Tokyo Station The Cities Central Transportation Hub

Tokyo Station is one of the biggest and most-used stations in the whole of Japan.

When it comes to getting around Tokyo as well as traveling around the rest of the country the chances are that you are going to pass thru or transfer at Tokyo Station.

The station is home to bullet trains (shinkansen) as well as local trains, so you will see the station is always full of people in large crowds.

For a lot of different train lines, Tokyo Station is the zero mile marker. So, even if you are not traveling to that station itself you may still pass thru it on your journeys in Japan.

If your in central Tokyo and heading out of it then you’ll most likely begin your journey here.

About Tokyo Station

The station was originally built in 1914 as a way to connect the main city to many other locations across the country. The station was built to consist of two sections: the west-facing side (toward Marunouchi) and the east-facing side (toward Yaesu). 

The original station consisted of four platforms which were home to two electric and two non-electric trains.

Unfortunately, most of the station was destroyed by air bombing during a raid in 1945. The domes and the third floor of the station were all destroyed in the raid. The city quickly rebuilt the station within just one year, however, they limited it to two floors and replaced the impressive domes with angled roofs. 

In 1949 the east-facing side was once against destroyed but this time by an internal fire. It was rebuilt to have a much more updated design and this is reflected in the modern look of the station.

Aerial View Of Tokyo Station

Even if you are not sure which side is which they can be told apart thanks to their difference in appearance. The west-facing side of Tokyo Station has been restored back to a much more traditional look, honoring the historical aspect of the train station. However, the east-facing side of the station is much more modern in its look.

In recent years the train station has undergone significant expansions to make it one of the biggest transportation hubs in Japan today.

The west-facing side was completed in 2012 and particular attention was paid to the traditional facade as well as recreating the original domes.

The station is enormous and is often very confusing to tourists and those unfamiliar with the layout. In addition to the multiple platforms and tracks, there is also a large number of shops and restaurants both to provide a point of interest in the station and to let travelers buy everything that they need for their trip.

Train lines

Within the station, there are multiple lines run by several companies. It is important that you check ahead of time which platform your train will be departing from as some of the bullet trains will reach out far into the countryside in a rapid amount of time.

To give you a hand here is a list of all of the different lines that run from Tokyo Station.

JR east operates the following lines:

  • Tohoku Shinkansen
  • Yamagata Shinkansen
  • Akita Shinkansen
  • Joetsu Shinkansen
  • Hokuriku Shinkansen
  • Hokkaido Shinkansen
  • Tokaido main
  • Ueno-Tokyo
  • Keihin-Tohoku
  • Yamanote
  • Chuo main
  • Sobu main
  • Yokosuka
  • Keiyo
Shinkansen at Tokyo Station Platform

JR central operates the following line:

  • Tokaido Shinkansen

Tokyo central has the following line:

  • Marunouchi 

In addition to these lines, you can also reach the following metro stations from Tokyo Station by using the underground walkways:

  • Otemachi
  • Nijubashimae
  • Hibiya
  • Yurakucho
  • Ginza
  • Higashi-ginza

As well as many train lines, Tokyo Station is also home to a major bus terminal, with both day and overnight bus services available.

Things to see and do

You can very easily spend an entire day in Tokyo Station. There are so many different things to see and do such as go shopping, eat at a restaurant or cafe and even try out some of the many shops to explore. So, here we’ll give you a list of the best things to see and do.

Japan rail cafe

This cafe was the first of its type of open in Japan and is very new, opening only in 2020. You can find this cafe next to Yaesu Central Gate. Here you can find food and drink as well as information about your journey and the different tickets. 

Japan Rail Cafe at Tokyo Station Official Website

Here you can exchange your rail ticket or buy a new one. There are many interactive screens at Japan rail cafe, telling you information about travel and points of interest. You can even connect your phone to the screens to use them interactively via the mouse. 

The cafe serves delicious food from all over Japan both as food to be enjoyed in the company of friends as well as bento boxes as a quick option for those on the go. You can purchase both non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages

Within the cafe, there is also a traditional area with a tatami mat. You can take commemorative pictures here with family and friends. 

