Japan Railway System! Which Pass Should I Get?

After having been in Korea twice and being able to experience their subway system, and knowing that the best way to travel within the city is through subway, I thought planning our Japan itinerary would be simple. But I was wrong. First of all, there are Β A LOT of subway lines in Japan. You have the TOEI lines, the JR lines, the Tokyo Metro lines and other private lines as well. And since Japan is oftentimes considered as one of the most expensive cities in the world, you would want to save on things that you can so you have more money to spend on food or shopping.

Saving on train fares is one of the things I wanted to save at. Luckily, there are unlimited passes being offered. There’s the Tokyo Metro One Day PassΒ and the Tokunai Pass. The main difference of these two passes is that the Tokyo Metro Pass is valid only on Tokyo Metro Lines while the Tokunai Pass is valid only on JR lines.

The Tokyo Metro lines are: Ginza, Marunouchi, Hibiya, Tozai, Chiyoda, Yurakucho, Hanzomon, Namboku and Fukotoshin.

The JR lines are very easy to spot because it says “JR (insert station here)” For example JR Chuo Line, JR Chuo-Sobu Line, JR Yamanote Line.

I downloaded an app caled “trains.jp”. You just have to put from which station you will come from to the station that you want to go to. In this case I put “Shinjuku” to “Tokyo”. It will then show you subway options to take.

First option is to take the JR Chuo line so in this case, I can use my Tokunai Pass.


Another option is to take the Marunouchi Line. In this case, I can use the Tokyo Metro Pass.


What I love about this app is it includes the ticket price and it also works offline. It also indicates transfers between stations. If you want to check whether or not a pass is worth it, you can compute your average train fare in a day just to make sure you are getting your money’s worth.

In the end, we chose to get the Tokunai pass because we will be staying at a hotel within the Nakano area and Nakano is under a JR station. But since we plan to include Asakusa on our itinerary, we bought a Tokyo Metro Pass on our third day since Asakusa is not covered by a JR line. So I suggest that you choose what pass to buy depending on which area you are staying at. And then plan the itinerary based on the areas covered by the pass.

Also, buy a pass if and only if you plan to hop on different places in a day. Going to 2 – 3 different train stations would already cover your purchase. But if you plan to spend your day only in one place, I suggest not to buy any pass. Hope this post help you decide on which pass to get! And if you have any question, don’t hesitate to comment below πŸ™‚


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