Travelling in Japan: Saving Money and Currency Exchange

Temple district in Kyoto, JapanJapan is one of the world’s most modern societies so it is unusual to note that it is still very much a cash driven society. The banking system in the country is fairly underdeveloped which comes as a surprise to many travelers. Fortunately, crime rates are very low so taking plenty of cash for your trip isn’t as daunting as it might otherwise seem. The Currency Shop has put together this Japan travel money guide to help you save on your expenses whilst travelling in Japan.

The currency in Japan is the Yen. In order to enjoy your holiday or business trip to the fullest, make sure that you carry plenty of it after finding a competitive exchange rate in the UK.


Buying Japanese Yen for travel

Everywhere you go will have a different exchange rate and their fees for the transaction will change too. Finding the best deal for you can be a difficult task.

To compare the online rates and fees of currency exchange providers and banks, you can visit our comparison table page.

Also, you can read this article to find out ways to exchange currency smartly in London.


How much money do you need to take to Japan?

Don’t forget your ATM cards, of course, but it is also very wise to ensure you have plenty of cash whilst in Japan. Some transactions cannot be completed by card and not every ATM will accept your international card either.

Use the following table to budget how much money you will require on a daily basis. It does depend on the lifestyle you want to have and the overall budget you have to allocate.




Dorm bed

¥2800 per night

Double room, Hotel

¥12,000 per night

4 star hotel

from ¥35,000 per night



Bowl of noodles


Dinner at an Izakaya

¥ 3000 per person

Top end sushi tasting menu

¥15,000 per person




¥240 (12-19km)


¥310 (28-40km)


¥20,340 (Narita Airport to Tokyo Station)

  • All prices are in Japanese Yen and are an estimate.


Travel Money Cards

There are many options for travel money cards but which one is the best for Japan?

Travel money cards look like credit cards but work in a similar way to traveller’s cheques. You pre-load the cards with money from your UK bank account before you leave and you can use it in Japan in much the same way as a credit or debit card. You can use them to pay for transactions directly or use it at ATMs.

The advantages of a travel money card are that they are easily replaced if they are mislaid or stolen.

The following cards work well in Japan:

  • Velocity Global Wallet. This card takes multiple foreign currencies and is easy to re-load. It can be used just like a debit card and is acceptable at 30 million places around the world including a great many in Japan.
  • Multi Currency Cash Passport. This card lets you load it with up to nine different currencies whilst you are on your travels. It also has a MasterCard Acceptance Mark which allows you to withdraw local currency around the world.
  • Commonwealth Bank Global Money Card. This card lets you load thirteen different currencies and is easily re-loadable.
  • ANZ Travel Card. This is a pre-paid Visa card that can also be used even if you are not an ANZ customer. Japanese Yen is one of ten currencies you can load onto this card.

It’s best to avoid the American Express Global Travel Card. You can load the card with up to three different currencies but the Japanese Yen is not one of them.

For the latest information on foreign exchange and currency conversion talk to one of our experts at The Currency Shop.


Case Study

Lawrence is going on a business trip to Japan and wants to ensure he is able to access his travel money in the most cost effective way.

Lawrence works out how much he will need for all of his personal expenses such as accommodation, travel and sustenance. He finds a good exchange rate in the UK and exchanges his sterling for the Yen he will need for this.

He will have a number of business meetings in restaurants whilst in Japan and for this he loads up a travel money card with the Yen he will need for those. Lawrence also adds extra for emergencies which he can access as cash from ATMs.

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