Out & About

Just a wee bit late… Yesterday, my friend from Tokyo visited Kyoto for a short day trip. We went to no less than three museums, one of them even for free and unofficially, because we arrived between exhibitions and the nice lady downstairs let us in anyway.

We had ramen for lunch and coffee and sweets as final act of the day before my friend returned home again. I always enjoy our outings, she’s curious and flexible and very happy to try and experience all sorts of new things with me.

After our outing, I found myself at Kitaoji Bus Terminal and decided to buy a new IC card for public transport. Of course, I have one – a so-called SUICA I bought years ago in Tokyo – and while it’s still perfectly valid and functional, the Kansai region has recently introduced a discount system for commuters and other heavy users that only works with the local IC cards PiTaPa or ICOCA.

I thought I could simply buy one of these and be done with it after registering my address, but it turns out that the PiTaPa is only available via (online) application, because it is in fact a post-paid card that requires a connected bank account for automatic payment at the end of each month.

In any case, it took a while to explain to the two people at the information counter what I wanted from them; in turn it took a while for them to explain to me the requirements… Finally, I got the advice to “research PiTaPa on the internet”.

“Is there a URL,” I asked, “can you please write it down for me.” This is the note I received:

I think I discovered peak stupidity.

2 thoughts on “Out & About”

  1. If I didn’t have a (monorail) suica already, I would have picked up an ICOCA at some point… I love the blue and the platypus. 🥰

    Personally, I like that the IC cards are usually pre-paid. Gives me a better idea of how much I have paid already. PitaPa is basically a very basic credit card. I am surprised Japan has something like this… for their public transport system. 😳

    1. Well, during my “research on the internet”, I found out that while those IC cards are perfectly valid throughout the country, they all have a main region of usage – and you cannot cross these boundaries. Meaning: I can use SUICA in Tokyo and in Kyoto, but I cannot use it to travel from Tokyo to Kyoto. Clear as mud? 😉

      Also, I now think that the PiTaPa may have been created to to be used by companies for their employee’s use on public transport. If your job requires you to travel extensively within Kansai or even just within Kyoto’s subway range, this credit card system is easier than constant reload-reimburse. I suppose there is a detailed bill at the end of the month – or at least one that differentiates between transport and other bills.

      Now that I know about the post-paid nature of PiTaPa, I’m not so sure it’s for me. I also like to know how much I spent, roughly at least, and just the thought of losing the thing with all the money easily accessible gives me the shivers. I need to think about the pros and cons a bit more.

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