|
PLAN YOUR TRIP

Everything You Need to Know About Using Money in Japan

JAL's top tips for using money wisely in Japan to have a memorable travel experience within your budget.
Everything You Need to Know About Using Money in Japan

How expensive is Japan for travelers?

You may find many affordable deals in Japan, from shopping to delicious foods, but some aspects of travel in Japan are more expensive than in many western nations, including the U.S. However, with a little background information and knowledge, you can enjoy a trip to Japan on nearly any budget. 

Lodging costs in Japan

It is possible to find lodging for less than $100, even in large cities. However, the accommodation may be a tiny room, and some lodging in rural areas may have shared bathrooms.

Mid-to high-end hotels and resorts generally cost between $200 to $700 a night, and hotel loyalty programs offer the opportunity for consistent pricing between any of the major hotel chain's locations in Japan. If you can afford to travel in Australia, North America, or Europe, you can travel throughout Japan. 

When booking directly with a hotel in Japan, be aware that they typically charge per person rather than per room. 

Dining costs in Japan

You can find affordable dining throughout Japan. It is unnecessary to pay servers a tip when dining out in Japan. Therefore, a meal that may cost $15 including a tip in the U.S. could cost approximately $10 to $12 in Japan. Japan also has many fine dining experiences which can cost $100 per person or more. However, fine dining in any of the world's culinary capitals will start at $100 per person. 

Transportation costs in Japan

Transportation costs in Japan

The cost of transportation in Japan is one of the few areas where prices can be high. Visitors typically spend between 2,000 and 8,000 yen (the Japanese currency) per week on public transportation such as local trains or buses. A bullet train ticket from Tokyo to Kyoto costs about 8,000 yen (around $70) and an additional 5,800 yen if you want to reserve a seat (around $50).

Driving a car can also be costly, especially since free highways are almost non-existent in Japan. For example, tolls for the Metropolitan Expressway in the Tokyo area between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. are about 1,000 yen, while regular tolls on the highway in other parts of Japan range from 300 yen to 1,320 yen. In addition, you might want to consider gas and parking costs as they also tend to be higher.

What you should know

What payment methods are used in Japan?

Cash is still a favored method, although the COVID-19 pandemic has boosted the use of digital and contactless payments. Most major credit cards are accepted for purchases in larger stores and restaurants. However, be aware that shrines and other locations in rural areas might only take cash.

IC cards for hassle-free payment in Japan

IC cards for hassle-free payment in Japan

Rechargeable "smart" cards or IC cards are the most convenient way to pay for trains, buses, and monorail fares in Japan. Vending machines, convenience stores, and chain restaurants also accept IC cards. Two primary types of IC cards are the Suica Card and PASMO. Suica and PASMO have Apple Wallet apps that work on the iPhone or Apple Watch and can be loaded through Apple Pay or Apple Wallet with no minimum down payment. When purchasing a physical Suica card, 500 yen (approximately $5) is required to initiate the card. Although the PASMO card is not issued by Japan Rail, it may be used at Japan Rail stations. IC cards available in other regions include ICOCA in Osaka and Kitaka in Hokkaido. Visit the transportation option guide to learn more about IC cards.

Are Mobile Payment options available in Japan?

Are Mobile Payment options available in Japan?

COVID-19 has accelerated the growth of Mobile Payments in Japan. Mobile payment solutions have been adopted across Japan—this is where you can use your mobile device via an NFC-enabled payment terminal or by scanning a QR code. Apple Pay and Google Pay are examples of mobile payment apps used in Japan powered by NFC technology. The most popular mobile payments that use a QR code are Alipay and WeChat Pay.

How to travel economically in Japan

Although Japan has a reputation as an expensive destination, foreign travelers are offered many saving opportunities.

Save money with duty-free shopping while in Japan

Save money with duty-free shopping while in Japan

Look for the Japan Tax-Free Shop symbol in stores that offer foreign visitors an exemption from Japan's 8% VAT. Show your passport at these stores for tax-free shopping. You may receive the exemption from consumption tax upfront or a rebate following your purchase. 

Discounted Train Ticket in Japan

Fortunately, the Japan Rail Pass, offered for foreign passport holders, can help you ride the bullet train and travel with ease. The Japan Rail Pass provides seven days of travel for around 29,000 yen (about $280) for a non-reserved seat for an adult. The Pass is also available for 14-day and 21-day travel durations. 

Discounted Flight Ticket in Japan

You may travel by air throughout Japan affordably and easily using the JAL Japan Explorer Pass, which starts at approximately $70 for one-way trips to different destinations throughout Japan. Furthermore, if you are using the JAL Japan Explorer Pass, you also have the option of upgrading to Premium Economy seats for a nominal fee of 1,000 yen during check-in. 

Where to get money in Japan

Where to get money in Japan

Does Japan accept U.S. dollars?

You may exchange U.S. dollars for Japanese yen at the airport at your time of arrival in Japan. Or you can use your bank card (debit card) to withdraw cash from an ATM. You will find some ATMs that accept foreign bank cards. Look for ATMs that display the signs of your bank card network, such as VISA, JCB, or MasterCard. The majority of Japanese ATMs limit withdrawals to 100,000 yen. You may be limited to 30,000 yen per withdrawal for certain types of credit cards.

Is it better to exchange money in Japan?

Finding the most favorable rates for exchanging your money depends on the currency that you hold. For example, if you are traveling from the U.S., wait to exchange your dollars for yen until you have arrived in Japan. However, you will get the most favorable rates for yen in Southeast Asian countries rather than in Japan. 

Where are the best places to find ATMs in Japan?

Where are the best places to find ATMs in Japan?

Here's an insider tip: you will find ATMs in convenience stores, including Family Mart, Lawson, and 7-Eleven (the same convenience store also found in the U.S. and other international locations) that are easy to use and available for most foreign bank cards. There are over 13,000 Lawson and 16,000 Family Mart locations in Japan and 21,200 7-Eleven stores. So chances are you will quickly encounter one of these conveniences stores with an ATM during your travels. Convenience store ATMs accept most foreign bank cards and have instructions provided in English and Chinese. They are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 7-Bank or 7-Eleven ATMs are free to use in Japan. 

Postal ATMs also accept most foreign bank cards but are only available during post office operating hours. Japan Post ATMs charge 105 yen on regular days, with an additional charge on holidays and weekends. Be aware that your bank card may assess a charge for using a Japanese ATM.

Getting There