Although Japan’s rail system is one of the best in the world, its train stations are also among the busiest and the most complicated especially to travelers. This is because most of the stations (especially in Tokyo) are sooooo huge that you would feel like you’re lost in a maze. And if you can’t read Japanese (Nihongo), buying tickets and knowing which lines to take could be a lot worse. Sounds like a nightmare, huh?
But don’t worry, one of the best ways to get around with ease is having a Suica card with you in addition to Google Map and your ability to ask for assistance.
What is a Suica Card?
SUICA stands for Super Urban Intelligent card. It is a rechargeable prepaid smart card issued by the JR East that you can use on train lines and bus stations in Japan. You can also use it to pay at convenience stores, vending machines, shopping malls, and even restaurants that accept IC cards.
Why consider getting a Suica Card?
By using Suica, you won’t have to worry about buying tickets and searching for the train prices each time. You just need to load funds to your card at ticket machines and swipe it at the ticket gate of your designated train line. If you will be staying in Japan for a longer period, you’re most likely to be using trains a lot so it’s better to load a bigger amount so you won’t have to put funds to it again and again.
How to get a Suica Card?
Getting a Suica card is pretty easy. You can purchase it directly upon arriving at Narita or Haneda airport or at any ticket vending machine at JR Stations. Japanese and English are provided and the steps are very simple, fast, and easy. No need to show your passport, sign anything, or write down a lot of personal info.
The minimum amount you can load to your card is 1,000 JPY and up to a maximum of 20,000 JPY. If it’s your first time purchasing, a 500-yen deposit is required which will be refunded once you decide to return the card. But if you plan to visit Japan again, I suggest you just keep it with you for future use as it has a 10-year validity period.
Having to constantly change trains and lines can be somewhat daunting and stressful. But with Suica, you can save tons of time and stress. Whether you are a regular commuter or a seasoned traveler, a Suica card is definitely a must-have in getting around Japan.