Post offices and most convenience stores have international ATMs. Most hotels and department stores, but only some restaurants and ryokan, accept credit cards.
The currency in Japan is the yen (¥). The Japanese pronounce yen as 'en', with no 'y' sound. The kanji for yen is 円.
¥1 coin; lightweight, silver colour
¥5 coin; bronze colour, hole in the middle, value in Chinese character only
¥10 coin; copper colour
¥50 coin; silver colour, hole in the middle
¥100 coin; silver colour
¥500 coin; large, silver colour
¥2000 banknote (rare)
Feature: Have Cash on Hand
Be warned that there are still many places in Japan – particularly outside the cities – that don't accept credit cards. Ryokan and smaller restaurants and shops are common cash-only places. It's wise to assume you'll need to pay cash; stock up when you're in a town with an ATM.
Most Japanese bank ATMs do not accept foreign-issued cards. Even if they display Visa and MasterCard logos, most accept only Japan-issued versions of these cards.
The following have ATMs that routinely work with most cards (including Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Plus, Cirrus and Maestro; some MasterCard and Maestro with IC chips may not work). Be aware that many banks place a limit on the amount of cash you can withdraw in one day.
7-Eleven (セブン・イレブン; www.sevenbank.co.jp/english) The Seven Bank ATMs at 7-Eleven convenience stores have English instructions and are available 24 hours a day. Considering that 7-Eleven convenience stores are ubiquitous, this is the easiest option for getting quick cash. Withdrawal limit of ¥100,000 per transaction.
Japan Post Bank (ゆうちょ銀行; www.jp-bank.japanpost.jp/en/ias/en_ias_index.html) Post offices have Japan Post Bank ATMs with English instructions; opening hours vary depending on the size of the post office, but are usually longer than regular post-office hours. Withdrawal limit of ¥50,000 per transaction.
More places in Japan accept credit cards than they used to, and now many bookings can be paid for online. Businesses that do take credit cards will often display the logo for the cards they accept. Visa is the most widely accepted, followed by MasterCard, American Express and Diners Club. Foreign-issued cards should work fine.
With a passport, you can change cash or travellers cheques at any Authorised Foreign Exchange Bank (signs are displayed in English), major post offices, some large hotels and most big department stores.
For currency other than US dollars, larger banks, such as Sumitomo Mitsui (SMBC), are a better bet. They can usually change at least US, Canadian and Australian dollars, pounds sterling, euros and Swiss francs.
Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ (MUFG) operates World Currency Shop (www.tokyo-card.co.jp/wcs/wcs-shop-e.php) foreign-exchange counters near major shopping centres in Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka and Fukuoka. They will exchange a broader range of currencies, including Chinese yuan, Korean won, and Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and New Zealand dollars.
Note that you receive a better exchange rate when withdrawing cash from ATMs than when exchanging cash or travellers cheques in Japan. Rates for the US dollar and euro are generally reasonable in Japan; other currencies, including the Australian dollar and the currencies of nearby countries, often fetch poor exchange rates.
For current exchange rates, see www.xe.com.
Western Union (http://wu-japan.com/find-locations/en) has counters in most major cities. For sending money out of Japan, Shinsei Bank's GoRemit service (www.shinseibank.com/goremit/en) is convenient.
Tipping is not customary in Japan (leaving money on the table in a restaurant will usually result in the waiter chasing you down the street to give it back). High-end restaurants and hotels will usually add a 10% service fee to the bill.