Subways in Japan
In those two largest cities of Japan, many people use subway every day. The main subway users are business and school commuters. During commuting hours in the morning and evening, subway cars become packed with people. Because of huge construction and running costs of subways, they are limited only to places where there are many users. Therefore, many people use it even when it is not rush hour. Subway is unaffected by weather. It offers very quick travel as it runs in straight lines between stations. Just like Japanese railways, the subways here are also very punctual and they arrive at stations nearly always on time.
All of these make the subways a convenient means for transportation to efficiently move around the urban areas.
How to use the subway
You use the subway just like ordinary railways. You buy a ticket for the section of the subway line that you plan to travel at a ticket vending machine at station, and you insert it to the fare gate.
Recently there is a system where you can pay subway fare by just holding your IC card above a fare gate. Under this system, either of credit or pre-paid IC card can be used. As you can take JR trains and buses with this card, if you plan to frequently use public transportation during your trip, you may as well use a pre-paid IC card.
You can determine the fare to your destination from a subway route map. However, you may find the Japanese subway route map, especially that of Tokyo or Osaka, complicated, and you may have difficulties finding your station at first. Actually, that complexity shows thoroughly the subway and railroad systems cover Japanese cities.
Once you learn how to read the map, the subway will be a useful means of transportation for sure.
Station staff is generally stationed at the fare gate. If you are at a loss about how to get to your station, feel free to ask the staff. Even if they do not speak your language, they will often kindly show you how to get to your destination by gestures or with a route map.
Subway: Image Gallery