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Japan Travel Money Guide

Planning a trip to the land of the rising sun? Because Japan is a cash-based society, it’s important to make sure you’re fully equipped with everything you need to know about exchanging, buying and spending Japanese yen before you arrive. We’ve rounded up the basics of using cash, travel cards, credit and debit cards, as well as FX and local ATMs in our Japan travel money guide.

The Low Down on Japanese Currency

  • Currency: Japanese Yen
  • Currency code: JPY
  • Central Bank: Bank of Japan
  • Currency symbol: ¥, 円 (yen)
  • Bank notes: ¥1000, ¥2000, ¥5000, ¥10,000
  • Coins: ¥1, ¥5, ¥10, ¥50, ¥100, ¥500


The currency used in Japan is called the yen, pronounced ‘en’ in Japanese. You may see it abbreviated as JPY, JP¥, ¥ or with the kanji symbol 円.

The word ‘yen’ derives from the Japanese translation for the word ‘round’. It’s the third most- traded currency on the foreign exchange market in the world after the US Dollar and the Euro.

Payment Options in Japan

Although Japan is one of the most advanced countries in the world technologically, it largely remains a cash-based society. Whilst credit cards are accepted in most locations around the country, some places like temples, small restaurants, boutiques, markets, and rural inns remain cash only.

We’ve compared all your travel money options for Japan, so you can work out how best to plan your money while on holidaying in the land of the rising sun.

Pros:

  • Cash is flexible as it’s accepted everywhere in Japan. You can rest assured that with cash you won’t be missing out on any must-do Japanese experiences!
  • Unlike withdrawing from an ATM or paying via card, there are no hidden fees with taking Japanese currency in cash.
  • Cash can be better for your budgeting. Taking a set amount of cash with you daily may help you be more vigilant in not spending it all.

Cons:

  • Carrying large amounts of cash may be unsafe, or may make you feel anxious. Luckily, Japan is known to be an extremely safe destination!
  • It may be harder to keep track of your spending with cash if taking all with you when going out to explore.
  • If your cash does get stolen while you are on holiday, there may be a limit to how much you can claim back on your travel insurance.

Pros:

  • Travel cards can provide more security compared to other payment methods. Replacing your card if it is lost or stolen is usually easy as many travel card providers offer emergency assistance and card replacement.
  • You can order 2 when purchasing just in case 1 gets lost, stolen or damaged.
  • Having a travel card may save you money, as it allows you to lock in the Japanese yen rates at time of purchase.*

Discover how you can explore Japan with peace of mind with our 5* award-winning Travelex Money Card!

Cons:

  • Taking cash out of your prepaid card in Japan may attract local ATM fees.
  • Cards may not be accepted in many locations across Japan, particularly in rural areas.
  • If you need to top up your travel card up with new funds, it may take some time for them to appear on your card - meaning it’s not the best option if you need funds in a hurry (our Travelex Money Card allows you to top up and check your balance on the go with our Travelex Money App!)

Pros:

  • Credit and debit cards can be great for pre-booking experiences that can be paid for online.
  • Credit cards provide you with security and flexibility, in that you have access to a larger pool of funds.
  • Some cards may have a rewards points system when you use them to travel.

Cons:

  • Many shops, restaurants and attractions in Japan are cash-only.
  • Having more funds available on your credit card may be a temptation to spend more than you can actually afford.
  • You may be stung with high currency conversion fees in Japan when using your credit or debit card.

Pros:

  • Withdrawing cash from an ATM in location can be convenient. As you start running low on cash, you can simply find an ATM and withdraw more.
  • You do not have to carry large quantities of cash with you, which may make you feel safer.

Cons:

  • Many ATMs in Japan do not accept foreign cards. You may have trouble withdrawing, particularly in rural areas or on public holidays when ATMs shut down.
  • There may be a range of withdrawal fees associated with withdrawing cash from an ATM in Japan.

