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LocationKansai region, San'yō region
LaunchedNovember 1, 2003 (19 years ago)
OperatorWest Japan Railway Company
ManagerWest Japan Railway Company
CurrencyJapanese yen
Stored-valuePay as you go
Auto rechargeNone
Unlimited useNone (Other non-related unlimited use passes available)
  • ICOCA 定期券 (teikiken) – rechargeable card with added commuter pass
  • こどもICOCA (kodomo) – children's ICOCA
  • こどもICOCA 定期券 – children's ICOCA with added commuter pass
  • Smart ICOCA
  • KIPS ICOCA – this card is sold by Kintetsu
  • Shikoku ICOCA - this card is sold by JR Shikoku

The ICOCA (イコカ, Ikoka) card is a rechargeable contactless smart card used on the JR West rail network in Japan. The card was launched on November 1, 2003, for usage on the Urban Network, which encompasses the major cities of Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe (Keihanshin). It is now usable on many other networks. The ICOCA area has gradually been expanded, and now includes the San'yo region through the Okayama and Hiroshima urban areas, and some lines in northern Shikoku, San'in and Hokuriku regions as of 2020.[1]

ICOCA stands for IC Operating CArd, but it is also a play on the phrase "Iko ka" (行こか), an informal, Kansai dialect invitation meaning "Shall we go?" in Japanese (the standard, Tokyo dialect equivalent is "Ikō ka" (行こうか)).

The mascots for the ICOCA program consists of a blue platypus (or duckbill) called Ico the Platypus (カモノハシのイコちゃん, Kamonohashi no Iko-chan) and Icota and Icomi the Platypuses (カモノハシのイコ太とイコ美, Kamonohashi no Ikota to Ikomi).


How to use ICOCA card

Usage of the card involves passing it over a card reader. The technology allows for the card to be read at some distance from the reader, so contact is not required, and many people leave the card in their wallet and just pass the wallet over the reader as they enter the ticket gate.

The balance on the card is displayed when you enter the ticket gate this way. The balance is also displayed whenever the card is inserted into the ticket or fare adjustment machines as well. A travel record is stored on the card, and can be displayed or printed out as well, at the fare adjustment machines.

On occasion, when travelling to a station where ICOCA is not supported, the card must be handed over to the staff at the exiting station, so that they can calculate the remaining fare, and also so that they can return a slip of paper which must be given to the staff at the next station where ICOCA is used.

ICOCA functions as a boarding ticket (乗車券, jōshaken), and also has a commuter pass (定期券, teikiken) added to it. However, for express services, such as the Haruka service to Kansai airport, on which an additional fee is required, ICOCA can only be used as fare ticket (乗車券, jōshaken) (for passing the ticket gate) for non-reserved travel, with the express ticket purchased from the conductor on board the train – see train tickets in Japan.



Interoperation map

Via a number of reciprocal agreements, for ordinary fares, ICOCA can be used interoperably with various other mass transit smart card systems. As of 2014, ICOCA has interoperability with Kitaca, Suica, PASMO, TOICA, manaca, PiTaPa, SUGOCA, nimoca, hayakaken and several other local smart cards.


These cards are available at card vending machines at the train stations. The card costs 2000 yen, which includes a 500 yen deposit that will be returned if the card is turned in. The remaining 1500 yen is immediately available for train rides, and more money can be charged on to the card at similar ticket vending machines or fare adjustment machines inside each station.

The card may only be returned in JR West stations, however, so travelers who start their trip in JR west area and finish their trip elsewhere may not be able to return it before departure. Shikoku ICOCA cards are sold at several stations in Shikoku and can only be returned at those stations.


The card incorporates contactless RFID technology developed by Sony, called FeliCa. The same technology is also deployed in the Edy electronic cash cards used in Japan, the Octopus card in Hong Kong & the old ezlink Card in Singapore.

See also


  1. ^ "ご利用可能エリア│ICOCA:JRおでかけネット". JR West. Retrieved 27 August 2020.