Some good news for residents and travelers to Japan! From 23 March 2013 each region's transport IC card (for use on trains, buses, taxis, subways and even in convenience stores and certain shops) will become fully interchangeable.
Thus Japan's contactless IC transit cards will be valid not just in the city or area where they were first issued but also nationwide throughout Japan.
Therefore Pasmo and Suica IC cards in Tokyo, Manaca in Nagoya, Kitaca in Hokkaido, Nimoca in Oita Prefecture, Toica (for JR Lines in the Chubu area around Nagoya), Icoca (Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe), Hayakaken (Fukuoka) and Sugoca (Fukuoka Prefecture) can be used anywhere throughout Japan.
Some of these pre-paid cards were already interchangeable such as Pasmo and Suica in Tokyo, Icoca and Suica in Osaka and Tokyo; Sugoca and Suica in Fukuoka and Tokyo and Sugoca in Fukuoka and Toica in central Japan.
Now all of the above pre-paid cards are interchangeable from March 2013, simplifying a somewhat complex system.
Even someone visiting Japan for a week would be advised to buy one of these pre-paid IC cards as they are limitless and can be recharged and used on any future trip to Japan. Usually a payment of 500 yen registers your card, so that in the case of loss you do not need to pay the initial fee again. Each card earns points on travel and purchases which can be redeemed at regular intervals.
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