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Yen exchange rate & cell phone rental in Tokyo

Yen exchange rate & cell phone rental in Tokyo

Nov 30th, 2004, 04:48 PM
  #1  
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Yen exchange rate & cell phone rental in Tokyo

I know the yen exchange rate is low, but I still need to get some for my trip. Where would you recommend I purchase them--at a bank in Tokyo, or back home in the US? Also, where can I rent a cell phone for 2 months in Tokyo?
offlady is offline  
Nov 30th, 2004, 05:48 PM
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You'll get a much better rate exchanging once in Japan. If you want to speculate and think the dollar will get even weaker against the yen you might want to exchange in the US...but that is IF you believe the yen will increase in value enough to cover the difference between buying now versus later AND the difference between buying in the US versus Japan. It's a bit risky in terms of rates right now however you look at it...you just can't be sure which way it's going to go, you know?

You don't NEED to have yen until you get to the airport, and the banks outside of customs have competitive rates. You could also use your Cirrus or Plus ATM card, or credit card, to draw on your US account at Japan Post ATM machines...tons of them all over the place.

Cell phone...you'll see phone rental places in the airport, as well as cell phone shops on about every street corner. The big 3 are Vodafone, Au and NTT Docomo. Tons of options...if you do a web search for Japan rental cell phone you'll see just how many options there are beyond the big 3 companies I listed. Unless you need to know your number in advance of your trip, you can leave getting the phone unitl you arrive too. Is there a chance that your home cell phone company has a roaming agreement in Japan? My Japanese Vodafone can be used in the US...just a thought.
KimJapan is offline  
Dec 1st, 2004, 08:55 AM
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You use a cash station in Narita to get Yen. Also any Citibank (there is a 24 hr one in Roppongi) and most post offices.

Just remember that not all ATMs will accept US cards - look for CITIBANK ( or check out their website ahead of time for locations)
also ATMS are 24hr

I nocticed that I got a better exchange rate when I changed cash at a bank once - not sure why ? but it I did.
dgruzew is offline  
Dec 1st, 2004, 08:56 AM
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sorry

I meant to say NOT all ATMS are 24hr
dgruzew is offline  
Dec 1st, 2004, 02:19 PM
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You won't find Citibank anywhere outside of airports or Tokyo. You will find Post office cash machines just about everywhere, They will certainly take your US issues Cirrus, Plus, Visa, MC, Amex, DC. Here's a link to a previous discussion on the issue.

http://fodors.com/forums/pgMessages....ses=11&start=0

There are very, very, very few 24 hour ATM's...so you should plan accordingly.
KimJapan is offline  
Dec 1st, 2004, 03:25 PM
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KimJapan there is a 24hr Citibank in the center of Kyoto (shijo-karasuma) and On there website they list other locations as well (outside of tokyo)

just FYI

I never had problems gettting cash last month. post offices ARE NOT open 24hrs though
dgruzew is offline  
Dec 1st, 2004, 03:44 PM
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i use the 24hr. citibank atm across the hiroo station of the hibiya line in minato-ku. very easy.
kuranosuke is offline  
Dec 1st, 2004, 05:53 PM
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Just use an ATM card or Visa check card. Credit cards will charge a fee for cash. Buying yen in the U.S. is a bad idea unless you are planning to convert $millions.
mrwunrfl is online now  
Dec 2nd, 2004, 03:54 PM
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Thanks guys. Is there a surcharge for using a bank card at an ATM or do I get the same exchange rate by walking into a bank in Tokyo and buying yen with dollars? I am hoping it doesn't fall below 100 yen. What is the rate today?
offlady is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2004, 04:34 PM
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No surcharge. The rate you get at a bank in Tokyo will probably be lower than what you would get at the ATM and you may incur a service charge at the bank.

The rate today is what it is. Tomorrow, the rate will be higher, unless it is lower, except for the possibility where it will be the same.
mrwunrfl is online now  
Dec 2nd, 2004, 09:30 PM
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mrwunrfl: lol. great explanation of the current rate of exchange. you must hold a masters in advance international montetary exchange theory based upon the expotential theorem of the intelligence level of fodorites as interpreted by the international school of business at duke university.

i am impressed!!
kuranosuke is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2004, 07:12 AM
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I would not worry to much about the USD-JPY exhchange rate. Japanese banks have been buying US dollars so they can keep trade competive.(not like the EU) I would just be conservitve assume 1 dollar is 100 yen. I did not think japan was nearly as expenisve as every one claims. Last year I went to italy and thought that was WAY more expensive. The only thing I thought was expensive in japan was Beer. It seemed like 6-8 bucks for a beer everywhere I went.

