How to handle cash in Japan

Mar 14th, 2015, 12:16 PM
  #21  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 20,736
There are ATMs at Kansai, which you could have found by googling:
http://www.kansai-airport.or.jp/en/s...index.html#_02

The problem you might encounter is that most banks set a maximum per-day withdrawal amount. You need to do the following things:
1. Find out what that amount is AND at what exact time of day the bank "resets" its per-day clock.
2. Figure out what time that will be in Japan.
3. Figure out if you can withdraw enough using ATMs to pay for your rooms.
4. If you can NOT withdraw enough in a timely way, come up with another way to get yen.
kja is offline  
Mar 14th, 2015, 12:57 PM
  #22  
 
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I agree with kja, there is more of an issue with your account's maximum daily withdrawal limit than with finding a post office....

I don't have Schwab - but I know with my Capital One account they refused to raise my maximum daily withdrawal which is only $500....ordinarily more than enough except that I also will need quite a bit to pay for my Kyoto lodging in ¥. However, I have three ATM cards - all no fee - so will manage that way....;-)

btw, there is a Japan Post Office across the street from the Nara JR Station...open Monday through Saturday...

Finally, I don't think you need small bills for tips....I have never given anyone a tip in Japan...they don't do tips except from what I read, at very high-end ryokan.
Mara is offline  
Mar 14th, 2015, 01:06 PM
  #23  
kja
 
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And I agree with Mara -- no tipping in Japan!
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Mar 14th, 2015, 08:07 PM
  #24  
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More good advice. Our ATM card is Schwab (I also have Wells Fargo, but they charge a heavy withdrawal fee which Schwab doesn't). I will call to see if they can up the daily limit. Seems like we can get an initial infusion of yen at the airport for Nara and then make enough ATM trips in Kyoto where we are staying for 5 nights to get cash for the next leg of the trip. We're staying in an apartment above a potter's studio and know he will be able to direct us to ATMs etc.

We do have several credit cards but the one I plan to use is Capital One which does not have foreign transaction fees. Unfortunately we do not live in an area that issues Capital One debit cards for some reason.

With all this great advice, think I now understand and am set for a great trip! Thanks so much to all of you.

By the way, we had similar questions about WiFi in Japan. I had heard that it was often hard to get free WiFi in Japan and my husband needs to stay connected to his office via email. I ended up renting a "pocket WiFi" device from Global Advanced Communications and am having it delivered to our hotel the first night.

Each new country we visit has its own challenges and wonders!
leslieq is offline  
Mar 15th, 2015, 12:18 AM
  #25  
 
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I'm so sorry, I should have made myself clearer -- by cash I mean I took Japanese yen with me not GBP£ or US$.

I was able to get a good exchange rate, as my dad was travelling a short while before my trip and was able to change money where we went at a better exchange rate than I could get changing money at home in the UK.
Kavey is offline  
Mar 15th, 2015, 12:20 AM
  #26  
 
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Also, yes, we used our credit card to purchase train tickets (on the second trip when we didn't buy a JR Pass). We also used the card to pay those hotel bills that we could (I'd written down in advance which ones requested cash payment).
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Mar 15th, 2015, 01:13 AM
  #27  
kja
 
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"Each new country we visit has its own challenges and wonders!"

Indeed -- and isn't that wonderful!?!

FWIW, some of your questions highlight, for me, the advantages of a good guidebook or two. Even those of us who are experienced travelers might not know anything about the things that are unique to a specific place or culture, things we wouldn't even know to ask about or to search for on-line. But it's all covered in any decent guidebook, so you can learn all the stuff you never even knew to ask. And the cost of a guidebook or two is nominal in comparison to the cost of a trip....
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Mar 15th, 2015, 07:48 AM
  #28  
 
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Hi LeslieQ,

Regarding your free wifi question, it is an excellent idea for hubby to rent a pocket wifi device. The wifi situation in Japan is fine for the casual user, but not for someone needing wifi for business. Many hotels in Japan advertise free wifi, when in fact, it is only available in the hotel lobby, and not always in the rooms. Also, coffee shops such as Starbucks do not offer free wifi. If you step into the lobby of a five star hotel, you will find that the wifi is always password protected for guests.

Regarding the previous tipping debate, I recently gave a hotel employee a $20 bill on my last night, when I had used up my yen. This employee stayed past her shift, and helped me pack up my shipments by preparing labels and getting boxes. She seemed thrilled.

We can certainly differ in our opinions, but let's keep phrases such as "bad advice" or "horrible advice" out of our postings, and be more tactful. We are here to help the OP answer her questions.
CaliforniaLady is offline  
Mar 15th, 2015, 10:47 AM
  #29  
 
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I used rentafone to hire a wifi device for both our trips -- it was waiting in our first hotel on arrival and we posted it back by popping it into envelope provided and handing it to reception at our last hotel just before leaving for the airport.

