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[Detailed Navigation] A Complete Guide to Tokyo Train Lines and Major Stations from an Expert Living in Tokyo

Almost everyone who visits Tokyo remarks that the numerous train lines running through the city can be extremely confusing. And they are correct. The Japanese capital is known for the abundance of train lines crossing one another and, in many instances, people visiting the city for the first time can have a hard time trying to understand it. With that in mind, this article was specially prepared for first-timers and it explains in a simple way all you need to know about Tokyo's train and subway system!

Tokyo’s Railway System in a Nutshell

Did you know how massive Tokyo's railway system is? Believe it or not, the city has 84 train lines in total! There are so many lines that even Tokyoites have difficulty finding out how to best navigate through them all. It is inevitable that tourists visiting the city for the first time will end up getting lost. But don’t worry! This article will introduce you to the most convenient stations for visiting popular sightseeing spots and to information about the major railway lines that shape Tokyo’s transportation system, such as subways, monorails, and the famous JR lines.

Tokyo Train Lines Explained

JR (Japan Railway)

JR is one of the most well-known railway companies in Japan. If you are visiting the country using the Japan Rail Pass you will probably use many of their services. JR has 27 different lines, including conventional railways and shinkansen (bullet train) lines (see below).

Conventional lines: Yamanote Line, Sobu Line, Ome Line, Chuo Line, Keihin-Tohoku Line, Nambu Line, Saikyo Line, Chuo Main Line, Joban Line, Itsukaichi Line, Shonan-Shinjuku Line, Keiyo Line, Hachiko Line, Yokohama Line, Musashino Line, Sobu Main Line, Yokosuka Line, Tohoku Main Line, Tokaido Main Line, Takasaki Line and Ueno Tokyo Line
Shinkansen lines: Joetsu Shinkansen Line, Hokuriku Shinkansen Line, Tohoku Shinkansen Line, Akita Shinkansen Line, Yamagata Shinkansen Line, and Tokaido Shinkansen Line

Some of the main areas these lines run are the following:

Yamanote Line
[Description] The Yamanote Line is a loop line located in the heart of Tokyo that connects the most important areas of the city, including business districts and tourist locations. The complete route is 35.5km long and the train takes around 1 hour to complete it regardless of the direction, whether clockwise or anti-clockwise.
[Train stops]
・Shibuya Station (Hachiko Statue and Shibuya Crossing)
・Harajuku Station (Takeshita Street and Meiji Jingu)
・Akihabara Station (Electric City) among others.

Keihin-Tohoku Line
[Description] The Keihin-Tohoku Line runs from Saitama Prefecture through Tokyo all the way to Kanagawa Prefecture. Trains on this line are very convenient when you want to travel to places a little far from Tokyo.
[Train stops]
・Ueno Station (Ameya-Yokocho shopping street and Ueno Park)
・Tokyo Station (Kokyo Gaien National Garden and Marunouchi Building)
・Hamamatsucho Station (Tokyo Tower and Kyu Shiba Rikyu Garden) among others.

Chuo-Sobu Line
[Description] The Chuo-Sobu Line runs from Chiba Prefecture, crosses through Tokyo’s central area and connects the capital to its outskirts.
[Train stops]
・Ryogoku Station (Ryogoku Kokugikan Sumo Arena and Edo-Tokyo Museum)
・Nakano Station (Nakano Broadway and Nakano Sun Mall Shopping Street)
・Mitaka Station (Ghibli Museum) among others.
* The information inside the parentheses indicates tourist spots near each station.

Subway

Tokyo has two companies that run subway services: Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway. The former has a total of 9 lines and the latter has 4 (see below).

