Have you ever wondered how Japanese people survive commuting and using public transportation when all the lines are operated by different companies? The answer is simple and with that you can even do shopping! What is the secret item, that practically all Japanese have? To get around, they are using cards called SUICA or PASMO in Tokyo and ICOCA in Osaka. Once these cards are purchased you can ride buses, trains and do not need to worry about anything!
You have to charge the prepaid e-money card through the ticket vending machine at the station and then to have to the ticket gate with you card when going through it and. The train fare is automatically deducted from your Suica. When using buses you need to get on the bus at the front door and do the same at a machine located next to the bus driver.
With Suica/Pasmo/Icoca card you can:
- Store credit to pay as you go
- Set up automatic top-up so you never run out of credit
- Use Busses and Trains
- Protect your card from loss or theft
Best of all: once the card is charged, you can pay with it even in convenience stores, many supermarkets and a number of vending machines, especially those located near the train stations. How wonderful is that!
You can purchase Suica and other cards at ticket vending machines(Tokyo JR lines have Suica, Tokyo metro lines – Pasmo, and Osaka major train lines – Icoca). They normally have an English menu, so no need to be guessing Japanese writings if you do not read it. Just press the ‘Purchase New Suica’ button on the lower left panel of the display.
The card is free, but you need to pay a deposit of JPY500 and charge it initially.
Once you leave the country, you can ask for JPY500 refund and money that are left on your card at the ticket office.
Just in case, if you make any mistake, remember that there is a red cancel button (located on the payment panel)!