It’s been a few months now I’ve been writing about thousands of places to visit throughout Tokyo, but like me, you know Tokyo is a huge megalopolis, and for sure you won’t just walk to these spots, unless you’re a highly trained backpacker. The problem is I guess I forgot to write about one of the main things you need in Tokyo, something you don’t even remember here as it’s in your wallet most of the time, something you (according to me) have to get soon as you land at the airport, the Suica card (other cards such as Pasmo are also available, but are more limited than the Suica, so we’ll talk about this one in this article).
The Suica card merely is a magnetic card you just have to touch or just put close enough to the reader at the entrance of a station to get in, it’s like the first step of any Tokyo experience. I’m sure that many will say one can all purchase tickets one by one but honestly, it takes too long, we’re in 2012, life is busy, we don’t have time to spend doing that anymore, so trust me, you’ll spend so much time in train and other public transports this will become very handy and convenient. You can get it soon as you get out of the airport but also in any train station, by yourself or asking for assistance (English mode available), it is green and has a lovely penguin on it, how lovely, as Japanese people say, kawaii !!
In one word, this card gives you access to most of the public transports of the Tokyo-Yokohama area, as well as other areas such as Sendai or Niigata, as long as you still have money on your prepaid card (just to let you know, a 10000 yens refill allows me to travel for approximately one month, so it’s on you to make a judgment). The card will cost you 2000 yens and has a 1500 yens credit on it, the remaining 500 yens is a deposit you can get back if you return your card.
But the Suica is not just à transportation card, it’s also some kind of a payment card for train station shopping, or konbini shopping, or even to pay in some restaurants, indeed you can pay small amounts of money just by showing your wallet to the reader, which is very convenient isn’t it ?! Actually, it’s just a way to make you buy more and more, and even faster, like you just have one minute to catch your train, still, enough time to grab a coke. One last thing, the card remains valid for 10 years, so keep it, who knows, maybe you’ll get back to Tokyo soon, and in the worst case, you can just keep it as a personal souvenir, can’t you ?