We used it on two phones and sometimes our tablet and it was so useful to have, not just for communications but even more so, for google maps and for occasional info checking on sights etc.
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Mar 15th, 2015, 07:04 PM
  #30  
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kavey - the Global Communications device seems similar to rentafone. It will be there when we arrive and we stick it in an envelope to return it.

Did it allow you to use your cellphones, or was it more for general WiFi? My friend in Japan invited me to join LINE, and we have chatted via texting. Hope that also works in Japan.
leslieq is offline  
Mar 15th, 2015, 09:12 PM
  #31  
 
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janisj,

Please note that saracasm in not allowed in these forums:
http://www.fodors.com/faq/joining.cfm#join3

Please note item #2, first paragraph.

Thank you!
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Mar 16th, 2015, 03:58 AM
  #32  
 
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Leslie, just for wifi, we weren't looking to be able to make calls when there on either of our trips. Your device no doubt similar, rentafone were just the supplier we picked, having had personal recommendations from a friend.

The Japanese are incredibly polite, to the extent that they will express gratitude whether or not the item given to them is of value to them or not.

Occasionally, in limited circumstances, I have given US$ for a tip as I know that the staff receiving them can a) spend that currency without difficulty and b) also have the option of exchanging it easily via their employers, who offer this expressly to make it easier for overseas visitors to give tips.

But in most countries, it would simply be an added chore for the recipient to have to change the money, not to mention losing a chunk in fees. Unless I specifically knew someone was either travelling soon and would be able to use the currency I gave them, or had a definite way to spend that currency, I would only tip in their own currency, as strong preference.
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Mar 16th, 2015, 07:06 PM
  #33  
kja
 
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As Kavey just mentioned, most Japanese would express gratitude whether they feel it or not. And many would probably mask their horror at being given a tip quite effectively. Doesn't mean you should tip!

With the possible exception of VERY high end ryokan, tips are not expected in Japan. Tips can evoke the Japanese tradition of exchanging small gifts, thus putting the recipient of the tip in an extremely awkward position.

I'm not surprised that (but am saddened if) staff at hotels that serve many Westerners may be beginning to learn to accept tips, but I must admit that I don't understand why would ANY of us promote a tip culture where none exists.

And yes, there ARE reasons to NOT tip when tips are not expected. One reason for NOT tipping in a culture in which tipping is not expected is that doing so can contribute to some negative stereotypes about Americans (or others who tip) – that we are culturally insensitive, think we can buy anything and/or anyone, don’t understand the value of money, don’t appreciate the professionalism of those with whom we interact, want to flaunt our wealth, are stupid or careless, etc.

Another reason for NOT tipping in a culture in which tipping is not expected is that it can result in a bias against locals or others from non-tipping cultures. You mght think that unlikely, but think again! That has been happening in China – a culture in which tips were not traditionally normative. By 2010, locals couldn’t get a taxi at Beijing’s main train station because drivers refused to take them, focusing instead on foreigners, from whom they had come to expect tips.

Please, just follow the local norms: Unless at a VERY high end ryokan, do NOT tip in Japan!
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Mar 16th, 2015, 11:15 PM
  #34  
kja
 
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If not clear, that should be: "I don't understand why ANY of us would..."
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Mar 17th, 2015, 10:27 AM
  #35  
 
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leslieq got her answer to ? in her OP.

Long story short, I had a difficult time getting to the Hilton Otaru. I very much appreciated the service that the man gave in showing me to my room. I absolutely knew better but I offered him a nice tip. He reacted as if I was offering him well-used tissue paper.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Mar 17th, 2015, 10:46 PM
  #36  
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Haahaa...love mrwunrfl's description of his offer of a tip!

Actually, I was not asking about tipping in Japan as I've read that it's not really done most places. However, I do appreciate the advice from everyone...!

Think I've got the cash/ATM stuff sorted out from all of you wonderful people. Thanks again.
leslieq is offline  
Apr 24th, 2015, 10:44 PM
  #37  
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We just returned from our trip, and am in the process of writing a trip report. Just to let everyone know who answered my question that we had no problem at all with the cash situation in Japan.

We exchanged $300 USD at the airport when we came in.

We went to Post Offices and 7-11s as suggested and used our Schwab debit card (the most I withdrew at a time was 100,000 yen, about $875 US$).

We used cash for most of our accommodations and meals except for the one hotel we stayed at (the Fujiya in Hakone) and the rather expensive Tamahan ryokan in Kyoto.

Thanks again for the help!
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