Tokyo Metro: Ginza Line, Marunouchi Line, Hibiya Line, Tozai Line, Chiyoda Line, Yurakucho Line, Hanzomon Line, Namboku Line and Fukutoshin Line
Toei Subway: Asakusa Line, Mita Line, Shinjuku Line and Oedo Line

Some of the main areas these lines run are the following:
Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line
[Description] The Marunouchi Line starts at the one of major stations in Tokyo, Ikebukuro, passes through the political center of Japan where the National Congress is located, and finishes at the residential area of Ogikubo, very popular among Tokyoites.
[Train stops]
・Ginza Station (GINZA SIX and Kabukiza Theater)
・ Shinjuku Station (Kabukicho and Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden) among others.

Tokyo Metro Ginza Line
[Description] With more than 80 years of history, the Ginza Line was the first subway line ever built in Tokyo. The line connects the famous sightseeing area of Asakusa to the trendy district of Shibuya.
[Train stops]
・Asakusa Station (Senso-ji Temple and Nakamise Shopping Street)
・Omote-sando Station (Omotesando Hill Shopping Complex and Cat Street) among others.
Toei Subway Oedo Line
[Description] The Oedo Line is famous for being the longest subway line in the country. It is 40.7km long and has 38 stations in total.
[Train stops]
・Roppongi Station (Roppongi Hills and Tokyo Midtown)
・Tsukijishijo Station (Tsukiji Outer Market) among others.

Others

Besides the JR and subway lines, Tokyo still has 9 other private railway companies (see below).

Odakyu Electric Railway: Odawara Line
Keio: Keio Line, Sagamihara Line, Takao Line, Inokashira Line, Keio New Line, Dobutsuen Line, and Keibajo Line
Keikyu: Main Line and Airport Line
Keisei Electric Railway: Main Line, Kanamachi Line and Narita Airport Line
Seibu Railway: Ikebukuro Line, Seibu-Yurakucho Line, Toshima Line, Shinjuku Line, Haijima Line, Tamako Line, Kokubunji Line, Seibu-en Line, and Tamagawa Line
Tokyu Dentetsu: Toyoko Line, Meguro Line, Den-en-toshi Line, Oimachi Line, Ikegami Line, Tokyu Tamagawa Line and Setagaya Line
Tobu Railway: Isesaki Line, Kameido Line, Daishi Line, and Tojo Main Line
Rinkai Line
Tokyo Monorail
Yurikamome
* Some railway lines that don’t pass through Tokyo were omitted.

Here are some of the major lines and their stations.

Odakyu Electric Railway Odawara Line
[Description] The Odawara Line connects Shinjuku to Hakone-Yumoto, one of Japan’s most famous tourist destinations.
[Train stops]
・Shimo-Kitazawa Station (lots of second-hand clothes shops can be found in this area)
・Gotokuji Station (Gotokuji Temple) among others.
Tokyu Dentetsu Toyoko Line
[Description] Toyoko Line starts at Shibuya – one of the major train stations in Tokyo – crosses one of the best neighborhoods to live in the capital, called Jiyugaoka, and ends in Yokohama, Kanazawa Prefecture.
[Train stops]
・Daikan-yama Station (Daikanyama T-SITE and Saigoyama Park)
・Naka-meguro Station (Meguro River and its famous lines of cherry trees) among others.
Rinkai Line
[Description] The Rinkai Line connects the Tokyo Bay area. It offers great access to places such as Haneda Airport and Tokyo Disney Resort.
[Train stops]
・Shin-Kiba Station (Wakasu Seaside Park and Yumenoshima Park)
・Tokyo Teleport Station (DiverCity Tokyo Plaza and Odaiba Seaside Park) among others.

Major Stations for Train Transfers Perfect for Sightseeing

Tokyo Station

With more than 100 years of history, Tokyo Station is readily recognized by its warm brick walls. In 2003, the station was designated as an Important Cultural Property by the Japanese government. Below you find all the railway lines you have access to from here.

