Underground at Ueno-Hirokoji Station

People frequently ask me about navigating the trains and subways in Tokyo. It can be a daunting task. The important thing to do is to prepare properly. First, you should know the area you are interested in, you should know which train or subway lines are in the area and what the stations are called. You should have a map or atlas of the area or at least an idea of where you’re at.

In this example, I took some shots in the underground Ueno-Hirokoji and Ueno-Okachimachi station complex. One common thing to all underground station areas in Tokyo are the signs. Most signs in the Tokyo area are bilingual so you can usually read them without difficulty, as you can see from these examples.

It is important to look for the yellow (and sometimes white) sign-age in any station once you emerge from a train or subway. In bigger stations they usually have a neighborhood map. The signs will usually designate points of interest, landmarks, neighborhood names and in the case of subway or train platforms, the distance in meters.


Typical sign-age in the subway. In this case, I was directly below Kasuga Dori between Matsuzakaya and Yoshiike department stores, near the south end of Ameyoko.


Moving closer to Okachimachi, this area intersects more passageways to other exits.


This is a very typical underground passageway that is connecting various subway lines.

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