Tokyo enjoys 1 of the most sophisticated and efficient public
transport systems in the world – a combination of
an extensive train system operated by several private
companies, 12 underground lines, bus services
and several monorails. Unfortunately, the service
does not operate 24 hours. Regardless, there are lots of 24-hour
pubs and cafés in the city waiting for the trains to begin
running in the early morning is a long established tradition among
the revellers who wish to avoid enormously expensive night-time
taxi fares. The Tokyo Tourist Information Office
(tel: (03) 3201 3331) offers detailed service and
timetable information for all the various service
The complexity of the network and the size of some of the stations
can be rather intimidating. However, public transport
is very safe, even after dark, and staff and passers-by
are usually quick to assist confused foreigners. In spite of very
frequent services, trains are uncomfortably crowded during peak
rush hours (07:30–09:00 and 17:00–19:00); trains
operate from approximately 05:00–24:00/01:00. Tickets
can be purchased from vending machines situated inside stations;
most journeys within the centre of the city cost less than ¥200.
The Tokyo Combination Ticket (Tokyo
Free Kippu) is a travel pass good for
one day travel on all Japan Rail, underground and
bus services within the city and costs ¥1580.
The One-Day Open Ticket is valid on 8 of the 12
underground lines and costs ¥710.
Tokyo’s taxis are numerous and are easily
hailed on the street or found at taxi ranks. One can also reserve
a taxi in advance, from one of the several companies, such
as Nihon Kotsu (tel: (03) 3586 2151) and Checker-Musen
(tel: (03) 3573 3751). Approximately ¥500 will be charged
for this service. Fares differ slightly between taxi companies but
are all expensive at approximately ¥660 for the first two kilometres
(one mile), then ¥80 every 274m (900ft) thereafter. There is
a 30% added supplement after 23:00. Tipping is not customary
and could offend.
Taxi drivers are very professional
but many don't speak English, so it is recommended
for tourists to have their destination written out in Japanese or
to be capable of pointing to it on a Japanese map. During rush hour,
it is usually quicker to take the train. Available taxis become
hard to find at around 01:00, once the train services have finished.
A oddity of all Japanese taxis is that the rear doors are opened
and closed automatically by the driver – visitors should not
try to open or close the doors themselves.
Limousine (tel: (03) 3505 1717; e-mail: email@example.com)
offers many luxury cars and will provide English-speaking drivers.
Rates are from ¥6000 per hour, for a minimum
of three hours.
Driving in the
Tokyo’s public transport network and taxis are superb and
driving in the city is therefore not recommended.
Traffic is heavy, navigation is very confusing because
the streets rarely have names and parking is expensive and hard
The biggest car hire company, has 150 branches
in the Tokyo area, is Nippon Rent-A-Car, 5–5
Kamiyamacho, Shibuya-ku (tel: (03) 3485 7196). Other companies include
Ginza, Chuo-ku (tel: (03) 5550 1011) and Hertz,
1–8–21 Shiba Koen, Minato-ku (tel: (03) 5401 7651).
Car rental in Japan costs from ¥5000 per day
for the smallest class of car. Basic insurance is normally included
in the price. Both an International Driving Permit
and a national driving licence are required.
Drivers must have held their licence for at minimum of one year
and the minimum age for hiring a car varies between
19 and 26, although is normally 21 years.
& Scooter Hire
Hakusan, Bunkyo-ku (tel: (03) 3827 5432), arranges scooter
hire from ¥5000 per day. Bicycles can usually can be
hired at suburban train stations for about ¥1000
per day. However, train stations in the central areas of
the city do not offer this service.