How To Survive Tokyo Rush Hour

Thinking about taking a trip to Tokyo, Japan? Travelling by train is often the best and fastest way to get around the city, but during peak times they can be downright scary. Here are tips on surviving those rush hour trains.

tokyo rush hour

Look up train times

When in Tokyo, you easily get used to the fact that you have a train pretty much every 5 minutes. The result of this is that you never look up the train hours and that you just take the first train that comes by. This is usually no problem when you take the train in the middle of the day, but if you really have no choice but to take the train during dreadful rush hour, be sure to look up the train times (google maps is your best friend). This lets you see whether the train is a rapid express, rapid, express, semi-express or local train. My advice here is if you have more time on your hands, take the local. It will make a lot more stops but not as many people take this train and you will be less cramped and more likely to have a spot to sit (or at least comfortably stand). If you need to get somewhere fast, try to get a rapid-express or rapid train. It will be very full (understatement of the year) but you have to endure it only for a very short while.

tokyo rush hour - how it's done

Stay hydrated

This one’s a sleeper tip… but hydration is key! The trains are so full that you often get pressed against the window and even then will they STILL put on the heater. The air gets really dry and you pretty much hate your life because of the heat. Don’t forget to always have a water bottle with you so you can stay hydrated and you can cool down a bit.

tokyo rush hour - drink

Have something sweet with you

Bring something sweet with you on the train. This could be a banana, a cookie, protein bar, anything… just something to level up your blood sugar if ever in any case you start to feel dizzy or nauseous on the train. It’s easy and common to pass out because of the heat.

tokyo rush hour - food

Go earlier or leave later

If I have class in the morning and I have to take a train at rush hour, I always try to leave a lot earlier than I should. I know this might seem hard (especially when you’re trying to wake up at 6am), but I think it’s worth it when trying to avoid those packed trains every morning. You’ll arrive earlier at Uni and you can work on assignments or review notes before class. In the long run it’ll help with your productivity as well!

tokyo rush hour - early


This is no joke. If you get the chance before or whilst getting on the train, try to take off your coat, gloves, scarves… anything extra really. It gets SO hot on the train; you’ll thank me later. And also, just so you don’t bump into anyone or have to put your bag on the dirty floor, wear your backpack in the front (on your belly). Sure, you might think it looks ridiculous at first, but if you look around, a lot of other Japanese people do it as well and after a while you won’t even think twice about it anymore. This trick helps prevent pickpockets too!

Beware of aggressive grannies

In Tokyo… when you take trains… if you want to get a seat… you’ll need to fight. I’m not even speaking specifically of rush hour trains right now. Japanese people, especially grannies, will not hesitate to push and/or tackle you to get a seat. If you’re like me and don’t really need a seat, just hang back and let the pushers go through the crowd.

Hoped this helped you guys! If you have any other tips on how to survive rush hour, be sure to leave a comment!

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Hanna B

Hanna is a 22 year old Japanese Studies student who majored in Japanese literature in Tokyo, Japan last year. She founded her blog,, where she documents her travels and daily life in Japan. In her spare time she loves to read and write. She also has a big passion for food and fashion.

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