Sunday, 5 November 2017

Tips to Ensure You Have Sufficient Cash in Japan

A friend is going to Japan this month for about 9 days. She wants to see Japan's golden colours of autumn. 

The other day I asked her how much Japanese Yen (JPY) is she planning to bring. She said she had already bought JPY3,000. I commented that JPY3,000 is definitely not going to last her 9 days and that she needs to buy more JPY.

Just to give you an idea, I spent approximately JPY96,000 when I was in Japan for 9 days in June. JPY96,000 is for ground transport (including the Shinkansen bullet train which was the most expensive train ride in my life), meals, entrance fees, souvenirs, etc. Flight and accommodation were already paid in advance before the trip.

Japan is not like most other countries where you can bring universally accepted currencies like the US Dollar and EURO to buy the local currency at the money changer or bureau de change.

Reason is because there are NO money changers in Japan. My Japanese colleagues had confirmed this before I went to Japan.

There are no money changers in Japan, not even in tourist spots like Dotonbori in Osaka.

In Japan the only place to get JPY is at the bank. Since most of the locals do not speak English, it may be difficult to express what you want. Even the ATMs are all in Japanese.

In Japan the only place to get JPY is at the bank.
Pic: A row of ATMs at Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation's (SMBC) headquarters in Osaka. 

Here are two tips on how to ensure you have sufficient money when travelling in Japan:

1) Draw Out a Budget
Draw out a budget, add another 20% for contingency and buy enough JPY from your home country.

2) Use Credit Card
My favourite option is to use credit card, especially for big ticket items. This will leave you enough cash for the smaller stuff like meals and souvenirs.

Some of you may argue that credit card exchange rates are higher compared to paying in cash. Despite this I still prefer using credit card. Imagine buying too much JPY just because you're not sure how much to bring. Compared to losing from the credit card exchange rate, you'll lose much more if you convert the balance JPY back to your home currency.

However if you become a Japanophile and decide to make many trips to Japan, then perhaps it's a good idea to buy more JPY, especially if the exchange rate is attractive.

Happy travels!

Just a random shot in Kyoto.

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