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Suica – the JR East passcard

Choco’s post about traveling in Japan mentioned the Suica, which is a wonderful way to manage transportation while traveling in the Kanto region of Japan.

Makuhari Hongo station
(Makuharu Hongo [幕張本郷] station)

To expand upon this subject a little bit, I’ll provide my personal experiences with the card along with any knowledge I have about it.

I first obtained my Suica in 2006 during my study abroad session in Chiba prefecture. Other classmates were getting Suica 定期(teiki) – a commuter pass version of the card. I didn’t need it since my daily commute was on the Keisei line, but I wanted to get a Suica anyway, because it seemed neat :hee:

The way you obtain the card is as follows: after choosing a JR machine that supports Suica, you select that you want to buy one, and give it 2000yen. 500 of that goes towards the card itself, and 1500 can be used freely. You can charge up your card whenever you’re at a machine using increments of 1000, 2000, 5000 or 10,000 yen, and there doesn’t appear to be a limit – I remember seeing ads for using Suica at the airport for domestic flights :!?: so clearly they want to encourage lots of use.

Suica has come a long way since 2006 – back then, you could primarily use it on JR lines and at certain convenience stores that accepted it. Now, you can use the card on many of the subway lines in Tokyo (but not private lines! Please be careful! Anything that is not part of the “Tokyo Metro” system, for example Tokyu lines, will not accept Suica!), the Keisei lines, and even in other regions of Japan! I was a little confused about this, but apparently Suica can be used in the Kansai region (Osaka, Kyoto, etc) where you would normally need an ICOCA or similar pass for the same functionality. This makes buying a Suica even more convenient! (Note that you can only buy Suica at JR East (Tokyo and surrounding areas) train stations even though you can use them elsewhere.)

Moreover, Suica cards do not expire unless you don’t use them for 10 years. That’s right. Even if you only go to Japan every 9.9 years, as long as you use your Suica once you’re all set! I tend to go to Japan about every other year, and have used the same Suica I bought back in 2006.

Money does not disappear from the card if you don’t use it, either. I believe you might be able to ask for the remaining balance left on the card if you turn the card in at some point, but I’ve never done that, so I’m less clear on the process.

Suica is a contactless card, which means that you merely need to keep it in your wallet, or passcase, and hold it over the sensor – no need to take it out and feed it through the ticket gate. Additionally, there are gates set up just for paying via Suica, so your travel is that much speedier! For people who are living in Japan, and depending on the model, Suica can even be added to your mobile, so as long as you have your phone with you, you’re all set! (Again, I’ve never done this, but I’m well aware of its existence. It’s possible this version of Suica draws from a bank account rather than a card which is charged every now and again.)

Many stores accept Suica as payment – if they do, you’ll see a clearly displayed payment sensor with the symbol for Suica on it. Usually at least one of the convenience stores in a JR station will accept Suica. This is a great way to use up your remaining balance, if you want to, and can be pretty useful if you run out of cash while away from your home base.

Even if you’re only in Tokyo for a stay of about a week, if you ever plan on coming back, I’d recommend buying a Suica card. Without Suica, you need to make sure you have cash (sometimes small bills, as ticket machines may occasionally not take 10,000yen notes) and you need to keep track of a tiny ticket stub which is easily lost.

JR’s english info page about Suica

Tokyo Trip 2011 photos

unfortunately they aren’t very many… and most of them are of strawberry deserts.


strawberry sundae @ Denny's
delicious strawberry sundae @ Denny’s~ :ichigo:

the Japan earthquake, as I experienced it

I was in the most basement floor of La Foret when it happened.

New Regulations Regarding Shipping from Japan to US

In the last day or so, it was announced that after November 17th Japan Post will not be accepting any packages over the weight of 453g (slightly under 1lb) for shipping to the United States. This decision seems to have been made in response to the recent mail bombings that have occurred.

This regulation allows an exception for any businesses that have a monthly contract with Japan Post.
(A post on /toy/ (4chan board) has an e-mail from AmiAmi that claims that Japan Post will only be disallowing packages with missing info: no return address, etc. This was not part of Japan Post’s official statement.)

How does this affect you?
Individual sellers and small companies that bring packages to the post office and pay there, rather than have items picked up at their place of business and pay monthly, will no longer be able to ship packages over 1lb to the United States.
Additionally, companies with a contract of less than 30 days will also be affected.

I will be compiling a list of stores that have either posted a notice or replied to me by e-mail regarding this issue.

Please be aware that if the company is fairly large they likely already have a contract and should not be adversely affected.

Intex Osaka

This photos in this post will be presented backwards from how I took them – I was too excited/nervous to take any on the way in, so I took a bunch on the way out.

