O.K., so you’ve added funds to your IC card, and are using the train to your heart’s content. But how do you keep track of all the places that you’ve been? Yes, your phone is likely stalking your location, but how about a less Orwellian approach? Allow me to introduce you to the following Japan rail souvenir:
As you may have gathered, the big catch is that you have to be able to read Japanese to enjoy it. The small catch is that it only lists the prior 20 swipes. Shucks.
But wait! Because I’m a nice guy, I will try to help you to better appreciate this Japan rail souvenir with a few translations.
Let’s look more closely at what had been printed out:
To start with, the four printed digits on the leftmost column refer to the date, obviously (in this case) in the month/day format. As for the rightmost column, we’ve got the balance (残額・ざんがく・zangaku); that means as of yesterday, I’ve got 2817 yen on my IC card. Note: The IC cards allow for up to 20000 to be stored, hence the asterisk.
Now let’s continue to the six red numbers.
- 入 = entered (a station)
- 出 = exited (a station)
- 物販 = you bought something, e.g. at a vending machine, convenience store, or food kiosk.
- 現金 = (added) cash (at a station). The word is げんきん, or genkin. If a cashier is asking how you’re going to pay, if it’s cash, say 現金で (genkin de), meaning “by cash.”
- Here’s where the fun begins. The third column lists the station where you entered, or added cash to your IC card.
In this case, the station where I entered (notice the 入) is blurrily called Kunitachi (国立・くにたち).
- That means the exit station (notice the 出) was Ōme (青梅・おおめ).
For extra visuals, check out that train route on a map.
These 20 swipes all happened in JR (Japan Rail) East territory, which includes the Tokyo metropolitan area. It was a mix of non-rail purchases, JR rail usage, and Seibu rail usage. Does it work for all rail lines throughout the country? I’m not sure. But it would definitely print out the same detail if you limited use to Tokyo’s metro (subway) systems.
Nevertheless, I hope that this guide can help you figure out where you’ve been, and where you should go next!