Amazingly, the top ten busiest train stations in the world are all in Japan. Here’s our guide to those incredible stations and the impressive numbers behind them.
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Japan’s domestic rail network has a reputation for being the best in the world. Fast, efficient, clean, safe, futuristic, comfortable - basically everything you could want from public transport. It’s also hugely popular - so much so that 45 out of the 50 busiest train stations in the world are in Japan, including the number one and the entire top ten. This is just one of the many incredible Facts about Japanese Trains! As such, travelling through these stations can be a cultural experience in itself. They are also often mega complexes packed with restaurants, shops, and more. Learning to navigate them while journeying across Japan with a JR Pass can be an art form especially for international visitors so the more preparation you do beforehand the better. This is where we come in. Let’s take a look at Japan’s busiest stations, the impressive stats and numbers behind them, and what their inner workings are like.
Top Ten Busiest Train Stations in Japan
The vast numbers of people which make Japan’s train stations the busiest in the world are also testament to the country’s world-leading domestic rail network. While the list and the passenger figures behind them are ever-changing, we’ve put together a top ten busiest list based on data over the last ten years. These stations are not only busy but can also feel confusing at first if you’re an international visitor. If you need practical help, consult our incredibly helpful Visitors Guide to Trains and Railways in Japan.
1.) Shinjuku Station - Around 3.6 millions passengers per day
The big one! The number one! The official Guinness World Record holder. Shinjuku is - and has been for several years now - the busiest train station in the world. As you can see above, it boasts quite staggering passenger numbers, has 12 different train lines running through it, 36 platforms, five different rail companies, and more than 200 entrances and exits. It’s such a huge complex that a special app was designed to help visitors navigate the station without getting lost! As the busiest railway station in the world, Shinjuku is connected to almost everywhere - about a dozen different railway lines to be exact, including the JR Yamanote Line - and is very easy to get to. Use the orange trains on the JR Chuo Line from Tokyo Station, which takes 15 minutes, or the JR Yamanote Line from Ueno Station, which takes around 25 minutes. Shinjuku is accessible via all the JR lines, making it ideal for anyone with a Japan Rail Pass.
Beyond the train station itself, vibrant and lively Shinjuku is considered one of the must-see areas of Tokyo. From glowing neon to lively nightlife, world-famous restaurants to the city’s biggest red light district, Shinjuku has a bit of everything, and is known as a vibrant, bustling entertainment hub. Highlights and landmarks include Golden Gai, the Robot Restaurant, the beautiful Shinjuku Gyoen park, the Samurai museum, the aforementioned Kabukicho red light district, countless ramen restaurants and Izakaya, and much more. It’s also one of Tokyo’s biggest shopping districts. In other words, there’s a lot to see and do in Shinjuku. Read our Travellers Guide to Shinjuku for more.
2.) Shibuya Station - Around 3 million passengers per day
A close second, Shibuya Station is also extremely busy and another major train station. Look out for the artwork by Taro Okamato and the statue of Hachiko - a loyal Japanese Akita dog who waited outside the station for his dead master for nine years - near one of the many exits. Shibuya has many other sights to offer too including the world-famous Shibuya Scramble - one of the world’s busiest intersections and road crossings for foot traffic. Every day, thousands of people ‘scramble’ across in all directions in a wonderful, chaotic pulse. There’s no doubt that walking it is a remarkable experience, but so is photographing it. Read our guide to the Best Places To Photograph The Shibuya Scramble for more.
3.) Ikebukuro Station - Around 2.5 million passengers per day
Like Shinjuku and Shibuya, Ikebukuro is in the heart of Tokyo, which likely explains its huge passenger numbers. This station is attached to major department stores such as Parco and Seibu making it an ideal place to pick up some shopping on your travels.
4.) Umeda Station - Around 2.3 million passengers per day
The first train station on the list that’s not in Tokyo, you’ll find Umeda Station in the city of Osaka. As well as having a busy train station, Umeda is a very popular and lively district. From Osaka’s tallest skyscrapers to its most spectacular landmarks, plus the very best in high-end shopping, cuisine and entertainment – it’s easy to see why Umeda is such a popular attraction. This futuristic and glamorous part of Osaka is a famous business and shopping district with iconic landmarks such as the Umeda Sky Tower and the giant Hep Five Ferris Wheel. It’s also a major transport hub for the city and the biggest business district in the Kansai region. Our Guide to Umeda: Osaka’s Glamourous Side has all you need to know.
