How to Navigate Transport in Tokyo

Most big cities can be a bit overwhelming to navigate, but Tokyo’s fast-paced vibe takes confusing transport to a whole new level! The first-time (or second or third-time) visitor to the city can feel a bit lost in the whirlwind of people and motion. But never fear! You’ll find that the system is an efficient, well-oiled machine. Getting around in Tokyo isn’t horrible, especially if you know a few tricks. Read on for travel advice that will make navigating Tokyo fun and stress-free. 

Tokyo by Car

It is better to skip a rental car when visiting Tokyo, since the public transport system is efficient and less of headache. However, you may need a car, especially if you’re taking trips out of the city. 

If you do get a car, you probably will not be able to use your license from home. You will need to get an International Drivers Permit (IDP). These are obtainable in your home country. You will need to get it before you head to Japan. 

Driving in Japan is a bit different than driving in many other countries. You drive on the left, and some signs are different than those you are used to. Do your homework before you go.  

Tokyo by Taxi

Navigating Tokyo by taxi is perhaps the simplest way to go, although it’s not the cheapest! Taxis are everywhere in Tokyo, so you won’t have trouble finding one when you need it. All taxis have signage indicating whether or not they are free, and these days, many of those signs are in English. You can always learn to recognize the Japanese characters for “free” and “occupied,” however. 

All taxis cost a fare determined by a meter, and the taxi drivers are known for being trustworthy. They one problem you may have with taxi drivers is the issue of giving driving directions, since most do not speak English. Unless you speak Japanese, it is helpful to print out your destination’s name in Japanese. 

Tokyo by Train

Many Tokyo natives rely on the train system to get around the city. After all, who needs a car when you have a fast, dependable, and affordable train system at your disposal? Live like a local when you visit, and you won’t have to worry about parking and or trying to understand the road rules.  

To use the train, you must purchase tickets at a machine in the station. They do not take credit cards! Bring cash. The tickets aren’t too confusing, since most are in English as well as Japanese, but you might find it easier to get a train pass if you’re going to be around for a few days. Whether you rent a car, take taxis, or rely on the trains, you won’t find that it’s too difficult to navigate Tokyo! All you need to do is do a little prep—get an IDP, learn a few Japanese characters, or remember cash—and you’ll be set to go. Enjoy your trip to the city!

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