The Tsukuba Express Line (also called the TX Line) is a high speed rail line that runs from Akihabara Station in Tokyo to Tsukuba Station in Ibaraki prefecture. The fastest service on this line covers the entire 58.3 km distance in just 45 minutes.
The TX Line is operated by the Metropolitan Intercity Railway Company. Because this is a private company, you cannot use the Japan Rail Pass on this line.
There are 20 stations on the TX Line:
Akihabara – Shin-Okachimachi – Asakusa – Minami-Senju – Kita-Senju – Aoi – Rokucho – Yashio – Misato-Chuo – Minami-Nagareyama – Nagareyama-Centralpark – Nagareyama-Otakanomori – Kashiwanoha-Campus – Kashiwa-Tanaka – Moriya – Miraidaira – Midorino – Bampaku-Kinenkoen – Kenkyu-Gakuen – Tsukuba
Below are the key destinations with transfer points included. Example train times and train fares are given from Akihabara Station.
Akihabara is a commercial district of Tokyo famous for its cheap electronics and as a hub of otaku (or “geek”) culture. Here you can find many wholesale stores selling cheap electronic and computer goods, as well as maid cafes, shops selling manga comics, toys, games, and other anime-related goods. Transfer here to JR East’s Chuo-Sobu Line, Keihin-Tohoku Line, Yamanote Line, and the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line.
Transfer here to the Toei Oedo Line.
Train fare: 170 yen
Train time: 2 minutes
TX Asakusa Station
Asakusa’s main attraction is Sensoji Temple. This is the oldest temple in Tokyo and dates back to 645 AD. Among this temple most famous features are an iconic “thunder gate” called the Kaminarimon, a five-story pagoda, and the Nakamise-dori approach road which is lined with traditional souvenir shops. Asakusa is also location of one of Tokyo’s most important festivals the Sanja Matsuri. This festival is held on the 3rd weekend in May (Friday to Sunday) and features wild parades of ornate portable shrines, costumed dancers, and traditional musicians. A transfer can be made at Tawaramachi Station (8 minutes’ walk south of TX Asakusa Station) to the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line. There are also three more “Asakusa” stations a 10 minute walk from TX Asakusa Station. At the Tokyo Metro Asakusa Station you can transfer to the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line, at the Toei Asakusa Station you can transfer to the Toei Asakusa Line, and at Tobu Asakusa Station you can transfer to the Tobu Skytree Line and Tobu Limited Express services.
Train fare: 210 yen
Train time: 4 minutes
Transfer here JR East’s Joban Line and the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line.
Train fare: 250 yen
Train time: 7 minutes
Kita-Senju is a busy commercial district dominated by two large department stores: Lumine and Marui. In the shopping arcades around the station you can find many cheap restaurants and bars. Transfer here to JR East’s Joban Line, the Tobu Skytree Line, and Tokyo Metro’s Chiyoda and Hibiya lines.
Train fare: 290 yen
Train time: 10 minutes
Transfer here to JR East’s Musashino Line.
Train fare: 570 yen
Train time: 23 minutes
Transfer here to the Tobu Urban Park Line.
Train fare: 620 yen
Train time: 26 minutes
Transfer here to Kanto Railway’s Joso Line.
Train fare: 830 yen
Train time: 35 minutes
Exit here for the city of Tsukubamirai in Ibaraki Prefecture. This city’s attractions include the ancient Fudoin Temple (also called Itabashi Fuduoson) which dates back 1,200 years and Warp Station Edo, a replica of an Edo period town which will send you on a time warp into Japan’s pre-modern past.
Train fare: 930 yen
Train time: 40 minutes
“Tsukuba Science City” is a planned city of universities and scientific research centers with plenty of museums, parks and gardens to make it worth a visit. Highlights include the Tsukuba Expo Center for its planetarium, Science Square Tsukuba for a glimpse into the future, the Tsukuba Space Center and Tsukuba Botanical Garden. Tours of the city can be booked at Tsukuba Science Tour Office.
Train fare: 1,190 yen
Train time: 53 minutes
There are four services on the TX Line: Rapid, Commuter Rapid, Semi-Rapid, and Local. Only Local trains stop at all stations, so you should check before boarding a train that it stops at your destination. Rapid trains make only 7 stops and run between Akihabara and Tsukuba in 45 minutes. The Commuter Rapid train runs during the peak morning and evening rush hours, makes 11 stops and takes about 49 minutes to run the whole route. Semi-Rapid trains make 14 stops and complete the route in about 52 minutes. Local trains stop at all stations and take around 57 minutes to complete the route. The official TX website has a full route map with station stops shown for each service.
The first carriage of trains bound for Akihabara is reserved for women only during peak travel periods. This women-only carriage service begins with the first train in the morning and continues until 9.00 am, it begins again at 18.00 and continues until the last train at night. If you are not sure which end of the train is car no. 1 look for the “women only” pink sticker.
