Japan has one of the most complex and criss-crossed railway
system in the world. Fortunately for many locals and visitors
alike, most of its major attractions are close to a railway
station. The Japan Railway (JR) Group lines and the many private
lines operate frequently and are punctual, safe, clean, speedy,
Traveling by bus is perhaps the cheapest way for long distance
travel. Most of them leave at midnight and reach their destinations
early next morning. They are all air-conditioned, and have
ample space and comfortable seats. However, reservations for
a seat must first be made through a travel agent or bus company.
Shinkansen (Bullet Train)
Shinkansen, the Japanese high speed trains (bullet trains)
are operated by the JR. The Shinkansen network is centred
around the city of Tokyo. Commuters can travel to the West
or North from Tokyo.
Coins are minted in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, and
500 yen. Bank notes are printed in higher denominations of
1,000, 5,000, and 10,000 yen.
Other currencies may be exchanged for Japanese yen at international
airport exchange centers or at authorized city banks in Japan.
The exchange rate for each day is posted at most banks from
10:00 a.m. for U.S. dollars, 11:00 a.m. for other currencies
to 3:00 p.m. Exchange currency at banks during this time frame
to avoid inconvenience.
Japanese public transport, stores and restaurants are legally
forbidden to accept foreign currencies. You do need small
amounts of yen currency for immediate needs.
If you have foreign bank notes other than U.S. dollars, it
is wise to convert some of it to yen while at the airport.
Even at leading city banks, tellers are not always accustomed
to handling foreign bank notes. Traveler's checks can be cashed
quickly at banks, but few stores or restaurants accept them.
Unused yen (bank notes only; no coins) can be reconverted
into foreign currencies at the airport with no limitation,
provided the exchange center has sufficient funds for reconversion.
The money exchange centers at Narita Airport are open from
6:00 a.m. until the last flight arrives at night. At the Kansai
Airport for handling currency exchange, there are 10 banks,
with one or more open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Foreign currencies
handled at these airports'centers include the Australian dollar,
Austrian schilling*, Belgian franc*, Canadian dollar, Danish
krone*, Deutsche mark, Dutch guilder*, Finland Markka*, French
franc, Hong Kong dollar, Italian lira, New Zealand dollar,
Norwegian krone*, Singapore dollar, Spanish peseta, Pound
sterling, Swiss franc, Swedish krona* and U.S. dollar. All
19 currencies can be exchanged for Japanese yen but not necessarily
vice versa for currencies marked by an asterisk.
Checks and Cards
Personal checks are not in general use. Yen traveler's checks
can be purchased at overseas banks. Credit cards are widely
used in urban areas. Shops and restaurants that accept credit
cards have stickers at the entrance or signs posted elsewhere
to designate which cards are accepted.
Individual tipping us not common in Japan, since a 10 to 20
percent service charge is added to the bill at hotels, Ryokan
and restaurants. No tip is necessary unless you request extra
All banks are closed on Saturday, Sunday and holidays except
a few authorised branches.