Information for International Researchers


The monetary unit for Japanese currency is the yen. Coins are available in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50, 100 and 500 yen and bank notes in denominations of 1,000, 2,000, 5,000 and 10,000 yen. You can buy yen at foreign exchange banks and other authorized money exchangers. At international airports, currency exchange centers are usually open during normal office hours. The exchange rate fluctuates daily depending on the money market.

1. Opening a bank account

A bank account is a convenient way to receive your living allowance, pay utility bills, and conduct other transactions. We suggest that you open a bank account as soon as possible after arriving in Japan.

Since you will be asked to present some form of personal identification for verification purposes when opening a bank account, you should bring your Certificate of Alien Registration, passport, or other form of identification, as well as your inkan stamp (seal). Some banks will also allow you to open an account with your signature, so it is best to ask in advance.

In principle, if you are a foreign national without Japanese residence status and it has been less than 6 months since you entered Japan, you can only open a bank account for non residents. Non resident bank accounts are significantly restricted in transactions; automatic withdrawals or domestic fund transfers, for instance, cannot be made. However, under certain conditions, some banks (ex. Mitsui Sumitomo Bank, Yucho Bank) may allow you to open an account as a resident. Please check for yourself at the bank. The items at left are required documents in most cases.

  • Passport
  • Alien Registration Card
  • Personal seal (inkan stamp)
  • Cash for initial deposit (Even 10 yen will do)

2. ATM Cash Card

If you apply for a cash card at either the bank or the post office, you can withdraw cash from your account through automated teller machines (ATMs) placed in banks, post offices and some convenience stores. Mitsubishi Tokyo UFJ Bank, Sumitomo Mitsui Bank and Mizuho Bank have set up ATMs on the Hongo campus (MAP). Cash withdrawals from accounts in other banks can also be made using the most ATM machines, but a fee will be charged. For more information about ATM cash cards, please ask when you open your account.

3. Banking Hours

Generally banks are open from 9:00 to 15:00 on weekdays and closed on Saturdays, Sundays and national holidays. The Japan Post Bank is open from 9:00 to 16:00 on weekdays with some branches closing at 18:00. Most cash machines (ATMs) of banks and Japan Post Bank are in service from 8:00 to 21:00, though the hours of operation and fees for usage vary depending on the time type of services, and machine. ATMs are often closed on the weekends, but an increasing number of convenience stores are offering 24-hour ATM service. You can withdraw cash from most Seven Bank ATMs 24 hours a day. Cash can by withdrawn from the Post Bank ATMs around the clock, although there may be some exceptions. For more information, please inquire at the bank you are intending to use.

4. Overseas remittance

Overseas remittance can be carried out at an authorized foreign exchange bank. Some documents (for example, government permits and visible payment report) are necessary depending on the amount and purpose of remittance.

  • Notice pay
    • The bank notifies the remittee of the remittance and the remitee then visits the bank to receive his/her payment.
  • Pay-on-demand application
    • The remitter notifies the remittee of the remittance and the remittee applies at the bank for payment.
  • Direct deposits
    • The remitter transfers money to the remitee's account and the bank notifies the remitee of the remittance.
  • Remittance via post office
    • Please note that there are countries and areas where you cannot transfer money or make direct deposits. For more details, inquire at a post office that handles overseas remittance.

5. Opening a postal account

A savings account at a Japan Post Bank (Yucho Bank: the banking branch of the Japanese postal service) is also useful. The functions and the required documents are similar to those for a bank. Post offices are located in the University of Tokyo Hospital, at the Main Gate and throughout the city (MAP).

6. Credit card

If you want to withdraw cash from an ATM (automated teller machine) using a credit card, it must normally be a credit card that has been issued in Japan. Many ATMs in Japan do not accept credit cards issued abroad. It is necessary, therefore, to get information in advance from the credit companies about the kind of ATM that will accept cards issued abroad.

The 26,000 Japan Post Bank ATMs throughout the country accept withdrawals by credit cards issued abroad. On or around such machines, a notice "International ATM Service" and stickers showing VISA, VISA Electron, PLUS, MASTERCARD, Maestro, Cirrus, American Express, Diners Club International, JCB, China UnionPay, and DISCOVER logos are displayed.

Seven Bank accepts foreign-issued credit cards and cash cards, providing vocal and on-screen guidance on how to use the ATM in four foreign languages. English, Korean, Chinese and Portuguese. Receipts support these four languages as well. Debit cards are also accepted for withdrawing cash from the machines.

7. Currency exchange

Major credit cards are accepted in the larger hotels and stores, but most Japanese operate with cash. Cash and travellers cheques can be exchanged in banks, post offices and currency exchange bureaux. Travellers cheques offer the best exchange rate and are best taken in US dollars. ATMs do not accept all credit and debit cards; only the international ATMs in post offices, airports and some major stores. More convenient -- and quicker -- are Travelex foreign-exchange kiosks, with several locations across town, including one in Hibiya at 1-5-2 Yurakucho (tel. 03-5157-8311; station: Hibiya or Yurakucho), open Monday to Friday from 10:00 to 18:00; Tokyo Station (tel. 03-5220-5021), open daily from 9:00 to 20:00; 3rd floor of Tokyo Midtown Tower, 9-7-1 Akasaka (tel. 03-3408-2280; station: Roppongi), open from Monday to Friday from 11:00 to 19:00 and Saturday from 10:00am to 17:00pm. Other locations are in Shinjuku, Shibuya, Shimbashi, Akasaka, and Odaiba. For more information, please visit their website.