[Conventional lines]
JR Tokaido Main Line, JR Yamanote Line, JR Keihin-Tohoku Line, JR Yokosuka Line, JR Sobu Line, JR Keiyo Line, JR Chuo Line, JR Chuo Main Line, and JR Ueno-Tokyo Line
[Shinkansen lines]
JR Tohoku Shinkansen Line, JR Joetsu Shinkansen Line, JR Hokuriku Shinkansen Line, and JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line
[Subway]
Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line

Tokyo Station

1-9 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo

Shinjuku Station

Shinjuku Station is said to have more passengers using its services on a single day than any other train station across the globe. It has even been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as, literally, the busiest train station in the world! If you want to avoid the crowd, be sure not to use the station during the peak hours in the morning and at night. Below, you can find all the railway lines you have access to from Shinjuku Station.

[Conventional lines]
JR Yamanote Line, JR Sobu Line, JR Saikyo Line, JR Chuo Line, and JR Shonan-Shinjuku Line
[Subway]
Tokyo Metro’s Marunouchi and Fukutoshin lines, and Toei Subway’s Shinjuku and Oedo lines
[Private railways]
Keio’s Keio Line and Keio New Line, Odakyu Electric Railway’s Odawara Line, and Seibu Railway’s Shinjuku Line

Shinjuku Station

3 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

Shibuya Station

People from around the world come to Shibuya Station to take a look at one of the most famous intersections in the world, Shibuya Crossing. This station has 5 different ticket gates, so try checking in advance which exit is the closest one to your destination. Below you find all the railway lines you can access from here.

[Conventional lines]
JR Yamanote Line, JR Saikyo Line and JR Shonan-Shinjuku Line
[Subway]
Tokyo Metro’s Ginza and Hanzomon lines, and Toei Subway’s Fukutoshin Line
[Private railways]
Keio’s Inokashira Line, Tokyu Dentetsu’s Toyoko and Den-en-toshi lines

Shibuya Station

Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Ikebukuro Station

Ikebukuro Station is the borderline that divides the east from the west side of the neighborhood and greatly defines their characteristics. On the east side, you have a vibrant commercial area with a large number of shops. On the other hand, on the west side, you have an area that thrives culturally with many schools and old book shops. Below you find all the railway lines you can access from here.

[Conventional lines]
JR Yamanote Line, JR Saikyo Line and JR Shonan-Shinjuku Line
[Subway]
Tokyo Metro’s Marunouchi, Yurakucho and Fukutoshin lines
[Private railways]
Seibu Railway’s Ikebukuro Line and Tobu Railway’s Tojo Line

Ikebukuro Station

1-28-1 Minami-Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku, Tokyo

Shinagawa Station

Shinagawa Station is famous for the business district of its surroundings and offers great access to the airport. Not to mention that it serves as one of the stops for the Shinkansen service, making it a great location for staying during a business trip as well as vacations. Below you find all the railway lines you have access to from here.

[Conventional lines]
JR Tokaido Main Line, JR Yamanote Line, JR Keihin-Tohoku Line and JR Yokosuka Line
[Shinkansen lines]
JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line
[Private railways]
Keikyu’s Main Line

Shinagawa Station

3 Takanawa, Minato-ku, Tokyo

Ueno Station

With a wide range of attractions on its surroundings, including shopping malls, many different stores and a great number of restaurants and bars, Ueno Station is always buzzing with people. But despite its urban atmosphere, this area also many places of natural beauty, such as parks and a zoo. Below you find all the railway lines you can access from here.

[Conventional lines]
JR Yamanote Line, JR Keihin-Tohoku Line, JR Joban Line, JR Takasaki Line, and JR Ueno Tokyo Line
[Shinkansen lines]
JR Tohoku Shinkansen Line, JR Joetsu Shinkansen Line and JR Hokuriku Shinkansen Line [Subway lines] Tokyo Metro’s Ginza and Hibiya lines
[Private railways]
Keisei Electric Railway’s Main Line

Ueno Station

7 Ueno, Taito-ku, Tokyo

As you can see, the Japanese capital has a very complex network of railways, so make sure to use this article on your next trip and make the most of every Tokyo subway and train line.

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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