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Tokyo Trouble: What to Do When You Miss the Last Train

Tokyo Trouble: What to Do When You Miss the Last Train

Date published: 6 August 2018
Last updated: 14 November 2018

Missing the shūden, as the last day of the train is affectionately called, is a common occurrence among Tokyoites, especially if you’re out and having a good time with friends and family. Other cosmopolitans may be used to public transport running all night, but in Tokyo, buses and trains stop running during the night until the early hours of morning. When this last train runs depends on the line but usually, it is around midnight – easy to miss if you forget the time over a couple of drinks and an engaging conversation. Suddenly, you find yourself stranded and wonder what to do. Of course, a taxi is always an option, but taxis are notoriously expensive in Tokyo and especially if you’re far from home, the expenses might be too much to handle.
Thankfully, Tokyo offers a lot of fun and affordable options to spend a night should you miss the last train!

1. The Karaoke Parlor: Sing and Drink Through the Night!

1. The Karaoke Parlor: Sing and Drink Through the Night!

Central Tokyo is dotted with karaoke parlors, especially around stations. You won’t have any issues finding one that is open throughout the night, and a lot of them offer drinks and free Wi-Fi alongside the karaoke experience. Japan’s karaoke parlors offer a generous choice of private rooms, ranging in size from large groups to solo singer booths. Even themes rooms are available, such as ladies’ rooms or family rooms, featuring fun and cute decoration that add an extra layer of fanciness! Comfy sofas and a decent choice of both snacks and drinks will make the hours fly by as you sing to your favorite songs.

Approximate Prices
30 minutes: ¥300 - ¥1,000
2-hour course: ¥1,000 – ¥2,000
3-hour course: ¥1,600 – ¥3,00
Unlimited after 10:00 p.m.: 2,500 yen – 3,000 yen (includes all-you-can-drink)

*If you plan to sing for several hours, the “unlimited” (“free time” in Japanese) option is recommended. This option with all-you-can-drink is available for daytime and nighttime (from late at night until early morning) and prices differ depending on whether it’s a weekday or weekend/national holiday. Of course, different parlors have different offers, so ask the staff or check online for details.
Approximate Prices
Daytime: ¥1,200 – ¥2,000 (weekdays), ¥2,500 (weekend)

*Depending on the karaoke parlor, you might have to pay an additional member registration fee (about 200 yen) or be required to order a drink (300 – 400 yen).
*You may be asked for an ID if you enter late at night.

2. Spa and Hot Spring: Soak Your Body ‘til Dawn!

2. Spa and Hot Spring: Soak Your Body ‘til Dawn!

Missing the last train can be a frustrating experience, especially when all you want to do is go back home and take a nice shower after a long day in the city. In that case, make your way to a spa or hot spring that is open throughout the night! They come equipped with a break room to get some sleep alongside the general spa facilities such as baths and saunas in all variations. Some of those all-night spas even offer rental makeup sets, hair irons, and so on – that way, you’ll feel clean and refreshed even after a Tokyo all-nighter!

Approximate Prices
10-hour plan: ¥3,000 – ¥4,000
*This includes entry, late-night fee, a towel set, clothes, and the usage fee for the break rooms.

3. Capsule Hotel: Get Some Sleep for Cheap!

3. Capsule Hotel: Get Some Sleep for Cheap!

If you’re really tired and just want to fall into a comfy bed, the best option is a capsule hotel. That kind of accommodation provides a small but clean, comfortable space for very reasonable prices. The majority of capsule hotels have showers, so don’t worry about not being able to refresh yourself after a long day outside. Some even offer Wi-Fi, which is especially convenient for looking up train connections in the morning or planning your next day.
After deciding that you’ll spend the night at a capsule hotel, why not go for something out of the ordinary? Themed accommodations that offer a sleeping experience like you’re in a spaceship or a cozy cave turn a missed train into a unique experience!

Approximate Prices
One night: ¥3,000 – ¥5,000
*The price is an estimation of the accommodation, the shower fee, the lounge fee, and so on.

