Tokyo’s subway system is a fantastic network of underground trains that offer easy access to major tourist spots from Sensoji Temple in Asakusa and Tokyo Tower to the iconic scramble crossing in Shibuya. With more than 280 stations spread all over Tokyo but also all over some prefectures such as Chiba, Saitama or Kanagawa to name a few.

Let’s see how the metro system works in Tokyo so you will know all the details on how to use it when traveling to Japan.

Tokyo Subway Map

You can find the Tokyo Metro route maps in English in PDF format that you can download to keep in your phone so you can check it even if you don’t have WIFI or a local sim card.

Tokyo Subway Operators

Tokyo’s subway network consists of two main companies: Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway.

All together they carry on average over 8 million passengers daily.  Tokyo Metro is the largest operator with 9 lines and 195km of tracks between 179 stations, an average of 7.6 million passenger a day ride this network. While Toei is operating 106 stations connected by four lines used by 2.82 million people daily.

How and where to get a subway ticket in Tokyo

In order to use the Japanese subway, you need first to get a transport ticket, here are the options you have:

  • the classic metro tickets
  • the pass (mostly used by tourists)
  • the prepaid card (PASMO or Suica card)

Choose the best option depending on your needs and the length of your stay.

Buying a Tokyo subway ticket

Buying a subway ticket is very easy, you just need to use the automatic terminal at the station:

  • Choose the English as a language (first button on top right of the screen)
  • Choose “ticket”
  • Choose the cost of the ticket in the case you know it already, or use the search function to find the arrival station’s name or number.
  • Tokyo Metro ticket cost: 170¥, 200¥, 240¥, 280¥, 310¥;
  • Toei ticket ticket cost: 180¥, 220¥, 270¥, 320¥, 370¥;

Buying a Tokyo subway daily pass (1 day up to 3 days)

If you are in Tokyo as a tourist and you plan to move a lot in the city then getting a subway pass might be the most convenient and most cost-effective option.

Here are where you can get a Toky subway pass:

  • At Tokyo Metro automatic terminals
  • At Toei Metro automatic terminals
  • At the airport, at both Haneda and Narita airport
  • And also at several hotels and at branches of large electronic stores such as Bic Camera
Ticket NamePriceFeatures
Tokyo Metro 24 hours Ticket600 yen (child 300 yen)Unlimited travel across Tokyo Metro’s subway network for 24 hours.
One Day Ticket for Tokyo Metro & Toei Subway900 yen (child 450 yen)Unlimited travel across both of Tokyo’s major subway networks for one whole day.
Tokyo Combination Ticket1,600 yen (child 800 yen)Unlimited travel on Tokyo Metro, Toei Subway, Toei Streetcar, Toei bus, Nippori-Toneri Liner and all JR lines within the Tokyo metropolitan area for one day.
Tokyo Metro PASMO One Day Ticket600 yen (child 300 yen)Unlimited travel for all Tokyo Metro lines from the first to the last train of the day.
Common One Day Ticket for Tokyo Metro & Toei Subway900 yen (child 450 yen)Valid for one day from the first train to the last train of the day for all lines of Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway.
The Greater Tokyo Pass7,200 yen (child 3,600 yen)Unlimited travel over 3 days including all train and train lines, including all Tokyo Metro lines and some bus lines.

Getting and using a prepaid card (Suica and Pasmo)

The Suica and Pasmo cards allow you to use the Yamanote line and the metro network in Tokyo, among others. These card are very practical since you can take any lines operated by different companies with the same card without worrying about which operator manages the line you need to take to get to your destination.

There are two main IC cards in Tokyo: Suica and Pasmo. The only differences are who sells them and the design. They can be purchase for a 500-yen refundable deposit from ticket machines at any station where you can also charge them up with additional funds. Touch-in and touch-out at the ticket barriers for the smoothest travel experience. You can also use your IC card to pay at other places, such as vending machines and convenience stores.

Access to the metro platforms

To get to the subway platform you have two options depending on if you have a metro ticket or a prepaid card:

  • place the ticket in the slot then collect it at the end
  • place your prepaid card on the NFC reader

it’s also now possible to integrate your IC card into your smart watch (Apple watch or other), if you do so you will just need to place your watch on the NFC reader instead of your card.

