Let’s Categorize Tokyo Railways To Simplified!!

Railways in Tokyo are essential transportation.

However, I am sure it is too complicated, especially, if you are not used to it.

(I grew up in Tokyo but I don’t still recognized all Tokyo railways.)

Haven’t you never seen the map? 
This is the all railways in Tokyo and the surround area→

What the hell!!  It stings my eyes. Don’t you think it is too complicated?

How can you understand them? I’ll let you know the tips!!

Categorize Roughly

Something like that, when I categorize it, roughly.

  •  JR Lines
  •  Subways
  •  Private Sector Railways
  •  The Third Sector

 Maybe, there may be other ways of categorizing, but I think it would be better way because the ticket or events are separated on each line.


JR Line

Primarily, it was Japanese National Railways. JR is the short name of Japan Railways. Management companies are different on area such as JR East, JR Central, JR Kyushu, etc, but the group is same JR group.  JR group has railways all over Japan. Japan Rail Pass is available for JR lines and some Shinkansen (not all).  The company running JR lines in Tokyo is JR East. (Tokaido Shinkansen is been running by JR Central.)


Mainly, Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway.
They are running under ground of Tokyo.  They often bring you to a place which is located little bit far from JR line stations.  The stop stations are nearby sightseeing spots like Asakusa, Roppongi, Omotesando,Akasaka etc. 

Private Sector Railways

Tokyu line, Tobu line, Keisei line, Keikyu line, etc.
Private companies manage the railways.  They are running a place where JR lines and Subways are not running.  They sometimes offer limited or collaborated event on each rail line. Besides, discount tickets they offer are very unique. 

The Third Sector

Rinkai line, Yurikamome line, etc. 

Roughly, something like that. Don’t you get clear Tokyo Rail lines even if they are complicated? (No? )

The actual rail lines are much more detailed categorized under the above items like JR Yamanote Line, JR Chuo Line, Tokyo Metro Ginza Subway line, Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Subway line, etc.

How citizens in Tokyo remember the rail lines?

Ummm… Maybe, they remember their nearest station at first, then other station, gradually.  

For example, if someone lives near by Ueno station, they would think following.

“If I wanna go to Tokyo… JR Yamanote line brings me there.  Oh, If I can take JR Ueno Tokyo Line, luckily, I can arrive there little bit faster.

If I go to Shibuya, I can go by JR line or Ginza Subway Line. Which is better?”

Then, we collects the way how to reach the destination by railways, step by step. 

Anyway, I am collecting the knowledge such a way.  So, I have no idea how to reach unfamiliar stations and railways even if they are famous!!

How to Ride on Railways by Different Management Company

Buy trainsit ticket before riding a train or use transportaion IC card like Suica, Pasmo, etc. You cannot use a different company’s ticket to other company’s railway except the IC card. 

The IC card like Suica can be available for any lines.(If the station have an automatic ticket gate. I am not sure but suppose you can use the card in capital areas.)

If you don’t wanna buy a ticket for each riding, I recommend to have the IC card.

Related Post

Do You Really Need to Have an IC card for Transportation System in Japan?