Money in Japan

When one decides to go study abroad, many questions arise, among which money is often center. Before going to Japan, there are a few things one needs to know. So here is some information about 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 one will often need to go to an ATM to draw cash. Thankfully, Japan is a very safe country so there is no reason to be afraid to carry cash.


Shopping, saving money in Japan:

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

Also, there are the famous “100 Yen shops” (Cando, Daiso …) which one can see all over the country. It is possible to find almost everything there. When on a budget constraint, one can spend a lot of time (and, eventually, money ^^) shopping there!


Means of payment:

Japanese people usually pay by cash. Therefore, in order to make life easier in Japan, we recommend to own a card that can be used in most ATMs. So it is often necessary to open a bank account in Japan (see below). Indeed, card issued abroad may not work in all AMTs in Japan.


How to open a Bank account in Japan:

Most of Japanese Banks provide foreign currency exchange. It is possible to draw cash from only few ATMs with foreign-issued cards.

Therefore, if possible – especially if one intends to study in Japan for more than 3 months – we recommend to open a bank account. It will be convenient (and less costly) to draw cash from ATMs with an account in a Japanese bank. Further, monthly bills (rent, phone, water, electricity, gas …) can be drawn directly from the bank account though the automatic transfer service, thus avoiding the troubles of having to pay the bills one by one and making sure the payments are timely. When working 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.

When you need to close your account, you only have to bring to your bank your Card(s), Residence card, bankbook 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 (in ¥)
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 l. 90
Coca-Cola (in vending machine) 0.33 l. 150
Cappuccino (in a cafe, 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) studio 1R 1 month 80,000
Rent (not in the center) studio 1R 1 month 55,000
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.