Tips on types of coins and notes in Japan
In Japan, cashless system is still in its infancy; you would like to rely on cash. Here, we will introduce the types of coins and notes used in Japan, as well as their characteristics.
As for notes used in Japan, there are four types of 10000, 5000, 2000, and 1000 yen; as for coins, there are six types which are 500, 100, 50, 10, 5, and 1 yen. However, distribution amount of 2000 yen notes is very small; even the Japanese regard them as “rare notes.”
Have convenient notes at hand! 1000 yen notes come in handy in many instances
1000 yen notes would be the most useful notes in Japan. Of course, basically, you can use any notes when you pay at manned cashier such as eateries, supermarkets, convenience stores, and etc.; however, 5000 yen and 10000 yen notes are regarded as large denomination bills, and sometimes are unwelcome at small scale premises when paying for a small sum. Also, vending machines offering beverages and such chiefly accept coins; even those that accept notes only receive 1000 yen notes. In addition, when using bus or taxi, be careful when paying with large denomination bills. There is a money changer in a bus that can change bills into coins, but most of them can only accept 1000 yen notes. As for taxi, it is uncommon for the drivers to not accept 5000 yen notes, but if you pay with 10000 yen notes for small sum, they might say “We’re short of change,” so it would be safe to confirm before getting on.
In case you want to change 10000 or 5000 yen note into 1000 yen notes, be careful that many stores “do not accept change without purchase.” However, at large scale premises such as supermarkets and convenience stores, if you purchase something small and pay with 10000 or 5000 yen note, they will happily provide changes in 1000 yen notes. By the way, the Japanese call this act of change “kuzusu.” Aside from that, if you plan to withdraw cash from a teller machine, the easy way to obtain in 1000 yen notes would be to take out “39000 yen” instead of “40000 yen.” That is because you can withdraw in units of 1000 yen at most teller machines in Japan.
So many scenes where you can use 100 yen coins
Each type of coins has characteristics as shown below, so it would be convenient to familiarize with.
●500 yen=the largest
●100 yen=silver colored
●50 yen=silver colored, with a hole
●10 yen=brown (color of copper)
●5 yen=golden (color of brass), with a hole
●1 yen=the lightest and smallest
In Japan, we call the coin with a suffix “dama” attached, such as “500 yen-dama” for 500 yen coin. The most useful coins are 100 yen. Almost all unmanned cash registers such as vending machines, ticket vending machines, coin-op lockers accept 100 yen coins. Some of these may be paid with 500 yen coin, but vending machines and coin-op lockers of old types may not accept.
Almost no unmanned cash registers accept 1 or 5 yen coins. Even at manned cash registers, in premises where products in 1 yen unit are not sold, these coins may not be welcome.
Customs peculiar to Japan regarding money
Lastly, let us introduce some amusing customs related to money and payment in Japan.
Generally, at manned cash registers, they provide change on a tray, instead of handing it to you. First-timers in Japan may find this unusual, but do experience the Japanese way of payment.
Some say “Excuse me for paying in big bills,” when they need to pay small sum with high denomination bills due to lack of coins. It can be said this phrase was generated from consideration for the counterpart giving lots of changes.
You may have seen “offering box” in shrines or temples where most people offer 5 yen coins. That’s because the pronunciation of “Go-en (five yen)” is identical to “go-en (tie, relationship).” It reflects the Japanese mentality cherishing ties with people and--surprisingly--puns; if you happen to have a 5 yen coin in your wallet, how about offering it to a shrine or a temple?