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How to Use Pre-Paid Transportation Cards in Japan

by Jack Guy

Feb 10, 2020

ID 72110153 © Sean Pavone | Dreamstime.com

Destinations / Asia

Like many other systems around the world, Japanese public transport offers pre-paid smart cards to help you get around more easily.


There are lots of different cards available in different cities, but the two dominant cards are Pasmo and Suica. They started in Tokyo, but now they can be used in many places around Japan.


The two cards are almost identical, just offered by different companies. You can buy one at a machine when you arrive and use it to swipe in and out of ticket gates across the transport network, with no need to work out how to buy a new ticket every time you change lines.


Another boon is the cards work in many of Japan’s famous vending machines, as well as an increasing number of shops. If you are light on coins, they are a great way of paying for small items.


When you buy the card make sure to choose the tourist-friendly Welcome Suica or the Pasmo Passport; valid for 28 days, they don’t require a deposit like regular cards.


The cards are a convenient way to save time and stress when you are making your way around Japan. When your reserves run low, simply find a machine and top up your card with the desired amount.



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