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I will be traveling [from Austria] to Japan for two weeks soon.

From searching online it seems that I should prepare a few hundred euros and convert them to Yen as soon as I get there, since my MasterCard and my EU debit card are not going to be very popular for these choices.

But while the MasterCard is mentioned often (both on this site and elsewhere) as something that is sometimes being accepted, especially for larger purchases, there is no mention of debit cards (e.g. Maestro).

Are there places in Japan, specifically Tokyo, to get cash using European debit cards? Or should I just assume there are none, and bring a wad of cash with me?

  • (As far as it might matter, the accommodations are booked, and I have a JR Railway Pass, so the main concern is the PASMO/SUICA card upon arrival, as well as basic stuff that I might want to buy like food and drinks.) – Ink blot Dec 25 '17 at 14:52
  • Are you sure your debit card is Maestro? I recall that Maestro is no longer being actively issued and is being discontinued by MasterCard in favor of their MasterCard (credit) network. – Burhan Khalid Dec 26 '17 at 5:06
  • @Burhan: Yes, fairly certain. They seem to be somewhat common, too. – Ink blot Dec 26 '17 at 13:11
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    @dda: I'm sorry, but your comments (here and on the answer below) simply do not render properly and I cannot read them. – Ink blot Dec 26 '17 at 13:14
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    @BurhanKhalid Just about every bank account in the Netherlands is linked with a Maestro card. It seems pretty common in Germany and Austria too. Possibly idiosyncratic but they are still being issued. – Relaxed Dec 26 '17 at 22:43
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Are there places in Japan, specifically Tokyo, to get cash using European debit cards?

The best places to withdraw cash using foreign cards all over Japan are

  • Japan Post (JP) Bank ATMs, which can be found mostly in post offices, but also sometimes in some other places such as airports or shopping malls. There is no JP Bank ATM search tool in English, but you can just search for post offices (郵便局) in Google Maps. Typically, the Google Maps results page will include a link to the post office's official page (example) where the ATM's operating hours are given.
  • Seven Bank ATMs, which can be found mostly in 7-Eleven convenience stores, but also sometimes in other places (see the link for an ATM search tool). In particular, even though there is still no 7-Eleven store in Okinawa, Seven Bank ATMs can be found at several locations on Okinawa's main island, and at the ferry terminal on Ishigaki island.

I heard that MasterCards (including Maestros) could sometimes be problematic at JP Bank ATMs, so you probably should go with Seven Bank.

In addition, there are other banks where some ATMs accept foreign cards but others don't, hence I don't recommend them because there's just no point in trying multiple ATMs until you find one that works, when instead you can just go to a 7-Eleven and it will always work. For reference, however, they include

  • Aeon Bank: ATMs in Aeon shopping malls as well as in MiniStop convenience stores in central Tokyo and Osaka usually accept foreign cards. ATMs in other places (especially MiniStops outside Tokyo/Osaka) usually don't. Again, see the link for an ATM search tool (the English version only shows ATMs that accept foreign cards).
  • And similarly ATMs at other banks/convenience stores normally don't accept foreign cards, but might accept them at some strategic locations. Again, save yourself the trial-and-error and just go to a 7-Eleven (or a MiniStop if you are in Tokyo or Osaka).

Finally, although it was not explicitly asked in the question, a word about purchases (which are very different from ATM withdrawals). Both Visa and MasterCard debit cards, while rare, do exist in Japan and should be accepted everywhere the Visa or MasterCard logo is displayed. Electron and Maestro cards, however, do not exist in Japan, and are thus likely to be accepted only at places that specifically target foreigners (to give just one example, neither logo appears in the list of cards accepted for payments at 7-Eleven stores).

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    This answer seems helpful, with your permission, I'll wait until I'm in Tokyo to accept it (and report my findings). – Ink blot Dec 27 '17 at 7:50
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    I could use my Maestro to get cash from the 7-Eleven ATMs, but I couldn't use it to pay for stuff directly so far. In any case, thank you very much! – Ink blot Jan 8 '18 at 12:37
  • @Inkblot Yes, looking at the websites of various large store chains, I couldn't find any where the Maestro logo appears in the list of cards accepted for payments. Payments and ATM withdrawals are very different things. – fkraiem Jan 8 '18 at 13:33
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In general, you should have few problems withdrawing cash if you're not in middle-of-nowhere. Most Seven Bank, AEON Bank, Lawson Bank and "big four bank" (Mitsubishi UFJ, Mitsui-Sumitomo, Mizuho and Resona) ATMs (or, in case of ATM booths, they usually will have at least one ATM that) support international withdrawals, and MasterCard is surely not a problem given its universal presence. Even ATMs of smaller banks (e.g., some Bank of Yokohama and Ogaki Kyoritsu Bank ATMs) will allow international withdrawals.

If you're in any city of considerable size (definitely in Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka, but even in Gifu or Matsuyama), you shouldn't have too much trouble finding at least a Seven Bank ATM which accepts your MasterCard: that would usually be in a Seven-Eleven, of course, but you'd have good chance of finding one at a (larger) train station or a subway station. FamilyMarts and Lawsons usually have ATMs too, which will probably accept international debit cards.

No need to worry too much about the cash withdrawal situation. That said, you're better off withdrawing as much as you can at once, to get lower effective international transaction fee rates. You may also consult if your bank has an agreement with a Japanese bank (likely one of the "big four") to save on transaction fees.

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You'll be able to pay with your MasterCard in many places, but indeed not everywhere. Not sure about debit card -- I've never owned one. Getting cash is a little harder, but much better than 20 years ago. Many banks have branches with ATMs that accept foreign cards. Two (well three) good locations in Tokyo: the airports, and Ginza. I know from personal experience that most bank ATMs in Ginza work with foreign cards.

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    Explain the downvote... – user67108 Dec 26 '17 at 5:29
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    It's just too vague and speculative, based on your experience in a small number of locations instead of reliable information. – fkraiem Dec 26 '17 at 5:40
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    Not speculative. I've been going to Japan between 2 and 6 times a year for 23 years. No speculation involved here... – user67108 Dec 26 '17 at 5:41
  • The only specific part of your answer is about Ginza, where you say "most bank ATMs" work. That may very well be true, but even then 1) "most" is not "all", and you give no information that would help locate one that does work, and 2) that says nothing about anything other than Ginza. Oh, and the airports, of course, I think it goes without saying that ATMs in international airports accept foreign cards. Sorry, this answer is very low-quality. And downvoting my better answer in retaliation just shows how petty you are, if that wasn't already obvious. – fkraiem Dec 26 '17 at 6:10
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    @dda The question is only about debit cards. Answering only for credit cards is like answering a question about how to use buses by explaining how easy it is to hire a car. – David Richerby Dec 26 '17 at 17:12

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