Tokyo, Japan’s vibrant capital, also the world’s largest city, is bustling with an eccentric mix of ultramodern and traditional sights, in addition to a myriad of delectable cuisines. It is no big surprise then that this buzzing capital is an ever-popular tourist destination. If you would like to plan a trip to Tokyo soon, take advantage of the variety of free passes available for some cool cost savings. In this article, I will provide you with a guide on the different types of Tokyo free passes, and how you can optimise them to fit your itinerary.
The Japan Rail Pass, or JR Pass in short, is popular with foreign travelers who travel to different regions in Japan, as it is valid on almost all trains operated on the nationwide network of JR, including shinkansen, limited express, express, rapid and local trains. To find out more about how to use it, where to buy it and other tips, read our comprehensive guide on the JR Pass.
You can purchase the JR Pass on any of the following official partner sites:
However, if you are planning to travel extensively within Tokyo, it would be more worthwhile to consider getting one of the Tokyo-specific JR free passes instead. Read this section for the details on each of these JR free passes that you can make use when in Tokyo.
1. JR Tokyo Wide Pass
The JR Tokyo Wide Pass is good for travelers who are planning a 3-day trip to explore Tokyo and the surrounding Kanto area. The discounted pass offers unlimited rides using reserved seats on ordinary cars on shinkansen, limited express and other trains within the valid use area. Traveling to popular must-see sights like Mount Fuji, Izu and Nikko becomes very easy with just 1 pass on hand.
Pay only 10,000 JPY (88.85 USD) and you can enjoy 3 days of unlimited rides on shinkansen and limited express trains within the Greater Tokyo area. Just to give examples of costs of railway tickets in Japan. A single one-way train ticket from central Tokyo to Odawara Station, which is the gateway to the Hakone area, costs about 1,500 JPY (13.35 USD). If you would like to travel to the picturesque town of Nikko, a one-way two-hour journey costs 4,000 JPY (35.65 USD). However, with a JR Tokyo Wide Pass on hand, you no longer have to worry about hefty transport costs as it is a flat fee for 3 days.
Furthermore, you can also enjoy special offers at GALA Yuzawa Snow Resort with the JR Tokyo wide pass. GALA Yuzawa Snow Resort is not only a fun place for people who enjoy snow-related activities but also has a hot spring bath and pool facilities, making it a one-stop entertainment spot for the whole family. Purchase the JR Tokyo Wide Pass if day trips within the Greater Tokyo region is in your plan.
✓ Tokyo to Kamakura by JR Yokosuka Line
✓ Tokyo to Yokohama by JR Tokaido Line
✓ Tokyo to Nikko by JR Utsunomiya Line
✓ Tokyo to Hakone by JR Tokaido Line Hakone Liner
✓ Tokyo to Narita Airport by JR Joban Line & Narita Line
x Tokyo to Narita Airport by JR Narita Express (you need to purchase an express ticket for this ride)
JR Tokyo Wide Pass
Price: 10,000 JPY (88.85 USD) per adult, 5,000 JPY (44.40 USD) per child aged 6 to 11 years old
Website: JR Tokyo Wide Pass
2. Tokyo Metropolitan District Pass
There may be certain days of your trip when you would want to explore the many attractive spots within the 23 Special Wards of Tokyo. In that case, getting the Tokyo Metropolitan District Pass, or Tokunai Pass, may be a more economical option. At a price of 750 JPY (6.70 USD), enjoy unlimited rides (free seating only) on local and rapid JR East trains. The JR East trains stop at major train stations in Tokyo, such as Shinjuku, Ueno, Akihabara and Tokyo, so you can access popular sightseeing spots conveniently.
✓ Yamanote Line
✓ Chuo Line
✓ Sobu Line
✓ Keihin Tohoku Line
✓ Joban Line
x Tokyo metro
Train fares in Tokyo are dependent on the distance you travel as well as the line you take. Most station to station journeys on JR lines cost a minimum of 140 JPY (1.25 USD). If you plan to be actively roaming around over the course of a day, the cost of train travel would range between 1,000 to 1,500 JPY (8.90 to 13.35 USD) for you. Therefore, buying the Tokyo Metropolitan District Pass certainly makes more sense in terms of cost management.
Tokyo Metropolitan District Pass (Tokunai Pass)
Price: 750 JPY (6.70 USD) per adult, 370 JPY (3.30 USD) per child aged 6 to 11 years old
3. Tokyo 1-Day Ticket
Unlike the Tokunai Pass which offers unlimited rides within 1 day on JR East trains only, the Tokyo 1-Day Ticket is great if you are planning to explore many areas within the 23 Special Wards of Tokyo, where the JR East trains are not available. Tokyo is covered by a dense network of not only JR East trains, but also the Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway systems, Nippori-Toneri Liner, Tokyo Toei Streetcar Arakawa Line, and the Toei Bus system.
