Where to Stay in Tokyo With a Japan Rail Pass

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If you are planning to use a Japan Rail Pass to travel in Tokyo you then need to plan ahead to decide where to stay in Tokyo to get best use out of your JR Pass.

For Japan Rail Pass users, the best option is to ensure you book accommodation which is in close proximity to a station on the JR Yamanote Line, which travels in a circle around Tokyo and provides good access to many tourist attractions.

Below is a quick overview of the Japan Rail lines in Tokyo and the best areas to stay to make the most of your visit to Tokyo.

Join the Japan Travel Planning Facebook Group

You are also welcome to join our Japan Travel Planning Facebook Group – it is a great resource to enable you to ask questions about your upcoming trip to Japan!

Japan Travel Planning Facebook Group

Disclaimer:  This article contains affiliate links.  If you book after clicking on one of these links then we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Is a Japan Rail Pass Worth It to Travel Around Tokyo?

The first decision you need to make is whether you plan to purchase a Japan Rail Pass for your Japan trip, as this will guide your subsequent choices.  You may like to check out our detailed Japan Rail Pass article to learn more about what is a Japan Rail Pass and how to use it for your trip.

If you only plan to visit Tokyo then DO NOT purchase a Japan Rail Pass – they are only worthwhile if you plan to travel inter city on the shinkansen (bullet train) or other inter city trains!

Japan Rail Passes come with either a 7, 14 or 21 day validity period, and can be used to travel on local Japan Rail trains in cities and towns across Japan, intercity Japan Rail trains such as the shinkansen or bullet train, plus a selection of additional services. They are good value where you are planning to do at least two shinkansen trip, for example, Tokyo to Kyoto and return is a good value option.

Japan Rail Pass
Japan Rail Pass

A Japan Rail Pass will enable you to travel on most (but not all) JR shinkansen (bullet trains) and local JR trains in Japan. However, there are a lot of other train companies in Tokyo and Japan for which you will not be able to use a JR pass. Therefore even if you purchase a JR pass you should also plan to purchase an Suica or Pasmo tap on tap off IC card or pass to use on most other transport services in both Tokyo and across Japan.

For Japan Rail Pass users, the best option is to ensure you book accommodation which is in close proximity to a station on the JR Yamanote Line, which travels in a circle around Tokyo and provides good access to many tourist attractions.  If you stay close to the three main cross line stations, Tokyo Station, Akihabara Station or Shinjuku Station then you will maximise your access to the train lines detailed below which will make it easier to get around Tokyo.

Click here to check out how to purchase your Japan Rail Pass through Klook

Overview of Japan Rail Lines in Tokyo

Akihabara Street View
Akihabara Street View

In Tokyo the main JR lines you will use as a tourist are as detailed below.

JR Yamanote Loop Line

The JR Yamanote Line is a loop line around Tokyo with very regular services which will enable you to access most popular tourist areas. The map below will give you a better idea of the JR Yamanote Line route around central Tokyo.

The shinkansen and other inter-city train departure points from Tokyo are located at Tokyo Station, Shinjuku Station, Shinagawa Station and Ueno Station.

Central Tokyo Accommodation Options

Central Tokyo includes many great areas to visit and in the map above can be seen in the red and yellow markers.  Tokyo Station is located in Chiyoda and most travellers will pass through there during their visit, or to catch a shinkansen from Tokyo to elsewhere.  To the west of Tokyo Station is the Imperial Palace and Gardens.

Chuo is to the east of Tokyo Station and includes the luxury shopping area of Ginza.  Slightly further away is the famous Tsukiji Fish Market.

Sushi Zanmi Restaurant in Tsukiji
Sushi Zanmi Restaurant in Tsukiji

Click here to check out accommodation options near Tokyo Station through either Booking.com or AirBnB

Also in Chiyoda is the famous area of Akihabara which is to the north of Tokyo Station.  Akihabara is the home of electronics stores, maid cafes, anime, manga and geek sub-culture.

Click here to check out accommodation options near Akihabara Station through Booking.com or AirBnB

Akihabara Maid Cafe Experience
Booking.com

Northern Tokyo Accommodation Options

North of Tokyo also includes many great areas to visit. Sumida is the famous home of sumo wrestling in Tokyo, with the centrepiece being the Ryogoku Kokugikan stadium.  Close by are the Edo Tokyo Museum and Tokyo Skytree.

Sumo Throwdown!
Sumo Throwdown!

Taito is just over the river to the west from Sumida, and includes the historic Asakusa district which is centred upon the Sensoji Buddhist shrine. 

Nakamise Dori is the very popular shopping and food street leading up to Sensoji Temple
Nakamise Dori is the very popular shopping and food street leading up to Sensoji Temple
Sensoji Temple in Asakusa at Night
Sensoji Temple in Asakusa at Night

Travelling west through the Kappabashui food shopping area you arrive at popular Ueno Park which is a well known location to enjoy the cherry blossom season.  Ueno Park also includes Ueno Zoo, the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, the Tokyo National Museum and the National Science Museum.

