Travel in Osaka with IC Cards PiTaPa, ICOCA, and etc.



Japan’s IC cards are a convenient tool for travelling using public transportation in the country. PiTaPa and ICOCA are IC cards from Osaka, learn what’s different about them and why you should get them.

First Published: 2021/12/13
Updated: 2024/01/24

Table of Contents

  1. Japan IC Cards for Convenient Travel
  2. Osaka IC Cards PiTaPa and ICOCA
  3. PiTaPa vs ICOCA - Which to get? 
  4. Save Money with Osaka Travel Passes

Japan IC Cards for Convenient Travel

In major Japanese cities like Tokyo and Osaka, public transportation like buses, local trains and subways are the most efficient and convenient form of transportation, and IC cards play a significant role in making travel seamless for locals and tourists alike. 

IC cards, which stands for “Integrated Circuit” cards, are prepaid rechargeable smart cards that can be used for not just payment of public transportation, but also vending machines and even purchases at some stores. The most popular IC cards in Japan are Suica and PASMO, but there are others as well. 

In this article, we will focus on introducing IC Cards primarily used in Osaka and the Kansai area.

Osaka IC Cards PiTaPa and ICOCA

Image from PR Times.

Most of Japan’s IC cards have nationwide compatibility for public transportation systems which means they can be used anywhere in Japan including Osaka. Even so, there may be limitations (such as on local buses), and long-distance travel between regions.

Osaka IC Cards PiTaPa and ICOCA are also nationwide compatible IC Cards, but their primary areas of usage are focused within the Kansai region. So if you’re living in Osaka, then consider them! 

What is ICOCA?

Image from PR Times. 

ICOCA is JR West’s rechargeable prepaid IC card that is available to purchase at JR West train stations. Its primary area of usage is the Kansai region which includes the major cities of Osaka, Kobe, and Kyoto. As long as the nationwide interoperability IC mark is displayed, ICOCA can be used. 

JR East’s Suica mascot is a loveable black and white penguin, while JR West’s ICOCA mascot is a blue platypus called “Ico-chan”. The name “ICOCA” is actually a pun on 行こうか? (Ikou ka?), meaning “Shall we go?” 

There are 3 types of ICOCA physical cards, commuter pass can be made for each type :


  • Cash recharge only.
  • Available to buy at vending machines and station counters.
  • Name unregistered cards cannot be reissued upon card loss.

Kodomo ICOCA

  • Child discount ICOCA card for children up to 12 years old.
  • Usable until March 31st of the year the child turns 12. 
  • Cash recharge only.
  • Available to buy at station counters only. 


  • Cash and cashless (Quick Charge) recharge with a registered credit card.
  • Credit card required to purchase. 
  • Only one card per person can be issued.
  • “Smart” feature includes online member access to check usage history and points balance.

In 2023, JR West launched Mobile ICOCA for Android Osaifu-Keitai supported phones and ApplePay on iPhones and AppleWatches. For Android users, downloading the ICOCA official app and registering for a WESTER ID is required to register for a new ICOCA or commuter pass on your phone, or to transfer an existing physical ICOCA card or commuter pass to your phone. For Apple users, everything can be done through Apple Wallet. 

For more information, check the official website link below. 

Official Website: Japanese / English

What is PiTaPa?

Image from PR Times.

Japan IC cards are generally prepaid, the exception is PiTaPa, a rare postpaid IC card in Japan offered by スルッと KANSAI (Surutto KANSAI) that also offers the Kansai Thru Pass, a travel pass for foreign visitors’.

The name PiTaPa is an acronym for “Postpay IC for Touch and Pay” that aptly describes the service provided. PiTaPa’s strongest selling point is its convenience of never needing to recharge to use. However, the process of getting a PiTaPa is more complicated, requiring submitting an application online or by post. Additionally, a Japanese bank account is required so PiTaPa is only suitable for residents in Japan. The time taken from application to approval and receiving your card usually takes around 3 to 4 weeks. 

The basic PiTaPa card only has transportation and shopping functions. However, with PiTaPa, you can also sign up for a credit card. There is a choice of having separate PiTaPa card and credit, or a combined credit card with PiTaPa functions partnered with VISA, JCB, or Mastercard. There are also many options for banks or organisations in collaboration with PiTaPa so you can effectively collect points.

For more information, check the official website link below. 

Official Website (Japanese Only) 

PiTaPa vs ICOCA - Which to get? 

Deciding between PiTaPa and ICOCA is easy enough for overseas visitors to Japan, since ICOCA is the only option available to foreign tourists who do not have a Japanese bank account to sign-up for a PiTaPa. For long-term residents, deciding which to get requires more thought and weighing of the benefits. 

Here’s a breakdown of the differences between PiTaPA and ICOCA to help you out. 



Postpaid - direct debit from registered
Japanese bank account

Prepaid - recharge by cash,
or cashless (Smart ICOCA only)

Japanese bank account required.

No requirements. Anyone can purchase.

Application online or by post.
Takes 3 to 4 weeks to process and receive.

Immediate purchase at JR West train
stations or vending machines. 

Public transportation and shopping use. 

Public transportation and shopping use. 

Credit card sign-up option. 

No credit card option. 

Collect Shop de Point.

Collect WESTER points. 

Save Money with Osaka Travel Passes

The costs of travel can gradually add up when you are a tourist visiting Japan. Thankfully, there are ways to minimise travel costs such as discount passes that offer unlimited rides on buses and trains. There are also passes that include discounts at tourist attractions and affiliate shops. 

Here, we will introduce some Osaka Travel Passes and Kansai Travel Passes available to foreign visitors. Have a look and consider which one is most suitable for your travels. 

