Japan uses the yen, denoted in units of ¥. The notes used are 10,000 yen, 5,000 yen, 2,000 yen, and 1,000 yen, and coins used are 500yen, 100yen, 50yen, 10yen, 5yen, and 1yen. 2,000 yen notes are rare and not used as often.
Currency Exchange Locations
There are generally few places in Japan that exchange foreign currency to Japanese yen. Visitors are recommended to exchange currency at the airport, as there is very little difference in exchange rates between airport and in-city locations, and many banks do not exchange currency. There are banks and currency exchange centers in major districts such as Shinjuku and Ginza, with most operating between 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Please inquire with hotel or store staff.
Other regional cities may not have any currency exchange centers, so be sure to exchange currency to Japanese yen before visiting. There are generally no stores that accept dollars as payment. Cash is mostly used for payment in Japan, so it is recommended that you carry cash while travelling in Japan.
Foreign credit cards can be used to withdraw Japanese yen at post offices, Seven Bank, and Aeon Bank. However, some banks may have withdrawal regulations that regulate the amount of yen per withdrawal or the frequency of withdrawal. China Union Pay cards can be used to withdraw Japanese yen at post offices, Seven Bank, and Aeon Bank, as well as Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, Mizuho Bank, and areas in Kyoto. Please be aware that there may be withdrawal limit regulations for both foreign cards and China Union Pay cards. Please also be careful as you need to pay bank commissions when you withdraw money and the ATM is not necessarily open for withdrawal 24 hours a day.
Credit Card/Debit Cards
International credit cards such as VISA, Mastercard, JCB, American Express, and Diners are accepted at most businesses in Tokyo, Osaka, Sapporo, Fukuoka, and Naha. However, there are many businesses in other regions that do not accept cards, so be sure to check if the business displays a sticker indicating that they accept cards, or check with the business directly. Recently, there has been an increase in stores that accept China Union Pay cards, especially department stores, electronic stores, and drugstores.
Suica/Pasmo Transportation Cards
Suica Cards or PASMO cards are used at JR stations or convenience stores. They are Transportation IC cards, which you can purchase too. You can buy Kitaka, Suica, TOICA, ICOKA, and SUGOCA cards at JR stations and PASMO, manaca, PiTaPa, nimoca, and Hayakaken cards at subway or private railroad stations. The areas you can use these cards are limited, so it is best to check in advance.
By charging your IC card with Japanese yen, you can bypass the line to buy a train ticket and easily pass through the gates, where the card will be automatically charged. Not only can visitors use IC cards on trains, station stores and vending machines (including automatic ticket vending machines) also accept IC cards. Initially purchasing an IC card may be slightly confusing, but once you have an IC card, they never expire, so you can use them on subsequent trips! An initial deposit of 500 yen is required, which will be later be refunded.
Recently, smartphone payments are quickly expanding. While smartphone payments, such as Alipay and WeChat Pay, are now a mainstream in China, they are still not a major payment method in Japan. Due to strong demands from Chinese travelers, shops and stores that accept Alipay and WeChat Pay are increasing. Please ask sales staff if you wish to use smartphones when you purchase goods.