Japan Subway

Japan Subway Systems 地下鉄

Japan has an efficient, safe and cost-effective system of city subways, allowing rapid movement around its inner urban areas.

Tokyo, Yokohama, Nagoya, Sendai, Sapporo, Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe and Fukuoka have city subway networks, linked to other rail systems including the JR Yamanote Line in Tokyo, the JR Loop Line in Osaka and JR shinkansen lines.

Most subway systems in Japan start at around 5am and last trains depart at around midnight, there are few night buses, so taxis are the only option in the early hours. Services are less frequent on weekends and public holidays.

Some subway lines in Japan have women-only carriages running in the rush hour period, normally 8am-9am, to counter groping in the cars by male perverts, known as chikan. Look out for the pink sign on the platform.

Subways in Japan have announcements on the train in Japanese and frequently in English too. The next station is often displayed on electronic boards in the carriages in both Japanese and English.

Tokyo Metro

The Tokyo subway system is one of the largest and busiest in the world. There are 13 lines, 8 operated by Tokyo Metro or (TRTA) Teito Rapid Transit Authority (formerly Eidan Subways) and 4 lines managed by Toei Subway run by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. Each line has a color and a letter (the initial letter of the line's name), and each station also has a number.

Tokyo Metro operated lines are: Chiyoda Line (green), Ginza Line (orange), Fukutoshin Line (brown), Hibiya Line (gray), Hanzomon Line (purple - and coded "Z" to distinguish it from the Hibiya Line), Marunouchi Line (red), Namboku Line (emerald green), Tozai Line (blue) and Yurakucho Line (gold).
Toei Subway operated lines are: Asakusa Line (rose), Mita Line (blue), Oedo Line (magenta), Shinjuku Line (leaf green). Toei also operates a streetcar, the Arakawa Line between Minowabashi and Waseda.

Ticket prices for the subway in Tokyo start at 170 yen for a paper ticket, or 165 yen with a PASMO or SUICA IC rechargeable card. Rechargeable cards ease connections between the two systems and save on the time for calculating fares and the wait for buying tickets. The main rechargeable IC cards in Japan can now be used throughout the country, thus a SUICA card can be used on the Nagoya, Osaka and Kyoto subways, as well as on above-ground trains.

A one-day pass is available that can be used on both the Tokyo Metro and the Toei Subway systems. It is called the Tokyo Metro Toei Chikatetsu Kyotsu Ichinichi Josha Ken (東京メトロ・都営地下鉄共通一日乗車券) and costs 1,000 yen.

Changing subway lines in Tokyo can in some cases involve up to a 5-minute or so walk - sometimes even going up to street level and walking a few hundred meters to the connecting station.

Hibiya Line, Tokyo Subway.
Hibiya Station, Tokyo
Platform attendant at Namba Station, Osaka.
Platform attendant at Namba Station, Osaka

Osaka Subway

Osaka has 8 subway lines with fares beginning at 180 yen for a single journey. Osaka's subway lines are the: Chuo Line (green), Imazatosuji Line (golden orange), Midosuji Line (crimson), Nagahori Tsurumi-ryokuchi Line (leaf green), Sennichimae Line (pink), Sakaisuji Line (brown - and coded "K" to distinguish it from the Sennichimae Line), Tanimachi Line (purple) and the Yotsubashi Line (blue). The main hub station is Namba station which connects with 3 lines - the Midosuji Line, the Sennichimae Line and the Yotsubashi Line.

The Icoca card is an IC smart card which can be used on the JR West network in western Japan (Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Nara, etc). The Icoca card (literally the "Let's Go!" card) is interoperable with the Suica card (see above) and can therefore be used on the JR East system in Tokyo and in Sendai.

The Osaka subway offers an "Enjoy Eco" one-day pass usable on both the subway and municipal buses for 800 yen on weekdays, 600 yen on weekends and public holidays.

Higashiyama Line, Yagoto, Nagoya.
Higashiyama Line Train, Nagoya

Nagoya Subway

Nagoya's subway has six lines - the Higashiyama Line (yellow), Meijo Line (purple), Meiko Line (purple and white - and coded "E" to distinguish it from the Meijo Line), Tsurumai Line (teal blue), Sakura-dori Line (red) and Kamiiida Line (pink). These lines intersect with other urban rail networks including Meitetsu Railways, JR, Kintetsu Railways and the Linimo maglev train.

The main stations for transfer between lines are Nagoya Station, Kanayama Station, Imaike, Gokiso and Sakae Station.

