Before going on a trip to Japan, we always need to exchange currencies. This allows to have Yen on oneself when arriving on Japanese soil, for its expenses on the spot. On this page you will find many practical information, an up- to-date currency converter, as well as our tips for getting your Japanese Yen by avoiding the maximum of miscellaneous fees (foreign exchange and others).

In Japan, the overwhelming majority of purchases are settled in cash. The bank card is used very little, and the check almost unknown to the battalion. It is therefore very important to always have Yen on you as a means of payment during a stay in Japan. The Japanese archipelago is very safe, most local have on them large sums in cash, without any worry, and it is very convenient to work like that.

Where and how to recover Japanese Yen

Here are the two most common ways to recover Japanese Yen (¥ / 円 / JPY):

  • before departure: at a currency exchange office or at his bank;
  • On the spot in Japan: withdrawing from a cash machine (DAB) or in a bureau de change, with his credit card.

All methods to obtain Yen require going through a financial intermediary, which levies a bank commission and / or exchange (see below).

Before leaving

In your country of origin, the exchange offices are the most likely to provide you with the desired currencies. However, it is generally found only in large cities, often in the city center and more generally in business or “themed” neighborhoods (such as the rue Vivienne in Paris). They are therefore reserved for only a small part of the population.

Regarding banks, in addition to their often high fees, they rarely have Japanese banknotes in stock. Indeed, Yen denominations are much less demanded than the US Dollar, for example. To provide you, the banks therefore ask to warn them well in advance, sometimes up to a month, for themselves to order them! As for the Post Office, it is often aligned with the important commissions of the banks; moreover, she almost always asks to have an account at La Banque Postale to be able to provide you in Yen. – Update: the Post does not seem to offer the exchange of JPY now..

Once in Japan

. The withdrawal solution at a distributor in Japan has many disadvantages:

  1. Their opening hours are very small. Indeed, unlike the West where they are accessible 24 hours a day, in Japan the ATMs are usually keyed to the opening hours of banks, or about 9h-16h30! Find a distributor is therefore only the first test, because then it must be open … Not counting public holidays or national holiday periods such as Golden Week or New Year, during which they can be closed for several days in a row. Or again, in July 2018 Mizuho Bank deactivated all ATMs for 3 days to update their software …
  2. In addition, depending on your banking contract and the brand of your card, again the commissions can quickly climb very high, not to mention the weekly or monthly caps very low.
  3. And that is still in the case where your Western card is compatible with the visited distributor, which is far from always the case (especially with MasterCard).
  4. In addition, many banks limit the amount possible to withdraw to 50,000 yen (~ 402,00 €), which can quickly be far too little to travel quietly on the spot without necessarily looking at the expense.
  5. Finally do not forget the language barrier, either at the counter or on many ATMs that can only display Japanese.

Thus, many travelers in Japan have already been “stuck” in Japan with very few yen remaining in their wallets, because of ceilings too quickly reached or delirious costs.

The most advantageous solution to get cheap Yen

Since the advent of the Internet, a handful of new players have entered the currency market: online euro to yen money changers. They often offer the most interesting commissions, thanks to their reduced fees especially on real estate and staff (since they have no or few physical offices with counter).

These companies are of course regulated, which imposes the same rules on them as all other intermediaries. They are a handful of sites to share the market, on more or less advantageous terms, specific to each.