Using Suica Card in Osaka and the Kansai Area: What You Need to Know

When it comes to transportation cards in Japan, the Suica Card is a household name that everyone knows. The cute Suica penguin on the Suica card has even been made into various peripheral products. However, many people have also heard that the Suica card is widely used only in the Kanto and Tohoku regions of Japan, and the Kansai/Western Japan region uses another card called ICOCA. So, can you use Suica in Osaka? Can Suica be used in the Kansai region led by Osaka?

Updated on July 31, 2023
Starting from June 8, 2023, Japan will suspend the sales of anonymous Suica and anonymous Pasmo cards, with no specified date for resumption.
Starting from August 2, 2023, both Registered Suica and Registered Pasmo will also be discontinued for sale, with no set date for resumption.
Suspension of Sales for Suica and PASMO Cards

Welcome Suica, the red-colored card exclusively for travelers visiting Japan, will have purchase restrictions from August 2, 2023, regarding purchase locations and quantity limits.

【Welcome Suica Purchase Locations】
Station staffed by “駅たびコンシェルジュ” at Narita Airport Station, Airport Terminal 2 Station, and Haneda Airport Terminal 3 Station.
Dedicated machines for Welcome Suica at Narita Airport Station, Airport Terminal 2 Station, and Haneda Airport Terminal 2 and Terminal 3 Stations.
【Welcome Suica Purchase Restriction】
Limited to 1 card per person.

Travelers can choose to purchase ICOCA within the Kansai region or opt for Welcome Suica.

Using Suica in the Kansai Region and Osaka

You Can Use Suica Card Throughout Japan

JR Hokkaido Kitaca Area
JR East Suica Area
Private railways and buses in the Tokyo metropolitan area PASMO Area
JR Central TOICA Area
Nagoya City Transportation Bureau / Nagoya Railway manaca Area
JR West ICOCA Area
Private railways and buses in the Kansai area PiTaPa Area
JR Kyushu SUGOCA Area
Fukuoka City Transportation Bureau Hayakaken Area
West Japan Railway Company nimoca Area

As the title of this article suggests, you can use Suica for transportation in any area of Japan that accepts IC cards, including the Kansai region. The table above shows the areas covered by various transportation cards in Japan, such as Kitaca, Suica, PASMO, TOICA, manaca, ICOCA, PiTaPa, SUGOCA, and nimoca. You can use Suica or other IC cards to ride public transportation in these areas.

However, there are still some train stations in Japan that do not accept IC cards, including some sections of lines such as the Kyoto Tango Railway, the Kishu Railway in Wakayama Prefecture, and others. In these cases, it is recommended to purchase paper tickets instead of using IC cards like Suica to ride the train.

Generally, major cities like Tokyo, Osaka, and Fukuoka, as well as their suburbs, support IC cards like Suica. However, if your travel itinerary includes other regions, it’s best to search in advance on Google to check whether the train stations you will use support IC card usage.

Suica can be used for travel in the ICOCA and PiTaPa areas in Kansai

If Osaka is your travel destination and you happen to have a Suica card, you don’t have to worry. This Suica card can help you travel on all Osaka tram routes. In addition to Osaka, you can also use Suica to travel on all tram routes in the Kansai metropolitan area that can use ICOCA and PiTaPa. In addition to riding through ticket gates, most stations on these routes also support using automatic top-up machines within the stations to top up your Suica card.

ICOCA is a card issued by JR West, which is equivalent to Suica in the Kansai region. PiTaPa is an IC card for taking private railways, buses, and JR trains in the Kinki region of Japan, and can be regarded as the Pasmo card for the Kansai & Kinki region. These two cards basically cover all the routes in Kansai. According to the rules applicable to all IC cards, Suica can also be used for travel in the ICOCA and PiTaPa areas.

Suica can be used as an electronic wallet in Osaka

As mentioned earlier, Suica can be used for travel on all routes in the ICOCA and PiTaPa areas. Correspondingly, Suica can also be used for shopping in the Kansai region.

If you see a store with the following sign, you can use Suica to shop at that store.

The Suica can be used wherever the below logos are displayed.
However, if you are using a transportation card to purchase goods in a store, you need to pay attention to whether the card reader is for a specific card type. For example, as mentioned in the above image, PiTaPa affiliated stores cannot use Suica.

For example, although you can use your Suica card to ride on non-JR subway and monorail lines in Osaka, when using Suica to shop, you may encounter PiTaPa-specific card readers and not be able to use your Suica card to make purchases. This is something that you should be aware of.

Using Suica in Kansai Region: Things to Keep in Mind

Note: Suica cannot be used for Cross-Region travel.

If you plan on using an IC card for transportation when visiting cities in the Kansai region of Japan, such as Osaka and Kyoto, there is an important point to keep in mind. You cannot use your IC card for cross-region travel. This means that you cannot use Suica, Pasmo, ICOCA, or any other IC card for travel between different regions.

JR’s regional division

It’s important to understand what is meant by cross-region travel. Most of Japan’s long-distance railways were previously owned by Japan Railway (JR), including the famous Shinkansen. However, due to various reasons, the company was privatized and divided into seven companies: JR East, JR West, JR Central, JR Kyushu, JR Shikoku, JR Hokkaido, and JR Freight. Sometimes these seven companies are collectively referred to as the JR Group.

