Tokyo Subway: The Tokyo subway railway is extensive and integrates with the metropolitan railway and bullet train service. The Tokyo subway is very clean and well patronised.

Railway service within Tokyo is provided by JR, the two subway networks, and various private lines.
If you are planning to do any train travel in Tokyo, the first thing you should do is familiarize yourself with the JR Yamanote Line (山手線). The Yamanote is a commuter line that runs in a loop around central Tokyo, and effectively defines the geography of the city. Almost all inter-regional JR lines and private lines start at a station on the Yamanote. All of JR's commuter lines are color-coded, and the Yamanote is green.

Tokyo Subway Map
Enlarge Image - Tokyo Subway Map

The JR Chuo (orange) and Sobu (yellow) lines run side-by-side, bisecting the Yamanote loop from Shinjuku on the west to Tokyo on the east. As they are mainly designed to carry commuters from the suburbs into and across town, they are not very useful for travellers. JR's other commuter lines, the Saikyo and Keihin-Tohoku, run off the rim of the Yamanote loop to the north and south.

Tokyo has an extensive subway network. It is inexpensive (�160-�300), frequent, and sometimes practically the only choice for a place like Roppongi (far from nearby JR station). Two companies operate a subway service - the Tokyo Metro, which has a larger network, and Toei, which runs primarily commuter lines. Unfortunately a change of lines between Metro and Toei will require a special transfer ticket (or a fare card).

A number of private commuter lines radiate from the Yamanote loop far out into the outlying wards and suburbs, and almost all connect through to subway lines within the loop. The private lines are useful for day trips outside the city, and are slightly cheaper than the JR.

Tokyo Subway - Fares and hours

All train stations are equipped with automated vending machines. Fares are based on distance, and the minimum fare (1-3 stations) ranges from �110-�170 depending on the line. If you can't figure out how much it is to the destination, you can buy the cheapest ticket and pay the difference at the end. Most vending machines will let you buy a single ticket that covers a transfer between JR, subway and private lines, all the way to your destination.
Prepaid fare cards are extremely convenient, allowing you to slip in and slip out without having to know how much the fare is. Passnet cards can be used on all the subways and private lines in Tokyo. JR has its own fare card system, called IO-Card. Both are sold in denominations of �1,000, �3,000, and �5,000. JR also has a rechargeable contact-less smart card called Suica. As it requires a �500 deposit and is designed to be combined with a commuter pass, it is not especially advantageous for travellers.

Many of the private lines interoperate with the subways, which can occasionally make a single ride seem unreasonably expensive as you are in essence transferring to another line and fare system, even though you're still on the same train. It pays to check your route beforehand.

All train lines in Tokyo run from around 05:00 to 01:00. During peak hours they run about once every three minutes; even during off-peak hours it's less than ten minutes between trains.

(Article based on Wikipedia article and used under the GNU Free Documentation License)

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