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I am using a European Google Pay-compatible cellphone and the corresponding region account linked to it and will likely be traveling to Japan.

I would like to use contact-less-based public transport, for which I would like to create a Suica card on Google Pay, but I'm having trouble reading the help page from Google :

It reads :

Important: This article is for Google Pay customers in Japan.

Does this mean that you only need to be physically in Japan or do you need a Japanese Google account to add a Suica card?

The other page specifically about the suica card, says

To add an e-money card, your device must be Osaifu-Keitai compatible

I wasn't able to find any resource in English about the compatibility of specific devices, would there be one in Japanese?

Reading :

Most credit cards issued in Japan are supported for topping up.

breaks the plan as I won't have a Japanese card, but still interested about the answers

2 Answers 2

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+500

Osaifu keitai (おサイフケータイ) requires a specific variant of NFC, NFC-F (NFC FeliCa), which most overseas phones don't have, even if they support run-of-the-mill NFC. For example, my Japanese model Huawei P20 doesn't support it, but the model that DoCoMo sold to their customers does.

Generally if a phone supports NFC-F, it will have the following symbol on it (either on the back or somewhere in the About menu information):

enter image description here

The only phone that I think (don't hold me to this) ships with this worldwide is the iPhone, starting from iPhone 8. You can add Suica as a transportation card to your Apple Wallet (rather than installing the app), though last I heard (around 2023/04), overseas VISA cards are not working as a funding source.

For Android, I believe you also need a Japanese Google Play account to download the Mobile Suica app. For iPhone it can be done directly from the Wallet app, regardless of where you’ve purchased your phone.

I'm not really sure what the issue is though, just pick up a regular IC card (be it Suica, Toica, etc.) and charge it via cash at the ticket machines. I think the deposit is ~500 yen and you can return the card when you're done with it to get your deposit back, or keep the card for next time.

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  • 1
    Updated your answer for the IPhone. Looks like Apple’s support for it is much better.
    – JonathanReez
    Nov 12, 2022 at 22:50
  • 1
    tl;dr no, unless you have an iPhone.
    – xuq01
    Nov 21, 2022 at 19:28
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A bit late to the conversation, but here is my input. I have two devices, my Japan-side device issues by Docomo and my overseas device, unlocked Sony Xperia. With Google, I have two accounts, my student-US account and my Japan account. On my Japanese device, I have Osaifu keitai and can access Suica either via MobileSuica or thw GPay app under transit card. However, on my Sony device, since it is overseas unlocked, Although I can download both Osaifu Keitai and Mobile Suica, neither of which will work. Furthermore, although I am using my Japan region Play account, I cannot access mobile suica from thw GPay app.

So, as mentioned in other posts, foreign devices do not have the same NFC hardware as the Japanese domestic devices. Even with a Japanese account, with android, you cannot use that service with a foreign device.

If you are going to be in Japan for a while and will be getting a rental sim, contract sim, or prepaid sim, I might suggest dropping by a Softmap or used phone store and picking up a sim unlocked device. Just take note that a domestic device will do you no good overseas, so be conscientious about that.

**iPhone note, in transition from Fujitsu to iPhone for my domestic device, I did note, that even with a foriegn iPhone (US region), you can still use Mobile Suica from the Apple Wallet. HOWEVER, MobileSuica (their POS) does NOT accept overseas cards at this time, so please be take note.

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  • It seems that American Express and some Mastercards are still accepted. All foreign-issued Visa credit cards are off the table, though. Not sure about Discover. I just used the charging stations to top off; wasn't that much a hassle.
    – Jimmy
    Feb 28, 2023 at 23:44

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