All the tips on which train passes will cheapen your travel in Tokyo (and which won’t!)

There are a range of Tokyo one-day passes available to locals and travelers alike, and in this article we give you the lowdown on the major ones. Be warned though—unless you’re going to be zipping all over the city on just one or two train lines, these passes might not work out to be all that economical and you should stick to the standard advice and just get a Suica or Pasmo IC card for travel around Tokyo (and other cities in Japan).

A Yamanote Line E235 series EMU approaching Takanawa Gateway Station
The JR Yamanote Line is cheap, but even cheaper if you use the 750-yen JR Free Pass. | Photo by Gregory Lane

Before dashing out and buying anything though, work out your travel route and check the ticket prices—when you compare them to the passes below, you might just find that single tickets are a better bet.

Tokyo Metro 24-hour Ticket

A 24 hour Tokyo Metro ticket held up inside a Tokyo Metro Station
Get a Tokyo Metro 24 hour pass to save yourself some yens. | Photo by Gregory Lane

We’ve found the Tokyo Metro 1-Day pass to be the most useful, as it costs just ¥600 yen and opens up unlimited rides on all Tokyo Metro lines, which are: the Ginza, Marunouchi, Hibiya, Tozai, Chiyoda, Yurakucho, Hanzomon, Namboku and Fukutoshin lines. One word of caution: some of these become other lines after a certain point—and you’ll have to pay extra to use them.



What to do with it

The 1-Day pass covers most of the major bases in Tokyo central—a sample day out on it might look something like this:

Start out in Shinjuku—say hi to Godzilla and do a spot of shopping. The hop onto the Fukutoshin Line from Shinjuku-sanchome Station and head over to Meiji-jingumae to have a mosey around Meiji Jingu Shrine, Yoyogi Park and Harajuku. Wander down to Omotesando for lunch, then board the Ginza Line to experience the glitz and glamour of the Ginza neighborhood. After a bit of ginbura, you could get on the train again to see the sights of Asakusa (near Skytree). Ikebukuro, Roppongi (of sleaze and Tokyo Tower fame), Shibuya and Tokyo Station (near the Imperial Palace) are all also accessible using the pass.

Where to get it

You can grab one from just about any Tokyo Metro ticket machine.

Toei and Tokyo Metro One-Day Economy Pass

An array of ticket machines below a network map at Tokyo Metro Akasaka Station
Thankfully, ticket machines have an English option. | Photo by Gregory Lane

Called different variations of the above in English, but the ichinichi josha ken in Japanese, this ticket allows unlimited rides on all Tokyo Metro and Toei subway lines. It costs from ¥900 and you can either conveniently book it in advance in English or get it at a ticket machine or office at a station. There are also versions of the pass available for two or three days.

What to do with it

This pass opens up all of the places that the Tokyo Metro 1-Day Pass does, with the added benefit of access to the Toei Lines—which is useful if you are wanting to get out to Oshiage (think Skytree again), Mita, the booksville that is Jimbocho, Suidobashi or Nerima (among other areas). You can also ride on the only streetcar left in Tokyo, the Toden Arakawa Line, which can take you from East Ikebukuro to Zoshigaya (home to Kishimojindo Temple), Waseda and a few other random destinations. Unless your accommodation is on a Toei Line though, you’ll likely get better value out of a pure Metro pass.

If you’re not going to be using the metro, it’s better to go for the ¥700 Toei One-Day Economy Pass (toei marugoto kippu), which gives you full use of Toei subways, Toei buses, the Toei Streetcar (Toden) Arakawa Line, and the Nippori-Toneri Liner.

Where to get it

You can buy the ticket online (above), or in person. The advance ones are sold at Tokyo Metro Commuter Pass Offices and on-the-day ones can be bought at ticket machines in Metro or Toei Line stations.

Commuters at Shinjuku Station
A quiet day | Photo by iStock.com/bennymarty

One of the better-value day passes, the Tokunai Pass costs ¥760 and gives you unlimited access to local and rapid JR trains within the 23 wards of Tokyo. This cover 5 lines: The Yamanote, the JR Yokohama Line, the Keihin-Tohoku Line, Chuo-Sobu Lines and the Rapid Chuo (up to a certain point).

What to do with it

While some of the lines extend to exciting destinations like Yokohama, you have to remain within the 23 wards, but that’s not exactly limiting. To make the most of the Yamanote you can practically use the trainline as a sightseeing schedule, visiting spots like Shibuya, Shinjuku, Harajuku, Ueno, Akihabara, Ikebukuro, Shinagawa and Tokyo Station. The other four lines offer spots like Ryogoku (home of Sumo) and Koenji (home of hipsters) along with plenty of smaller ‘local’ feeling stations.

Where to get it

Pick one up at the reserved-seat ticket machines at stations, JR ticket offices (those midori-no-madoguchi spots) or JR’s travel service centers.

Tokyo “Free Kippu”

Also known as the Tokyo Combination Ticket or Tokyo Tour Ticket, this is almost NEVER a good deal. The one-day pass costs ¥1,590 and gives you access to the Tokyo Metro, Toei Subway, Toei Streetcar (Toden), most Toei buses, the Nippori-Toneri Liner, and all JR lines within the Tokyo metropolitan area. Seems great at first glance, but it’s unlikely that you’ll be doing that much traveling in a single day. Our advice? Opt for one of the other passes.

Toei Bus One-Day Pass

A Toei Bus pulls over during the Sanja Matsuri in Asakusa
Buses are cheap and convenient, except when they have to traverse a festival | Photo by Gregory Lane

For ¥500, you can get a Toei Bus One-Day Pass—which is great if you’re planning on busing up and down Tokyo, but not all that useful otherwise. Considering that a single trip on the bus usually costs ¥210, and a return ¥420, you need to be making more than one round-trip for this pass to be worthwhile. Most tourists tend to rely on trains more than buses.

However, cool things about the pass include: You can use it for unlimited travel within Tokyo’s 23 wards (you can get off at every stop if you feel like it), you can buy a pass on the bus or in advance, and you can load it onto your PASMO card. Also, it has a great slogan—”Feel the life of Japanese on the bus!” and who can say no to that?

Other passes

JR Pass exchange order
Photo by Carey Finn

While the tickets above are great for days of sightseeing, there are plenty of others for more specific needs, like airport travel or local lines.

Airport Combination Tickets

There are various other combo passes and discount tickets, including a ¥1,080 pass that gets you from Haneda Airport into the city on the Keikyu Line and throws in a Toei and Tokyo Metro One-day Economy Pass too, and a Keisei Skyliner and Tokyo Subway 24-hour ticket for those coming in from Narita, for ¥2,840. You can find more details here. While you’re at it, you might want to explore other cheap ways to get from Haneda Airport to Tokyo and Narita Airport to Tokyo.

Local Line Tickets

The Rinkai Line 1-Day Ticket, Yurikamome One-Day Pass, Setagaya Line Explorer Ticket and the Tokyu Line Minatomirai Ticket are viable options if you are exploring slightly less central parts of the prefecture. Look for these and other discount passes when buying tickets at station vending machines.

Extended Tickets

If you’re looking for longer-use passes like the 5-day JR Pass, give this article of ours a read. We also have information on the discount Seishun-18 ticket and how to use it. This subway navigation guide might come in handy—and so might this map of the subway by walking times (no pass required, just a sturdy pair of shoes).

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