Translated by Lester Somera
Basic Information Regarding Japanese Currency
Things to bear in mind when spending money in Japan, including payment methods, tipping, and purchases at tax-free shops.
Written by MATCHA
When traveling in Japan, you will need yen. This article aims to explain some basic information regarding the Japanese currency.
Getting Your Money Ready
There are many ways to pay for things in Japan: using cash, credit cards, international cash cards, travelers’ checks, etc. In the event that you encounter a problem, however, we recommend having several methods of payment available.
Carrying cash is convenient for small purchases. You can perform currency exchanges at the airport, leading banks, post offices and money changers. Bear in mind that it can be difficult to find a place to exchange money in small towns, so get your it sorted right at the airport or in a large city.
Remember that there is also a service charge for exchanging money, so it would be wise to spend all of your yen instead of converting it back into your native currency by the time you leave Japan.
You can use credit cards from major companies at most establishments. However, be aware that some shops and private businesses will not accept credit cards for small purchases.
International Cash Cards
If there is a PLUS logo inscribed on the back of your bank card or credit card, or if you have an international credit card, then you can use it to withdraw yen at any affiliated ATM. ATMs can be found at airports, train stations, banks and convenience stores.
Travelers' checks can be exchanged for cash at banks and hotels. Similar to credit cards, small shops and businesses do not accept these as payment so bear that in mind.
Things You Should Know
Consumption Tax and Tax Exemption
Japan has an 8% consumption tax on goods. You can be spared from paying this tax once a day when making purchases at a tax-free shop. Purchased electronics and clothing exceeding 10,801 yen in value (including tax) are eligible for exemption. Purchased foodstuffs and cosmetics exceeding 5,401 yen (including tax) in value are also eligible for exemption. Remember to make your purchases at the duty free counter to buy them at tax-exempted prices. If you have already paid the consumption tax at a shop, you are still able to reclaim a tax refund on the same day by showing your purchased goods, receipt and passport to the counter staff.
Tipping is generally not practiced in Japan. You do not need to tip restaurant servers, taxi drivers, or bellboys. Moreover, scams where tourists are overcharged or coerced into purchases are extremely rare, so you can feel safe and enjoy your trip.
Tips on Keeping Food Expenses Low
A lot of people think that the cost of living in Japan is high but if you choose your places wisely, that is not necessarily true. You can get cheap and delicious Japanese food at restaurants that serve set menu lunches, known as teishoku-ya, and at chain restaurants. You can be even thriftier by buying bento boxes and bread at convenience stores.
Also, refillable water or tea comes free with your meal at restaurants. Japan’s water is of high quality and very safe to drink, so it is perfectly acceptable to drink the water from the faucet at hotels and the like.
Plastic bags at supermarkets cost money, so it is not uncommon for Japanese people to bring their own reusable bags. On the other hand, wrapping paper at departmental stores is free. If you tell the staff that your purchase is a present, they will kindly wrap it up neatly for you. If your purchase is fragile, they will also pack it securely to minimize the chance of it breaking. More attractive wrapping paper is available for a fee. Ask the staff to wrap your purchases when you are getting gifts for your loved ones back home.
That concludes this article about basic information regarding Japanese currency. Please have a great time eating gourmet meals, sightseeing and shopping in the safest country in the world, Japan.