Tokyo’s extensive rail network includes JR lines, a subway system and private commuter lines that depart in every direction for the suburbs, like spokes on a wheel. Journeys that require transfers between lines run by different operators cost more than journeys that use only one operator's lines. Major transit hubs include Tokyo, Shinagawa, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro and Ueno Stations. Trains arrive and depart precisely on time and are generally clean and pleasant, though they get uncomfortably crowded during rush hours.
The JR network covers the whole country and includes the shinkansen (bullet train). In Tokyo, the above-ground Yamanote (loop) and the Chūō–Sōbu (central) lines are the most useful. Tickets start at ¥133 and go up depending on how far you travel.
Tokyo has 13 subway lines, nine of which are operated by Tokyo Metro (www.tokyometro.jp) and four by Toei (www.kotsu.metro.tokyo.jp). The lines are colour-coded, making navigation fairly simple. Unfortunately a transfer ticket is required to change between the two; a Pasmo or Suica card makes this process seamless, but either way a journey involving more than one operator comes out costing slightly more. Rides on Tokyo Metro cost ¥170 to ¥240 (¥90 to ¥120 for children) and on Toei ¥180 to ¥320 (¥90 to ¥160 for children), depending on how far you travel.
Private commuter lines service some of the hipper residential neighbourhoods. Useful trains:
Keiō Inokashira line From Shibuya for Shimo-Kitazawa and Kichijōji.
Odakyū line From Shinjuku for Shimo-Kitazawa.
Tōkyū-Tōyoko line From Shibuya for Daikanyama and Naka-Meguro.
Note that the commuter lines run tokkyū (特急; limited-express services), kyūkō (急行; express) and futsū (普通; local) trains, which can be a little confusing.
Groping does sometimes occur on crowded trains. Most Tokyo train lines have women-only carriages at peak times. These are marked with signs (usually pink) in Japanese and English. Children can ride in them, too.
Hub stations have lockers in several sizes and cost from ¥200 to ¥600. Storage is good for 24 hours, after which your bags will be removed and taken to the station office.
Most train stations have toilets, almost all of which are free of charge and have toilet paper (though not always soap and towels).
Larger stations have dedicated lost-and-found windows (labelled in English); otherwise lost items are left with the station attendant. Items not claimed on the same day will be handed over to the operator's lost-and-found centre. Items not claimed after several days are turned over to the police.
Tokyo Metro Lost & Found Office located inside Iidabashi Station on the Namboku line.
If you're planning a packed day, you might consider getting an unlimited-ride ticket.
Tokyo Subway Ticket Good for unlimited rides on both Tokyo Metro and Toei subway lines for 24 (¥800), 48 (¥1200) or 72 (¥1500) hours; half-price for children. This pass is only available to foreign travellers on a tourist visa; for more information and sales points see www.tokyometro.jp.
Tokyo Metro One-Day Open Ticket (adult/child ¥600/300) Unlimited rides over a 24-hour period on Tokyo Metro subway lines only. Purchase at any Tokyo Metro station; no restrictions apply.
Tokyo Wide Pass (adult/child ¥10,000/5000) Valid for three consecutive days of unlimited travel on JR limited-express trains between Tokyo, Nikkō, Kofu (near Mt Fuji), Ito and Narita Airport. From Ito, on the Izu Peninsula, you can continue on the Izu Kyūkō line free of charge to Shimoda, at the tip of the peninsula. The Tokyo Wide Pass is also good for the Jōetsu Shinkansen as far as Echigo-Yuzawa (and to ski resort Gala Yuzawa in winter) and the Tohoku Shinkansen as far as Nasu-Shiobara.
This is a great deal if you want to do a string of day trips. Purchase at any JR Travel Service Centre; this pass is restricted to foreign passport holders, but does not require you to be visiting on a tourist visa. For more details, see www.jreast.co.jp/e/tokyowidepass.