Tokyo Metro unveils subway navigation app for visitors

by Masaaki Kameda

Staff Writer

Tokyo Metro Co. is providing a free smartphone application to help foreigners navigate the capital’s subway system.

Tokyo Subway Navigation for Tourists will be available for Android phones through Google Play on Tuesday and “sometime soon” for iPhones at Apple’s App Store, Tokyo Metro spokesman Seiichi Yoneya said.

“We have heard complaints from foreign tourists that Tokyo’s network is very complicated and thus difficult to use,” Yoneya said. “The number of foreign travelers is expected to rise in light of the 2020 Summer Games. We have to offer a guide that enables them to travel the capital easily.”

The app, which also can be used offline, will tell the user how to get between two stations, including all transfer points — which tourists often find difficult to navigate.

Accessible in English, Chinese, Korean and Japanese, the app covers Tokyo Metro’s nine lines and the four lines operated by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

Station names can be entered either by typing or by touching them on a diagram of the system. Yoneya said it is Tokyo Metro’s first official multilingual transfer search app.

People will also be able to search for the nearest station to famous sightseeing spots, choosing from a list of 59 that includes Tokyo Skytree, Sensoji Temple in Asakusa and Shibuya’s “scramble crossing,” he said.

Meanwhile, Tokyo Metro and the Tokyo transportation bureau will jointly launch three new types of subway passes on April 22, called the Tokyo Subway Ticket, for tourists.

“We currently have a one-day pass at ¥1,000, but we decided to offer discount passes” for travelers’ convenience, Yoneya said.

The new passes will cost ¥800 for one day, ¥1,200 for two days and ¥1,500 for three days. Children 12 and younger can get them for half price.

They can be purchased at such places as ticket counters at Narita International Airport and Tokyo’s Haneda airport, Yoneya said.

  • Jamie Bakeridge

    So it will do what Hyperdia.com English section has been doing for the past 7 years then. What is the point of that?

  • GBR48

    I can only speak for English-speaking tourists, but they should find the Tokyo metro to be remarkably easy to navigate, particularly with the wonderful Suica card. It just takes a day to adjust to the experience. By the end of your first week you’ll have your favourite ticket gate at your local station. The official map http://www.tokyometro.jp/en/subwaymap/pdf/routemap_en.pdf is quite brilliant-every bit as good as the classic London Underground design. A version is offered as a tear-out in the Lonely Planet guides or you can just print it off: ‘Don’t leave home without it’. There are good maps for the above-ground rail network too, available on the net. Finding the right station exit can take a bit more online research of course.

    Tokyo should be extremely proud of its rail networks above and below ground, and of the staff who operate them. Armed with a map (which requires neither batteries nor WiFi) and a Suica card, Tokyo is your oyster. No prospective tourist should worry about navigating the train and metro services.

    What Tokyo really does need for 2020 are street-name signs. I’m sure there are some, but I never saw any.

  • JTCommentor

    Or you could use google maps.