Fares start at 200 yen and it is possible to buy one-day passes for the subway system (740 yen) and for the subway and bus networks combined (850 yen).

Nagoya's loop line is the Meijo Line which connects the major stations of Kanayama,Kamimaezu, Motoyama (home to the famous Toganji Temple) and Yagoto.

Sapporo Subway

The Sapporo subway system has 3 lines. They are the north-south Namboku Line (green) and Toho Line (blue) and the east-west Tozai Line (orange). Fares start from 200 yen.

There is one street car line which runs from Nishi-Yon-chome to the Susukino entertainment area.

Odori Station (near Odori Park) forms the intersection for all three lines, and Sapporo Station connects with the Namboku and Toho Lines.

One day passes are available for the Sapporo subway for 830 yen and for subway, bus and tram/street car for 1000 yen (520 yen on weekends and public holidays). Sapporo introduced a smart card in 2009 called SAPICA, which is valid on the Sapporo subway.

Sendai Subway

The Sendai subway presently consists of two subway lines - the Namboku Line - running north-south ("Namboku" meaning "north-south") with 17 stations and the Tozai Line - running east-west ("Tozai" meaning "east-west") with 13 stations. Sendai Station connects the two lines.

Fares start from 200 yen. A one-day pass is available, for 840 yen on weekdays, and 620 yen on weekends and public holidays.

Announcements are made in Japanese and English.

Kyoto Subway

The Kyoto subway system consists of two lines: the Tozai Line (red) running east west from Umazu Tenjingawa through Nijo Station to Rokujizo, and the north-south Karasuma Line (green) running through Kyoto Station from Kokusaikaikan in the north of the city to Takeda in the south (with connections to Kintetsu). The only station for transfers is Karasuma Oike (near the Kyoto International Manga Museum). There are presently (2014) 32 stations on the Kyoto subway network.

Fares on the Kyoto subway start at 210 yen.

The Kyoto subway offers a one-day or two-day Kyoto Sightseeing Ticket (Kyoto Kanko Josha Ken) for unlimited use on buses and subway trains: 1,200 yen for the 1-day pass, 2,000 yen for the 2-day pass.

Higashiyama Line, Nagoya.
Higashiyama Line, Nagoya
Subway station exit and car number chart.
Tokyo Subway exit guide

Fukuoka Subway

The Fukuoka subway has three subway lines: the the Hakozaki Line (blue), the Kuko (Airport) Line (orange), and the Nanakuma Line (green). The Kuko Line runs east-west from Fukuoka Airport to Meinohama via Hakata Station and Tenjin. At Meinohama it connects with the JR Chikuhi Line.

The Hakozaki Line runs from roughly north-south from Kaizuka to Nakasu-kawabata (one stop east of Tenjin or accessible by underground passage), near Canal City Hakata. The Nanakuma Line runs from Tenjin-minami (accessible by underground passage from Tenjin) south and then west to Hashimoto.

The minimum fare on the Fukuoka subway is 200 yen or a one-day pass is available for 620 yen and gets the holder reductions at several Fukuoka museums.

The Hayakaken smart card system was introduced in 2009, and earns the bearer points with use.

Yokohama Subway

The Yokohama Subway system in Yokohama has three lines, though Lines 1 and 3 are operated together. Lines 1/3 (blue) run from Shonandai Station to Azamino Station while Line 4 (green) operates from Nakayama Station to Hiyoshi Station.

Transfers between the two lines are at Center Kita and Center Minami stations. The Blue Line connects with the Tokaido shinkansen at Shin-Yokohama Station and with the Tokaido/Yokosuka Line, Tokyu Toyoko Line and Keikyu Line at Yokohama Station.

The minimum fare is 210 yen (206 yen with a rechargeable card). A combined bus and subway one-day pass is available for 830 yen; subway-only or bus-only passes for slightly less.

Kobe Subway

The Kobe subway consists of two lines: the Seishin-Yamate Line (green) and the Kaigan Line (blue), which intersect at Sannomiya and Shin-Nagata stations. The Seishin-Yamate Line runs from roughly east-west from Tanigami to Seishin Chuo with 17 stations and the Kaigan Line forms a southerly loop from Sannomiya Hanadokei-mae to Shin-Nagata with 10 stations. The Kaigan Line trains are propelled by linear motors and the line was opened in time for the 2002 World Cup.

Fares on the Kobe subway start at 210 yen. A one-day subway and bus pass is available for 1,030 yen; or a subway-only pass for 820 yen.

Tsurumai Line, Yagoto, Nagoya.
Tsurumai Line Train, Yagoto, Nagoya

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