Tokyo Subway 東京地下鉄
Tokyo's Two Subway Networks
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 systems 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 and Suica rechargeable 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 170 yen with a paper ticket, but if you are spending any time in Tokyo it would be wise to invest in a Pasmo or Suica rechargeable IC card to ease connections between the two systems, save on the wait for buying tickets, and save on fares: the fare using an IC card is up to 5 yen cheaper per ride.
A Suica card requires a 500 yen deposit when first issued, but the 500 yen is refundable when you have finished with it. The Suica card is usable on JR East lines in Tokyo metropolitan area, all Tokyo subway lines, buses and the Tokyo Monorail that runs between Haneda Airport and Tokyo. Outside Tokyo, the Suica can be used on some transport networks in Hokkaido, Sendai, Niigata, Tokai, west Japan and Kyushu.
The Suica can be used in many station kiosks and regular convenience stores to purchase goods.
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.
Read more about the various tickets available for the Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway lines.
Tokyo Subway Times
Most subway lines in Tokyo start at around 5 am 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.
Free WiFi is available in both Metro and Toei subway stations. The SSIDs are:
Metro_Free_Wi-Fi for Tokyo Metro subway stations
Toei_Subway_Free_Wi-Fi for Tokyo Toei subway stations.
The easiest way to connect is to first download the Japan Connected-free Wi-Fi app.
Women-Only Subway Cars
Sexual harassment 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
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, both when entering and leaving a station.
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 stops closest to the destination station exit you will be leaving from. There are charts for that purpose on the station wall or pillars, telling you the cars to board 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 Subway History
Tokyo's first subway line opened in 1927 in the east of the city, 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 (where the National Diet Building is) 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.
1995 was the network's darkest hour when an extreme religious sect called Aum 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 barrier doors at many metro stations.
The Tokyo Subway Museum in Kasai presents the history of Tokyo's underground railway and its present-day technology.