Fares, Tickets, IC Cards, and Discount Passes
Regular fares range between 170 – 1190 yen for adults (anyone aged over 12 years of age) and 90 – 600 yen for children (from 6 – 11 years of age). Up to two infants (aged between 1 and 5) can ride for free if accompanied by a ticket holding adult or child. If there are more than two infants they will need a child’s ticket. Babies under 1 year old can ride for free.
There are fare tables above the ticket machines at each station so you can check the fare for your destination. All ticket machines have language options for English, Chinese, Korean, French and Spanish and are very easy to use.
Prepaid, rechargeable IC smart cards such as SUICA and PASMO can be used on the Tsukuba Express Line instead of regular tickets. PASMO cards are available from TX ticket vending machines that have the PASMO logo, and Suica cards can be bought from JR ticket vending machines. To use them simply touch the card to the card reader on a ticket gate and the fare is deducted automatically. Fares for these IC cards are cheaper than for regular tickets. To compare prices check the TX fare page.
A variety of discount passes are available on the TX Line:
The Mount Tsukuba Ticket (筑波山きっぷ) is a one day pass that covers the cost of a return journey on the TX Line plus the bus, cable car and ropeway needed to access Mount Tsukuba. You can also use this ticket to get discounts at some of the facilities around the mountain. Mount Tsukuba is a popular day trip destination, which is famous for the fabulous views from its double peaks. This ticket can be bought from TX ticket machines and information counters at all TX stations except for Tsukuba Station. Prices vary according to your starting station. From Akihabara (the furthest station) prices are 4,300yen for adults and 2,180 yen for children. From Kenkyu-Gakuen (the closest station) the prices are 2,620 yen for adults and 1,320 yen for children. For more details check the official (Japanese language) webpage.
The Explore Tokyo Ticket (TOKYO探索きっぷ) is a one day pass that covers one return journey on the TX Line between your departure station and Shin-Okachimachi Station. This pass also gives you unlimited rides on Toei transportation services which include the Toei Subway, Toei Bus, the Toei Streetcar Arakawa Line, and the Nippori-Toneri Liner.
Another advantage of this pass is that two stopovers are possible on the TX line. You can use the pass to make a stop at Asakusa Station (unless you buy your ticket at Akihabara or Asakusa stations) and you can also make a stop at Kita-Senju Station (unless you buy your ticket at Akihabara, Asakusa, Minami-Senju, and Kita-Senju Stations). This pass also entitles you to Chika Toku discount deals at a variety of facilities around Tokyo. This pass can be bought from TX ticket machines and information counters at all TX stations except for Shin-Okachimachi Station. Prices vary according to your starting station. From Tsukuba (the furthest station) prices are 2,460 yen for adults and 1,230 yen for children. From Akihabara and Asakusa (the closest stations) the prices are 960 yen for adults and 490 yen for children. For more details check the official (Japanese language) webpage.
The TX Tokyo Metro Pass (TX東京メトロパス) is a one day pass that covers one return journey on the TX Line between your departure station and Kita-Senju Station + unlimited rides on all Tokyo Metro lines. With this pass you can also make stopovers at any TX stations between Kita-Senju and Akihabara. This pass also entitles you to Chika Toku discount deals at a variety of facilities around Tokyo . This pass can be bought from TX ticket machines and information counters at all TX stations between Aoi Station and Tsukuba Station. Prices vary according to your starting station. From Tsukuba (the furthest station) prices are 2,340 yen for adults and 1,190 yen for children. From Aoi (the closest station) prices are 1,020 yen for adults and 510 yen for children. For more details check the official (Japanese language) webpage.
The Explore TX & Tokyo Skytree Area Free Ticket (TX＆東京スカイツリー周辺散策フリーきっぷ) is a one day pass that covers:
- One return journey on the TX Line between your departure station and Kita-Senju Station OR Asakusa Station.
- Unlimited stopovers at Kita-Senju Station, Minami-Senju Station and Asakusa Station on the TX Line.
- Unlimited rides on Tobu Railway lines between Kita-Senju Station and Asakusa Station, Hikfune Station and Oshiage Station, and Hikifune Station and Kamiedo Station.
- Unlimited rides on the Tobu Skytree Shuttle bus on the Ueno – Asakusa Line route.
This pass can be bought from TX ticket machines and information counters at TX Line stations except for Kita-Senju, Minami-Senju, and Asakusa stations. Prices vary according to your starting station. From Tsukuba (the furthest station) prices are 2,390 yen for adults and 1,210 yen for children. From Akihabara (the closest station) prices are 1,150 yen for adults and 570yen for children. For more details check the official (Japanese language) webpage.
You can access full timetables for every station on this route from the official TX website.
Free Wi-Fi internet access is available at the following stations: Akihabara, Asakusa, Kashiwanoha-Campus and Tsukuba. For details of how to use it, check the NTTBP website.
Article by Michael Lambe. Photos by Michael Lambe, muminpappa/PIXTA(5), kamuchi/PIXTA(7). All rights reserved.