Japan Subway Systems: Tokyo Subway
Tokyo Subway 東京の地下鉄
The Tokyo subway system comprises two connected networks run by the Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway. The privately owned Tokyo Metro runs 9 lines, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, or "Toei," runs 4.
Having two different networks in the one metropolis may sound confusing, and, to be sure, the two sytems are not fully integrated in that transferring between them requires going through a ticket wicket. However, the use of a prepaid card like the Pasmo or Suica rechargeable card card makes transferring as smooth as if they were integrated. (When changing from one Tokyo Metro Line to another Tokyo Metro Line pass through the specially marked orange ticket barrier if necessary.)
Tokyo Subway Network's 13 Lines
Each line on the Tokyo subway network has a color and a number. and each station also has a number. Tokyo Metro operated lines are: Chiyoda Line, Ginza Line, Fukutoshin Line (Yurakucho New Line), Hanzomon Line, Hibiya Line, Marunouchi Line, Nanboku Line, Tozai Line and Yurakucho Line.
Toei Subway operated lines are: Asakusa Line, Mita Line, Oedo Line, Shinjuku Line.
Subways in Tokyo have announcements on the train of the next station in Japanese and frequently in English too. The name of the next station is often displayed on electronic boards in the carriages in both Japanese and English.
* Toei also operates a streetcar, the Toden Arakawa Line Tokyo between Minowabashi and Waseda.
Ticket prices for the subway in Tokyo start at 160 yen, but if you are spending any time in Tokyo it would be wise to invest in a Pasmo or Suica rechargeable card to ease connections between the two systems and save on the wait for buying tickets.
Tokyo's subway network connects with other metropolitan rail systems particularly the JR Yamanote Line and, for shinkansen lines, at Tokyo Station and Ueno Station. Again, having a Pasmo or Suica card will make even the transit between subway and above-ground lines effortless and seamless.
Most subway lines in Tokyo start at around 5am and last trains depart at around midnight. In Tokyo the rush hour is roughly 7.30am-9.30am and 5.30pm-7.30pm. There are not many night buses, so taxis are the only option in the early hours. Subway services are a little less frequent on weekends and public holidays. There are things you can do if you miss the last subway and have to wait until the first train the next morning.
Women-Only Subway Cars
Sexual harrassment can sometimes be encountered on trains. Some lines have women-only carriages to counter groping in the cars by male perverts, known as chikan. Look out for the pink sign on the platforms indicating which cars are women-only.
The following subway lines in Tokyo have women-only carriages running in the morning rush hour period: Chiyoda Line, Fukutoshin Line (Yurakucho New Line), Hanzomon Line, Hibiya Line, Tozai Line and Yurakucho Line.
Using the Tokyo Subway
Suica IC card, Tokyo Subway exit guide
Here are some useful hints to using the Tokyo subway system.
1. First buy a pre-paid card, such as a Suica or Pasmo. They require a refundable 500 yen initial charge, but make subway use infinitely easier than having to buy a paper ticket at a station whenever you ride a train. You only need to touch your card for a second on the sensor at the ticket wicket as you pass through.
2. Identify in advance the number of the exit you will need to take at the destination station and ...
3. having identified that exit, board the car closest to that destination exit. You will save time (and be less likely to get lost) if you can board the car that will stop closest to the destination station exit you will leave from. There are charts for that purpose on the station wall, telling you the appropriate cars for each exit at each station, or you can ask a station attendant. "[Name of destination station] no [Exit number] deguchi ni oriru no de, dono sharyo ni noreba ii desu ka."
4. Mind your manners. Don't eat or drink on the train, don't put luggage on the seat beside you, don't use a cell phone, and if you're talking to people, try and keep it subdued.
Tokyo's first subway line opened in 1927 between Asakusa and Ueno. Next came the Ginza to Shimbashi section in 1934. After World War II construction of the Tokyo subway continued apace with the opening of the Ikebukuro to Ochanomizu section of the Marunouchi Line in 1954 and five years later the completion of the Kasumigaseki to Shinjuku section of the Marunouchi Line.
During Japan's rapid development of the 1960s and 1970s large sections of the Hibiya Line, the Tozai Line, the Yurakucho Line, the Hanzomon Line and the Chiyoda Line were constructed. In the 1980s and 1990s sections were added to the Yurakucho Line and the Namboku Line.
Tokyo Subway exit guide
1995 was the network's darkest hour when an extreme religious sect Om Shinrikyo attacked the Tokyo subway in a sarin gas attack.
The Fukutoshin Line opened in 2008. Other landmarks in the development of Tokyo's subway have been the employment of female conductors and drivers, the availability of wireless LAN at all stations and the gradual introduction of platform screen doors at many metro stations.
If you are interested in the history of Tokyo's underground railway and its present-day technology visit the Tokyo Subway Museum in Kasai.
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