3 Quick And Essential Tips For Spending Money In Japan
How to be mindful in the state of yen!
If you’re getting ready to travel to Japan as a tourist or for a business trip, things could go much more smoothly after you take a bit of time to learn the basics of spending money there. Foreigners characteristically feel a bit overwhelmed when dealing with a new currency, but as you’ll soon see, it’s not difficult to master the basics.
1. Learn About the Currency Type and Available Denominations
The Japanese currency is called the yen, and while spending it, you’ll encounter a combination of coins and notes. The coins are available in denominations of one, five, 10, 50, 100 and 500 yen. Also, bank notes come in amounts of 1,000, 2,000, 5,000 and 10,000 yen.
It should be easiest to identify the five and 50 yen coins by texture, because they each have a small hole in the center. The notes feature ivory, orange, green and purple hues. It’s easy for visitors to Japan to exchange their monies for yen at authorized money exchangers, such as those located at international airports.
Also, rest assured many merchants accept international credit cards such as MasterCard and Visa. Even if you don’t see those logos displayed when you’re paying for an item, speak up and see if the type of card you carry is acceptable.
2. Know How Your Home Currency Compares
The value of the yen against currencies like the American dollar or English sterling will vary slightly by the day, but it’s still a good idea to keep track of the fluctuations for at least a few weeks leading up to your trip. That’ll give you a clear indication of what to expect when you’ve arrived in the country and have begun making transactions.
At the time that this post was written, 1,000 yen was equivalent to $9.49 in American dollars and 1,000 yen was equal to £174,455 sterling. If you’re familiar with a different currency and want to check the conversion rates, the information is readily available online and you’ll get results in seconds.
3. Understand When You’re Getting a Good Deal
Shopping in Japan can be an exhilarating experience for tourists, especially since there are so many unfamiliar brands, types of stores and products. Using money wisely is especially challenging if you’re still getting used to how the yen stacks up to your home currency.
Fruit is one thing that tends to be extremely expensive in Japan as compared to countries like the United States, it tends to be perpetually puzzling to foreigners. Single melons have sold for as much as ¥10,000 (more than 94 American dollars!), but if you’re willing to shop around, it’s possible to buy a bag of apples for about ¥350, or $3.32.
If you’re looking for a one-stop shop that always offers great deals, but not necessarily the highest quality items, keep your eyes peeled for ¥100 shops. Most items there cost ¥105, because there’s an added five percent consumption tax. Daiso is a leader in the ¥100 shop market, and has thousands of stores around the nation.
It’s a good idea to spend a significant amount of time browsing instead of immediately spending money. Then you’ll be able to see a range of prices from different merchants and be able to gauge whether a particular deal is worthwhile.
If Tokyo is a part of your Japanese itinerary, check out a website called TokyoCheapo, and find suggestions about great deals on everything from printed business cards to souvenirs for friends back home. The website’s developers also have plans to create similar directories for at least eight other Japanese cities, including Harajuku and Roppongi.
You should now have a clearer understanding of how to spend your money wisely while in Japan. That information could make a big difference in your ability to stick to a pre-determined budget and have more funds to spend on cool mementoes from your journey.
Kayla Matthews is a freelance blogger, anime nerd and Japanese cultural enthusiast. You can check out her blog at Blipular.com and follow her on Google+ and Twitter @KaylaEMatthews to get updates on her latest posts!