Welcome to Japan! Your first stop Is probably the capital so let me show you around. Where do you start? Well if you’re an economical traveler you are probably going to be taking the metro when you first arrive. Not to fear! Its (so) easy. The first thing you’re going to want to do is locate your yen, Japan is almost completely cash based. I have found a handful of places that take visa so be prepared. Next go to a dispenser in the metro station of your choice and choose a PASMO card. They are a cute card which will enable you to travel around Japan without having to constantly purchase individual tickets.
There is a 500 yen deposit for the card but this will be returned to you when you return the card.. Unlike other cities, ahem London.
Now that you have selected your PASMO select the amount of yen you’d like to load on it. You can always add more but it’s nice to have a decent amount on it so you aren’t constantly reaching for more cash which is what this card is designed to avoid. How much do you need? I would say 1000 yen per day is an exaggeration but a good amount. You can use your P. card for other things like some vending machines for drinks etc. too.
Now that your card is loaded grab it from the machine, get your receipt in case something went wrong and you’re all set. To use the metro it is set up exactly like every other subway there’s just an abundance of Japanese characters everywhere, This is where you trust your common sense. Everything is generally written in English at least somewhere so go find it. My first recommendation is to go to the ticket booth and ask for a map, they have them in English! Next figure out where you are and where you are going. Google maps is fabulous for this. There are a few kinds of trains so look out for the express the semi express and the local which is the slowest. As well as different types of trains/lines the regular inter city metro lines and the JR lines which extend further. Maybe ask for the JR line map as well.
To tell which train you are about to board look up along the track there is an electric sign board flashing Japanese symbols and a time. Stare at it until it’s English, it will come. Now board and sit down. Once on leave your headphones off and look around you. Above the door will be another electronic sign in Japanese it will also change to English BRIEFLY so you need to watch for your stop. They will usually also say the stops in English over the intercom so listen carefully and check your map for the station.
Now you’re an expert just remember this process might be a bit overwhelming at first especially during rush hour so give yourself plenty of time and enjoy the experience.