Pros:

  • FX ATMs make exchanging cash at the airport before leaving Australia easy. There are no forms to fill in, and it’s self-serve. Visit our foreign currency ATM page to find a Travelex FX ATM that dispenses Japanese yen.
  • FX ATMs are 24 hours, meaning you have the flexibility to purchase Japanese yen at any time of the day or night.
  • Foreign currency ATMs are extremely fast, giving you your foreign currency within a few minutes.

Cons:

  • Carrying large amounts of cash around with you on holiday may make you feel uneasy.
  • If your cash gets lost or stolen while you are on holiday, you may have trouble getting it covered by your insurance.
  • Not all FX ATMs will dispense the currency you need.

Pros:

  • Exchanging your AUD to JPY once you’re in Japan can be a good option if you’ve forgotten to do so beforehand.
  • Exchanging money once you are in Japan is relatively easy, with money exchange services offered at post offices, banks, and major department stores and train stations.

Cons:

  • When exchanging outside of major airports, beware of being conned or scammed.
  • You may find yourself paying a higher exchange rate when exchanging Australian dollars within Japan – this will however depend on the currency exchange provider.

Denominations of Yen

Yen may be confusing to first-timers or those used to using dollars, with banknotes coming in larger denominations. Yen banknote denominations include:

JP¥ 1,000 - these are blue

JP¥ 2,000 - these are green. These banknotes are not used as often as others.

JP¥ 5,000 - these are purple

JP¥ 10,000 - these are brown

There are coins too which can be found in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, and 500.

Travelex Tip: Need to get rid of any excess coins before leaving Japan? Try going to a shrine or temple and putting your leftover coins in an offerings box!

Denominations of Yen

Common Money Phrases in Japanese

Learning some simple phrases in Japanese can go a long way when visiting as a tourist. As well as showing a sign of respect to your host country, it can also make life easier when dealing with shopping and financial transactions.
Below are some simple shopping-related phrases you may want to remember on your travels in Japan.

Below are some common shopping and money-related you may want to remember during your travels in Japan.

EnglishJapanese
Excuse me, how much is this?Sumimasen, kore wa ikura desu ka
That’s expensive!Takai!
Can I pay with credit card?Kurejitto kâdo de haratte mo ii desu ka
Can I have a receipt please?Ryoushuusho wo kudasai
I don’t need the changeOtsuri wa irimasen
Can you give me a discount?Mou sukoshi yasuku dekimasen ka?
Can I have the bill please?Okanjo wo onegai shimasu
CashGenkin
PriceGenka
To payHarau
¥1,000Sen en
¥2,000Oku en
¥5,000Go sen en
¥10,000Ichi man en

Good to Know - Japan Money Tips

Monetary customs can change drastically from country to country. Keep these tips and cultural nuances in mind before going to Japan for a smoother time on your holiday.

Japan is a cash-based society. This means some experiences will be cash only. Ensuring you have some cash yen may help you to avoid any tricky situations!

Tipping is not generally accepted in Japan. In most instances, if you try leaving a tip you will have it returned! If you really do want to tip someone (like a tour guide), make sure you put the cash in an envelope before handing it over.

Make sure you have enough cash on you if you are visiting Japan during a public holiday, as some ATMs do close. If they do remain open, handling charges may increase.

In general haggling or bargaining is not accepted in Japan. However there may be some exceptions in markets or specialty stores. The most common form of haggling is asking for a discount if you offer to pay using cash.

Good to Know - Japan Money Tips

Frequently Asked Questions about Money in Japan

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  • Can I use Travellers Cheques in Japan?

    You generally cannot use travellers cheques in Japan, with the exceptions of some larger hotels.

  • Will my Apple Pay work in Japan?

    Suica is the main contactless payment form in Japan. Apple supports using your Suica via Apple Pay - but you’ll have to set it up on your phone before you arrive in Japan.

  • Can I use Other Currencies in Japan like AUD or USD?

    Not usually, which is why when travelling to Japan it’s best to ensure you have plenty of other payment options like the ones we’ve outlined above!