By entering the boarding and disembarking stations, you can quickly find out the shortest route, fare, and route. Information that you have searched in the past can be searched again later, which is a great feature for travelers.

The information is accurate and reliable, and there is an Apple version and an Android version, so please take advantage of it.

③ Look carefully at the information board inside the station

The information boards at the top of the station can be distinguished by the color motif of each line. It has been designed to be easy to imagine even for foreigners visiting Japan who do not understand the language.

At large stations such as Tokyo Station, it is important not to get confused by the flow of people and to not lose sight of your destination. The route colors and arrows provide easy-to-understand directions such as exits, connecting passages, and route directions. If you lose your location, look at the turnaround sign and move to your destination without getting lost.

④Memorize station names, times, and routes as a set

When boarding a train, be sure to know the station name, departure time, and route. Even if the route and station match, if you board a train that arrives at the same time, it will be a rapid train and you may end up passing through the destination station.

Also, the station names may be similar or even the same, so be sure to keep in mind the departure time and route as well as the station name you searched for. If there are multiple lines, you may end up boarding a train on a different line that is stopping across from you. Be sure to check the 3-piece set.

⑤ Look at the route map and understand the entire building

It is recommended that you take a look at the Tokyo metropolitan route map, as this will help you understand the overall picture. In particular, knowing the Yamanote Line and Chuo/Sobu Line will make it easier to get a general idea of ​​the routes in Tokyo.

・Yamanote Line: A circular line that goes around Tokyo.
・Chuo/Sobu Line: Line that crosses Tokyo from east to west

When sightseeing in Tokyo, the three lines mentioned above are often used, so it’s a good idea to imagine the Chuo/Sobu Line cutting through the Yamanote Line and Chuo.

Tokyo Metro covers 23 wards, and it’s easier to get a general idea of ​​the route if you follow the detailed lines. It will be helpful if you use your trip as an opportunity to memorize the major routes in Tokyo.

⑥ Understand the station structure of Tokyo Station, Shinjuku Station, and Shibuya Station

There are three key points to understand when understanding the structure of large stations such as Tokyo Station, Shinjuku, and Shibuya Station.

1.See the station as a three-dimensional image rather than a two-dimensional one
2.Always be aware of where you are (above ground or underground)
3.Be aware of where you are going, north, south, east, and west

If you look at the station, which is a big box, in 3D, and walk while keeping your current location in mind and being aware of which direction you are going, you will be able to head to your destination without much hesitation.

⑦Listen carefully to the announcements on the train

On the train, you will hear an announcement like the one below to let you know where the train is going.

This is a train bound for Shinjuku.
(This train is bound for Shinjuku.)
After Shinjuku, this train will stop at Yotsuya.
(This train stops at Yotsuya after Shinjuku.)

These English announcements are played on all routes in Tokyo, so be sure to listen to them along with the transfer information on your smartphone app. Information is also posted in English on the electronic bulletin board on the train, so be sure to check that as well.

■Travel comfortably and enjoy sightseeing in Tokyo

The key to not getting lost in Tokyo is to prepare and check thoroughly in advance, and we have introduced 7 tips for doing so. To avoid getting lost on Tokyo’s routes, please prepare your Suica or smartphone app in advance and gather information from information boards and on-board announcements so that you can fully enjoy sightseeing in Tokyo.

Q: How many lines are connected to Tokyo?
A: There are 85 lines and 660 stations.
Q: Which route in Tokyo has the most routes?
A: Shinjuku. I have passed 14 times. Shinjuku has been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records with approximately 2.7 million people per day.