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“Confusing but can easily be learned”
Review of Tokyo Metro

Tokyo Metro
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Ranked #8 of 4,090 things to do in Tokyo
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Reviewed April 3, 2013

The Tokyo Railway system is a fast, clean and efficient means of transport going around Tokyo. It can be confusing at first, especially during rush hour when the stations can get very crowded, but one can easily learn the system after a few days of using it as a mode of transport.

Some tips that helped us during our trip:
- There are several railway companies operating within and outside of Tokyo. Each has its own trains, lines and ticketing machines, but many lines intersect or stop at the same stations around Tokyo.
- The major companies to remember within Tokyo are the Metro (2 kinds: Tokyo Metro and Toei Metro group) and the JR Railway. Each have their own maps, so it will be very handy to either download both maps onto your mobile phone/gadget or just ask for a copy from each company at their booths.
- Ticketing machines have an English language option but do not display the names of the stations for you to choose from, unlike in other cities like Hongkong or Seoul. Only the fares are displayed and you have to determine how much your fare is by checking the large signboards above the machines. The signboards show either the names of all the stations available for that company ONLY or their map with the corresponding fares per station. Not all signboards have an English translation (especially for JR Railways) so in such cases, it would be best to just go to an agent near the turnstiles and show them the station you need to go to on your map. Then ask them how much you need to pay.
- Some might think it would be easier to just stick to one company when traveling from one area to another, but some of the routes take longer; so changing from one company to another to find a shorter and faster route can also be done.
- When transferring to a different railway company, however, a new ticket needs to be purchased at the station where you need to change lines/companies.
- In case you paid the wrong amount for your ticket, there are fare adjustment machines at the stations where you can adjust your fare and get a new ticket.
- Again, it's always easier to just go to a railway agent and ask for the best route to a certain place, and how much you need to pay for. Don't worry... They are very polite, helpful and can speak English (most of the time).

4  Thank docajc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed March 12, 2013

One of the most extensive and easy-to-use underground transportation networks in the world. The highlights are bilingual labelling in Japanese and English almost everywhere, very intuitive ticketing machines, perfectly designed information displays inside the metro cars themselves, great wealth of information on the platform about the exits and the local sights (and there might be A LOT of exits from each station, like Shinjuku-eki that has more than 50!), and very friendly and helpful staff that will help you out when in trouble (especially if you're not Japanese :))

The only thing that caused us trouble on a couple of occasions is 2 metro companies (Tokyo Metro and To:ei) that operate different lines - watch out for their corporate logos! And if you get it wrong, you can always get a very cheap transfer ticket from one company's lines to the other.

3  Thank DoubleUD
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 25, 2013

I echo the previous reviews re: cleanliness, timeliness, & staff helpfulness. Wonderful system!
Price: We always reflect how trains cost us more than our hotels & food combined. We learned we could actually just walk a bit above ground to get to the next station.
Safety: In the busier stations, there's 4-ft. high barriers on the edge of platforms w/electronic gates. There's usually an 'eki-in' station worker nearby too.
Etiquette: Along w/silenced phones & gadgets, there's posters of the metro rules. Many platforms are marked showing where to line up.
Signage: Must have map in English (ask @ turnstiles office) but it is helpful to have a map in Japanese too b/c you can match the languages if needed. Tokyo Metro & most any stations use romaji (ABCs) to spell out their names. Also, inside the trains are electronic billboards that display which station you're arriving at next. Verbal announcements are often bilingual too.
Platforms: This is the trickiest part for me. Sometimes I can't figure out whether I'm coming or going...so I just ask ANYone 'Does this train stop at ------- ?' Don't know how but my teen sons who don't speak or read Japanese always figure out which platform very quickly.
Storage: Many stations have lockers. I think about 500-en/24 hours. Some overnite some not.
Kids: Fun activity is bring a little notebook. At each station find its official ink stamp. Free!
Etc: I could spend my whole day underground with all the stores! Very very well planned.
Etc: Listen for the chirping birds. At first I thought they were real. A de-stresser. Great idea!
Etc: The websites/guides for main attractions tell which station is nearest. We even used a metro app that was extremely helpful!
Etc: In the metro area, remember to stay left on escalators, stairs & long walkways when there's lots of people. That's the usual rule. Often there's arrows showing where to walk.
One reviewer gave a fascinating account of getting around w/wheelchair. It is hard if you can't find an elevator or escalator--not just for a wheelchair but with luggage too.

2  Thank willrunforcannoli
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 23, 2013

I was stuck in Tokyo for a day because I couldn't get on the plane - initially I was worried about getting around because I hadn't made any plans and I didn't have access to cash! But my anxieties were quickly quelled. Every service person in Tokyo is so knowledgeable and helpful and nice!

Taking the train here is a cinch - there is an information counter --sometimes agents are stationed right at the ticketing counter as well. Just go up to them and fire your questions away. They speak good English. You can also get a map from them if need be. Tell them where you want to go and they will immediately give you an answer: the exact fare you need, which line to take, which platform to be at... Voila you're on your merry way! The trains also reach on time.

I'm terrible at moving around but even I managed to get from Haneda Airport to Tokyo to Ginza to Tsukiji to Harajuku - all this with only USD 16 in my pocket! There are also a few counters where you can purchase tickets with credit cards so if you're out of cash it's good to stop by those counters and get all your round trip tickets.

What is interesting to me is that you're not allowed to speak on the phone while on the train. So it was a very quiet, relaxing ride all the time.

1  Thank XY_Boon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 20, 2013

Perhaps this review is slightly biased due to the fact that I visited Tokyo after 3 weeks in Seoul, but I must say that I was very surprised by how expensive and confusing the Tokyo metro system is relative to their Korean neighbors. I cannot read Japanese, and I often found that the signs which you use to determine the fare you should pay for your ticket were very difficult if not impossible to understand at many station stops. This is further complicated by the fact that the metro system consists of multiple companies whose ticket systems are isolated and not transferable. I HIGHLY recommend keeping a printout of the entire metro system in your pocket with you at all times...it saved me more times than I can count!
Many times I would realize I had paid the wrong amount, so when I went to exit the station by putting my ticket into the exit lane, the gates would close and lock me in. Sometimes there was a station worker nearby that would help me to understand the fare difference I needed to pay to exit, but other times there was no one around. Also the little tickets that you get can be easily lost.
Aside from the confusion, the cost was also very high to use the Tokyo Metro system, though I'm sure it was cheaper than using a taxi. However, in my two days sightseeing, I spent over $75 on myself alone for nothing more than trips on the metro lines. The costs must have been ridiculous for the families with multiple children that I saw using the metro frequently.
In summary, the Tokyo metro is one of the better choices from a selection of bad options when it comes to getting around Tokyo. Prepare yourself for high prices, confusing route options with minimal English translations, multiple train operators that do not honor the other lines' tickets, and by all means keep a subway system map with you at all times.

4  Thank BBuotS
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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