1,000 blue, 2,000 green, 5,000 purple, and 10,000 yen brown. â¥2,000 bills are rare. new designs for all the bills except â¥2,000 were introduced in november 2004, so there are now two versions in circulation. most merchants will not object to receiving a â¥10,000 bill even for a small purchase.
Over 12,000 Japanese 7-Eleven stores (http://www.sevenbank.co.j...) with ATMs accept foreign cards for cash withdrawals. Accepted cards include Mastercard, Maestro, Visa, American Express, JCB and UnionPay, and ATM cards with the Cirrus and Plus logos. These are the most useful as they are everywhere and are accessible 24/7.
ããã¡ã yå«-cho, formerly the postal savings bank and hence found in almost every post office, which in turn has a branch in almost every village. most postal atms provide instructions in english as well as japanese. plus, cirrus, visa electron, maestro, and unionpay are accepted, and you can do credit card advances on visa, mastercard, amex and diners club. your pin must be 6 digits or less.
Japan is still fundamentally a cash society. Although most stores and hotels serving foreign customers take credit cards, many businesses such as cafÃ©s, bars, grocery stores, and even smaller hotels and inns do not. Even businesses that do take cards often have a minimum charge as well as a surcharge, although this practice is disappearing. The most popular credit card in Japan is JCB, and due to an alliance between Discover and JCB, Discover cards can be used anywhere that accepts JCB. This means that Discover cards are more widely accepted than Visa/Mastercard/American Express. Most merchants are not familiar with this, but it will work if you can convince them to try!
The Japanese usually carry around large quantities of cash â it is quite safe to do so and is almost a necessity, especially in smaller towns and more isolated areas. In many cities, the Japanese can also use mobile phones to pay for their purchases where mobile phones function like credit cards and the cost is billed to them with their mobile phone bill. However, a Japanese phone and SIM card is required to make use of this service so it's typically not available to foreigners on short visits. If you already have a Japanese phone, be aware that initializing the prepaid card on a rental SIM will incur data charges, though this will most likely be less than the cost of a physical card. This can be avoided by using WiFi.
Almost any major bank in Japan will provide foreign currency exchange from US dollars cash and traveller's checks. Rates are basically the same whichever bank you choose. Having to wait 15-30 min, depending on how busy the branch gets, is not unusual. Other currencies accepted are euros; Swiss francs; Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand dollars; and British pounds. Among other Asian currencies, Singapore dollars seem to be the most widely accepted, followed by the Korean won and Chinese yuan.
Exchange rates for US dollars and euros are typically very good about 2% below the official rate. Exchange rates for other currencies are very poor up to 15% below the official rate. Other Asian currencies are generally not accepted currencies from nearby countries, like won, yuan, and HK$, are exceptions. Japanese post offices can also cash traveller's checks or exchange cash for yen, at a slightly better rate than the banks. Traveller's checks also have a better rate of exchange than cash. If you are exchanging amounts in excess of US$1,000 whether cash or T/C, you will be required to provide identification that includes your name, address, and date of birth to prevent money laundering and the funding of terrorism (http://www.fsa.go.jp/policy/honninkakunin/). Since passports usually do not show your address, bring along another form of ID such as a driver's license that shows your address.
Japanese ATMs, known locally as cash corners ãã£ãã·ã¥ã³ã¼ãã¼ kyasshu kÅnÄ, generally do not accept foreign cards and the availability of credit card advances, known as cashing ãã£ãã·ã³ã° kyasshingu, is spotty. The major exceptions are:
Note the difference between CDs and ATMs, even for the same financial institution. For example, for foreign-issued cards SMBC and MUFG bank ATMs take UnionPay MUFG also takes Discover, while SMBC and Mitsubishi UFJ Credit cash dispensers take only Visa/Mastercard.
A note for those using SMBC/MUFG/Aeon ATMs: on-site staff at most branches are still unaware that their ATMs now accept foreign cards at all. If you're having trouble, pick up the handset next to the machine to talk to the central ATM support staff.
Vending machines in Japan are known for their pervasiveness and the notorious variety of products they sell. Most will take Â¥1,000 bills, and some types such as train ticket machines will take up to Â¥10,000; none accept Â¥1 or Â¥5 coins, nor Â¥2,000 notes. And even the most high-tech vending machines do not take credit cards, save for certain ones in train stations though there are limitations â for example, JR East ticket vending machines require a PIN of four digits or less; most credit card customers would be better off purchasing from a ticket window. Note that cigarette vending machines require a Taspo card age verification, which are unfortunately off limits to non residents, but local smokers are usually happy to lend you theirs.
Prepaid electronic cards are quite popular in Japan for small purchases. There are cards for train fares, convenience store purchases, and public telephones, though they aren't interchangeable.