4. Manga & Internet Café: a Night of Pop Culture!

4. Manga & Internet Café: a Night of Pop Culture!

Surprising to many, Japan’s manga and internet cafés are an even more reasonable option to spend an entire night, surrounded by comics and the vast world of the internet! These cafés offer several kinds of seats, including open seats without dividers, reclining chairs, and even private booths. Rooms for two or family rooms for three or four people are also available, but usually just a few per café.
Most manga and internet cafés have a drink bar that offers soft drinks, coffee, tea, soup, and ice cream for free. Sometimes, the shop will feature a menu with snacks and dishes for an extra fee, the perfect hack for that midnight appetite! Sometimes, simple shower booths are installed, and the place sells certain amenities such as towels and toothbrushes.
Of course, the majority of these places lets you use Wi-Fi for free alongside an extensive selection of manga, magazines, PC and PlayStation games. Some even offer special controllers for rent. Games such as table tennis, darts, or billiards are installed in some places, so go wild and enjoy a casual, fun night in Japan’s famous manga cafés!

Approximate Prices
Night course (5 hours): ¥1,000 – ¥2,000
*The price varies on the type of seat you choose.
*A separate charge (about ¥300) for the shower may be necessary.

5. Restaurant & Café: Feast All Night Long!

5. Restaurant & Café: Feast All Night Long!

Probably the easiest and most reasonable way to wait until the first train in the morning is to spend the night at a 24-hour café or restaurant. In Japan, “family restaurants” tend to be open all night long and have an all-you-can-drink offer for their drink bar, including soft drinks, coffee, tea, soup, and so on. While it might be hard to take a nap or refresh yourself at a restaurant, it’s a great option if you’re simply looking to wait it out with a midnight meal.
However, recent years have seen a decline of 24-hour restaurants and quite a lot of places now close around 2:00 a.m. Simply check the opening hours or ask the staff!

Approximate Prices
Drink bar (all-you-can-drink): about ¥430

24-hour Restaurants
Shibuya: Gusto (Shibuya Dogenzaka), Saizeriya (Shibuya Tokyu Hands), Jonathan’s (Shibuya Station South Exit), Bamiyan (Shibuya Jingu-mae)
Shinjuku: Gusto (Shinjuku Yasukuni Dori Ave.), Saizeriya (Shinjuku City Office), Jonathan’s (Shinjuku Gyoen), Denny’s (Shinjuku Central Park)
Ikebukuro: Gusto (South Ikebukuro), Jonathan’s (West Ikebukuro), Denny’s (Ikebukuro East Exit), Bikkuri Donkey (Ikebukuro Sunshine Dori Ave.)
Ginza: Jonathan’s (Yurakucho), Denny’s (East Ginza)

Other café and restaurant chains that are open 14 hours or until early morning are Renoir (Kissashitsu Renoir), Frames, Sakura Café, and Tsubakiya Coffee. Of course, the international fast-food chain McDonald’s also has 24-hour locations. As opening hours differ by store, please check online.

Going Home by Taxi: Fares Explained

Going Home by Taxi: Fares Explained

Sometimes, all you want to do is return to your hotel or own place. In that case, you will have to deal with taxi late-night fees. Here’s an overview of estimated taxi fares around midnight in Tokyo (all 23 wards, Mitaka City, Musashino City).

General Fare
Distance: Minimum ¥410 (covers up to 1.052 km / 0.654 mi), Distance 237 m = 80yen
Duration + Distance: 1 min 30 sec = ¥80 (added for jam of less than 10 km)
Late-night: Plus 20% (10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.)

Approximate Fare
Shibuya to Ikebukuro, ¥3,770 (Estimate), ~9.3 km, ~25 min
Ikebukuro to Asakusa, ¥3,930 (Estimate), ~9.7 km, ~29 min
Roppongi to Asakusa, ¥4,090 (Estimate), ~10 km, ~26 min
Shinjuku to Asakusa, ¥4,410 (Estimate), ~11 km, ~30 min
Shibuya to Asakusa, ¥5,130 (Estimate), ~12.5 km, ~33 min

How to NOT Miss the Last Train!

How to NOT Miss the Last Train!

Missing the last train isn’t a pleasant experience for a lot of people, because you suddenly have to figure out how to spend the night in the city. To avoid a pickle like that, there are a few things to keep in mind. If you’re making plans, check how long it takes back to your hotel or apartment. Check the train schedule to know at which time the last train will run and plan accordingly (last train/first train times tend to be listed at station exits). Paper schedules are given out at each station so getting one those might be helpful as well.
To make things a bit easier, here are some last train schedules for popular stations such as Shibuya, Shinjuku, Asakusa, and Ginza, as well as the schedules for the first train of the day

