Tuesday, April 15, 2008


ATM’s are common in Japan, but those which accept foreign cards take a bit of finding. First, check with your financial institution before you leave home that your card will work overseas, and what the bank will charge you for each withdrawal. You can carry large amounts of cash in Japan, so when you find a co-operative ATM, withdraw a fair amount, and start looking for another machine before you run out of cash.

Credit cards are not so widely accepted, though the situation is improving. It doesn’t hurt to ask at your hotel or inn, but have cash as a back up. Large hotels in my experience are happy to cash travellers cheques, I have taken Amex cheques in yen and had them changed at reception in moments. But when my small business hotel told me to try the bank, it was a lengthy farce to do the transaction. Since that time, I’ve relied on left over yen from previous trips, just so I don’t arrive penniless, and head straight for the ATM in the arrivals’ hall of the airport.

Suggestions for using ATM's:

*Cash up big at the airport when you arrive; if you can’t find the ATM, ask at the info counter.

* Japanese post offices, even the little ones, will have an ATM corner (it may be in the foyer or even upstairs.) Debit cards with the VISA network will work here, and you do not have to withdraw in multiples of Y10,000.

* Citibank ATM’s, while hard to find, accept foreign cards. http://www.citibank.co.jp/en/atm/index.html

* 7 eleven stores have international card machines, and are your best option for out of hours banking, though there may be a usage fee on top of what your home bank will charge. http://www.sevenbank.co.jp/intlcard/index2.html

*It’s worth asking at the tourist info office for foreigner friendly ATM’s, sometimes they are quite close to the station.

*All of the machines I’ve used have a touch screen with an ENGLISH option on the first page, some only dispense Y10,000 notes, others do odd amounts, eg Y32,000.

Symbol indicating a Post Office.


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