I love spending money, but something I love more is saving money. My move to Ise was mostly a matter of the heart, but a lot of people – who were not asked for their opinion – insisted on telling me the commute would be too expensive.
Kintetsu railway sells various kinds of discounted tickets. For regular commuters between set locations the teikiken (定期券) is a good choice. I had looked into them in the past and always found they fell short; however, my current lifestyle has matched up with these commuter passes. One reason is that I have to ride to Tsu Station or Tsu Shinmachi Station every day; whereas my first job required traveling to various stations. Another reason is the distance from Ujiyamada Station in Ise.
Formulae for calculating ticket prices are not clear, but it seems the discount for commuting to someplace nearby is less than for a distant location. Additionally, my calligraphy school is in Tsu, so I often use the commuter pass on Saturdays.
Passes are sold in 1 month, 3 month, and half-year increments. Three month and half-year passes receive larger discounts, so my original plan was to buy the longest pass; however, I was uncertain how I would like the train commute, so I wavered for awhile. Finally in a conversation with my mother, she showed the wisdom that got her through life so smoothly. “Buy a one month pass first and try it out.”, rolled off her tongue and I thought the simplicity was great.
For one month I kept dilligent records each time I boarded a train. My first pass cost 20,240 yen (about $200) and I used around 35,000 yen worth of train fares, saving about 42%. Pass renewal can be done in machines at most stations as early as a week before the existing pass expires. I forked over the nearly 110,000 yen (~$1100) for a six month pass, and will keep records to see how things compare. Moneywise, the best choice would probably be to buy one month passes and let them lapse if they fall over a long weekend or my two week vacation in August or such; however, that seemed too tedious.
Convenience is a major point. For the past month I have not stopped at any ticket machines; rather, I just stroll up to the wicket and slip my card in the slot. No calculating the fare, no fiddling with change, no stressing out when I am cutting it close. Buying the half-year pass was a no brainer for me.