Money in Japan

While a lot of aspects of the Japanese society are technologically advanced, some things feel very backwards - like the usage of cash for almost everything. Hello Japan, it’s 2014, and there is this thing called a debit card.

Surely you can pay lots of things with credit cards but it’s a bit of a hassle to sign off everything. Japanese shops seem to expect you to pay in cash.

It’s hard to get money from an ATM as a traveller. You card won’t work in most places and generally there are few ATMs around that will work with a non-Japanese card. When you arrive at the airport, be sure to use the ATMs there - they will work with most cards.

When out and about try to spot a 7-11 - this is the place where it’s most likely your credit card will work. Luckily there are plenty of 7-11s. Others have reported luck in post offices.

Don’t assume your debit card (e.g. Maestro) will work - it’s very likely it won’t work, even if you called your bank before your trip to activate it worldwide. It’s better to rely on credit cards. If you are travelling for a longer period (e.g. 3+ weeks) make sure you have multiple credit cards or a high limit on your card. Japan can be expensive and running out of cash is never nice.

Another strategy is to pick up some cash with your debit card before you leave your country to cover the first days/week. When you get to the airport you can exchange your cash into yen bills.