Osaka Travel Passes

Osaka Amazing Pass

Unlimited use of trains and city buses in Osaka City, and one time free admission to 40 facilities in Osaka including popular tourist attractions like Osaka Castle, Tennoji Zoo, Umeda Sky Building Kuchu Teien Observatory, and even cruise experiences. There are two types of passes available: 

  • 1-Day Pass: 2800 Yen includes Osaka Metro, Osaka City Bus (excluding some routes), New Tram, Hankyu, Hanshin, Keihan, Kintetsu and Nankai train lines in Osaka City.
  • 2-Day Pass: 3600 Yen includes Osaka Metro, Osaka City Bus (excluding some routes), and New Tram. 

Route map for each pass is available on the official website, please check before purchase. The Osaka Amazing Pass is available to buy at tourist information centres, Osaka Metro stations, some hotels and tourist facilities, and online. 

Official Website

Osaka 1-Day Enjoy Eco Card Pass

Unlimited use of Osaka Metro lines and Osaka City Bus (excluding some routes), and admission discounts for around 30 tourist attractions in Osaka City. 

  • Adult Price: 820 Yen (Weekdays), 620 Yen (Weekends and Holidays( 
  • Child Price: 310 Yen 

Discounts on weekends makes this an economical pass. Available to purchase at Osaka Metro station ticket vending machines.

Official Website

Osaka Metro Pass

Unlimited use of Osaka Metro lines and Osaka City Bus (excluding some routes), and admission discounts at some tourist attractions in Osaka City. Mainly sold outside of Japan, but also available to buy domestically at Kansai International Airport Terminal 1’s tourist information centre. Domestic price is as follows: 

  • 1-Day Pass: 700 Yen
  • 2-Day Pass: 1300 Yen

※ Available to overseas tourists only. Passport check required before purchase in Japan. 

Information Website 

Kyoto-Osaka Sightseeing 1-Day Pass (Osaka Metro) 

This pass is recommended for people wanting to visit Osaka and Kyoto with unlimited use of Keihan lines heading for Kyoto, Osaka Metro lines and Osaka City Bus, and admission discounts to tourist attractions in both Osaka and Kyoto. 

  • Domestic Price: 1400 Yen
  • Overseas Price: 1200 Yen

Available to buy overseas and domestically at Osaka Metro tourist information centres, Kansai Airport Terminal 1 tourist information centre, and other places. 

※ Available to overseas tourists only. Passport check required before purchase in Japan. 
※ This pass is available for a limited time only until March 31, 2024. Purchased passes are valid for use until April 30, 2024. 

Official Website

Kansai Travel Passes

The Kansai region consists of Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo, Nara, Shiga, and Wakayama prefectures. If Mie prefecture is included, then they are the Kinki region. 

There are many famous tourist spots to visit in each part of Kansai that you can find out more about in our Kansai region article. 

Kansai Thru Pass by Surutto Kansai

Unlimited rides on subways, trains, and buses in the Kansai area, and discounts at around 260 tourist attractions and shopping facilities. Visit popular areas in Kansai like Osaka, Kyoto, Nara and Kobe. 

Purchase price outside Japan:

  • 2-Day Pass: 4380 Yen (Adult), 2190 Yen (Child)
  • 3-Day Pass: 5400 Yen (Adult), 2700 (Child)

Purchase price in Japan:

  • 2-Day Pass: 4480 Yen (Adult), 2240 Yen (Child)
  • 3-Day Pass: 5600 Yen (Adult), 2800 (Child)

The Kansai Thru Pass can be used consecutively through its period of validity, for example on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays instead of Monday to Wednesday. It is only available to buy at certain locations in Japan, please check the official website. 

※ Eligible for foreign tourists, Japanese nationals living abroad, and one accompanying person as guide at same time of purchase. 

Official Website (English Page)

Kintetsu Rail pass

Unlimited use of Kintetsu Railway lines in designated areas based on purchased rail pass, and admission discounts for popular tourist attractions in the area. Use of limited express trains is not included, limited express fees need to be paid separately.

For Osaka, Nara, Kyoto

  • 1-Day Pass: 1500 Yen (Adult), 750 Yen (Child)
  • 2-Day Pass: 2500 Yen (Adult), 1250 Yen (Child)

For Osaka, Nara, Kyoto, Mie, Nagoya
Purchase outside Japan: 

  • 5-Day Pass: 3700 Yen (Adult), 1850 Yen (Child)
  • 5-Day Plus Pass: 4900 Yen (Adult), 2450 Yen (Child)

Purchase in Japan: 

  • 5-Day Pass: 3900 Yen (Adult), 1950 Yen (Child)
  • 5-Day Plus Pass: 5100 Yen (Adult), 2550 Yen (Child)

The 5-Day Plus Pass differs from the 5-Day Pass in that it has additional unlimited use of Nara Kotsu and Mie Kotsu bus lines (excluding some routes). 

※ Available to overseas tourists only. Passport check required before purchase in Japan or when exchanging a voucher. 

Official Website (English Page)

For travel passes that include the usage of Shinkansen (bullet train), have a look at our Shinkansen article where we listed the available Shinkansen rail passes and discount tickets for foreign visitors. 

To Close

Osaka IC card ICOCA or Osaka travel pass that offers unlimited rides is recommended for tourists visiting Osaka. There are also discount Kansai travel passes for people interested in visiting other Kansai areas like Kyoto, Nara and Kobe. For long term residents in Osaka, another option to ICOCA is the postpaid IC card PiTaPa but keep in mind that a Japanese bank account is required. 

Now that you are familiar with Osaka IC cards, are you ready to make a trip to Osaka? And perhaps choose to settle down here? 


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