Crashing Japan
Cash vs. Credit

by Bamboo Dong, Sep 17th 2007

It's a very good idea to have cash while you're traveling in Japan. For starters, it's convenient. Secondly—well, you don't really have much of a choice. Although many electronics and video game stores will take credit cards, many restaurants and smaller stores will only take cash. Japan is very much a cash-based society, which works over there because they've got a pretty good system going on. For example, if you want to pay rent, you just have to withdraw some cash from your bank, go down the street to your landlord's bank, and deposit they money into his/her account.

Needless to say, cash is a must-have. One of the easiest things to do is to arrive in Japan with a hefty amount of cash. This can be exchanged into Japanese yen at a fairly good rate in the currency exchange windows at the airport. Should you run out of money, though, there are other options available. The most convenient place to grab some cash is usually at any post office, most of which will have ATMs that not only accept foreign credit and debit cards, but will have an English menu, too. The only drawback is that those machines are only accessible during business hours. Not all Japanese banks will take foreign cards, making using the ATM impossible. Luckily, if you run across a Citibank, they'll have ATMs open 7 days a week, 24-hours a day.

Another option is to get an IC card, like Suica or ICOCA. These rechargeable cash cards can be purchased at various train stations and are used to make train travel faster and more convenient by letting the user just swipe their card on entry and exit, without needing to calculate their fare beforehand. The great part about the newer ones is that you can also use them in many vending machines, as well as in convenience stores like AMPM and FamilyMart.


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