There is a 5% consumption tax on all sales in Japan. As of April 2004, the tax must now be included in all displayed prices which is why so many prices are awkward amounts like Â¥105 or Â¥525, but some stores still also display tax-excluded prices, so pay attention. The word zeinuki ç¨æ means tax-excluded, zeikomi ç¨è¾¼ means tax-included. If you cannot find out any words in the price card, most of them are tax-included.
Always keep a sizeable stack of reserve money in Japan, as if you run out for any reason wallet stolen, credit card blocked, etc, it can be difficult to have any wired to you. Western Union has a very limited presence even in the larger metropolitan areas their agreement with Suruga Bank ended in 2009, and they have just started a new agreement with Daikokuya as of April 2011, banks will not allow you to open accounts without local ID, and even international postal money orders require proof of a residential address in Japan.
Japan has a reputation for being extremely expensive — and it can be. However, many things have become significantly cheaper in the last decade. Japan need not be outrageously expensive if you plan carefully and in fact, is probably cheaper than Australia and most European Union countries for basic expenses. For long-distance travel, in particular, the Japan Rail Pass, Japan Bus Pass, and Visit Japan flights see Get around can save you a bundle.
As rough guidelines, you will find it very difficult to travel on less than Â¥5,000 per day but if you plan carefully, it is certainly possible and you can expect a degree of comfort only if you pay 10,000. Staying in posh hotels, eating fancy meals or just traveling long-distance will easily double this yet again. Typical prices for moderate budget travel would be Â¥5,000 for hotel, Â¥2,000 for meals, and Â¥2,000 again for entry fees and local transport.
However, if you find yourself a little short on cash, you can get your essential items in one of the many Â¥100 shops ç¾åã·ã§ãã hyaku-en shoppu located in most cities. Daiso (http://www.daiso-sangyo.c...) is the Japan's largest Â¥100 shop chain, with 2,500 shops across Japan. Other large chains are Can Do ãã£ã³ãã¥, Seria ã»ãªã¢, and Silk ã·ã«ã¯. There are also convenience-store-like Â¥100 shops such as SHOP99 and Lawson Store 100 where you can buy sandwiches, drinks, and vegetables in addition to selected Â¥100 items.
The 5% consumption tax imposed is not refundable for purchases of consumable items such as food and beverages. However, for non-consumable items like clothing and electronics, the tax may be refunded for purchases of Â¥10,000 or more before tax in a single receipt if you are not a resident and intend to bring the items out of Japan when you leave.
At many department stores like Isetan, Seibu and Matsuzakaya, you typically pay the full cost at the cashier and go to a tax refund ç¨ééä» zeikin kanpu or ç¨éæ»ã zeikin modoshi counter, usually located at one of the higher floors, and present your receipt and passport to the counter to get reimbursed. In some other stores advertising "duty free" å ç¨ menzei, you just present your passport to the cashier when making payment and the tax is deducted on the spot.
When making tax free purchases or tax refund claims, counter staff would staple a piece of paper in your passport, which you should keep with you until you leave Japan. This piece of paper is to be surrendered to the customs counter at your point of departure just before you pass through immigration and checks may be done to ensure that you are bringing the items out of Japan.
Despite the saying that Japanese cities never sleep, retail hours are surprisingly limited. Opening hours of most shops are typically 10AM-8PM, though most shops are open on weekends and public holidays except New Year, and close on one day a week. Restaurants typically stay open until late at night, though smoking would usually be allowed after 8PM so those who can't stand cigarette smoke should have your meals before then.
However, you will always find something you could need to buy at any time of day. Japan is crawling with 24/7 convenience stores ã³ã³ãã konbini, such as 7-Eleven, Family Mart, Lawson, Circle K, and Sunkus. They often offer a much wider range of products than convenience stores in the US or Europe, sometimes have a small ATM and are often open all day all week! Many convenience stores also offer services such as fax, takkyubin luggage delivery, a limited range of postal services, payment services for bills including topping up international phone cards such as Brastel and some online retailers e.g. Amazon.jp, and ticket sales for events, concerts and cinemas.
Of course, establishments related to night life such as karaoke lounges and bars stay open well into the night: even in small towns it is easy to find an izakaya open until 5 am. Pachinko parlours are obliged to close at 11 pm.
Tipping effectively does not exist in Japan, and attempting to offer tips can often be seen as an insult. Japanese service is legendary, and you do not need to bribe the waiters/waitresses to do their job properly — if you leave a tip in a restaurant, the staff will probably come running after you to return the money you "forgot". Even bellhops in high end hotels usually do not accept tips. The only exceptions are high-end ryokan see Sleep and English-speaking tour guides.
That said, some restaurants do add a 10% service charge, and family restaurants may add a 10% late-night charge after midnight.