If you don’t already know it, you’ll soon realise that Japan is still a very cash-based society and it’s not unusual to carry large amounts of cash around. Soon after you’ve arrived in Japan you’ll probably find yourself wanting to withdraw some money and it may not be as simple as your home country. Don’t panic though, we’re here to guide you through the process of withdrawing money in Japan.

International Cards

You’ve just moved to Japan and you may not have had a chance to settle in yet and open your Japanese bank account and will be relying on your International card. These aren’t as widely accepted as you may hope so it’s important to think about where you’re going and where you might be able to get money from.

However, before you even catch your flight it’s important to check a couple of things. Firstly check that you have a reasonable amount of money to see you through your trip, whether travelling or coming out to study. It’s not fun getting stuck in a place because you’ve run out of money and it’s worth remembering a lot of places in Japan don’t accept credit cards. As with any travel, be prepared.

Secondly, make sure that your card will work abroad. Many banks, particularly in the UK and the States, will block cards if they think the activity on the account is fraudulent and one of the triggers can be travel abroad. Many modern backs have a facility through their online banking to let them know that you’re going abroad, but a simple call to your local branch is worth it to put your mind at rest. In the same vein as this point, it can be worth bringing a couple of types of card (e.g. one Visa, one MasterCard) to give yourself a few more options, in case you get stuck.

The Seven Eleven konbini will most likely be your saviour when it comes to withdrawing cash on a foreign card. Most (but not all) 7-11s have ATMs that accept international cards and have English as an option for taking out money.

Some other convenience stores have international ATMs as well but these are relatively few and far between. Family Mart and others often have E-net machines which do accept some foreign card, but if you are travelling somewhere new, it’s worth checking beforehand to save you wandering from konbini to konbini.

Post offices also often accept most international cards, but we’ll talk more about this shortly.

Bank and postal accounts in Japan

If you’ve been able to set up your own Japanese account then you’ll likely have a Japanese cash card. This means you can withdraw cash at most (again not all) ATMs at banks or konbini.

Postal accounts are another option for foreigners living in Japan but these can be a little trickier. You’ll be given a booklet, similar to a bank book. Unlike with a cash or credit card, you’ll need to go into a postal branch and withdraw money over the counter. This in itself isn’t difficult but you will need to check your local branch times to make sure it’s open before heading down. Unlike konbini they aren’t open 24 hours a day and opening hours can vary from branch to branch. However, there are over 20,000 branches across the country so it can be a good place to look if you have a postal account or if you have an international card.

Using an ATM in Japan

ATM protips

As we mentioned, there are plenty of ATMs with English language options, but there are plenty more without, so it’s worth learning to read a few key phrases to get you through your ATM interactions.

First, insert your card in the appropriate slot. Sometimes, there may be additional wider slots for savings books so be aware of this.

Next, select the option for withdrawing cash. This is called ohikidashi (お引き出し, withdraw). The other options are likely to be oazukeire (お預け入れ, deposit) and ofurikomi (お振込み), but you won’t be able to use these if you’re using an international card.

You’ll then be prompted to end your Pin code. This is known as the anshō bangō (暗証番号). Enter your 4 digits and press kakunin (確認, confirm).

Now the important part. You must now select the amount to be withdrawn. Enter the amount and press en (円, the Yen symbol) followed by the kakunin button again. At this point it’s worth remembering that ATMs in Japan will likely have a limit on them, this is normally around 50,000 yen a day. It is also likely that your card will have its own limit as well.

Last but not least, you may be offered a receipt. We would generally recommend getting a receipt for each transaction in case there are any problems in the future.

While it may be quite different to what you’re used to, it’s not all that difficult when it comes to withdrawing money in Japan. Just make sure you plan ahead and you’ll soon be on your way. There’s no need to worry.

For more useful tips about living in Japan keep following our Go! Go! Nihon blog.