5.) Yokohama Station - Around 2.1 million passengers per day
Japan’s second biggest city features its fifth busiest train station. Yokohama Station is part of a huge commercial, business, and shopping district and sees more than two million passengers a day travel through it. Located near the border of Tokyo and Kanagawa Prefecture, Yokohama City - despite its size - is considered to be one of Japan’s lesser known and frequented cities, at least by tourists. Much of the city’s sights relate either to its history as a trading port or the many modern touches seen along its ample waterfront. Highlights include Yokohama’s Chinatown, the largest in all of Japan, Sankeien Garden, a vast Japanese-style garden full of ponds, flowerbeds, trails, and historic buildings, and Minato Mirai Waterfront, a waterfront precinct which is the modern centre of Yokohama, featuring high-rises, shopping malls, and amusement parks.
6.) Kita-Senju Station - Around 1.5 million passengers per day
Located in Adachi, northern Tokyo, this clean and modern station is surprisingly busy and is serviced by the JR Joban Line, Tokyo Metro’s Hibiya and Chiyoda lines, and the Tsukuba Express Line. Kita Senju has a reputation for being a charming residential area and was a formal Edo postal town. Today it is known for its fireworks festival, retro shopping streets, parks, and schools.
7.) Nagoya Station - Around 1.1 million passengers per day
Nagoya Station is not only one of the world’s busiest stations, but it is also one of the largest on the planet based on its floor area of 410,000 m2. It also holds another record - Nagoya Station is the tallest railway station building in the world at 50 storeys high. Finally, it’s also the headquarters of the Central Japan Railway Company. This record-breaking station is located in Nakamura-ku, Nagoya, in Aichi Prefecture. Its rail lines include the Tokaido Shinkansen, Tokaido main line, Chuo main line, Takayama main line, and Kansai main line.
8.) Tokyo Station - Around 1.1 million passengers per day
A traditional red brick building, which wouldn’t look out of place in London, Tokyo is well worth a visit whether you’re a train aficionado or not. A five-minute walk from the Imperial Palace and home to the luxurious Tokyo Station Hotel, this industrial era landmark is well worth a visit for trainspotters with a love of tradition as well as international tourists with a taste for history. While there, check out ‘Ekiben ya Matsuri’, a shop in the station’s main passage which sells more than 200 types of ekiben (packed lunches for train journeys) from across Japan.
9.) Shinagawa Station - Around 1 million passengers per day
Located in southern Tokyo, Shinagawa Station is another key transportation hub for the city. It is a major station on the JR Yamanote Line and Tokaido Shinkansen Line, among others.
10.) Takadanobaba Station - Around 900,000 passengers per day
Between two other super busy stations on this list, Shinjuku and Ikebukuroo, you’ll find Takadanobaba Station. While smaller than those two heavy hitters, it is still busy enough to rank 10th among the world’s busiest train stations. Waseda University - one of the most prestigious in Tokyo - has its main campus located near this station, which sees it frequently used by students.
And last but not least, as an honourable mention - Kyoto Station. It may only rank 15th busiest in the world, but it’s worth an additional mention because it’s also a stunning building that’s well worth a visit even if you’re not catching a train. This huge and modern architectural masterpiece features a skywalk with stunning views of Kyoto and looks more like a space station than a train station. It is beautiful in its own right however, with a huge amount going on, including lots of excellent places to eat. Don’t miss Kyoto Ramen Street, which is located on the tenth floor of Kyoto Station, to the south of the Daikaidan Grand Stairway. For more, read our Guide to Kyoto Station.
Love trains? We have some great train-related articles for you below. The ideal research before experiencing Japan’s trains first-hand.
- While the passenger numbers above are pretty mind-blowing, we have many more impressive statistics in our feature, Amazing Facts About Japan’s Trains.
- Need a helping hand to find your way around when you arrive in busy and bustling Japan? Try our special Meet & Greet Service.
- Also, if you’re using an app (such as the one designed to help visitors get around) then make sure you stay connected to the internet with a Pocket Wifi device.
- How much do the people of Japan love trains? Find out in our guide to Trainspotting in Japan.
- Discover the best train food you’ve ever had. Our guide to Ekiben lunch boxes will tell you everything you need to know.
- We also have a number of guides about specific trains and services, from sightseeing trains such as the Ametsuchi, steam trains like the SI Hitoyoshi, luxury trains like the Saphir Odoriko, and of course, the famous Shinkansen bullet trains.
And of course, there’s the Japan Rail Pass too. Why is it the best and most affordable way to travel across Japan? Read our guide to Why The JR Pass Is Worth It for a great list of reasons.