Except for JR Freight, the six other companies have divided Japan’s JR railway network into six regions, with each company being responsible for the railways in one region. This is illustrated in the map above. The table below, taken from Wikipedia, provides more information on these six companies:

Company Name Alias Theme Color Location Main Region
 Hokkaido Railway Company JR Hokkaido JR logo (hokkaido).svgMoe Yellow(Grass) Hokkaido, Sapporo City Hokkaido, Northern Aomori Prefecture
East Japan Railway Company JR East JR logo (east).svgGreen(Forest) Tokyo, Shibuya Ward Tohoku, Kanto, Hokuriku, Eastern Shizuoka Prefecture
Central Japan Railway Company JR Central JR logo (central).svgOrange(Pumpkin) Aichi Prefecture, Nagoya City Tokaido Shinkansen from Tokyo to Osaka via Kyoto Prefecture, Linear Chuo Shinkansen, Southern Nagano Prefecture, Southern Yamanashi Prefecture, and Western Kanagawa Prefecture
West Japan Railway Company JR West JR logo (west).svgBlue(Ocean) Osaka Prefecture, Osaka City Hokuriku, Kansai, Chugoku Region, Fukuoka Prefecture
Shikoku Railway Company JR Shikoku JR logo (shikoku).svgAqua(Sky) Kagawa Prefecture, Takamatsu City Shikoku
Kyushu Railway Company JR Kyushu JR logo (kyushu).svgRed(Scarlet) Fukuoka Prefecture, Fukuoka City Kyushu

Hokkaido, Shikoku, and Kyushu are three islands that belong to different regions in Japan. However, if you are not familiar with the regional divisions in Japan, it may be difficult to distinguish the three companies on Honshu Island. Therefore, you can also distinguish them based on the cities connected by their railway lines.

From left to right (west to east): [Fukuoka]-JR West- [Osaka] – JR Tokai – [Tokyo]- JR East-[Aomori].

Cross-Region Train Travel

If your itinerary involves routes from two or more regions, then we’re sorry to say that you can only purchase paper tickets for your train travel.
For example:

  • Travel from JR Tokai region to JR West Japan region: Suica cannot be used
  • Take the shinkansen from Tokyo to Osaka: As it crosses three regions, namely JR East Japan, JR Tokai, and JR West Japan, Suica cannot be used
  • Travel from Osaka to Okayama, Hiroshima and other areas: As they all belong to the JR West Japan region, Suica can be used

Generally speaking, for long-distance travel across regions, you need to purchase paper tickets instead of using your transportation IC card directly. However, when purchasing tickets, if you choose an automatic ticket machine or a ticket counter that supports transportation IC cards, you can still use Suica to purchase paper tickets.

There is one exception: If you travel from a Suica region (usually JR East Japan region) to a TOICA region (usually JR Tokai region) using a commuter pass within the validity period, you can cross regions with the commuter pass. However, if you are a tourist traveling in Japan, it is unlikely that you will purchase a commuter pass. Therefore, just remember that you cannot use your transportation IC card for cross-region train travel.

No Automatic Recharge Available

One inconvenience when using Suica in Kansai region cities like Osaka is the inability to use automatic recharge.

  • Automatic recharge available for Suica: stations in the Tokyo metropolitan area (Tokyo and the surrounding six prefectures where Suica and Pasmo are widely used), and some stations in Sendai and Niigata
  • Automatic recharge not available for Suica: all other stations outside of the above-mentioned areas, including the Kansai region

If you are used to automatic recharge in the Tokyo metropolitan area and then come to Osaka, you may find it inconvenient. In Tokyo, you do not have to worry about having insufficient balance on your Suica card, but in Osaka, you might be stopped at the ticket gate if you forget to recharge your card in time.
However, if you do get stuck at the station because of insufficient balance, you can go to the ICOCA settlement machine and recharge with cash.

Introduction to Suica Card by JR East Japan

(Visited 17,793 times, 48 visits today)
CDJapan Rental has a great deal on pocket wifi, with a range of flexible plans starting at ¥187/day.
Japan Pocket Wifi Rental
Japan Travel Prepaid SIM card
GetAround Japan is your number one travel guide, providing the latest information on visiting and living in Japan, with tips on what to eat, things to do, and places to stay.
Whether you're planning for a trip far in the future, or already in Japan in need of some fresh ideas, our archive of posts will help you find the best way to fill your time and get the most out of your travel experience. We provide you updates on serious policies that affect visitors and foreign residents while also keeping things light and fun with articles on quirky trends and pop culture.
How do we know how to provide visitors the information they need? Our affiliate company CDJapan Rental provides WIFI and Sim Card rentals to thousands of visitors to Japan every year. In other words, we are constantly in touch with and listening to the voices of our customers, and infuse our blog with the information they ask us for.
For inquiries, contact us here
=Company Information= CDJapan Rental (Neowing Corporation) 1-10-15-3F Nihonbashi Horidome Chuo, Tokyo 103-0012, Japan

Leave a Reply

Scroll to top