By purchasing this 1-day ticket, you can travel conveniently around Tokyo for shopping, dining and sightseeing by hopping on and off the various public transport systems easily. The Tokyo 1-Day Ticket is perfect for travelers who are looking to explore destinations off the beaten tourist paths, such as Sugamo, Nakano and Kiyosumi Shirakawa.
✓ Tokyo station to Asakusa station via JR Yamanote line and Tokyo metro Ginza line, also via Toei Asakusa line
✓ Tokyo station to Tokyo tower via JR Yamanote line and Toei Oedo line
✓ Tokyo station to Nakano station via JR Chuo line
x Tokyo station to Mitaka station (for Gibili house) - Mitaka station is out of range
Tokyo 1-Day Ticket
Price: 1,590 JPY (14.15 USD) per adult, 800 JPY (7.10 USD) per child aged 6 to 11 years old
Website: Tokyo 1-Day Ticket
Tokyo metro day passes
As mentioned earlier, Tokyo is covered by an integrated public transport network, with JR trains, subways and buses. The subway system is managed by two companies, namely Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway systems. Besides the Tokyo 1-Day Ticket that you can consider purchasing if you wish to enjoy unlimited rides on JR East trains as well as the subways, there are several types of Tokyo Metro passes to consider for a fuss-free day of traveling in the city. This section will highlight two types of 1-day open tickets, in addition to the Tokyo 1-Day Ticket mentioned above for your consideration.
4. Tokyo Metro 24-Hour Ticket
Like the name suggests, the Tokyo Metro 24-Hour Ticket is a ticket that allows unlimited rides on Tokyo Metro for 24 hours from first use. You can purchase it up to 6 months in advance or on the day of intended use at any Tokyo Metro station. The ticket is valid for use on any of the nine Tokyo Metro subway lines within a day. Instead of paying for a regular single trip ticket starting from 170 JPY (1.50 USD), pay only 600 JPY (5.35 USD) if you plan to hop on and off several Tokyo Metro stations to explore interesting sights in a day.
5. Common One-day Ticket for Tokyo Metro & Toei Subway
The Tokyo Metro 24-Hour Ticket only allows unlimited rides on Tokyo Metro within 24 hours, but if you foresee yourself taking a mixture of rides from both Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway systems, purchase the Common One-day Ticket instead. That means in addition to nine Tokyo Metro subway lines, you will be able to access six Toei Subway lines with the Common One-day Ticket. The terms and conditions of this ticket are similar to the Tokyo Metro 24-Hour Ticket, and you only need to pay a bit more at 900 JPY (8 USD) to enjoy unlimited rides of a wider subway network within 1 day.
There is a free Tokyo Metro Transfer Planner tool which you can make use of via the Tokyo Metro website. Make use of this free tool to plan your itinerary and also to estimate your transport costs. You will also be able to gauge which of the metro passes above would be more suitable for your needs.
✓ Ginza station to Tokyo tower via Tokyo Metro Ginza line and Toei Oedo line
x Harajuku station to Tokyo tower via JR line and Toei Oedo line (JR line is not covered by this ticket)
Tokyo Metro passes
Website: Tokyo Metro passes
Tokyo Metro Transfer Planner
Website: Tokyo Metro Transfer Planner
Toei (Metropolitan line only) passes
The other major transport company in Tokyo also introduces its own passes like the Tokyo Metro. Depending on the places you wish to explore and stay, getting a Toei pass may be more worthwhile than the Tokyo Metro pass.
Like the Tokyo Metro 24-Hour Ticket, the Toei One-day Pass (Toei Marugoto Kippu) offers unlimited rides on lines managed by the company. Purchase this one-day pass at any automatic ticket vending machines at all Toei Subway stations and on Toei buses and streetcars. You will be able to move around easily with just one ticket on all Toei transport within the same day, at a reasonable price of 700 JPY (6.25 USD).
There is also the Tokyo Subway Ticket, only available for tourists, which you can use on all Toei Subway and Tokyo Metro Subway lines. The added advantage of buying this pass compared to the Common One-day Ticket for Tokyo Metro & Toei Subway mentioned above is that, there are 3 options to choose from. Besides the 24-hour pass (1-day), the 48-hour (2-day) and 72-hour (3-day) passes are available too. The 3-day option is the most economical of the lot at 1,500 JPY (13.35 USD), slightly less than half price of what you would pay for the 1-day option at 800 JPY (7.15 USD). These added options will be attractive if you are planning to explore Tokyo extensively in a more relaxed pace.
Price: please refer to official website for details
Website: Toei passes
Make great use of the array of Tokyo free passes!
Traveling in Tokyo can be quite a daunting experience. The dense public transport network is quite a phenomenon even for locals, let alone foreigners who are visiting for the first time. Add in the high cost of living in one of the most expensive cities in the world, and your travel budget may not be easy to manage if you do not keep a close watch on it. Fortunately, there are many different types of free passes that offer unlimited rides on certain transport systems as introduced above. Do your homework and plan ahead, so that you can take advantage of these passes to manage your traveling costs!
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