Best Way to Travel Tokyo on a Budget

​“I’m going to Japan so I better order my JR Pass,” says most people. But, if you’re playing Tokyoite for a week or a year there’s a much better, cheaper way.

                                          

                                         Photo Credit: www.jrpass.net

I’m going to let you in on a little secret that even most locals don’t know about and that guide books and travel agents probably won’t be telling you.

I lived in Funabashi, a city in the prefecture of Chiba, just 30 minutes from Tokyo famous geek paradise, Akihabara. While there are plenty of fun things to do in the area, sometimes you just want to hop on the train and cruise into the city. But, before we can start cruising we need to go over a few basics.

So, JR stands for Japan Railway, the famous, clean, and efficient choice form of transportation in Japan. But, it’s also the most expensive. Currently, a JR pass costs around $250- $800, depending on how long you’re staying and is only available to people on a 90 day tourist visa. Meaning, if you live and work in Japan you can’t use it. If you plan on stepping out of the Kanto region, where Tokyo is located and head to places like Aomori, Nagano, and Kyoto then it may be worth your while because you can take certain bullet trains to those destinations, but that’s not always necessary either. More on that in future posts.

While you’re in the station, it’s hard to miss other logos gracing the walls and signs. One of them is for the Tokyo Metro, Tokyo’s subway system. Kind of like New York City’s Metro system and London’s Underground. It’s just as efficient and clean as the JR system, but can significantly reduce costs. It also takes you within walking distance of any of the big, fancy JR stations. The only catch is that in Tokyo it’s mostly underground and thus, not very scenic. If you venture outside of Tokyo proper, like to Nishi-Funabashi station in Chiba, where you can pick up the JR lines to go to Tokyo Disneyland and Disneysea, it does travel above ground. But, once you’ve traveled from the airport to your Tokyo hotel, you’re really just looking at buildings and the occasional views of Skytree and Tokyo Tower.

                         Tokyo Metro Logo Photo Credit: tokyometro.jp

Okay, great. Now that you know about the basics, let’s move on to getting the:

                                          Tokyo Metro 24 Hour Pass

You will need:

1) A Suica (green)  or Pasmo (pink) card. You can get these fare cards  at the airport where English speaking  staff can help you buy one.

2) A Tokyo Metro machine. Once you’re in Tokyo, look for machines with icon shown above.  Luckily for us English speakers, these machines have an English capability.

3) Purchase a Tokyo Metro 24 Hour Pass for ¥600 (adult) ¥300 (child) (as of this post). This magical pass will give you unlimited rides for a complete 24 hours, whereas a day pass is only good until midnight of the day you buy it. Or you can buy them in advance.

For example, if you buy a pass today, February 12, 2017 at 11 A.M. your pass will be good until 11 A.M. on February 13, 2017. It’ll cover all of those late night karaoke and/or drinking sessions with your new Japanese friends and get you back to your hotel to take a nap and start your next adventure.

               

          Photo Credit: http://www.tokyometro.jp/en/ticket/value/1day/

                                           How to Buy The Pass

1) Hit the English button.

2) Press “Value Tickets” in the sidebar on the left-hand side.

3) Select “24 Hour Ticket”.

4) Select “Receipt” if you want one and pay.

5) Take your printed pass and receipt, if you requested one.

                                              How to Use The Pass

1)      Go to the turnstile and put it through the slot.   
2)    Once it takes it walk through.

3)   Don’t forget to grab the pass out of the other side quickly, or it will keep the pass.

* You’re probably wondering why you need a Suica or Pasmo card if you have this beautiful, lovely pass. The Suica or Pasmo card is so that you can seamlessly go from using the Tokyo Metro system to the JR system and visa versa. When you switch systems, insert the 24 Hour Pass and tap your Suica card at the same time. Don’t forget to take your pass because it’s still usable during the 24 hour period no matter how many times you switch systems.

A few notes:

* Pay careful attention to the logos you see at the turnstiles. Tokyo Metro isn’t the only subway system running. If you see a Keio or Toei logo and no Metro logo then head in another direction because the pass won’t work. Using these systems via your Suica or Pasmo card is still cheaper than JR, though.

* Also, when you want to buy a Metro pass, you MUST be at a Tokyo Metro station. Some JR stations have turnstiles connecting directly to the subway but once you go through them you can’t buy a pass because there are no ticket machines. You must exit JR or any other stations through the turnstile and how to the entrance of the Tokyo Metro line.
You may be thinking, “Great! Now I can use the train but how do I know the schedule and where the stations are?” Living in this fantastic technological era, the answer is simple! Google Maps! “But how do I access Google Maps without being at my hotel or connected to Wi-Fi?” Using your smart phones of course! 

Find out how to stay connected from anywhere in Japan in the next post from Sweets and Geeks’ “Weekends in Japan”! Follow me so you don’t miss it! Also, check out my Instagram for cool sweet and geeky content! instagram.com/sweetsandgeeks

For more information about:

JR: jrpass.net

Tokyo Metro: www.tokyometro.jp

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