If you are looking to top up your IC card, a rechargeable card that allows you to pay contactless for tickets and purchases in shops, then you can do this at Japan rail cafe.

Ecbo cloak

If you have just arrived at Tokyo Station, or you are very early for your train, then the last thing you will want to have to do is to lug around your suitcase while trying to enjoy everything that the station has on offer. This is why Ecbo cloak is such a handy service as it lets you leave your luggage securely.

Ecbo cloak Official Website

The service requires a reservation and is prepaid. This can be done via their website. You can even opt to leave your luggage there for multiple days, making this a great option for those on multiple short-stay trips.

The gallery

One thing that Tokyo Station has that most other train stations in the world do not is an art gallery. You can find the Tokyo Station Gallery in the northern dome of the station in the Marunouchi section. 

This gallery consists of three different floors and is home to temporary installations and pieces on display. In addition, you can also see the original architecture and brickwork of the station.

Tokyo Station Gallery Official Website

Tokyo Station Hotel

Founded in 1915, the Tokyo Station Hotel was opened to the public just one year after the station itself. The hotel offers its luxury services to clients and can be found within the Marunouchi building.

The hotel has 150 rooms in total for guests and has European-style rooms and suites. In addition to the guest rooms, the hotel also has ten different restaurants and bars and spa and gym facilities. 

Tokyo Station Hotel Official Website

Some of the guest rooms face Tokyo Station and allow you to truly get an appreciation for the architecture of the building, such as the domes.

The service and attention to detail in this hotel are incredible and the staff will do their best to accommodate any requests that their guests may have.

One great way to see how much effort the hotel puts into making their guests happy is by looking at the door-to-door porter service available for travelers using the Narita Express arriving from Narita airport.

Tokyo Station Hotel Via Tripadvisor reviews and booking

Outside of the train station

If you have the time to venture just a little bit outside of Tokyo Station then there are many things to see and do just a stone’s throw from the platforms. Some of these include iconic skyscrapers such as the Marunouchi building, the Shin-Marunouchi Building, and the Japan Post Tower KITTE. 

KITTE Shopping mall official website

KITTE shopping mall in Tokyo In front of JR Tokyo Station’s Marunouchi South Gate

Here you will find more shops and restaurants if those inside the station aren’t enough for an afternoon shopping and spend more time exploring. You can also experience the outside of the buildings from the terraces.

If you have a bit more time on your hands then consider a visit to the Imperial Palace and the east garden. The garden is free to enter but in order to get into the palace, you will need to have booked your ticket in advance. 

Imperial Palace Grounds

Imperial Palace Official Website

Although there is much more to see and do around Tokyo station these should give you a little insight into just how interesting Tokyo is and how much there is to explore.

Conclusion

Whether you are heading to Tokyo as a tourist on holiday or you live in the central Tokyo area there is so much to see and do at Tokyo Station.

So, you will often see locals meeting up there to go shopping or out for a meal. If you are looking for a place to relax then the many nearby hotels offers spa services or you can choose to sit down to eat in one of the many restaurants available.

If you are a history fanatic then consider a trip to the Tokyo Station Gallery where you will be able to appreciate not only the temporary exhibitions on offer but also the original brickwork of the station as well as learn a little bit more about its history.

JR Pass Official Website

If you have time to explore the city for a day or more, then you can drop your bags off at the checked luggage location (assuming that you have booked and paid for your place in advance) and make your way out into the city. A great way to explore Tokyo and beyond is the JR Pass.

Virtual Tour Of Tokyo Station

MT Lee
My fascination with Japan began several years back at a roadside bonsai stand while on vacation. I became more interested in the where and why's more than the trees themselves. My love of Bonsai led me to further research my interest in the gardens where they originated from and the places and people that surrounded those little trees. My curiosity was well rewarded upon visiting Saitama where the National Bonsai Museum was located and Omiya Village the bonsai mecca for lovers of this ancient art form. Exploring many towns and villages and even making my way to Japan's furthest southern prefecture of Okinawa. I hope to share my love of this wonderful and exotic place with all those who want to know more about Japan.