Getting around Tokyo with a PASMO card   パスモ

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Travel light in Tokyo

The PASMO card, like its famous cousin, the SUICA card, is one of the essentials for a traveler in Japan. How can you recognize it and how to use it?

SUICA, PASMO, ICOCA etc. First be careful about the the card you choose, they are not sold by the same companies or for the same geographical areas. The SUICA is well known because it can be used in Tokyo and in a vast area between Nagoya and Sendai. Previously, the PASMO card could only be used in Tokyo, but since 2013 its use has gradually spread across Japan and it can now be used in Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima and Fukuoka for transport within these cities. It has thus become more interesting to choose this latter card.

Paying with the PASMO card

If you have any doubt about the places and lines where you can use it, rest assured, you will usually see the prominent logo on card readers where it is accepted. The pink color makes them easy to spot. Once this detail has been sorted, you can travel on most metro lines, intercity trains, urban buses and airport shuttles. All transport with the particular exception of the Shinkansen and express trains. Some taxis also accept the card.

But that is not all, the PASMO can also be used as a debit card, you can pay at combinivending machines and some shops that have the terminal and logo at the checkout. This is an extremely convenient way to make small purchases without the hassle of small change.

Topping up the PASMO card

The PASMO card is very simple to use. The PASMO card can be bought directly online, so it is ready for use as soon as you arrive in Japan. You can also buy a card at any JR ticket office for 500 yen, which is a deposit that can be refunded should you choose to return the card. You are not obliged to return it, as it is valid for ten years and is not nominative, so you can keep it for a future trip. The return fee is 210 yen. When you purchase the card you can credit it with the amount of your choice from 1 000 to 250 000 yen, of which the remaining amount will be refunded to you when you return the card.

To top up the PASMO card, take it to any automatic ticket machine in any station. You only have to insert your card, click on "charge", insert your money and take your card. To use the card you simply have to swipe the card at the card reader at the entrance and exit of the station.

A special PASMO card for children is also available with different fares.

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