• Dochimichi1

    Sounds just like UK’s Oyster card, but I would imagine Japanese ones are much cheaper. Public transport in UK is very expensive (and unreliable).
    Is that true about the UK driver’s licence by the way? Neat! (*^^*)

    • Benjamin Marc Esterson

      Just like an Oyster, except you can only top them up with cash! No, really! Madness, I tell you.

  • Ryan McGuinness

    Living in England finally has it’s advantages! I didn’t realize they drove on the left side of the road in Japan. Thanks for another great article Dash. :)

    • Donald Ash

      It’s Ryan!! HOORAY!!! It’s good to hear from you, dude! Yep. So if you ever move to Japan and decide to start driving, it’s smooth sailing for you.

  • Roger Starkey

    Doesn’t the PASMO have some special point system when you buy tickets/pass or use it to shop?

    • Donald Ash

      I’m not sure Roger, I’ll have to check on that. Good question.

  • Petaris

    If you find yourself riding on the Kintetsu lines a lot you can get an Icoca card that does the same thing. They really are so much handier then buying tickets all the time. Just remember to re-charge (add funds) them when you start getting low. Your balance will show up when you use your card at the gates. :)

  • HI Donald, thanks for all the trip. I’m heading to Tokyo in Feb. Comparing between JR Rail & Suica, which would you recommend. We would be travelling within Tokyo only. One of the places I need to go is the Tokyo Big Sight. What type of cards should i get?

    • Petaris

      These are really different systems. The JR Rail Pass is great for saving money if your planning on traveling a lot on the JR lines. The way it works is you pay a flat amount based on how many days you want to use it, and during those days you can use the lines as much as you want. If you are planning a lot of rail travel it can save a lot of money. See here ( http://www.jtbusa.com/en/jr/j-all-1.asp ).

      The Suica card and others like it are just more convenient then buying paper tickets everywhere you go. There is no money savings as they are just pre-paid cards good for as much travel as the money you put on it can pay for. They are nicer then paper tickets as you don’t have to stop at the ticket machines if your in a hurry, just make sure you add more to them when you start running low. (If you do run low, don’t fret, you can add funds to them before you exit the station through the gates)

      Another possibility is special “Day” and “Weekend” passes that usually work on certain train and buss lines. These work more like the JR Rail Pass in that you pay a set amount but have unlimited travel (on the specified lines) during that time period.

      I hope this helps you out!
      - Petaris

      • Donald Ash

        Thanks Petaris! It’s so great when people are helping each other out. I LOVE IT! Awesome breakdown of the different passes. Couldn’t have said it better myself :D

    • Donald Ash

      Hi Jennifer. Petaris is right on the money with the rail passes and Suica cards. Should you have any additional questions, please post them :)

  • Hey Donald! Extra tip… sometimes the suica can give you a discount. For example on my way to my school I take a bus everyday. I’m not sure the exact number but for every _?_?_ time I ride the bus the next charge is free.
    Also sometimes at conbini’s they will give you a discount if you purchase a marked item with your suica (i don’t see this very often though).

  • Ms_Sunshine9898

    Lol you’re funny! I come to Japan all the time and I’m just now finding your site!

  • Daria Bagina

    Thanks for the article. I’m planning to go to Tokyo and I think I will be travelling a lot around various sights and nearby cities (like Yokohama and Kamakura) so I’m planning to buy Suice&NEX card.
    I was looking for a specific information on what lines exactly the card will be working for and it is still not clear even with a map on the JR East website. Could you please help me with that?
    E.g. will I be able to go from Ikebukuro station to Nerimatakanodai station on Seibu Ikebukuro line? Or from Shibakoen to Hibuya? From Yarakucho to Hibashiikebukuro? Will I be able to use any Toei and Tokyo Metro lines with it?
    Would really appreciate your help

    • Donald Ash

      Hey Daria!
      Of course I can help you!
      You will be able to use your Suica for every single one of those stations you’ve listed (as long as there’s money available on the card ;) ). You’ll be fine on the Toei Oedo and all Tokyo Metro Lines as well.

      If you’re in East Japan, even though the JR East site may not say it clearly, it’s safe to assume that you can use your card. The only exceptions might be the Shinkansen (it may be okay, too, but I’ve never tried riding with my Suica) or maybe the Romance car to Hakone (but again, I’ve never tried my Suica card here). Every other line has been just fine for me.

      I hope you have a great visit here!

  • Since this article seems to be quite old, I’m going to update that the SUICA card is now compatible with the blue Kansai-based ICOCA card. You can even charge the ICOCA in JR East ticket machines. Unless you ride a countryside bus that runs once per day or something, you don’t have to worry at all.

  • Wawa

    I have a pasmo which i purchased last year during my honeymoon and will be going again in march with my family. I was wondering if pasmo is compatible with the jr lines within tokyo/kanto region? Because i am planning my trip and apparently it involves a lot of jr lines. For example jr yamanote etc.

    • thejapanguy

      Hey Wawa. Yes! You can definitely use your Pasmo on the JR lines within the Tokyo/Kanto region! I use mine to ride the Yamanote all the time. Not just JR lines either, the subways, too ;)

    • Leahcim Bene Carag

      Yes it is compatible in JR lines

  • Choo

    Hi. Love your blog! Wanted to ask, can PASMO cards be purchased late at night? My flight arrives Haneda at 10pm and with customs and getting bags, might not be able to get to a train station until 11pm?? I am assuming I take the monorail to the Hamatsucho station, which should have a PASMO card machine?

  • Mayce

    hi…we will be in Tokyo this coming Nov. Wonder you can advice which card we should have. We are planning to travel the whole city of Tokyo also tourist attraction like Kamukara and Nikko.
    Look forward to hear from you soon.


  • Farrukh Safdar

    hi will i be able to travel from ueno station to tsudanuma in narashino city chiba ? whcih crd i need pasmo or suica?

  • Christine

    If I have 2 adults & 2 kids (over age 6) in Tokyo for 3 days, does each person need a card or can I buy one card and swipe it an additional time for each person? I have been stressed out looking at the metro map, and I appreciate your post!

  • ラリッサ

    Hi, I was wondering.. Does the Pasmo card has to be returned? When I went there they told me the process to get one, but no one mentioned I had to return it before I left Japan. I assumed I ‘bought’ the card, so I kept it when I left. But then I’ve been reading on the internet that it is returnable, so I’m confused (and a little embarrassed). So much for being a gaijin… Also, my card has a expiration date (which I hadn’t noticed) and it is personalised according to my route in Tokyo (Wakabadai to Shibuya), with my name and everything. The person in my school who helped us tramit our personalised cards filled some papers with our information, but didn’t really explained anything about the card, so I’m still confused. Should I had returned it? Can I still return it a year later when I return to Japan? Please help!

    • Robert Nguyen

      If I remember correctly, the card doesn’t really expire. As long as you keep using it. I do think it stops working if you don’t use it within 10 years though.

      If you want to return it, you get your deposit back. I kept mine as a souvenir, and I can just refill it when I return again.

  • Paolo

    I don’t usually comment in articles, but yours is so funny and informative you deserve one. Good job and very helpful article!

  • Ivana Ina

    this article is very interessting, but I am still a bit confused which card to use. my journey starts soon and I have planned to see a lot in Tokyo as well as to travel to Kyoto, Nara, Shizuoka and maybe Nagoya. I am undecided and dont know which option I should choose. If there are recommendations I would be happy… thanks in advance

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