Tokyo's subway and train system is one the most extensive in the world. most of my trip around Tokyo was by train, though in many ways complicated but is the best and relatively the cheapest way to get around the world's most expensive city.
contradicting to most of the expected impressions of Japan's subway system as being completely modern, it isn't. being one of the oldest subway in the world, it still has that old aspects. but expect some stations that serves its major commercial districts to be extremely modern.
though old, it is well maintained and is very clean. where in Japan is not clean anyway? stations has digital signboards to show the arrival time of the next train. one of Tokyo's subway most impressive feature includes the Chiyoda line which has a platform located about 125meters underground.
this subway was once disrupted when the Aum Shinrikyo group, now known as Aleph, attacked this subway system with Sarin gas in March 20, 1995 killing seven people and injured about 500. remains to be one of the busiest rail system in the world. you can check out Murakami's book Underground for a detailed story on this.
i got confused when i was there because i downloaded online a map of Tokyo's subway system not knowing that this map only covers one company operator. which means the other two with its own line and stations was not included in the map.
the signs on each stations and the guided voice-over are in Nihongo and English. sounds easy but not when one reaches this multi-level subway. when i was there, i had to check it by approaching and asking people to re-confirm that on the right train. what surprised me was, when you approach other passengers to confirm if you're taking the right train, they'll do their best to help you. hardly understanding English but for simple directions, they are able to help. if they find it hard, they'll lead you to the train staff.tickets are sold based on the amount required to go to a destination where one station trip would usually cost to about 160JPY (about 80Php). if you're going around Tokyo the whole day, a day pass is recommended (see how to take a train below for details). normally open from 5:00am until midnight.how to take a train:
1. download or find a copy of the Tokyo Subway System (also available on some major stations and hotels) and check the closest station to your current location.
2. find the best option to get there as there will be several options. some trains pass by fewer stations while others pass by more stations.
3. check the subway map when you reach the station which will indicate the amount needed for you to pay to travel from one station to the other.
4. insert amount and get the ticket. best option when getting around Tokyo the whole day is to buy the day pass which is about 710JPY (roughly 350Php). you'll definitely save from this option.
5. get the ticket and check the level and transit line you'll be taking. this is the complicated part. the train levels or lines are color coded and comes with an alphanumeric code. but best to re-confirm it by asking the train operators in the area.
6. insert your ticket to the line entrance and find the side of your train that leads to your destination. it is best to re-confirm with the other passengers before proceeding.
7. take the train and while in transit, listen to the voice-over as there are times when you need to transfer from one train to the other.
8. when you take off the train upon arriving at the station, find the exit that leads to your destination or else you might get out of the wrong exit which is a bit far from the other exit.
9. exit your way by inserting again the ticket on your way out.
Recommended Ipod Touch/Iphone Application for Tokyo Train:
Tokyo.jp - best to show you Metro Line just by defining current location to destination.
Tokyo City Walks