Don't get me wrong Japan is not cheap. but prices are closer to NYC than say Rome or London(which for an american are out of control expensive right now)
dgruzew is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2004, 02:04 PM
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Well, you certainly can't control the exchange rate, but you can try to get the most for your dollars. Credit cards usually get the best rates for international exchange since they buy/sell huge blocks of currency within their huge banking world. ATM cards drawn on home banks get a competitive rate, but there may or may not be a fee to use the ATM machines outside of your home banking network...depends on your bank...some charge, some don't. Usually Japanese ATM's are free...but outside the card network (using a Hokkoku Bank card in a Tokyo Mitsubishi bank machine, for example) there is often a charge of 105 yen during the day, and 210 yen after hours (like after 3 or 5 pm). Post office machines are free for postal savings acccount holders, card holders from banks with an agreement with them, and most international card withdrawals...whatever charge your own bank may impose still stands however. Cash gets a better exchange rate than travellers checks...but cash isn't as safe to carry. It's very possible to lose money or have it stolen, even in Japan.

The dollar-yen exchage rate is hot news here in Japan...the Bank of Japan hasn't intervened in currency trading since last March, at which time the level of intervention was the highest ever. Such strong intervention wasn't looked upon very well by other countries in the G7 and Japan has been discouraged from intervening further. However, neither Japan nor the EU particularly like the current trend of dollar weakness, so there is some possibility of future intervention. Many predict that the dollar will weaken further though, so I think that somewhere under 100 yen per dollar is highly likely at this point given the current trend and US economic data.

Prices aren't so bad here though...in many ways, I find life here cheaper than Boston. Recently 8 of us went out for dinner at a yakiniku restaurant...grill your own meat, fish, veggies...it cost us 12,400 yen total...plenty of drinking too...so about 3000 yen per person for a great dinner and many drinks. Beer in a usual non-touristy restaurant ranges from 180 yen on upward...the posher the place, the dearer the beer! Non-alchoholic drinks are often more expensive than beer though, so don't think that you'll save money by skipping a cocktail or two. Lunch sets run between 500 and 1000 yen most places, and include lots of food...great deals.

Don't let the exchange rate make or break your trip...prices are reasonably priced places are easy to find.
KimJapan is offline  
Dec 12th, 2004, 10:32 PM
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Looks like the US decided to intervene and the dollar has gained a little. So hopefully it should stabilize a bit. I just checked my closet and found 35,000+ yen from my last trip when yen was around 120 or so. That's better than what little interest the banks in the US are paying on savings accounts. Now I wished I brought back more yen.

KimJapan-what places have lunch sets between 500 to 1000 yen? Are you referring to ekiben or regular mom & pop restaurants?
offlady is offline  
Dec 13th, 2004, 12:00 AM
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Lunch sets are available just about anywhere...the cheap ones are found in noodle shops, shopping street restaurants, sushi bars that are open at lunch time, restaurants that serve Italian, Indian...international food....you should be able to find a 1000 yen lunch without even looking hard, and a 500 yen lunch with a bit of shopping around. There's always the chains, like Yoshinoya, Mos Burger, Lotteria, KFC, Katsuya...they are all over the place and easy to find since they look like, well, chain restaurants.

You won't find low priced lunches in luxury hotel restaurants or anyplace that's fancy fancy.

Ekiben are just lunch boxes that you buy in the station or on the train from the cart. They are different in every station so they are popular. They vary in price from 500 to over 2000 yen, depending on the contents and size.

Mom and pop restaurants like you find in residential neighborhoods also have cheap food at dinner time...but they often are so so local that you can't find them...not well marked, no plastic food displayed in the window, and nowhere near hotels or tourist sites.

Cheap dinners...head for izakaya, dining bars and yakiniku. Pick up the local dining mags that are available for free in places like convenience stores and you can get a look at the choices, the prices of the specials, and often a coupon for a discount off of your bill or free drink or dessert. You don't need to read Japanese to get the gist of these mags, since they have pictures.
KimJapan is offline  
Dec 13th, 2004, 06:25 AM
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KimJapan is the best expert on Japan. We follwed her advice and had the best time. But, we did have trouble getting enough yen. Part of the trouble was that we are not accustomed to carrying so much cash so we did not take out enough money when we had the opportunity. Some of the post office atms would only allow 30,000 yen at a time. Sounds like a lot, but not... Other reliable sources for atms were the upscale department stores. We used atms in several and could take out as much money as we wanted. They were hard to find in the stores, but we finally found them. The Okura Hotel in Tokyo had an atm that only used denominations of 10,000. It also had a drawing of a woman bowing during the waiting time.
Elainee is offline  
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