Amongst Tokyo’s train companies the JR East trains are the most used in Tokyo city. JR East operates many different train lines and the most popular with tourists are the Yamanote Line (green), the Chuo Line (yellow and orange), and the Narita Express which links Tokyo to Narita International Airport.
You will need to purchase a ticket or an IC card before you can get on a JR East train, so we have written this article to help introduce how to purchase a normal ticket, and also how to purchase and use the very handy SUICA IC transportation card.
How to purchase tickets
Firstly, let’s take a look at how to buy a ticket using a JR ticket vending machine. JR ticket vending machines are multilingual (English, Chinese and Korean), so they are very convenient for foreign tourists.
First, find a JR East ticket vending machine (usually located very close to the station’s ticket gates).
To purchase a ticket, refer to the route map displayed above the ticket machine to find the current fare from your current station to your final destination.
Choose that amount from the displayed amounts on the machine.
Proceed with your payment and then you will receive your ticket.
Head for the ticket gate with your ticket in hand and insert it into the slot in the gate.
* Please note that some ticket gates are only for IC cards.
To make the process easier, it is advised to check the route and amount to your destination in advance using the app or site (Japan Route Finder & Calculator) before purchasing your ticket.
What is SUICA?
SUICA is a transportation IC card issued by the JR company.
In Tokyo, the main transportation IC cards are SUICA and PASMO. You can buy SUICA at JR stations, and PASMO at the Tokyo Metro or private railways.
Transportation IC card benefits:
・ Saves time by not having to buy a ticket every time.
・ There is no need to dig around for the right change every time.
・ It is possible to transfer to another railway line.
・ You can change your final destination on the fly instead of being locked-in to a ticket path.
・ In addition to trains, SUICA can also be used on buses and in convenience stores.
How to buy a SUICA IC card
Now we’ll explain how to buy a SUICA IC card for JR trains. You can purchase normal tickets at all ticket vending machines, but as there are two types of ticket vending machines available at JR East you need to use the "Multifunctional Ticket Vending Machines" to purchase your SUICA card.
Look for a "Multifunctional Ticket Vending Machine". Press "BUY SUICA" on the screen.
* The Multifunction machine is identifiable by a black upper section on the LCD display.
Select "MySuica New Purchase" or "Suica New Purchase".
* You can choose between MySuica (registered name) and Suica (unregistered). MySuica can be reissued if lost, but it will require you to enter personal information such as your name, phone number, and date of birth upon registration and also reissuing.
Select your desired purchase amount.
1000 yen / 2000 yen / 3000 yen / 4000 yen / 5000 yen / 10,000 yen can be selected.
* The purchase price includes a 500 yen deposit. Please note that it cannot be used to pay fares. The deposit amount will be refunded at the time you surrender your card.
After payment is made you will receive your card from the machine,
How to charge your SUICA card.
First, find a ticket vending machine with the word "charge" written on it.
* This can actually be STEP1 on some machines as inserting the card will take you to STEP3 automatically.
Select the desired charge amount.
Insert the required money.
When charging is completed, the SUICA card will be ejected for you to take.
JR East Deals
The below specially discounted day pass tickets can be purchased at JR East ticket vending machines.
① Nonbiri Holiday Suica Pass ¥2670/day
Free unlimited rides on regular trains (including high-speed trains) in the designated area, all Tokyo Rinkai high-speed rail lines (Rinkai line), and all Tokyo Monorail lines can be used freely with Suica upon purchase of pass.
② Tokyo Metropolitan District Pass ¥760/day
Unlimited rides (unreserved seats) are available on local regular trains (including high-speed trains) in Tokyo's 23 wards.
③ Yokohama / Minato Mirai pass ¥530/day
Negishi Line "Yokohama-Shin-Sugita" unlimited rides (unreserved seats) on regular cars (including high-speed trains) and Yokohama High-speed Railway (Minatomirai Line).
④ Kamakura / Enoshima pass ¥710/day
JR Line, Enoshima Electric Railway Line and Shonan Monorail in Kamakura / Enoshima area, unlimited use for one day.