Using Debit Credit Or Cash In Japan

Cash Or Credit?

One thing to take into account is what area of Japan will you be spending time in. Larger cities like Tokyo, Osaka, or Kyoto will have numerous ATMs that will allow users or withdrawals. However, the small rural areas may not have ATMs linked to International banks or retailers who take international cards.

If your destination will be to more remote areas of Japan for a long period of time ( 2 weeks or more ) then its recommended to carry enough cash before you venture to those areas.

Where To Get Japanese Yen?

Typically, banks offer foreign currency options at particular branch offices in your city’s larger or main branches, or they offer an online option that allows you to buy Japanese Yen and pick it up at a time convenient to you from a selected branch. If the currency is not available, your banks can place an order for it.

Remember that some banks may require you to be an existing customer before this service is available. Place a call and confirm before visiting any branch.

Currency Exchange Machines In Japan

Dollars to Yen Inside Of Japan?

Typically if you bring cash to Japan, one important thing to remember is that the cash itself needs to be in near perfect condition. Notes that are wrinkled, torn, or in bad shape will not be converted to Yen.

Locations that offer currency exchanges in Japan are:

  • Banks ( Local and International )
  • Japanese Post offices
  • Automated exchange machines
  • Kinken Shop (money exchange services)
  • Airports
  • Selected Retailers
  • Train Stations (Larger Stations Only)
Currency Exchange Narita Airport In Tokyo

How much money can you withdraw from an ATM in Japan?

Depending on the type of card you have and the technology within the card will determine the amount of cash you can remove from an ATM machine in Japan. Card with magnetic strips on the back will have a maximum withdrawal limit of 30,000 Yen, Cards with embedded chips allow up to 100,000 Yen.

These two amounts are for a 24 hour period or 1 day. So removing the same amount for multiple days should not be a problem as long as you have the means within your account or have notified your bank that you will be using ATM in Japan.


The amounts may vary by the ATM owner. For example, 7-11 Convenience stores have international ATMs that may have different withdrawal limits.

The cost per transaction to withdraw Yen varies but generally its falls in between 200-400 Yen ( about $2-4 USD )

ATM Fees In Japan

Japanese ATM costs are classified into two categories: charges and the usage of a foreign ATM card.  Fees apply to both credit cards or debit.  

Fees charged by your bank or other financial institution for cash withdrawals in a foreign currency.

Automatic currency exchange machine in the Kansai International airport Osaka

Fees are imposed by the Japanese bank, either because they charge a fee for non-Japanese (foreign) cards or because they charge a fee for not being a client of that particular bank card.

The easiest way to confirm if you will be charged by either is to confirm charges with your bank before departure.

ATM Locator (Any Location In Japan)

VISA ATM Locator (Japan)

MASTERCARD ATM Locator (Japan)

AMEX ATM Locator (Japan)

An important note about many ATMs in Japan is that not all are 24 operating machines. Some may automatically stop working late at night and restart at a selected time. ATMs in bank and post offices will be closed on national holidays. If your staying in a small town or remote area be sure to check with the bank or post office in advance of needing cash.

Japan Post Office

What About Cash?

Traveling to Japan with large amounts of cash isn’t a good idea. Airport security questions travelers about how much cash they are carrying and not being honest if they have a large amount of cash.

Travelers with substantial quantities of cash are frequently delayed by screeners, who then have their money seized by law enforcement authorities.

The US Department of Homeland Security has confiscated at least $2 billion in cash at airports over the last two decades. The most frequent reason money was confiscated wasn’t because of suspicions of money laundering or drug smuggling; it was because travelers didn’t fill out the appropriate documents.

When flying into the nation, passengers are handed a customs declaration form that asks if they are carrying $10,000 or more into the USA.

This also is true of passengers traveling out of the USA to any location with $10,000 or more.

What If I Plan To Carry A Large Amount Of Cash?

It is lawful to bring any quantity of money or other currency notes into or out of the US. International travelers leaving the United States with over $10,000 in money or monetary instruments however passengers are also required to complete a FinCEN Form 105 prior to their departure.

If you plan to carry currency in Yen remember that $10,000 USD in Yen still may alert airport security so make sure you ask questions of the representative of DHS before going thru security checkpoints.

Having said this about the required form it’s not uncommon for there to be no sign at many airports notifying travelers of this requirement or even that the form exists.

Some airports may have the sign notifying travelers about the requirement to disclose but often in hectic airports people miss the very small signs and after being treated in an invasive manner and many flyers are not in the state of mind to disclose how much cash they are carrying.

Confirm All Rules, Laws, and Regulations With The DHS Official Website (US Department of Homeland Security)

If your plan is to carry cash then anything under the $10,000 USD mark should be okay, however, if you are visiting with a large family then it’s easily possible to need more than this amount. In this case, this form could be the difference between traveling without issues and the need to hire legal help could be in your future.

Plastic or Paper?

Japan’s economy is largely based on cash, with many small businesses only taking Yen (cash). Also take into consideration that, while some bigger retail businesses in Japan take credit or debit cards, many smaller businesses (such as Ryokans and small cafes) only accept Yen.

My fascination with Japan began several years back at a roadside bonsai stand while on vacation. I became more interested in the where and why's more than the trees themselves. My love of Bonsai led me to further research my interest in the gardens where they originated from and the places and people that surrounded those little trees. My curiosity was well rewarded upon visiting Saitama where the National Bonsai Museum was located and Omiya Village the bonsai mecca for lovers of this ancient art form. Exploring many towns and villages and even making my way to Japan's furthest southern prefecture of Okinawa. I hope to share my love of this wonderful and exotic place with all those who want to know more about Japan.