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The Low Down on Japanese Currency


Japanese Yen

Currency code:


Central Bank:

Bank of Japan

Currency symbol:

¥, 円 (yen)

Bank notes:

¥1000, ¥2000, ¥5000, ¥10,000


¥1, ¥5, ¥10, ¥50, ¥100, ¥500

No other currency in Asia is more heavily traded than the Japanese Yen and it’s the 3rd most traded currency in the world.

The first minted coins in Japan appeared in 708 but by the 19th century Japan was using Spanish Dollars. The Yen (or “round object”) has been used as the central form of currency since the 1870’s.

The most commonly used bills for Japanese Yen are the ¥1,000, ¥5,000 and ¥10,000 notes. The most commonly used coins are the ¥10, ¥50, ¥100, ¥500 but you will also sometimes receive ¥1 and ¥5 as change.

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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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!


  • 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!)


  • 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.


  • 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.

What to spend your Yen on:

  • Sushi meal for 2 people with sake

    400 Yen

  • Entry to Tokyo Disney

    6400 Yen

  • Tourist t-shirt

    350 Yen

  • Postcard and a stamp

    70 Yen

  • Samurai sword

    30,000 Yen

How many yen will I need?**

Please select your budget above.

- +

- +

Total spending money needed:

  • A budget
  • for people for
  • nights


Must-sees in Japan

  • Kyoto
  • Travel back in time to Japan’s capital for over 1000 years that’s just a few hours from Tokyo by speed train.
  • Naoshima
  • This island in the Seto Inland Sea is full of amazing architecture, museums, contemporary art and beautiful nature.
  • Ōkunoshima
  • If you’re not feeling skittish then make a detour to “Rabbit Island” where there’s hundreds of feral rabbits running around.

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.

Here is an example where cash is unavoidable in Japan. When going to a typical ramen restaurant, you order your ramen dish from a vending machine...that only accepts cash!

Stay connected while in Japan

It can be difficult to get a Japanese SIM Card as most companies require you to have a Japanese credit card, a Residence Visa and fill out forms in Japanese!

Travelex partnered with Mobal to offer you great convenience: the Japan Unlimited SIM card.

  • Unlimited data, free incoming calls & incoming texts
  • SIMs for short trips or long stays (8, 16, 30 days options)
  • English language customer support
  • No contract, no termination fee
  • Free worldwide delivery or collection in Japan
  • Works in any unlocked device (multi-size SIM)
Find out more

*Rates are subject to change throughout the day. In-store rates vary compared to online.

**The figures provided are indicative only and are there to provide an idea of the amount of travel money you may need during your trip.