Oct 8, 2015

What's The Cost of a Day's Train Travel in Tokyo? (JR)

What's The Cost of a Day's Train Travel in Tokyo? (JR) photo

Let’s get this straight, Tokyo’s transport network is nothing short of phenomenal. Somehow it manages to shift an army of economic foot soldiers of Biblical proportions, from home to office, office to home, every day.  And usually without major incident.  Yes, it’s not without its faults and yes, at times, cramped carriage conditions border on a human rights violation.  But still, cities the world-over eye-up Tokyo’s system with envy.  And rightly so!  

A key part of said system is the JR East train network.  These are the trains that navigate Tokyo above ground.  Despite having a map that looks like a preschooler went mad with some crayons, the JR network is perfectly navigable, given a bit of time.  But is it affordable?  Here we ask, What’s the cost of a day’s train travel in Tokyo?

Most station to station journeys on JR lines cost 140 yen (sometimes 160 yen).  This, however, isn’t a flat rate that you can multiply by the number of stations you pass through.  We introduce some of Tokyo’s key JR lines and popular routes to give an idea of costs. The color in the subheadings refers to the color that represents each line on station/platform signage.

What's The Cost of a Day's Train Travel in Tokyo? (JR) photo

The Yamanote Line (Green)

The one that holds it all together.  The one that guide books always claim essential for the tourist.  The JR Yamanote Line does a tidy circuit around central Tokyo, taking in most of the capital’s main commercial sub-centres.

Total distance: 34.5 km

No. of stations: 29

Price to complete the whole line (getting off at every stop): 4,060 yen

Popular journeys …

Tokyo to Ikebukuro: 200 yen

Tokyo to Shibuya: 200 yen

Shibuya to Ikebukuro: 170 yen

Shinjuku to Ikebukuro: 160 yen

Ikebukuro to Ueno: 170 yen

The Chūō-Sōbu Line (Orange and yellow)

This great hulking snake of a line (or lines) cuts through the heart of Tokyo from east to west, connecting the bed town strongholds of Chiba (east) with Mitaka and Hachijōji (west).  Expect to rub shoulders with a lot of salary men!

More importantly though, the Chūō Line is one of the fastest ways to travel between Shinjuku and Tokyo Stations.  Beyond Shinjuku, stops of interest to the visitor include Okubo, Nakano, Kōenji, and Kichijōji.  

Total distance (Chiba - Hachiōji): 86.6 km

No. of stations (Chiba - Hachiōji): 48

Price (Chiba - Hachiōji): 1,420 yen

Popular journeys ...

Tokyo to Shinjuku: 200 yen

Shinjuku to Kichijōji: 220 yen

Shinjuku to Nakano: 160 yen

The Keihin-Tōhoku Line (Light blue)

As the Chūō-Sōbu Line connects east with west, so the the Keihin-Tōhoku Line north to south. Starting in Omiya (Saitama) in the North, this line runs through Akabane, Ueno, Tokyo, Shinagawa, and Kawasaki, before ending in Yokohama.

Total distance: 59.1 km

No. of stations: 35

Price (Ōmiya - Yokohama): 920 yen

Popular journeys …

Unlike the Chūō-Sōbu marathon between Chiba and Hachiōji, the journey between Ōmiya and Yokohama is one that many people probably make.  There are others …

Tokyo to Ueno: 160 yen

Tokyo to Akihabara: 140 yen

Tokyo to Hamamatsucho: 160 yen

The Shōnan-Shinjuku Line (Red)

Another north-south option.  The Shōnan-Shinjuku Line does exactly what is says on the can, so to speak.  And a little more.  Yes, it connects booming Shinjuku to surfy Shonan (Zushi and Odawara to be exact) but it also heads to Ōmiya and beyond, by way of Ikebukuro.

