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Currency & Spending Money (Japan)

The currency of Japan is the Yen, abbreviated to JPY and represented with a ‘¥’ or the kanji character ‘円’. A Yen is subdivided into 100 sen, but you are unlikely to come across these. Yen notes come in denominations of 1000, 2000, 5000 and 10000, while coins come in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50, 100 and 500.

Here is a reference table of approximate exchange rates (for up-to-date exchange rates, please check xe.com before you travel):

1 unit of current Yen
AU$1 95
NZ$1 88
US$1 145

Correct as of December 2023 

We recommend that you have access to more than one source of money – bringing a combination of cash and a credit/debit card will give the most security and flexibility while travelling.

Exchanging Money

Money can be exchanged at international airports, banks and post offices that display the “Authorized Foreign Exchange” sign (although exchanging foreign currency at banks and post offices can be a complicated and lengthy procedure), some hotels in large cities, major department stores and major train stations. Remember to watch out for hidden fees if exchanging money. In rural areas it will be difficult to find anywhere to exchange money.


Most ATMs in Japan do not accept foreign cards, however, ATMs at international airports, post offices and 7-Eleven convenience stores do. Look for a window displaying ‘International ATM
service’ and the symbol of a green clover. The service fees that are charged will depend on the card but you will find that the exchange rate is competitive. Please note that you are likely to be charged for using your debit card overseas – check with your bank before departing on your tour. It is also a good idea to let your bank know you are travelling abroad.

Credit/Debit Card

Japan is still very much a cash-based society and credit cards are not as widely used as in Western countries. Credit cards are mostly used in large department stores and high end/large hotels. Convenience stores and chain restaurants generally accept cards too. Please note that smaller restaurants, shops and some Japanese inns in rural areas, wherever you are in Japan, are unlikely to accept cards. Therefore, it is advisable to carry cash with you on your tour. Taking one credit/debit card is recommended in case of emergency. The most widely accepted credit cards include Visa, MasterCard and American Express. However, please do not rely on a credit/debit card as your only source of spending money, and keep a photocopy of your card(s).

Spending money

On a two-week Classic Tour, we would recommend approximately AU/NZ$1,000 per person spending money, although this depends greatly on your individual needs.

For Go Beyond tours, Short Stay/Extensions and your own independent arrangements, you will need to budget for additional meals, drinks, transportation, and site entrance fees that are not included in your tour price. 

The price of a meal or drink will vary from city to city, and depending on where you choose to eat, with the cost of meals and drinks in major cities generally more expensive than rural areas. As a guide on price, you can expect to pay:

  • Snacks (such as a bag of chips or biscuits): AU$2
  • Bottle of water 1L: AU$2
  • Local beer: AU$3.50-$5
  • Convenience store sandwich, sushi, salad: AU$3-$4
  • Pastry from a bakery: AU$4-5
  • Bowl of soba or udon noodles: AU$8-$12
  • Bowl of ramen: AU$10-$15
  • Lunch or dinner from a mid-range local restaurant: AU$30-$40
  • High-end meal: AU$100-$200

Please ensure you have sufficient funds to pay for personal expenses such as drinks and snacks not included in the tour price. There are also plenty of opportunities to pick up some lovely souvenirs, so you might like to budget for this. 

Plan Ahead

Be prepared with enough cash in hand. Once you have started your tour, you will quickly get a sense of how often or how much you need to exchange/withdraw money. Try not to leave this to the last minute: exchange desks can close, ATMs can run out of cash and your group could be scheduled to leave your hotel at 7am the next morning! Outside of major cities banking also becomes less reliable.


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