As announced in our Facebook group, we aim to post some travel reports on this site! The first ones will be about the experiences of both Dutch and international Japan Fans in Tokyo. But before that, we’d like to offer you some background information. Here is a “Tokyo Travel Guide” by our friends from Ervaar Japan.
Travel to Tokyo for an absolutely unique experience. With over 13 million inhabitants swarming like ants 24 hours a day, the capital of Japan is a huge city like no other. The city offers a variety of urban cityscapes where each district has its own history and atmosphere.
The neon lights of Shinjuku, the temples of Asakusa and the busiest zebra crossing in the world at Shibuya Crossing – Tokyo is a unique experience.
To keep a metropolis like Tokyo running smoothly requires an extensive and efficient public transport network. So extensive and efficient that the capital’s public transport system is the busiest in the world. Wherever you need to be in the capital, there is always a metro, train or bus stop nearby.
The capital’s metro system is the busiest in the world. More than 8 million people travel on the metro daily, divided among 13 lines. The system is so extensive that 2 transport companies are responsible for the timetable.
The largest of the 2 operators is Tokyo Metro. This company operates 9 of the 13 lines. The remaining 4 lines are operated by Toei Metro.
The fact that 2 companies are involved in running the metro services creates hurdles for uninformed tourists. Changing from a Tokyo Metro line to a Toei Metro line also means buying a new ticket. At some stations, you have to leave the station to do this; at others, there are special transfer gates.
Fortunately, there is a metro pass that allows unlimited use of all 13 metro lines without having to buy separate tickets each time.
The main train connection in the city is the Yamanote line of JR East. This 35-kilometre ring line connects the main districts. Trains take an hour to complete the loop and each train stops at every station. During the busiest hours of the day, a train leaves each station every 2 to 3 minutes in both directions. No wonder the Yamanote line is the busiest railway line in the world.
Other important lines you will have to deal with as a visitor are:
Keihin-Tohoku line: From JR East runs from Yokohama to Saitama via Shinagawa, Tokyo and Ueno stations
Chuo line: From JR East runs through the middle of the city from east to west
Shonan-Shinjuku line: From JR East takes you to Odawara and Kamakura
Odakyu: A private railway company that connects the capital with Hakone
Keikyu: Also a private line connecting the city centre with Haneda Airport
Keisei: A private line to Narita airport
The bus is a lot less popular among tourists. Not because it is difficult to take a bus, but because the extensive network of subways and trains can actually take you anywhere you want to go. If you do take the bus, pay attention to the following points:
Most buses charge a flat rate of ¥210 per trip, regardless of the distance you travel
On all buses you get on at the front and pay at the machine next to the driver
You can pay cash but a prepaid card or day pass is much easier, available from the driver
Staying in Tokyo
The best district to stay in is Shinjuku. The busiest train station in the city is located here. From here, you have a connection to all corners of the city. Moreover, Shinjuku itself has a number of must-see attractions.
Tokyo Station / Marunouchi
The area around Tokyo Station is also an excellent place to discover the capital. The station is the starting and finishing point of most Shinkansen lines. If you are travelling in Japan from elsewhere, chances are that you will get off the train here. Around the station you will find the big department stores, a variety of restaurants and the Imperial Palace.
Many regular visitors find Roppongi “the place to stay”. Apart from good hotels, there is plenty to do here 24 hours a day. During the day, Roppongi is an excellent place for shopping. At night, the nightlife here is vibrant. It feels like a hip, trendy neighbourhood. The only disadvantage of Roppongi is that the Yamanote line does not stop here. So it is a little harder to travel to the other districts of the city.