The yen, abbreviated JPY, is the official currency of Japan and is only used in that country. It is the third most traded currency on international markets, after the U.S. dollar and the Euro. Coins and paper currency in various denominations are currently in use.
Yen Coins and Notes
Yen coins are available in seven denominations from one to 500. All the coins are round, but are made of different materials and feature different images in order to distinguish among them more easily. All coins are stamped with the denomination on the reverse. The Bank of Japan website has pictures and other identifying information for all the money currently in use.
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Paper currency, also known as banknotes, is used when it would be impractical to carry large numbers of coins. Yen banknotes are issued in denominations of 10,000, 5,000, 2,000 and 1,000. All bills are the same height but are progressively smaller in width as the denominations also get smaller.
Converting Dollars into Yen
When traveling in a foreign country, you have to convert your own currency into the currency of the place you are visiting. As Japanese travel website Matcha explains, cash is the preferred way to pay at many businesses, particularly in many small towns, and you'll need it for vending machines, ticket machines and other types of automatic payment machines.
Cashless transactions are becoming more widespread, including credit and debit cards as well as apps such as Apple Pay. If you pay by credit card, conversions will automatically be made for you by the credit card company. When you receive your statement, it will show the exchange rate and the amount you owe in dollars.
The Wall Street Journal is a reliable resource for finding the current exchange rate for dollars to Japanese yen. There are daily updates that can show slight fluctuations over the course of a week.
Use a free, web-based currency calculator such as the one at Currency Calc to find out how many yen you'll get for your dollars. For example, one U.S. dollar (100 cents) was worth 109.51 yen at the close of business on August 13, 2021, down from 110.44 the previous day. That's a difference equal to 1 cent on every dollar. So, if you're converting $2,000 to yen, the difference in cost from August 12 to August 13 was $20.
Cost of Living In Japan
The website Expatistan lets you see the cost of common items in various cities and countries around the world so you can figure out how far your dollar will go. It will help you decide how much currency you need to convert from dollars into yen for travel around Japan.
Exchanging Dollars Into Yen
Be smart and plan ahead if you're going to exchange dollars into yen. Most international airports have currency exchanges, but check before the day of your flight to be sure they can make the exchange in the dollar amount that you need. Large banks in metropolitan areas can probably exchange dollars into yen, but again, advanced planning is recommended.
You are likely to get a favorable rate when converting dollars into yen in Japan. However, plan to have some yen in coins and paper currency for immediate needs when you arrive, such as for transportation and snacks.