From 20 September until 2 November 2019, the 20 teams that have qualified for the Rugby World Cup will battle it out across Japan. If you are one of the lucky fans travelling to the Rugby World Cup, it’s time to get thinking about your trip.
As a company started by a Tokyo-dwelling Australian, we know a thing or two about getting by in Japan. There’s a lot we could say about the places we love to go, the things we think you should eat and a few sights that you shouldn’t miss. But we’re also a company who work to make it easier to deal with your money, so that’s what’s we’re going to focus on.
Here’s what you need to know about using money in Japan:
Buying a Pasmo or Suica card when you arrive is an excellent investment. Like Melbourne’s Myki or Sydney’s Opal card, a pre-paid IC card will get you onto buses and trains around the big cities. But you can also use them to pay at konbini (convenience stores), pop your luggage into a locker at a train station or even at some restaurants.
Learn more about buying and using IC cards
Forget your debit card. EFTPOS is a virtual unknown here. You’ve heard the expression ‘cash is king’? Well, that could have been written about Japan. You will use cash for a lot of your transactions in Japan. So, if you’re paying for a hotel on check-in, heading out for an expensive sushi dinner or doing some shopping, it’s best to assume you’ll need cash at least some of the time.
Take sensible precautions when you withdraw cash, like not carrying it all in one place. There’s less to worry about in Japan when it comes to being robbed or mugged. Of course, you still need to be careful in the big city, so be discreet and don’t flash your cash.
ATMs are another thing to be aware of. You can’t use every ATM and most won’t accept an international card. Some even shut down for the day when business hours end! Generally speaking, if you can find a konbini or a post office branch, you’ll be okay. The ATMs there will generally accept international cards. Some have a withdrawal limit of ¥50,000 or ¥100,000 so plan ahead (you may need to pre-pay your hotel stays in cash too, check on their site or pre-pay through a booking site).
While you can use credit cards in taxis, department stores and restaurants, it’s important to check before you get in, purchase or order. Worst case scenario, you can probably leave your dinner and pop to an ATM at one of the many konbini, but it’s easy to avoid an awkward situation by checking first.
When you’re shopping keep an eye out for a Tax-Free shopping sign at the register. As a tourist, you should always be carrying your passport in Japan, and now is the time to get it out. Tell the staff that you want to shop Tax-Free and if you’re spending more than AU$50 you should either be given your tax back or not charged it. This is only for products that you’re taking out of the country, it doesn’t apply to anything that you’re planning to use while you’re in Japan, like food and drink. The receipt will be stapled into your passport and you just take it to the Tax-Free counter when you get to departures at the airport.
There isn’t a tipping culture in Japan, and trying to tip can cause confusion or even offence. Do note that there is a sales tax which will generally be added on top of your bill, so allow for this in your budget. Some higher-end dining spots may include a gratuity or service tax but this should be clearly stated.
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