How to get around Tokyo
Tokyo is a bustling, thriving city with a population of 9.2 million! Here’s what you should know before jumping aboard a Japanese train!
Getting out of the Airport
If you’re travelling from Queensland you’ll most likely arrive at Narita airport. You have the following options available to you when leaving Narita Airport:
Example destination station Shinjuku
Skyliner (¥2,670 57mins), Narita Express ( ¥3,190 73mins) or High-speed bus (¥3,100 average 80mins)
The Skyliner takes 16 fewer minutes than Narita Express but it does include a transfer.
We decided that the Narita express was our best option as we did not want to try to run between platforms with our suitcases (many platforms in Tokyo don’t have an elevator, may have an escalator but will mainly just be stairs).
All of these services offer Wifi so this is a good time to load the directions to your hotel.
At the time of purchasing your ticket for whichever service you decide; purchase your Suica card! You will have to let someone know you do not have a Suica and they may need to direct you to a different booth.
We haven’t included the cost of a taxi as the rate would be substantially higher with no real benefit. Instead, you may want to consider a taxi from the train station to your hotel.
We landed in Terminal 3 (different airlines land in different terminals) if you land in Terminal 3 you can catch the free shuttle bus that runs between the terminals to Terminal 2 for Trains. High-Speed busses leave from every terminal.
Visit the Narita website for more information: narita-airport.jp/en
Narita Airport also has an app to help you navigate through the airport!
Understanding the Train systems
We stayed in Shinjuku during our trip. Shinjuku station is believed to be one of the busiest train stations in the world being used by an average 3.64 million people per day in 2007! There are over 200 exits in Shinjuku station alone.
Google Maps to the rescue! If you own an iPhone like we do; you can download the Google Maps app separately and we advise to do so. Google maps will give you exit names and numbers to follow and is helpful in guiding you through the train station.
All main train stations have very clear and helpful directional signage all in English. Inside JR Trains they have electronic guides that are extremely helpful. They’ll guide you through the upcoming stations, how long until those stops, which side of the train the doors will open, where the exit is from the upcoming platform and more. All in multiple languages.
Don’t stress if you are lost. People get lost all the time. Find an attendant and tell them what station you need to go to. Station attendants are extremely helpful.
Buy your Suica or Pasmo card and get swiping! (similar to a GO card in Brisbane) If you didn’t pick up a Suica or Pasmo card at the airport then you can buy them at any major train station. Topping up your card at an IC machine is easy! You can select English and your preferred top up amount. You can use these cards in convenience stores, on vending machines even on UFO machines when you run out of change!
JR Rail passes
If you are planning several trips on a Shinkansen (bullet train) then a JR Rail Pass might be a good option. Plan your trip out, have a look at how much those trips will cost on a Shinkansen without the pass and compare. You cannot buy these passes inside Japan; these are for foreigners only. You’ll need to pre-order in advance so leave yourself enough time for this to be mailed to you.
Find out more information here: japan-rail-pass.com.au