Photo of Tokyo Subway


When travelling to a new city, especially one as large as Tokyo, one of the most stressful parts of visiting can be navigating the city and figuring out how to visit all of the places you plan to go. Luckily, Tokyo has an excellent train system that is rather easy to navigate. Most of the station names and information are in English, the ticket sales machines have an English option, and when all else fails, the lines are color-coded to assist confused tourists. Even though the system is relatively easy to use, there are a few tips you will want to follow to ensure a worry-free commute.

Plan Ahead

Tokyo, like most other cities, has a very busy rush hour. The morning rush hour lasts roughly from 7:30 until 9 in the morning. The evening rush hour lasts from 5 until 7 at night. If you are planning to head out and experience Tokyo, this may be a time you want to avoid. Try having a long breakfast at your hotel and heading out a bit later in the morning to avoid the pushing and shoving of morning commuters. The rush hours also have a high occurrence of inappropriate groping. For the rush hours there are specific “Women Only” cars that are for a more comfortable (and safer) ride for women and children.

Very Strict Schedule

In most parts of the world, it is expected that the train or bus is not usually on time. Many big city dwellers already know that their train will be running a few minutes behind or the bus will have them waiting. Tokyo, however, is very strict with schedules and the trains are remarkably prompt. If they are even late by a minute, it is very worrisome. If, then, you have a prompt schedule to follow and you are running behind, know your train schedule and don’t bet on the train being late.

Know the Station Schedule

Tokyo is a city that blossoms in the dark. A night on the town could be one of your most memorable parts of our holiday. Many of the entertainment districts are still thriving around 3 am and while you’ll have a nice long evening out that won’t be cut short, you could find yourself in transportation trouble if you miss the last train back to your hotel. The train stations open at 5 am and close at 1 am. If you don’t want to splurge on a taxi, you will want to plan an earlier night out or a later one to catch the first train at 5 am.

Grab a Map

In Tokyo train stations, you will see station names in English and find many helpful English options on machines, but the ease doesn’t stop there. You can also grab a train map in English. This will be helpful to carry with you and know which side of the station to exit to avoid excessive and unnecessary walking. Fold it up and throw it in your backpack or pocket and leave some of the stress behind.

Go with Prepaid

The ticket machines are a bit daunting at first use and buying an individual ticket every single time you take the train can be bothersome, especially if you are running behind. If you are planning to stay in Tokyo for longer than 2 or 3 days, opt for a prepaid card. These cards allow you to put money onto the card ahead of time and the balance is simply reduced with every ride depending on where you go.

The train station should be relatively easy to use and the tickets shouldn’t be a problem. Always expect your first trip to be a bit confusing, so allow a bit more time for your rides until you really get used to the system. After just a few rides you should feel more comfortable getting yourself around the city and in no time you will feel like a local. If you truly feel frustrated and confused, simply ask for help. The train attendants are always happy to help and you can learn some simple Japanese phrases to get the assistance you need.

It’s impossible to predict every part of your holiday and when you travel it’s inevitable that something will change. Curb the impact of these differences with a tailored Cover-More travel insurance policy that protects you, your belongings, your health and you travel plans from the unexpected.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Tim Adams.