Question: What means of transportation connects nearly the entire country of Japan in a convenient and user-friendly network?Answer: Trains!!The d...Read more
Suica for dummies (IC cards)
(This penguin is just too cute :D )
What is Suica:
It's a prepaid money card that you use to pay for the trains and busses, but not only
Because trying to buy a separate train ticket for every ride is just not worth the hassle
Go to a ticket machine (like the one in the picture) or talk to someone who works at the station if you want to practice your Japanese. All ticket machines I have used in Tokyo have English menu and are pretty self explanatory, just don't rush and read what it says.
Look for the Black/Pink machine, you can't purchase Suica from the green or purple machines.(It normally will say Buy New Suica/Charge, or something like that, look carefully and don't worry if you are at the wrong machine, everyone does it. If you are not sure you can handle it just try to talk to someone at the station, many times they won't speak English, but will go out of their way to help you.)
How to get Suica:
How much does a Suica cost:
You get your 500 yen back once you return the card, or you can keep it and use it the next time.
Return the card at the ticket office in the city you purchased it. They can refund the remaining credit, but a small handling fee might apply.
Two children per adult are allowed for free and you will have to pay for reserved seats.
Older children from 6 to 11 years of age get a special children Suica card, which you have to get at one of the counters at the train station. Fares for that age are about half the price of a fare for adult. (Bringing your passports when getting Suica for your little ones is a good idea)
Go to the ticket machine and bring cash.
Other things to pay for using Suica:
Traveling outside or between IC card areas (between cities)
Shinkansen (Super Express a.k.a. the fast trains)
Tokkyu (Limited express trains). - You can only pay the base fare using your IC card (Suica) for those trains (by passing through the ticket gates). But you need to purchase a supplement ticket separately at a ticket machine or ticket office.
....Because why not make it more difficult than it has to be :D
Here's detailed explanation of IC cards and the areas where you can use them:
Suica, Pasmo, Icoca and seven more of Japan's most popular IC cards were made compatible with each other in 2013. As a result, it is possible to travel on almost all trains, subways and buses in most of Japan's largest cities with just a single of these cards.
In case you just really want to know EVERYTHING about the trains in Japan:
What is Pasmo card?
Pasmo is Suica's ugly little sister if you are asking me. I never had a Pasmo, but after researching it I can tell you that it's pretty much the same thing as Suica. Kinda like Coke and Pepsi.
All you need to know about Pasmo you can find here:
Some good deals and daily passes:
Hope this was helpful, I really needed to read an article like this when I first came to Tokyo. Unfortunately a lot of the information you can find online talks about just one or two of the questions you have regarding traveling with IC cards. I did my best to put it all together for you and make it easy to understand, but if there is something that you want to add please feel free to leave a comment
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