How to Navigate the Tokyo Subway System

Is the Tokyo Subway easy to Navigate?

YES!! First off, I found that riding the Tokyo subway was extremely easy. There are english signs everywhere plus google maps works wonderfully in Tokyo. The lines are also color coded making it easy to navigate and switch lines.

Does the Tokyo Subway Cover Most of the City?

Tokyo Subway Map

Yes! There are 13 Subway lines serviced by two different companies, they will take you pretty much anywhere you need to go.  

Do the trains run at all times?

No. The trains DO NOT RUN between midnight and 5 am. 

How do I get a subway ticket?

You can buy individual subway tickets or a Pasmo or Sucio pass. I choose to use the Pasmo pass the entire time. Do note that the two passes are the same and allow access on all subways. There are named two different things because of the two different subway operators. Again, both passes work the same and cover all 13 lines.

Buying a Pasmo pass

Buying a Pasmo Pass - Tokyo Japan

Buying your pass is very easy. If you are getting a Pasmo pass look for the pink machines. Click on the english button and follow the prompts to buy your pass. Do be aware that the card itself is a 500 yen DEPOSIT. When you return the card at the end of your trip you will get your deposit back!! 

You can load the card with as much money as you want. The card does not return leftover money when you turn it in.

Entering the subway with a Pasmo pass

Use your pass to simply tap into the subway. Some wallets and purses the pass will work through so you don't even have to take it out. Do be aware that you have to tap yourself out of the subway as well. Make sure you have your pass out when exiting.

Why buy a Pasmo card over subway tickets

I found the fares for subway lines confusing. There are zones and transfering is an extra fee. If you have a pass you don't have to worry about anything. The pass automatically figures out how far you went and does the calculations for you.

On the subway

On the subway  - Tokyo Japan

When you are on the platform you will see huge signs in English and Japanese on the wall that details which way to go down the stairs depending on your direction. 

While on the train there are screens that show the next station as well as subway maps that flash in both Japanese and English. Like I said, navigating is very easy.

Exiting the subway

Because the stations are huge make sure you look for an exit map so you don't end up blocks away from where you want to be. The maps will have key landmarks in the area and exits marked with letters and numbers. Find your exit door and follow signs overhead to exit correctly.

Final Thoughts

Navigating a foreign subway system can seem really intimidating but don't worry! The Tokyo subway is easy, easier than NYC actually... but then again NYC subway is the worst. Good luck!

One last thing... even though researching ahead of time is great, I definitely recommend bringing a guidebook along with you. Here are some books I recommend...

A super common question I get is: what camera do I use for my travels. The body is a Nikon D3300 and this is the wide angle lens I use and love - I am seriously obsessed with it. 

My full guide that includes all the camera gear I take on every trip is here.


And of course, if you have any questions DO NOT hesitate to reach out to me via Instagram, Twitter, or just shoot me an email ( 

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If you are heading to Tokyo, read up on the Subway before you go. It isn't that difficult! Don't worry!

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