Sakura Season in Ueno Park

Click here to check out accommodation options near Ueno Station through Booking.com or AirBnB

Moving further to the west you come to the home of Japanese baseball at the Tokyo Dome which is located in Bunkyo, with Ikebukuru located further to the north west.

Yomiuri Giants Baseball Game in the Tokyo Dome - Pretraveller
Yomiuri Giants Baseball Game in the Tokyo Dome – Pretraveller

Click here to check out accommodation options near Ikebukuro Station through Booking.com or AirBnB

Western Tokyo Accommodation Options

Shinjuku is the home to Tokyo’s main business district and major skyscrapers, which includes the publicly accessible Tokyo Metropolitan Building with a short detour to the crazy Robot Restaurant.  Around the Shinjuku area are many bars and restaurants, as well as the main red light district (Kabuki-cho) and gay bar district (Shinjuku No-chome).

Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku Tokyo
Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku Tokyo

JR Chuo Line to Shinjuku

The JR Chuo Line goes from Tokyo Station to the west, and is a faster option to travel more directly to Shinjuku Station, and also to travel further west to Nakano Station where you can visit Nakano Broadway and also Kichijoji Station or Mitaka Station to visit the Ghibli Museum.

Click here to check out accommodation options near Shinjuku Station through Booking.com or AirBnB

On the Rooftop of the Ghibli Museum
On the Rooftop of the Ghibli Museum

Between Shinjuku and Shibuya is Harajuku, which attracts anyone interested in cutting edge fashion and the home of weird cafes.  Takeshita Street is another popular Harajuku experience to check out the fashions and unique Japanese food options.

You can visit Yoyogi Park to the west of Harajuku Station on Sundays to see the locals dressing up in amazing fashions and cosplay!  The famous Meiju Jingo Shrine is right beside Yoyogi Park. 

Takeshita Street in Harajuku
Takeshita Street in Harajuku

Shibuya is to the south of Shinjuku and Harajuku and has the very popular Shibuya Crossing outside Shibuya Station which is one of the busiest pedestrian crossings in the world.  There are several vantage points to best view the stream of people which are detailed further below!  Shibuya is also well known for its nightlife, which includes many karaoke bars, pubs and ramen shops.

Tokyo Ramen
Tokyo Ramen

Check out our great partner Tokyo Family Stays who offer a great range of licenced family friendly options near Shibuya and Harajuku Station.  Use coupon code PRETRAVELLER to get a 5% discount.

Click here to check out accommodation options near Shibuya Station through Booking.com or AirBnB

Southern Tokyo Accommodation Options

The well known Tokyo Tower is located close to Roppongi Station, and the Roppongi Hills centre is a mecca for shoppers in Tokyo, with an amazing number of shops, entertainment and restaurants.  The Roppongi nightlife is well known with most nightclubs being open to the early hours of the morning.  Roppongi is also a home for weird cafes.

Odaiba is a newly created part of Tokyo which has been built on a man made island in Tokyo Bay which is connected.  Odaiba has many futuristic buildings and attractions, including museums and massive themed shopping malls.  You can also catch a boat-restaurant from Hinode Pier to Odaiba to enjoy the view.

Click here to check out accommodation options near Hamamatsucho Station through Booking.com or AirBnB

Tokyo Monorail

The Tokyo Monorail runs from Haneda Airport to Hamamatsucho Station, and is included in your JR Pass. At Hamamatsucho Station you can easily transfer to the JR Yamanote Line.

Eastern Tokyo Accommodation Options

The JR Keiyo Line goes from Tokyo Station east to the Tokyo Disney Resort Area, you travel to Maihama Station to enter the resort area where you will have to separately purchase tickets to use the Disney Monorail Loop line.

Disneyland Tokyo Star Wars Precinct
Disneyland Tokyo Star Wars Precinct
Disneyland Tokyo Castle
Disneyland Tokyo Castle

Click here to check out accommodation options near Tokyo Disney Resort/Maihama Station through Booking.com and AirBnB

Booking.com

Narita Express

The Narita Express train runs from Narita Airport to Tokyo Station, Shinjuku Station, Shibuya Station and Shinagawa Station and is included in your JR Pass. Different Narita Express trains will have different arrival stations, so ensure you check the destination before boarding to ensure you only need to use a single train.

Join the Japan Travel Planning Facebook Group

You are also welcome to join our Japan Travel Planning Facebook Group – it is a great resource to enable you to ask questions about your upcoming trip to Japan!

Japan Travel Planning Facebook Group

Disclaimer:  This article contains affiliate links.  If you book after clicking on one of these links then we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

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