The new Tokyo Pass offers foreign visitors to Tokyo unlimited access to almost 40 different museums, parks, gardens, zoos, and aquariums. It promises the convenience of cashless admission, and can even be packaged with subway tickets. But is it right for you?
Starting at ¥6,800 for a 2-day pass, the Tokyo Pass isn’t the cheapest attraction pass out there. But with the right approach, it can certainly make things easier — and you might even save a little money. Let’s take a closer look at what it is, what it has to offer, and how to make the most of it.
What is the Tokyo Pass?
The Tokyo Pass is, in short, a digital attraction pass. Released in late 2022 and aimed at overseas visitors to Japan, it comes with 2-, 3-, or 5-day validity. All have the option to add on an unlimited ride subway ticket for a matching period of time.
You can use the pass to enter a variety of attractions in Tokyo for free, including some very popular places like the Ueno Park zoo, Odaiba’s Miraikan, and the Mori Art Museum. It also comes with area guides and information about the neighborhoods around the partner attractions, and is available in English, Korean, and Chinese (both simplified and traditional).
One of the main selling points of the pass is that it’s 100% digital. All you need to do is download the Tokyo Pass app to your smartphone — no more carrying around small, easy-to-lose pieces of paper. However, you do need to make sure you have a working SIM card with data or pocket WiFi.
Another good thing about the Tokyo Pass is that it’s cashless, which is a big deal in a cash-based society like Japan. Once you’ve bought the pass, you’re good to go — no fiddling with coins at ticket counters. Instead, you just scan a QR code at the entrance to each attraction. The pass also simplifies the ticket reservation procedure, as some of the attractions the pass gives you access to have rather complicated ticket reservation processes.
NOTE: The Tokyo Pass does not guarantee full access to all attractions. For example, some museums will only accept it for entry into permanent exhibitions, not special exhibitions. You can check this information on the individual attraction pages within the Tokyo Pass app.
Who can use the pass?
According to the Tokyo Pass website, the Tokyo Pass is for “people traveling to Japan from overseas”. However, they don’t specify whether this is limited to those with short-term visitor visas or whether longer term residents like exchange students or Working Holiday Visa holders can use it. It seems like the deciding factor is whether or not you have non-Japanese credit card or Paypal account that you can use to buy the pass.
How do you buy the Tokyo Pass?
To buy the Tokyo Pass, you first need to download the Tokyo Pass app (available on both Google Play and the App Store). Then, you create an account and buy your pass. There are three different lengths of pass available, at three different price points. You can also add a subway pass to your Tokyo Pass, but you don’t have to. Keep in mind that there are no separate child passes, or student/senior discounts.
|Pass type||2-day pass||3-day pass||5-day pass|
|Subway ticket add-on||+¥1,200||+¥1,500||+¥2,700|
Important payment information
Payment can be made via credit card or PayPal, if you are outside of Japan. If you’re purchasing the Tokyo Pass within Japan, you can only pay using a non-Japanese credit card. You can buy passes of the same length for up to five people at a time, but keep in mind that you can’t transfer them — the passes can only be stored on one device.
Where can you use the Tokyo Pass?
The full list of attractions that you can enter with the Tokyo Pass can be found here. While there are a lot of options on the list, we suggest focusing on museums to make the most of the pass — as zoos/aquariums, gardens, and parks tend to have cheaper entry prices. For example, entry to Kiyosumi Gardens costs just ¥150, while entry to Mori Art Museum costs ¥1,800 (on weekdays).
Out of the museums on the list, the highlights include:
- Tokyo National Museum: An art museum in Ueno Park; among the oldest and most prestigious museums in the country.
- Mori Art Museum: An art museum that specializes in contemporary art.
- Miraikan – The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation: Odaiba’s science and technology museum, perfect for robot-spotting.
- Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectual Museum: An open-air achitectural museum with 30 historical buildings.
- National Museum of Modern Art: An art museum with one of the largest collections of Japanese art.
NOTE: Keep in mind that you can only visit each attraction once using the pass, unless the attraction itself issues an admission ticket that allows re-entry.
Is the Tokyo Pass worth it?
So you may have noticed that the Tokyo Pass has quite a hefty price tag, especially compared to other passes like the Grutt Pass. If you want to make the most of it, you have to be smart with how you use it.
We crunched the numbers, and the average ticket price of the attractions covered by the pass is around ¥610. This means that if you’ve got the 2-day pass, you’d need to visit around 11 or 12 attractions to break even. But, to be honest, we wouldn’t recommend that — that’s a lot of moving from place to place, not leaving much time to actually enjoy each attraction.
Instead, since the price of tickets for the attractions range from ¥150 to ¥1,800 or more, we recommend visiting attractions with ticket prices of ¥1,000 or more. These include:
- Tokyo National Museum (¥1,000).
- Mori Art Museum (¥1,800 on weekdays).
- Japanese Sword Museum (¥1,000).
- Meiji Jingū Museum (¥1,000).
- 21_21 Design Sight (¥1,400).
- Yamatane Museum of Art (¥1,400).
- Mitsui Memorial Museum (¥1,000).
- Chihiro Art Museum Tokyo (¥1,000).
Visit six or seven of these over two days and you’ll break even. If you also squeeze in visits to nearby parks, gardens, or zoos while you’re at it you’ll even start to see savings.
Keep in mind that there are also a number of museums whose ticket prices change according to the exhibition, so it’s worth checking what’s currently on. These museums are:
- Suntory Museum of Art
- Sumida Hokusai Museum
- Tokyo Photographic Art Museum
- Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum
- Shoto Museum of Art
- Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo
- Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum
- Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum
Is the Subway Ticket add-on worth it?
This is a trickier thing to judge. While it gives you 48-, 72-, or 120-hours of unlimited rides on all Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway lines, the convenience of this depends a lot on where you are staying and where you plan to go. For example, if you stay in Asakusa, you will be able to use the Subway Ticket on both the Ginza and Asakusa Metro lines. With just one transfer to the Hibiya Line (also covered by the pass), you could get to Mori Art Museum and 21_21 Design Sight. However, other attractions like the Tokyo Photographic Art Museum or Miraikan aren’t easily accessible only using the Subway Ticket (no matter where you stay).
Tickets for the Tokyo Metro range in price from ¥170 to ¥320 one way, depending on the distance traveled. An unlimited ride add-on subway tickets starts at ¥1,200 for 48-hours (paired with the 2-day Tokyo Pass), so you’d need to travel around a fair bit in 48 hours to break even. And of course, that’s eating into precious attraction-visiting time. Also, while the Subway Ticket is conveniently paperless, so are IC cards like Suica and Pasmo (prepaid travel cards that you can use on all rail and subway lines in Tokyo).
So as you can see, the Tokyo Pass isn’t for everyone. But, if you’re willing to work it hard (and visit a bunch of museums) you may save some money. Or at the very least it may be more convenient than buying tickets at each attraction.
While we do our best to make sure it’s correct, information is subject to change.