Suica and Pasmo cards

Suica and Pasmo cards

Written by sonicsuns

Topics: Everything, Tips

When you get to Japan, I strongly recommend you buy a Suica or Pasmo card right after you settle in. They work like debit cards for the train, so you don’t have to buy an individual ticket every time. (Fortunately, the kiosks have an option for English)
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On the left is a place to buy a new card, on the right are places to add value to cards. (You can also buy regular tickets at these kiosks)


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You can buy a card at most stations, at special kiosks. There’s no contract or anything; you just buy a card and use it. Purchasing the card and adding value is all done with cash at train station kiosks.

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Pasmo and Suica are two different brands of the same concept. As far as I can tell, both brands are accepted at each and every train station in Tokyo. The only difference seems to be that Pasmo also works at certain train station vending machines, and I’ve heard it may work on buses too. (But buses are much less popular than trains, anyway) By the way, sometimes you’ll see something marked “Pasmo”, when it really means “Pasmo and/or Suica”

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Pasm0-enabled vending machine


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Suica and Pasmo cards


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/To use a card, simply swipe it near the big arrow on the ticket-taking-thing. (I would call it a turnstile, but nothing actually turns in these things)
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When the arrow lights up, you can go ahead


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Usually I keep the card in my wallet, and I just swipe the whole wallet. It works just as well.


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/One thing to note: You can’t use a pasmo or suica card for several people at once. Like, if you go through the turnstile-thing, and then pass the card back to a friend so they can get through, that won’t work. They’ll have to use a separate card, or just a regular ticket.
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/Also, if you go through the turnstile and then turn around (because you forgot something or whatever), the card won’t like that. The thing is set up so your entrance-station is expected to be different from your exit-station, so the turnstile display will go red and it won’t let you through. Don’t worry, though. Just find the little booth with the train station employees inside. Show them the card and explain what happened (something like “koko kara koko made ita”, “I went from here to here”) and they’ll quickly reset the card.
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/When the card runs out of money, the turnstiles won’t let you through. So just recharge the card at one of the kiosks. (There’s always at least one kiosk on each side of the turnstile.)

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