Money in Japan

When one decides to go study abroad, many questions arise, among which money is often center. Before you go to Japan, there are a few things you need to know. So here is some information Money in Japan.

The Japanese currency is the Yen (¥).

For Exchange rates, please refer to Currency Converter by OANDA.com, The Currency Site.

It is important to note that Japanese people usually pay by cash. So you will often need to go to an ATM to draw cash. Thankfully, Japan is a very safe country so you should not be afraid to carry cash.

Shopping, saving money in Japan:

It is a cliche to say that cost of living in Japan is expensive. One must simply be smart to find the right places to shop in. You will get accustomed quickly to your surroundings and find out where to find what and for what price.

You may enjoy the 100 Yen shops (the main brand is called Daiso) which you can see all over the country. You can find almost everything there. If you are on a budget constraint, expect to spend a lot of time (and, eventually, money) shopping there!


Means of payment:

Japanese people usually pay by cash. Most banks provide foreign currency exchange. Even though Japan is a very safe country, you may want to avoid carrying around too much cash.

Therefore, in order to make your life easier in Japan, we recommend that you own a card which you can use in most ATMs and thus open a bank account. Indeed, card issued abroad would not work in most AMTs in Japan.


How to open a Bank account in Japan:

Most of Japanese Banks provide foreign currency exchange. You will be able to draw cash from only few ATMs with your foreign-issued card.

Therefore, if possible – especially if you intend to study in Japan for more than 3 months – we recommend that you open a bank account. It will be convenient (and less costly) to draw cash from ATMs if you own an account in a Japanese bank. Further, your monthly bills (phone, water, electricity, gas …) can be drawn directly from your account though the automatic transfer service, thus avoiding you the troubles of having to pay the bills one by one and making sure the payments are timely. If you are awarded a scholarship, if you work part-time, that will also be quite convenient.

To open a bank account, you will only need your Residence card.Bankbooks are needed to manage money in Japan

Upon opening your bank account, you will be provided with a (debit) card and a “bankbook” on which transactions will be printed from the ATM. Note that you can use your bank book often, for instance to sign up at a Gym, to rent your appartment etc …

When you need to close your account, you only have to bring to your bank your Card(s), Residence card, Bank book and your hanko (seal) (if applicable).

To learn more about Japanese banks, formalities and other pertaining information, please click here.

Costs of living in Japan

In order for you to get an idea of the living cost in Japan, we have gathered some common prices for daily life commodities:

Cost of life in Japan


Products Qties Prices(¥)
Water (plastic bottle) 1.5 liter 100
Complete meal (inexp. restau.) 1 person 800
Eggs 12 pieces 200
Milk 1 liter 170
Butter 200 grams 250
Lettuce 1 piece 175
McDonald’s 1 set 600
Coca-Cola 0.33 liter 90
Coca-Cola (in vending machine) 0.33 liter 150
Capuccino (in a café, regular size) 1 cup 350
Spaghetti 250 grams 200
Toilet paper (pack of 12 rolls) 1 pack 200
Gasoline 1 liter 150
Smartphone basic subscription 1 month 4,000
Internet provider subscription 1 month 3,500
Subway ticket (local) 1 way 200
Rent (Center of City) 1 bedroom 1 month 85,000
Rent (not in the center) 1 bedroom 1 month 50,000
Rent (Center of City) 3 bedrooms 1 month 175,000
Fitness club subscription 1 month 8,000

Statistics about costs in Japan


To see a simulation of the budget of an international student in Japan, you may want to check this page.