Getting Around in Tokyo

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The Tokyo subway system is without a doubt the most efficient way to get around the city. (Not only are taxis unbelievably expensive; they also get caught in the tangle of traffic.) True the system is complex. The secret to using it is to know the color code of the line that stops closest to your destination. If you have one of the free color-coded maps with you you’ve solved the majority of the problem.

The stations are not always convenient (expect a lot of steps, with only the major subway stations having escalators and elevators) and the ticket machines can be baffling at times but the attendants will be as gracious and helpful as they can. Many of the subways have ticket machines in English as well as Japanese... keep an eye out for these. When asking for help from the locals, we found it best to have something for them to look at a map say with either English or Japanese words. They were not as skilled in understanding spoken English.

Try to avoid the subway at rush hour however unless you want to see the legendary pushers literally pack as many people on the trains as possible.

A subway company provides information in English on the website and map is available in English, Spanish, German, French, Chinese(simplified and traditional) and Korean.

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JR Rail Pass

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The JR Rail Pass is a special ticket that is available only to travelers visiting Japan from foreign countries for sight-seeing.

With the Rail Pass you can freely board almost any JR train around the country.

There are two types of JR Rail Pass: Green (for superior-class Green cars), and Ordinary. Each of these types is available as a 7-day, 14-day, or 21-day pass.

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JR Lines

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The JR Yamanote line takes a circular route around Central Tokyo, covering Ueno, Akihabara, Tokyo Station, Shinagawa, Shibuya, Shinjuku and Ebisu, amongst others. It is a good line to get yourself familiar with Tokyo.

The JR Chuo line has a limited express from Tokyo Station to Shinjuku Station, which takes less than 20 minutes. A plus, when you are in a hurry.

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