The subway in Tokyo is efficient and convenient but is quite complex. The first-time visitors might get overwhelmed by the colorful subway map showing more than 10 lines tangled like a maze. Here are some basic tips to help you use the subway lines in Tokyo.

Remember the stations in an easy way

If you don’t know the language, you might find it difficult to remember and to pronounce the names of the stations. If that’s the case, look at the signage at the station and remember 3 things instead of the station name; the line color, the line symbol, and the station number.

For example, the above photo is from Ningyocho Station. The signage at Ningyocho station indicates that this station is served by 2 lines, which are Toei Asakusa Line (“rose” circle signage) and Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line (grey circle signage.

  1. The line color
    Each line has its symbol color. For example, the color of Hibiya line is grey. The color of Asakusa line is supposed to be “rose” but it actually looks like red. Be careful as it looks the same as the red color from Marunouchi Line.
  2. The line symbol
    Each line also has an alphabetical symbol. For example, the alphabetical symbol of Hibiya line is “H.”
  3. The station number
    Each station is given a number. For example, Ningyocho station on the Hibiya line is number 13.

For the list of symbol colors and numbering, please check the Tokyo Metro website. The subway map is available in multilanguage. Tokyo Metro

Find the right exit

If you’re heading to a specific place, check the information board on the platform or near the exit to find the closest exit to your destination. Some stations have over 10 exits. Going out from a wrong exit can bring you to a completely different direction. The station staff can also help you find out the closest exit.

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Get a transfer search mobile app

Having a navigation app on your mobile is vital. There are many apps out there that will help you find the best route that matches your requirement whether that is the fastest or the cheapest. The official app provided by Tokyo Metro is free and can be used offline. With this app, you can also find the information on the stations that offer free wi-fi and the closest exit to major tourist sites. It’s available in English, Chinese (simplified and traditional,) Korean, and Japanese.

Tokyo Subway Navigation for Tourists


*Top Image: from Tokyo Metro Home Page