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Last updated : Nov 2009
Tokyo Getting Around
Getting Around Tokyo - TravelPuppy.com
Public Transport

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 providers.

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.


Hinomaru Limousine (tel: (03) 3505 1717; e-mail: mailmaster@hinomaru.co.jp) 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 City

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 to find.

Car Rental

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 Avis, 3–13–19 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.

Bicycle & Scooter Hire

SCS, 2–1–16 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.