Written by Shirley T
Friday, 26 March 2010 16:59
Looking at the below subway route, I believe you would agree that Tokyo Metro Subway Route is the most complex rapid transit in Asian's metropolitan. Taipei's subway system is far simpler and Singapore's MRT route isn't that complicated as well. Hard to believe but combining all the Tokyo subway networks, they carry an average of eight million passengers daily.
Having said that, I found subway is the most efficient means to move around in Tokyo for self-explorers or tourists. These subway lines practically can take you anywhere within Tokyo metropolitan. Of course plus some walking, you would be surprised how efficient and convenience it would be to reach your destination. Same applies to the local folks, they use it heavily to commute to work place.
I would not call myself an expert subway user but every ride we took in Tokyo went pretty well. It must be the beginner's luck! Even there was an incident whereby my Significant Other (SO) and I were accidentally parted at Akibahara station during rush hour. I didn't manage to enter the coach before door closing. In less than 5 minutes, the next train arrived and we were reunited at our destination platform.
In your reading about how to get around in Tokyo, sometimes the authors mention train instead of subway. This could be referring to JR Yamanote Line which is also the main artery in Tokyo downtown. JR Yamanote Line is an above-ground commuter but it may stop and share the same station with other subway lines and thus is often marked in subway maps.
Yes, the map looks horrible but do not get intimidated by these colorful worms (extensive subway lines). Instead, try to start within a small area e.g. where is your current location and where is the destination. Sometimes, there is no direct subway but there is always an interchange or a nearest station to get you connected to your destination. For instance in our encounter, we were at Tokyo Tower and then had to get back to Ueno. There was no direct subway/train to get us there. Thus, we walked to the nearest subway station - Onarimon Station (Mita Line), took subway to Otemachi Station. Then, continue walking via the underground pedestrian bridge to Tokyo Station so that we could board JR Yamanote Line train to Ueno. With a little practice, one would be more confident.
Tips to purchase a ticket at subway/train station:
1. Go to the self-service or vending machine.
Subway route is usually displayed above these map. One of them is usually in English. Search your destination and
get the number that accompanies (either beside or under) the station name e.g. Akibahara 130 which indicates the fare from the departing station.
2. Reach your turn at self-service counter.
a)Touch the button 'English' (upper right hand corner) to change screen to English.
b) Select the fare (that you have read on the map) e.g. 130
c) Refer to left hand button with lit-up man-icon buttons e.g. 1, 2, 3, etc. Press the number of passengers.
d) Insert the note/coin.
e) Collect ticket stub and change if there is any.
Once you have the ticket, proceed to entrance gate and insert the ticket. Once the gate is open, the ticket would be returned to you. Keep it for your exit.
At unpopular station, getting to the right platform to board is simple. You may ask the station staff or read the sign post. When we were caught in crowded and huge station, we usually confirmed with station staff. They were
everywhere, we just showed them our ticket and told them our destination. In return, they informed us which platform to head to. We found this way was more efficient rather than reading the sign post and searching everywhere.
Last but not least, if you happen to board the subway/train with insufficient fund on your ticket, do not worry. Alight at your intended destination and pay the fare different at the fare adjustment counter. They usually stand right before the exit gate.
Good Luck and Happy Exploring!
For more information to ride on Tokyo Metro subway, check out Tokyo Metro official website here.
Tokyo Subway Route Map (English), download here.
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