How to buy a (physical) PASMO and Suica in 2024

Even though the official sites and notices in stations are all trying to convince you that there is no way you can buy a PASMO and Suica right now, scaring all visitors away, there are still many ways you can buy one now.

Recommendations

Suica/PASMO for Tourists: Welcome Suica / PASMO PASSPORT

This is the officially recommended way, even though they are sold in just a few locations. Also, they expire after 28 days and you cannot refund the unused charged money inside, so I personally do not recommend this. For those working and studying, this is basically useless. You can check out their official sites for where you can still buy them: PASMO PASSPORT, Welcome Suica

Regular Suica: JR East Travel Service Center

As JR did not announce this at all and just secretly updated their visitor-facing website, it got little media attention. I went to ask the staff a while ago, and I was told that even though they are intended only for tourists, they will not check for documents like passports. This is probably your best bet if you happen to be in one of the stations. Check this link out: JR East Travel Service Center.

Regular Suica: buy a 1-day pass

This approach has the benefit that it can be bought in basically every single JR East station. Even though the official website mentioned that only children and monthly pass Suica are still sold, 1-day passes can also be issued on a new Suica. So if your trip has a day where using a one-day JR pass is beneficial (if you live in the west side like Nakano, a round-trip to Kasai Rinkai Park is already worth the cost of the Tokunai Pass!), go to a black ticket machine (that sells monthly pass), and choose the option that issues a new Suica. Check the following video but choose the new Suica option instead!

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Probably the only way to buy a regular PASMO: One-day pass

Some might want a PASMO instead of a Suica (I like the looks of PASMO more, and some passes like Keio+Tokyo Metro one-day pass can only be encoded to a PASMO). The idea is the same as JR day-pass, but since PASMO are used by many operators, the interface will be different, and some operators don't seem to sell PASMO through this method.

Operators that sells PASMO by buying a day-pass. Note that except for Tokyo Metro, I have not try the actual purchase:

  • Tokyo Metro (I bought one through this method)
  • Tokyu
  • Yokohama Municipal Subway
  • Yurikamome
  • Keisei

Operators that does not allow this:

  • Keio (station staff said explicitly that you cannot purchase a PASMO even if you want to buy one-day pass that is sold only on a PASMO, though it might be because of my broken Japanese???)
  • Odakyu
  • Sotetsu (though according this website you can buy a Sotetsu/Tokyu one day pass or Sotetsu round trip + Tokyu/Tokyo Metro one day pass by approaching a station staff)

The actual steps should be similar to JR: go to a machine that sells one-day pass, choose the value ticket option, choose the pass you want to buy, and choose the new PASMO option. The procedure for Tokyo Metro is shown:

You can no longer buy a TOICA in Tokyo station

According to the Official Website and Japanese forums, JR Central stations in Tokyo metropolitan area (e.g. Tokyo, Yokohama) no longer sells non-monthly pass TOICA.

Other Options

If you have an iPhone (that are not too old), you can add a Suica or PASMO to your Apple Pay wallet. There should be plenty tutorials about this.

If you have a Japanese Android or feature phone, you can also add a mobile Suica or PASMO using the Osaifu-Keitai feature.

If you will be visiting non-Suica/PASMO region like Osaka, Kyoto, Nagoya, Hokkaido, etc., their local IC cards are still sold normally through ticket vending machines. Just make sure they are one of the following to make sure it can be used nationwide

  • toica
  • ICOCA
  • manaca
  • SUGOCA
  • nimoca
  • Hayakaken
  • Kitaca

Note that the Chiba Monorail only supports Suica and PASMO.

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