Tokyo Subway lines

Here are the listed the different subway lines for each subway operator in Tokyo:

Tokyo Metro Lines

Hibiya Line – 日比谷線 (Silver)

The Hibiya Line is great for travelers as it connects the majority of Tokyo’s most popular districts known for shopping, dining and nightlife. These include Nakameguro, Ebisu, Roppongi, Ginza and Akihabara.

Ginza Line – 銀座線 (Orange)

This line runs from Shibuya and connects popular sightseeing areas such as Ueno and Asakusa to the famous shopping districts, Omotesando and Aoyama. The Ginza Line is the oldest subway line in Asia. It is more than a transportation route but offers an insight into the traditional and modern sides of Tokyo. Travellers can enjoy an afternoon of shopping in Omotesando, scour through the bookshops in Kanda or enjoy a view of Japan’s capital at Toranomon.

Marunouchi Line – 丸ノ内 + Marunouchi Line Branch Line – 丸ノ内線分岐線 (Red)

The Marunouchi Line connects Ogikubo Station and circulates around the city up to Ikebukuro Station. This line has a history stretching back to when it was first built after World War II. Travellers take warning: this line connects some of the most crowded stations in central Tokyo together and is a popular line for Japanese office workers. Jump on this line to reach popular spots such as Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, Tokyo Dome the home stadium of Tokyo’s professional baseball team, the Yomiuri Giants.

Tōzai Line – 東西線 (Sky Blue)

The Tozai Line connects Nakano Station to the Nishi-Funabashi Station.

Namboku Line – 南北線 (Emerald)

Compared to the other lines, the Namboku Line is a relatively new one featuring 19 stations. The line starts from Meguro in the southwest and cuts through the city before ending in Akabane-Iwabuchi in the north=west.

Yūrakuchō Line – 有楽町線 (Gold)

The Yurakucho line runs from Wakoshi in Saitama Prefecture to Shin-Kiba Station in Koto, Tokyo. This line is handy for making connections across the Tokyo Metro network as it links up with major stations from Ikebukuro, Nagatacho and Ginza-Itchome. Travellers can take the Yurakucho Line to Kojimachi, a business district near the Imperial Palace with tons of high-dining options.

Chiyoda Line – 千代田線 (Green)

The Chiyoda Line connects Yoyogi-Uehara to Kita-Ayase. This green line was originally created to relieve the packed trains coming from the Ginza and Hibiya lines. Although this line runs through the center of the city, it also runs through some of central Tokyo’s most overlooked areas such as Meiji Jingu Gardens and Shrine where you can often see traditional Japanese weddings on weekends. The Chiyoda Line also is located near Akasaka Palace, an estate that serves distinguished guests from abroad and Kyu-Iwasaki-tei Garden which was the former estate of the Iwasaki clan that founded Mitsubishi.

Hanzōmon Line – 半蔵門線 (Purple)

The Hanzomon Line features 14 stations across Tokyo and Saitama. The line starts from Shibuya and cuts across the city centre and ending in Oshiage. The Hanzomon Line provides easy access to a variety of popular spots such as the ninja-themed restaurant, Ninja Akasaka near Nagatacho station and the picturesque Jingu Gaien Gingko Avenue by Aoyama-Itchome station. Bookworms will love the endless row of book stores liningYasukuni-dori by Jimbocho station.

Fukutoshin Line – 副都心線 (Brown)

Tokyo’s newest subway line, the Fukutoshin Line is also its deepest, averaging 27 meters below the surface. From Wakoshi station in Saitama Prefecture and ending in Ikeburo Station, this line shares a handful of stations with the Yurakucho Line.

Toei lines

Asakusa Line – 浅草線 (Pink)

This line serves part of Easter and southern Tokyo with 20 stations running from Tokyo Skytree in Sumida Ward to Nishi-Magome. The Asakusa Line directly connects with other train lines that will take you all the way to Narita or Haneda Airport. The rose-coloured line is perfect for visiting popular tourist spots like the colourful and historical Asakusa district, going shopping in Ginza’s chic department stores and visiting the iconic Nihonbashi Bridge.

