How do I purchase and use train tickets in Tokyo?

In every station, you can purchase single-use train tickets at the ticket machines. Tickets for more than ¥1620, reserved tickets, commuter passes, and limited express tickets are usually sold at the View Plazas, or ticket offices. These places also sell tickets for ships, long distance buses, flights, and art museums.

Tokyo Metro ticket machines. | Jorge Láscar

Ticket machines are next to the automatic gates. The touch screen ticket machines, where you purchase your pass or transfer it onto PASMO/Suica cards, are in Japanese but have an English display option. Most machines usually accept ¥10,000 notes, and a few accept ¥5000 and ¥10,000 notes. No coins less than ¥10 are accepted at these machines. Some machines don’t accept wrinkled bills, so make sure you use ones in good condition. Before you put money in, confirm your destination’s fare on the route chart posted above the machine.

Put the money into the machine and press the appropriate button. As soon as you have your ticket and your change, go to the gates. Most train stations in the city feature automatic gates. If you have a ticket with a brown or black magnetic surfaces on the back, insert it into the right hand side of the gate so you can go through. As soon as you pass the gate, your ticket automatically comes out on the other side for you to pull out. Hold on to your ticket, since you will need it when you reach your destination. (If you’ve got a PASMO/Suica, just tap the card on the scanner.)

When you arrive at your destination, insert the ticket into the gate. The gate should keep the ticket.

For more, see What is Commuting Like in Tokyo?