Illustrated guide to Japanese Currency: Yen via Various Japanese Culture

Yes, let’s cunt until ten.

Japanis still a cash society for the most part, so:

  1. It’s better (and very safe) to carry cash. Plus, there may be a fee for foreign transactions with debit (and especially) credit cards.

  2. Credit Card is pronounced: Kurejito Kardo (learn how to say this with the Free Human Japanese app, available for most platforms). Most large/chain stores accept them; you can simply ask, “Kurejito Kardo, OK?”. This means they take debit, also:

    Using a Debit card is recommended — your bank will likely charge a small % for each transaction, but depending on their Foreign ATM Withdrawal policies, it may amount to less than if you had taken out cash.

  3. Exchange currency at the airport (in Japan, not local) or at konbini or post offices (POs are everywhere and foreigner-friendly, but do have odd hours).

  4. BRING (or buy a totally kawaii) COIN PURSE: you’re going to be carrying lots of coins around.

  5. Japanese cash is easy to differentiate. The bills are a different size, large to small, from greatest to least amount. All Yen has Western numbers on it, except the 5Y coin (the gold-ish one with the hole).

  6. It’s easy to estimate equivalence rate: 100 JPY ~= $1.00. Just move the decimal —› (right) 2x to figure out the dollar to yen, but remember you’re probably spending a little more due to actual exchange rates.

More Advice, from Trip Advisor:

There are three ways to obtain yen in Japan for approximately 1% cost.

The first way is to exchange travelers checks …

The second way to obtain yen for a 1% fee is via a post office ATM, using a Visa Delta/Cirrus/Plus card. They are often accessible in a foyer even when the Post Office is closed. …

The third way is to find a JUSCO store (big grocery and department store all in one). There are several money exchange machines (dollars to yen) just inside on the first floor. You get the going rate for yen and yall you have to do is feed your dollars in and yen comes out. You can change anything from $20 up.

Credit cards are accepted at major hotels and larger restaurants. Small business hotels and small restaurants generally do not accept credit cards. The credit card company will charge a fee on your bill for foreign exchange (usually 1-3%), and there may be a surcharge from the retailer/hotel to pay by credit card - ask first.

TokyoBling: Tokyo Disney Sea:

First a disclaimer: I am in no way a fan of the Mickey Mouse and his entertainment empire. In fact I have spent quite a lot of time explaining to various people over the years why I am in no way interested in visiting Disneyland and have no interest in any of their products. Until recently, that is.

I had visitors from the Old Country over here, first time in Asia, first time in Japan and certainly first time in Tokyo. We did the culture, visited the temples, went hiking in the mountains, checked out the rice fields, did Asakusa, Shibuya, Shinjuku and Odaiba like all good tourists do, and I was the experienced guide (I have done it so many times now that I have developed the perfect “first-time-in-Tokyo” tour: as much sight seeing and shopping as possible in an as efficient route as possible, a good mix of the stuff everyone sees and the stuff no-one without inside help can see.

And then it happened. “I want to go to Disneyland!”, one of my guests piped up. And like the good guide (it’s their first time, maybe last time – what the heck – I’ll do it for once) I arranged tickets and checked up the best train routes to go there. But not Disney land, Disney Sea. For those of you who haven’t been there, Disney Sea is built on reclaimed land next to Disney Land. They’re exactly the same size and where Land caters to families and younger visitors, Sea caters to grown ups, couples and females. I had been to Land a couple of times (when I was young and didn’t know better) but never to Sea so I decided to take my guests there. And wow, have I been reformed! Tokyo Disney Sea is to “theme parks” what diamonds are to “coal”. I have been to theme parks all over the world but Disney Sea is eaily the creme-de-la-creame, the Bee’s Knees, the Top of the Pops, lo más, the cat’s pajamas, the best of the best. At times, you don’t even know you’re with Disney!

The reason behind this excellence is [that] Oriental Land, the company who crafted Disney Sea … is in fact a fully owned Japanese corporation and had relatively free hands when it came to running the park. The design is made in totally in Japan and as usual with Japanese workers, it is absolutely stunning in it’s design and workmanship. The park is divided into several different “zones”, two of them being absolutely wonderful steam punk themed “bases”. Possibly the first (and only?) steam punk themed park in the world! Here are a few photos, I haven’t gotten around to checking all the photos I took out, but I plan to go again in the very near future.

Yes, I admit it. I’m hooked. It’s just that beautiful. Enjoy!

Tokyo Disney Sea – Triton’s Kingdom

A couple of months ago I started my love affair with Tokyo Disney Sea, as you might remember from this post. For the longest time I was almost arrogant in my reluctance to even visit the place, despite having never been there (talk about prejudice – I have since learned to be a little bit more humble) but now I am a true fan. I have since been back once and plan on going again if I can ever get a weekday off.

These photos are from the “toddler” area of Tokyo Disney Sea, a resort that is usually compared to as the adult version of Tokyo Disneyland, “Triton’s Magic Kingdom” and the whole are is styled out as an underwater cave. I have seen a few places that are supposed to simulate some sort of fantasy underwater adventure but this place is the best so far.

