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What currency does Japan use? A complete guide

The Japanese monetary unit is the Yen, with the abbreviation JPY and the symbol ¥. In this guide we answer the big questions: what currency does Japan use, what are its denominations, and how much do things cost in Japan?

Learn more about the Japanese currency and why it may be easier to order yen online before you travel to Japan.

A breakdown of the Japanese currency

Japanese currency consists of yen (¥ or 円 in Japanese). One yen corresponds to 100 sen, although sen are no longer used in everyday life and are only seen on the stock market.

In what denominations can you find Japanese yen?

Yen come in both notes and coins:


  • 1,000 yen
  • 2,000 yen
  • 5,000 yen
  • 10,000 yen


  • 1 yen
  • 5 yen
  • 10 yen
  • 50 yen
  • 100 yen
  • 500 yen

Is the Japanese monetary unit used anywhere else?

The yen is only used in Japan. It’s a good idea to make sure you have at least some currency at all times, as some Japanese outlets won’t accept UK debit or credit cards.

How much can I expect to spend in Japan?

Although Japan has a reputation as an expensive country to travel in, the currency exchange rate for Japanese yen as of December 2023 has been weakening. That makes day-to-day goods fairly affordable, and many items now cost less than they would in the UK.

As part of your research, don’t miss our travel guide to Japan. It answers all the questions you might have about travelling to Japan.

How to get your yen

The easiest and least-stress option is to order your yen from us before you head to Japan. Ordering online will get you the our best available rate.

If you need to convert yen once you’ve arrived, there are plenty of Travelex stores on hand. Just take a look at our store locator to find the nearest branch.

While you can also use credit and debit cards to withdraw yen from an ATM, there are often hidden charges and not all cards are accepted. The Travelex Money Card is the best of both worlds, giving you convenience and security with no nasty surprises.

How to spend your yen

Japan has a reputation as a cash-based society, but that trend is changing. Cash is certainly still the best option when spending small amounts and when travelling outside of the bigger cities.

You will generally need cash for taxis, buses and trams. You may also need it to pay entrance fees to tourist attractions and when visiting smaller restaurants and shops.

Credit and debit cards are now widely accepted, especially in big cities, hotels, larger restaurants, stores and train stations. The last few years have seen a big increase in mobile payment options. Apple Pay and Google Pay are increasingly available - but will only work if the card you have registered is acceptable.

FAQs on the currency of Japan

  • What currency does Japan use, and how long has it been in place?

    The Yen has been the Japanese Monetary Unit since 1869, when it was introduced as part of economic modernisation.

  • Is Japan expensive?

    Japan is generally considered to be a fairly expensive country to visit, but in fact it now compares quite favourably with the Western world. The Japanese yen has been weakening and the cost of living in the West is rising, so many items now cost less than you might expect.

  • Is Japan safe?

    Japan is considered a very safe destination for tourists. When travelling anywhere unfamiliar you should always use common sense to avoid trouble. Avoid going out by yourself at night, beware of pickpockets in busy areas, and always put your valuables in a hotel safe where possible.

  • How much money should I take to Japan?

    It’s tricky to know how much money to take to any travel destination. How much money you will need depends on your plans, how much you typically spend and the level of luxury you’re expecting. It’s worth thinking through how much you can afford and setting a daily budget so you can keep track.

  • Do you have to tip in Japan?

    Tipping is not expected in Japan, and trying to leave one can be socially awkward. It will usually be refused. In Japan, hard work and good service are seen as points of personal pride, so a tip is viewed as unnecessary.

  • What is the best currency to take to Japan?

    You will need yen wherever you go but it’s easy to organise. You will usually get the best value by ordering currency before departure.

Ready to buy some Japanese yen?

Take a look at our available rates and Buy Japanese Yen Online. Get your yen delivered to your door or collect at one of more than 50 Travelex stores.

Take out our Buy Back Promise when you buy your travel money and, after your trip, we’ll buy back your leftover currency from you at the original transaction exchange rate.

Travel safer with our Travelex Money Card

Travel safer with our Travelex Money Card

Experience added peace of mind with the Travelex Money Card - an optimal alternative to carrying your debit card. Unlike your debit card, our Travelex Money Card is not linked to your bank account, minimising your risk of losing all your funds in case of loss or theft. Load your card with Japanese yen and withdraw cash from ATMs or make secure, contactless payments directly at the point of sale.

While Travelex does not impose charges to ATM withdrawals, it's important to note that fees from other ATM providers may apply. Find out more on our fees here.

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