Friday, November 6, 2009

Smooth rides in Japan - Pasmo and Suica

When using a train in Japan, you will see that many people are placing their wallets or card cases over the ticket gate, and a “beep” follows every time they do so. That is because almost every train user in Japan possesses a “Pasmo” or a “Suica”. “Pasmo” and “Suica” are both IC cards that you can charge and use on trains in the Kanto area of Japan. Before Pasmo and Suica became familiarized across Japan, purchasing a ticket to ride a train was the mainstream in Japan. In order to reduce the stress of having to do so every time you ride a train, these IC cards were introduced.

Many people may wonder, “What is the difference between Pasmo and a Suica”? That answer is fairly simple. Suica is an IC card that is issued by East Japan Railway Company. When you want to issue one, you must go to a specified window at a JR station. On the other hand, Pasmo is issued by Pasmo Co. Ltd. It is linked with private railroads of Japan. Thus when you want to issue one, going to a station of a private railroad is necessary.
However, it would be so tiring to bring two cards with you at all time wouldn’t it? Don’t worry! You can now use Pasmo and Suica at both JR Lines and private lines. To say it more easily, you can use Pasmo on JR lines and Suica on private lines as well. The IC system is now available in almost anywhere you go!!

What’s great about Pasmo and Suica today is that they can be used in places other than train stations. For example, most buses today have such systems. People do not have to suffer from finding coins from their wallets when getting on or off the bus. Also, such IC cards can be used on vending machines and at convenience stores. When you have chosen what you want to buy, just place that Pasmo or a Suica over the machine (At convenience stores, it is usually placed next to the cashier) and your payment is finished! Easy eh? However you much be aware that Pasmo and Suica are small cards. Charging large amounts of money will allow you to use the card for a long time, but it is very easy to lose! Thus, be careful not to lose it! Someone may use the money that you have put in!!

Purchasing a Suica or a Pasmo is available at any railway station in the Kanto area of Japan. It will cost 500 yen to purchase one as a deposit fee. (That 500 yen will be returned when you no longer wish to use your Pasmo or a Suica). From then on, all you have to do is charge as much as you like and hop on a train! Feel that superiority of smoothly passing the ticket gates!!

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