A Guide To Japanese Money

Here is some Japanese money. If you've never been to Japan before it may not seem like real money to you and you're more likely to let it pass through your hands more quickly--best to resist that temptation.

For the most current exchange rates, go to Oanda or to Xe.com. Note that there are slight differences for the exchange rates in New York, London, and Tokyo.

Japanese Coins

From the left, there is the aluminum one yen coin, which costs more to make than it's worth, then the 5, 10, 50, 100, and 500 yen coins. Vending machines accept all coins except the ones and fives, as well as 1000 yen bills. However, recently some machines may have disallowed use of the 500 yen coins due to some nefarious types using altered Korean coins to trick the machines. Pay phones take only 10 and 100 yen coins, or pre-paid phone cards.

And now here is something you don't see much. In 2000 for the Okinawa Summit this 2000 yen note was introduced, along with a year 2000 special 500 yen coin.

But there wasn't much acceptance for the new bill. Vending machines won't take it and the public doesn't feel any real need for it.


Important Japanese Holidays - 2017

January 1st - New Year's Day (Shogatsu or Ganjitsu)

January 2nd - 3rd - New Year's Holidays -- banks, government offices, and many stores closed

January 9 (2nd Monday in January) - Coming of Age Day (Seijin no Hi)

February 11 - National Foundation Day (Kokuritsu Kinenbi)

March 20 - Vernal Equinox Day (Shunbun no Hi)

April 29 - Showa Day (observed) (Honoring the former Emperor Showa's (Hirohito) birthday)

May 3rd - 5th - Golden Week

July 13-15 Obon Festival - not official holiday, but some stores in eastern Japan may be closed

July 17 - (3rd Monday of July) - Marine Day (Umi no Hi)

August 11 - Mountain Day (Yama no Hi)

August 13-15 Obon Festival - not official holiday, but some stores in western Japan may be closed

September 18 - (3rd Monday of September) - Respect for the Aged Day (Keirou no Hi)

September 23 - Autumnal Equinox Day (Shubun no Hi)

October 9 (2nd Monday in October) - Health and Sports Day (Tai'iku no Hi)

November 3 - National Culture Day (Bunka no Hi)

November 23 - Labour Thanksgiving Day (Kinrou Kansha no Hi)

December 23 - Emperor's Birthday (Tennou no Tanjoubi)

December 31 - bank holiday


Important Japanese Holidays - 2018

January 1st - New Year's Day (Shogatsu or Ganjitsu)

January 2nd - 3rd - New Year's Holidays -- banks, government offices, and many stores closed

January 8 (2nd Monday in January) - Coming of Age Day (Seijin no Hi)

February 11 - National Foundation Day (Kokuritsu Kinenbi)

February 12 - National Foundation Day (observed)

March 21 - Vernal Equinox Day (Shunbun no Hi)

April 29 - Showa Day (Honoring the former Emperor Showa's (Hirohito) birthday)

April 29 - Showa Day (observed)

May 3rd - 5th - Golden Week

July 13-15 Obon Festival - not official holiday, but some stores in eastern Japan may be closed

July 16 - (3rd Monday of July) - Marine Day (Umi no Hi)

August 11 - Yama no Hi - Mountain Day

August 13-15 Obon Festival - not official holiday, but some stores in western Japan may be closed

September 17 - (3rd Monday of September) - Respect for the Aged Day (Keirou no Hi)

September 23 - Autumnal Equinox Day (Shubun no Hi)

October 8 (2nd Monday in October) - Health and Sports Day (Tai'iku no Hi)

November 3 - National Culture Day (Bunka no Hi)

November 23 - Labour Thanksgiving Day (Kinrou Kansha no Hi)

December 23 - Emperor's Birthday (Tennou no Tanjoubi)

December 23 - Emperor's Birthday (observed)

December 31 - bank holiday


Japan is still very much a cash based society. Credit cards are used but generally for medium sized to major hotels, department stores, large retail outlets, and stores that deal with lots of international tourists. However, you can now withdraw cash at machines in almost any post office or 7-11 in Japan using credit cards issued by Visa International, MasterCard, American Express and Diners Club, and debit issued by financial institutions participating in Visa Electron or Maestro Network, or ATM cards issued by financial insitutions participating in the Plus or Cirrus networks.

Generally speaking, getting cash from credit cards is not advisable unless you have no other choice, since many banks charge near extortion-like interest rates that accrue from the minute you get the money. It is for all intents and purposes, legalized loan sharking.

For more detailed info, see the relevant pages from the Japanese Post Office and 7-11 Japan.

You will also get a far better exchange rate by using your ATM card in Japan compared to exchanging cash. There will be a certain fee for using it (check with your bank first) as well as a foreign exchange fee, but often is only a few dollars unless you are doing business with a ripoff bank. Having your money in a credit union will often be a lot kinder to your wallet in many ways.

If you do plan to use your ATM in Japan, make sure the bank knows about it first so they don't suspect fraudulent usage and freeze your account.

If you want to compare, this is the age of the internet and you can easily see the rates online. Look at the Narita Airport bank exchange rates and then compare that with the latest rates of your own bank. (Go down the page and note that the left hand column is for buying other currencies with yen, and the right hand column is buying yen with your home currency).


If you are interested in looking at older and outdated versions of yen (and before that, sen), try looking at The Old Japanese Money Video or Bank Note World.

Here is a link to The Japan FAQ: Know Before You Go