First & Last Train Schedule

Shibuya
JR Yamanote Line:
Bound for Shinagawa (Meguro, Ebisu, Shinagawa, Tokyo, etc.) - Last train at 01:07 am, first train at 4:49 am
Bound for Ikebukuro (Shinjuku, Harajuku, Ikebukuro, Ueno, etc.) - Last train at 0:52 am, first train at 4:37 am
Tokyo Metro Ginza Line:
Bound for Asakusa (Ueno) - Last train at 0:12 am (0:06 am on Saturday, Sunday and national holidays), first train at 5:01 am
Tokyo Metro Hanzōmon Line:
Bound for Kiyosumi-shirakawa (Aoyama-itchōme) - Last train at 0:15 am, first train 5:15 am
Den-en-toshi Line:
Bound for Chūō-Rinkan (Saginuma) - Last train at 0:42 am, first train at 5:05 am
Keio Inokashira Line:
Bound for Kichijōji (Shimokitazawa) - Last train at 0:45 am, first train at 5:00 am

Shinjuku
JR Yamanote Line:
Bound for Shinagawa (Shibuya, Harajuku, Shinagawa, Tokyo, etc.) - Last train at 01:00 am, first train at 4:42 am
Bound for Ikebukuro (Ikebukuro, Ueno, Nippori, Akihabara, etc.) - Last train at 1:00 am, first train at 4:44 am
Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line:
Bound for Ogikubo (Nakano-sakaue) – Last train at 0:30 am (0:22 am on Saturday, Sunday, and national holidays), first train at 5:15 am
Bound for Ikebukuro (Shinjuku-sanchōme) - 0:15 am (0:14 am on Saturday, Sunday, and national holidays), first train at 5:00 a.m.
Toei Shinjuku Line
Bound for Moto-Yawata (Iwamotochō) – Last train at 0:22 am, first train at 5:02 am
Toei Ōedo Line:
Bound for Roppongi/Daimon (Shiodome) - Last train at 0:42 am, first train at 5:02 am
Bound for Hikarigaoka (Tochōmae) - Last train at 0:58 am, first train at 5:18 am
Keiō Line:
Bound for Hachiōji (Chōfu) – Last train at 0:35 am, first train at 5:29 am

Asakusa
Tokyo Metro Ginza Line:
Bound for Shibuya (Ueno) – Last train at 0:14 am, first train at 5:01 am
Tokyo Metro Asakusa Line:
Bound for Nishi-magome (Asakusa) – Last train at 0:25 am, first train at 5:03 am
Bound for Oshiage (Keisei-Takasago) – Last train at 0:23 am, first train at 5:03 am
Tobu Isesaki Line:
Isesaki (Kita-Kasukabe) – Last train at 0:23 am (0:09 a.m. for Kita-Koshigaya), first train at 4:58 am

Ginza
Tokyo Metro Ginza Line:
Bound for Asakusa (Ueno) – Last train at 0:28 am (0:22 am on Saturday, Sunday and national holidays), first train at 5:17 am
Bound for Shibuya (Shibuya) – Last train at 0:21 am (0:13 am on Saturday, Sunday and national holidays), first train at 5:18 am (5:19 am on Saturday, Sunday and national holidays)
Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line:
Bound for Kitasenjū (Kita-Koshigaya) – Last train at 0:11 am (0:06 am on Saturday, Sunday and national holidays), first train at 5:04 am
Bound for Nakameguro: Last train at 0:27 am (0:17 am on Saturday, Sunday and national holidays), first train at 5:05 am
Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line:
Bound for Ikebukuro – Last train at 0:21 am (for Myōgadani on Saturday, Sunday and national holidays), first train at 5:16 am
Bound for Ogikubo (Shinjuku): Last train at 0:23 am (0:14 am on Saturday, Sunday and national holidays), first train at 5:19 am

* As of July 2018.
* The schedule on Saturdays, Sundays, and national holidays is stated (in parentheses.)

Of course, missing the last train is rarely an event that’ll have you jump in joy. But it can also be a great opportunity to make a uniquely Japanese experience that you usually wouldn’t have thought of doing, such as spending the night in a manga café or soaking your body in a nice hot spring. The hours are sure to fly by, whether you sing or sleep, and you can use the morning to treat yourself to a fancy cosmopolitan breakfast in the heart of Tokyo!
A few final words of warning before we send you out to enjoy your evening, however. Tokyo is considered to be a very safe city, but you’ll encounter people who drank too much like everywhere else and sometimes, there might be unavoidable trouble. That is one reason why you should not simply spend the night in a park or at the station. The other reason is that security has been extra tight with regard to the Olympic Games, so opting for a capsule hotel or similar option is strongly recommended.

Photo credit (main image): Valerij Milanovic / Shutterstock.com

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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