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Suica and ICOCA

Why Are the Cards Called "Suica" and "ICOCA"?


ICOCA A Suica commuter pass (top, East Japan Railway Company) and an ICOCA commuter (bottom, West Japan Railway Company)

Suica is short for Super Urban Intelligent Card. It also stands for "Suisui ikeru IC card," which is Japanese for "IC card that lets you go swiftly." First issued by the East Japan Railway Company in November 2001, Suica cards can currently be used in Tokyo and surrounding areas, as well as in the Sendai area.

ICOCA, meanwhile, stands for IC Operating Card. These cards are issued by West Japan Railway Company and have been in use since November 2003. In the Kansai dialect of western Japan, ikoka means "Shall we go?" So the tagline for the fare card is "ICOCA de ikoka" ("Shall we go with ICOCA?"). ICOCA cards can be used in the Kinki region.

Both Suica and ICOCA are about the size of a credit card and have integrated circuits, or ICs, embedded in them. These thin IC cards are capable of storing many different kinds of information. Although their names may be like puns, the Suica and ICOCA are no joke; they are packed with advanced technology. Both Suica and ICOCA cards come in two variations: a card that doubles as a commuter pass and as a prepaid fare card, and a card that functions solely as a prepaid fare card.