Mita Line – 三田線 (Blue)

The Mita Line features 27 stations starting from Meguro in the southwest, running through central Tokyo and ending at Nishi-Takashimadaira in the northwest. As one of Tokyo’s busiest lines, it was the first to have safety barriers installed at its stations.

Shinjuku Line – 新宿線 (Lime green)

The Shinjuku Line runs eastward from Shinjuku Station through to Motoyawata Station in Chiba Prefecture, home of Tokyo Disneyland. Some key destinations that this line runs through are Kudanshita Station where Yasukuni Jinja, a controversial shrine that memorializes Japanese killed in wars. Jimbocho Station is another major stop where book and art lovers can enjoy a day of wandering the second-hand book district and visit the various specialist shops that deal in ukiyo-e traditional woodblock prints, vintage film posters and more.

Ōedo Line – 大江戸線 (Magenta)

The Oedo lines form a loop around the city. Oedo means “Great Edo”, Edo bring the former name for Tokyo. This is the perfect line for travelers interested in checking out the world-famous Shinjuku crossing, going shopping in Roppongi or want to climb Tokyo Tower.

JR Trains in Tokyo

In addition to the two subway systems described above, several train lines run through, around and to/from Tokyo.

JR Yamanote Line

Yamanote is a train line in Tokyo, operated by the Japan Railways East company. Circular in shape, it naturally delimits the center of the capital and serves 29 stations including the major stations such as Shinjuku, Shibuya, Ueno or Ikebukuro. It is one of the busiest train lines in the city and an essential subway line for visitors to get to the touristic spots.

JR Chuo Line

Chuo Line cuts across Tokyo from East to West, it can be useful when moving fom to Shinjuku to Tokyo station for instance.

Free WiFi available in Tokyo Subway stations

You can access to Free Wifi hotspots in both Tokyo Metro and Toei stations, here are their respective SSID:

  •  Tokyo Metro: Metro_Free_Wi-Fi
  •  Toei: Toei_Subway_Free_Wi-Fi

Schedule: When is the first and last Tokyo metro?

If you’re out late, keep in mind that the last train home will probably be something around 23:30 and 00:30 the next day depending on the subway line and the station of departure and arrival. The first trains of the morning start at about 5:00.

You can directly get the timetable on the subway operators’ website:

Useful apps to get on your phone

To make your Tokyo subway journey smoother you can download the app called Tokyo Subway Navigation also called Navitime:

  • The Android version can be download here
  • The iOs can be downloaded here

Google Maps is also very efficient and widely used in Japan.

Tips on using the subway in Tokyo

  • Check in advance the number of the exit you will need to take to get to your destination quickly and easily. There is often a map in front of the ticket gates with all the exits clearly marked. You can also sometime know which exit is the closest to your destination when using Google Maps.
  • Mind your manners. Eating and drinking on the trains is generally frowned up, as is talking on your cellphone.
  • Be conscious of your space. If you have a big backpack, turn it around and wear it on your front, or place it between your legs.
  • Some lines feature women-only carriages to counter groping in the train cars by men. Look out for the pink sign on the platforms indicating in both English and Japanese these cars.
  • Rush hour runs approximately between 7:30 am-9:30 am and 5:30 pm-7:30 pm. If you’re not a fan of crowds or have large luggage, avoid traveling during these peak rush hour times.

Often Asked Questions About Tokyo’s Subway

What is the difference between subway and metro in Tokyo?

There is no real difference between subway and metro in Tokyo. The subway service is divided into two different companies Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway but they are working roughly the same way.

Does Tokyo have subways?

Yes, Tokyo have subway operated by two different companies called Tokyo Subway and Toei.

Is Tokyo subway expensive?

Tokyo ticket cost between 170 to 430 depending on the line and how far you travel so yes subway in Tokyo can be very expensive especially if you come here as a tourist and you use it to travel all around the city and its suburb.

What time is the last Tokyo’s subway?

Tokyo subway’s trains usually end at about midnight. It varies depending on the line and the station, and also it might be different during weekdays and weekend.