There were quite a few adults enjoying the rides as well, but mostly really small kids. The place doesn’t look to crowded does it? That’s because I went on a really unpopular weekday morning. Try this at the beginning of the school holidays on a weekend, you’ll hardly be able to move!

If you ever want real proof as to the degree to which Disneymania has infiltrated the Japanese mind, just ask any school kid or recent graduate to write a short piece of text in English, with a capital “D” in it. You’ll see what I mean. Enjoy!

Cravatfiend: Japan Daydreams

Japan Daydreams is an excellent little Japan blog, by Cravatfiend.

It’s text-heavy, but you’ll definitely want to read it: it’s well-written, insightful, and even plainly hilarious at times.

(Also she makes me feel less creepy about being trip-research-obsessive.)

Love Japan?:

Dreaming of Japan. So many of us do it. Maybe it’s the history, the modern culture, the language, the anime, the fashion, but something about Japan hooks in so many people from around the globe. From that point on, whether we’ve traveled there or not, we’re stuck with Japan daydreams.

I had carefully planned and saved for my first trip to Japan for 4 years while studying and working part time. By the time I got there I thought I couldn’t possibly have planned more, but of course that beautiful country threw as many curveballs at me as possible. I was thankful for some of the planning I had done, but the unplanned parts turned out to be some of the best. I had the wonderful visit to Japan I’d always wanted, so surely I should be content, right? Not so for the Japan lover. The new and unexpected things I saw just taught me how much more I wanted to see. ….

If you’re visiting Tokyo for a short time and want to visit Tokyo Disney or can’t decide between Disneyland and Disneysea, do check out Cravatfiend’s Tokyo Disney posts:

  1. Pre-trip plans, research fever, and the allure of Tokyo Disney…
  2. Tokyo Disney Resort Day 1, or Why You Should Take A Break
  3. Trip Day 4 Disney Day 2: DisneySea
  4. Trip Day 4, Disney Day 2 DisneySea Part 2 (You won’t want to miss the story involving an enthusiastic obasan)
  5. Trip Day 5, Disney Day 3: Park Hopping
  6. Trip Day 5, Disney Day 3: Park Hopping Part 2 

Friendly warning:

…When you ask any employee any question, you are burdening them with your request until a solution is found.

If you ask a grocer where the cereal is, they will drop everything and personally escort you all the way to the cereal. If they’re out, they might get a manager to phone other stores to locate some for you.

Not something to avoid, but something to be aware of. People on the job will bend over backwards for you more often than not, even if your request has nothing to do with their job.

They will never say “Cereal? Aisle 3.” while stocking a shelf and not even looking at you. So know exactly how to ask for what you want and who you’re asking it from. Keep some “outs” handy to free someone if they look too troubled at your request.

via Reddit

  • In the states I often see people getting on crowded subway cars wearing backpacks. …don’t do that in Japan. Travel at a less crowded time, or try to hold the backpack so as to not inconvenience others, or take a cab.

  • Don’t block the closing door of a train/elevator just so you can slip in too.

  • Don’t walk down the street while eating/drinking.

  • Don’t go jogging with your shirt off.

  • Don’t go roller blading / skate boarding unless you know it’s ok in that area.

  • Don’t leave stuff in coin lockers overnight.

  • Don’t take photos of people without their permission.

  • Don’t tip in restaurants, taxis, etc. This can be considered rude (depending).

  • When grabbing a taxi at a taxi stand, go to the taxi at the front of the line.

  • Don’t talk and eat at the same time. And close your mouth when you chew. …including when you chew gum.

  • Don’t talk more loudly than you hear the other people around you talk.

  • Wait for the signal before walking across the street.

  • Don’t cut in line.

  • Don’t act suspicious, like walking through residential neighborhoods at 3:00 am.

  • Don’t waste food. (Don’t take more soy sauce than you need at a sushi place, for example.)

  • When you buy a bottled/canned drink form a vending machine or convenience store, there’s usually a place to dispose of the bottle/can right there.

  • At convenience stores with multiple registers, sometimes there’s a single queue of customers waiting for those registers. And sometimes this single queue isn’t so obvious because it’s running down the aisle of the store.

  • Many supermarkets are bring-your-own-bag.

  • You’ll probably want a pocket-sized micro towel for drying your hands after using a public rest room. Many have hand dryers, many don’t.

  • Don’t use the oshibori (hot wet towel you’re given at a restaurant) to wash your face.

  • Don’t use chop sticks to drag a dish closer to you.

  • Don’t frantically rub your chop sticks together before a meal. (How do foreigners not notice that they are the only ones doing this?)

  • Don’t eat on the subway or local train. Eating is ok on longer train rides / shinkansen.

  • Floors where shoes are worn are “dirty”. Don’t walk into a store and set some merchandise on the floor.

  • At places where you should take your shoes off — you absolutely must take your shoes off.

  • While wearing your shoes, don’t put your feet up on a chair, against the wall, against the seat in front of you, etc. …That is, don’t mix the dirty and the clean.

  • Try to avoid blowing your nose in public. If you become sick and sneezy, wear a mask.

  • Don’t carry a dripping wet umbrella through a store.

  • Don’t bring drugs, don’t go looking for drugs.

  • Temples and shrines have their own special “rules”, like washing your hands and mouth before entering, etc. Be extra aware of what other people are doing.