Intex Osaka is a complex of buildings held on a little island outside of Osaka city – the train actually goes underwater to reach it. The land itself is quite pretty and reminds me of Makuhari city in Chiba prefecture: lots of trees and other greenery and plenty of space.

Intex Osaka Aug 1st 2010
Entering the raised walkway from the New Tram train station


Home Town Dollpa Osaka 6 report

Home Town Dollpa Osaka 6
(Taken from afar during the bingo session)

A very very late write-up about Volks’ Home Town Dollpa 6 that took place on August 1st, 2010.
Well, I did post photos to my flickr account shortly after the event, at least.

This post will be VERY picture-heavy.


Sakuno GET (& other things)

Home Town Dollpa Osaka 6

I know, I know, I’m way behind on making posts about, well, everything that’s happened in the past two weeks (JAPAN!) but…..

Episode 7 of Umineko has come out so…. I’ve been spending time reading that.

Uh, in the meantime, here’s some bullet points!

  • Sakuno GET! Due to circumstances beyond my control, I wasn’t able to enter the lottery directly at Home Town Dollpa Osaka 6, so I entered the lottery for Sakuno at the Volks USA website… and won! now to wait until October… -_-
  • 桜乃ゲットだぜ!仕方がない事情があったからドルパに直接に抽選が出来なかったので、USAのボークスの抽選に出て、そして桜乃を勝ちました!んで、10月まで待てなきゃ。。。。
  • Umineko Episode 7! omg omg omg!
  • うみねこの7目のエピソード!すごすごすご~~~い!
  • HTDO6 was amazing, although my loot haul is much smaller than the amount of photos I took…
  • ドルパはすごかったけど、買ったことはとった写真よりもっともっと小さいですけどねぇ
  • the Symposium was also pretty awesome, but that’s not very otaku-related ^^; (er, okay so maybe a specific kind of music-otaku-type…)
  • 国際ハンドベル大会もすごかったけど、それはあまり「オタク」っぽいじゃないから関係ないのかしら^^;(まぁ、音楽・オタクっぽくかもしれませんよね)
  • lots of Japan photos forthcoming, although I always wish I’d taken more I ended up catching a cold so I was less energetic than normal -_-;
  • 日本の写真いっぱいとりましたけど、もっととった方がいいよねぇといつも思ってますよね。風邪のせいであまり元気じゃなかったですから。
  • Tokyo Disney Sea seems to have not changed…. except for the addition of Duffy/ShellieMay
  • ディスニーシーは変わってない。。。ダフィー以外とはね。
  • street lives & having simultaneously translated conversations with strangers over music is pretty entertaining
  • ストリートライブと他人と通訳した会話をやるなんて意外と面白いですよぉ。
  • I am apparently still pretty intelligible despite the cold, even speaking in Japanese
  • 風邪を引いちゃっても、けっこう分かられてるそうです、日本語で話すと。
  • I ate some GIANT sushi rolls x__x
  • でっかい寿司食べちゃったのですぅ。(マジででっかの。マジ。)
  • Osaka people are seriously helpful & friendly….. but afterall I’m really a Tokyo girl. (Osaka is great to visit, though!)
  • 大阪人は本当に優しくて役に立てる人なんです。。。。でもね、アタシはやっぱり東京少女なのですぅ。(大阪は旅行するのがいいところなんですけどね!)
  • I really need to go back to Kyoto and spend more than a couple hours there….
  • いつか京都に戻らなきゃ、二時間しかなかったですからね。

settling for a temporary layout

No end to the sky-scraping adverts
(photo mine, of Akihabara in January, 2006, during my first visit.)

So, since I’m leaving for Japan in less than a week (!!) I’ve decided there’s no way for me to finish a complete blog layout (my coding skillz are kinda rusty… :bhdown: ) I’ve just hijacked this rotating headers one and created a few headers for now. Hopefully I’ll take some better photos soon so I can make prettier ones XD;

I also owe reviews for figma Mio, figma Yui, figma fighting waitress!Mikuru, figma Kagami (winter ver)…. -_-; er, I’m pretty behind :skulldown:
あとは、figma澪、 figma唯、 figma戦うウェートレス!みくる、 figmaかがみ(冬服)…. ずいぶん落ちてしまいましたね :skulldown:

Oh! and these smilies are courtesy of Mitsu @ Universal Doll (the text-based ones) and Jays @ Babydoll.nu (Marie & other animated) :pachi: (well, I haven’t uploaded the Mitsu-emoji yet, but I probably will)
あっ!それで、この絵文字はMitsu @ Universal Doll (テキスト系の) と Jays @ Babydoll.nu (マリーちゃん & そのほかの動き絵文字)のおかげですよ!(まっ、まだテキスト系のをアップしていないんだけど、もうすぐそうするかもしれません。)

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