Tokyo is a huge city and figuring out how to get around can be quite daunting at first glance. However, have no fear, there are a few things you can do to help you prepare and plan properly to not only get around the city, but also make every minute count at the same time.
The first thing is to know where your hotel is and where the train stations are. Once you have done that, you can then map out how far everything is, how long it will take to get there, and then of course, which trains and stops you will be using to get there. This all seems like basic knowledge, but it can be overlooked. Using Google can do a lot of the work for you as it has a great map system that shows the station numbers and rail lines that run to each station, making it easier to figure out where you want to go. The key is to do your research ahead of time.
Next is to study and know your local stations and the ones you will use not only to get to your destination, but also to get back to your hotel. This again means using Google, noting the station names, names of the train systems themselves, and then of course how many stops it will take you to get around. Other sites like Tokyometro.jp and others are also great resources when researching the train lines and stations.
Another key is to know what times the trains stop running or begin in the morning. This can help you avoid either getting involved with the early morning rush or late night for the last trains. Always keep that in mind!
Next is to have some back up plans. What happens if a rail line is busy or down for some reason? It is good to have back-up plans like how to use taxis and such to get around. Also make sure to have plans in case you are not able to get to things you want to see. If there is bad weather, you are tired and don’t want to travel too far, or just want to travel to another spot, making sure you can adjust and adapt to everything.
Which leaves me with some one final bit of advice, leave plenty of travel time and exploring time when you build an agenda. You will want to have plenty of time to see everything but also have enough time to travel to everything without having to stress out too much if you have any kind of reservations or tours booked. While trains and shuttles run on time throughout Tokyo, you will have to account for people. There are large crowds and a lot of different roads that can get confusing (most Japanese streets in Tokyo do not have street names), so you may get a little turned around when exploring, so have that figured out. If you think something will take just a half hour or so to visit, leave an hour of cushion time in order to see it and help avoid overbooking yourself.