Transportation in Tokyo can be very confusing at first and expensive sometimes. Using their IC card system, everything becomes convenient. No more need for buying tickets at the ticket booths. Instead, just load money on your IC card and just tap your way in and out. There are 2 main IC cards used in Tokyo, Pasmo and Suika. With these cards, you can even use them to purchase items from convenience stores, vending machines and a various of other places that take payment via IC cards. Although even if we have this convenience, we may lose track of how much we spend especially when taking the trains. Depending on where you start, how far you travel and what lines you take, you can end up paying up to ¥800 a trip.
There are 3 major companies that run train lines in Tokyo: Tokyo Metro, Toei, and JR. These lines may sometimes share the same track but are run by different companies and therefore costing different amounts.
Tokyo Metro Map
Living on the Tokyo Metro Line is very convenient in terms of travel I would say. The maximum price going one way caps out at ¥240 a trip. But that would be considerably expensive if you travel to multiple locations in a day. Fortunately the lines offer a variety of discount passes.
There are 3 Different Passes. The first one would be a 24 hour pass for ¥600. The second option would be a day pass that covers Tokyo Metro and Toei Lines for ¥1000. The third option is also a day pass that covers all 3 lines for ¥1540. Note that there are also other lines that are not covered by this pass such as the Rinkai Line that takes you to Odaiba. The day passes only work right from 5 am in the morning when the first trains start till 11:59 pm of the same day. The benefits of the 24 hour pass is that the time starts ticking when you first use the pass.
Since I live in Kasai and the closest station is Kasai Station on the Tokyo Metro Line, I always opt for the 24 hour pass whenever possible. Taking 3 trips to far destinations would already pay off the pass. To make the most use of the pass I would plan my trips based on the 24 hour clock that it is valid. One of my common routes is going to Ikebukuro for Sushi around 5 pm for Dinner and back, then taking the train in the morning to another place for the day. One thing that I found out was that you can enter the subway even one minute before it expires and take it to your final destination (even if your trip takes over an hour) and it also works with transfer gates. Transfer gates are usually marked or labeled in a different color like pink or orange and will allow you to leave the station for 30 minutes for transferring to the next line.
These passes can be purchased at any Tokyo Metro ticket booth.
Tips when traveling
- Plan your day and buy a pass if necessary
- Otherwise load your IC card for single trip use
- Use and abuse every benefit of your pass to save money to spend on other great things in Japan