How Much Cash Do You Need When Visiting Japan?

One of the things that you need to know when traveling somewhere, is the amount of money that you need. Budgeting is a pretty important step when planning a holiday, after all.

But to take it one step further, you also need to think about how much money you need to take with you, as actual physical cash. Especially because you will need to switch the money at the bank, to have the right notes. 

In most places, you can simply pay with your card, so there’s no need to exchange money beforehand and have it in cash. However, it is always good to have a bit of cash on you, no matter what country you’re traveling to.

And when it comes to Japan, cash might be the only way to pay for some activities and places. 

So, how much cash do you need when visiting Japan? It obviously depends on how much you’re thinking of spending. As well as depending on the places you have planned to visit, and the activities you have researched to do.

But we’re going to look at the basics so you get an idea of a standard average amount that you might need. Let’s get right into it! 

What places in Japan take only cash? 

As we said, most places will accept card payments. Japan is known for being very technologically advanced, so it has no problem taking card payments in all cities and popular tourist spots.

However, if you’re planning on venturing into more rural parts of Japan, or you’re planning on staying at more traditional places with more traditional activities...cash might be the only way to pay. 

Here are some of the things in Japan, that will usually only accept cash: 

  • Traditional Ryokans
  • Shrines, castles, museums, and other old landmarks of importance
  • Taxis in most areas of Japan (although the bigger cities will be less limited) 
  • Most small accommodations, hotels, restaurants, and shops (especially outside of the big main cities) 
  • Most public transport

While paying by card will be fairly possible inside the big cities, most other places in Japan will prefer cash, or only accept cash. This is because Japan has a very cash-driven economy, as they find it a lot more convenient than using a card. 

Even if you’re only planning on staying inside one of the big cities, you should still be prepared with some amount of cash. 

The currency used in Japan is the Yen, so you should convert some of your money to this before your travel to Japan, to ensure you’re prepared. Then you can budget the amount of cash you spend each day when it is needed! 

What happens if you run out of cash? 

It’s quite common to budget your holiday and to still end up spending more than you intended. When you’re out and about, different places and activities will catch your eye, and you won’t be able to stop yourself. 

So, what happens if you run out of cash? It’s more than possible to happen to you, and it’s important to be informed so you know what to do and how to get more cash. 

The easiest way is to go to an ATM machine and withdraw cash using your card. But not all ATM machines in Japan will accept your card, as it will be a foreign one. 

If you run out of cash, these are the places where there will be a suitable ATM machine that works with foreign cards: 

  • The ATM machine at a 7-11 Bank
  • The ATM machine at a Japan Post Bank 

Finding both of those should be fairly easy, especially in cities. And you can always ask the local for help locating one or the other, and they’ll be more than happy to help! 

However, be aware that you might be charged a foreign transaction currency fee. This is quite common and to be expected, but sometimes it can be more expensive than you imagine, which can turn into a nasty surprise. 

We highly recommend you talk to your bank before you travel to Japan so that you know exactly how much that fee is.

It’s also a good idea to let your bank know when you’re traveling abroad so that you’re allowed to withdraw the cash and aren’t left stranded without any means! 

Average costs in Japan

The amount of cash you need varies according to where in Japan you are, what you’re doing, and how much you’re wanting to spend. You also won’t need the same amount of cash everyday! 

On average, travelers recommend exchanging 100 dollars into yen, for each day you’re in Japan. But you can take a little more if you’re able, just in case. And if you run out, you can get more while in Japan. 

The trick to ensure you have enough cash for when it matters is to use your card everywhere else. If you can use your card, use it. Only pay with cash when cash is the only thing accepted! 

In Conclusion

On average, you should exchange 100 dollars for yen, for each day you’re going to spend in Japan. This can vary depending on where you’re staying, what you’re doing, and how much you are willing to spend.

Japan has a very cash-driven economy, so outside of the big cities, most places will accept cash only. 

If in doubt, we recommend taking a little extra cash.

Although, if you run out of cash, you can withdraw more, if you know where to go! Just remember that cash will be expected in more rural or traditional places, while big cities will have fewer limitations and will more easily accept payments by card.