Total distance (Ōmiya - Odawara): 118 km

No. of stations (Ōmiya - Odawara): 23

Price (Ōmiya - Odawara): 1,940 yen

Popular journeys …

Shinjuku to Kamakura: 920 yen

Shinjuku to Yokohama: 550 yen

Shinjuku to Ikebukuro: 160 yen

Ikebukuro to Ōmiya: 330 yen

Shibuya to Yokohama: 390 yen

The Tōkaidō Line (Light orange)

Like many a highway in Europe built upon old Roman roads, the Tōkaidō Line, or at least the route, goes way back in time.  Actually, the Tōkaidō (train) Line over its various sections, links Tokyo to Kobe but for sightseers based in the capital it connects two big points of interest, Tokyo (station) and hot spring/dirty weekend getaway, Atami (Shizuoka).

Total distance (Tokyo - Atami): 104.6 km

No. of stations (Tokyo - Atami): 20

Price (Tokyo - Atami): 1,940 yen

Between Tokyo, Yokohama and the beaches of Shōnan, the Tōkaidō Line runs along the same route as the Keihin-Tōhoku Line but stops at less stations, making it a faster option for travel in this area.

Popular journeys …

Tokyo to Ōfuna (for connections to Kamakura): 800 yen

Tokyo to Yokohama: 470 yen

Tokyo to Kawasaki: 310 yen

Tokyo to Shinagawa: 170 yen

What's The Cost of a Day's Train Travel in Tokyo? (JR) photo

So, how much for one day?

There’s a lot of scope here.  Based on some of the journeys above …

A return trip of 4 - 6 hours could require 4,000 - 5,000 yen to cover trains fares.  A half day exploring a limited area might only require 300 - 500 yen.  Being more active over the course of a day and you’ll soon get up to 1,000 yen and possibly beyond 1,500 yen.

For those that plan to be active within central Tokyo and/or just want the flexibility to hop on trains without having to calculate fares, JR offers some rail passes.  So, what’s the cost of day’s train travel in Tokyo, using these?

Tokyo Metropolitan District Pass a.k.a Tokunai Pass

Two terrible names for what is supposed to be your ticket for a fun day out.  One sounds like some sort of day release program for reformed convicts, and the other sounds like, well, just white noise to most foreigners, I expect.  Still, look out for it.  For 750 / 370 yen (adult / child) per day, you get unlimited rides on JR East trains (the ones in Tokyo), both local and rapid.  It’s a worthwhile deal if you plan to be busy. Bear in mind, this pass is Tokyo only, and so rules out visits to Yokohama.  Passes can be bought a JR Ticket Offices (in train stations) and View Plaza ‘Travel Service Centers’.  Link to website here.

Tokyo Tour Ticket a.k.a Tokyo Furii Kippu

The name is getting better.  Same sort of thing, only with more extensive coverage. 1,590 / 800 yen (adult / child) gets you one day on the lines mentioned in the Tokunai Pass, plus ... 

Tokyo Metro and Toei subway systems / Nippori-Toneri Liner / Tokyo Toei Streetcar Arakawa Line / Toei Bus system   

It’s a tricky one this.  The pass seems to cover a fair few services but if all you want to do is stick to Tokyo’s main attractions, it perhaps isn’t worth it.  If you plan to spend a busy day visiting some of the more ‘alternative’ station areas, you might be able to get your money’s worth. Get it from the same places as above.  Link to website here.

For more info on Tokyo transport, see our earlier article; Getting Around: The Clever Way

If you’ve got your own answers to the question, What’s the cost of a day’s train travel in Tokyo?, please join the discussion below.

See our ‘How Much | Travel’ series for more destinations from Tokyo.

Osaka: How much does it cost … to Travel From Tokyo to Osaka?

Fukuoka: How much does it cost … to Travel From Tokyo to Fukuoka?

Nagoya: How much does it cost … to Travel From Tokyo to Nagoya?

Sapporo: How much does it cost … to Travel From Tokyo to Sapporo?

Hiroshima: How much does it cost … to Travel From Tokyo to Hiroshima?

Twitter: @City_Cost_Japan



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