Is it, generally speaking, safe to carry large amounts of cash (US$4000) in Japan?

closed as primarily opinion-based by Maître Peseur, Willeke, neubert, Karlson, drat Oct 13 '15 at 0:40

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    Carry it into the country, or with you when in the country? – Gagravarr May 10 '12 at 8:54
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    Is it anywhere? – littleadv May 10 '12 at 9:30
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    Well, if I had to pick a country to walk around with US$4000 in cash, I'd probably choose Japan... but I still wouldn't do it. – jpatokal May 12 '12 at 11:20
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    In Japan it is generally safe to walk around for $4000 in cash. But you still might want to consider not-so-general occurrences. Japan is generally free of tsunamis, earthquakes, and nuclear accidents too, after all. – hippietrail Aug 27 '13 at 6:37

Generally speaking, yes. However the same common-sense rules apply everywhere. Don't leave it alone in a bag somewhere, don't flash it about, etc. The only time I had anything stolen was my bag, in an ex-pat bar in Roppongi. Says a lot.

More: Japan is still a rather cash-based society given how early and frequently banks close, and I found that my UK bank card would only work in post office cash machines. Basically post-5pm you'll struggle to get cash. This particularly applies to anywhere rural or villages / small towns - part of the reason for this is Japan still has a very large percentage of small / family businesses (much higher than the US / UK), and if it's anything like the UK the cost of processing card payments is far too high for small-value purchases. Of course in large chains and cities this is much less of a problem. As such, people tend to carry around larger quantities of cash than in other countries... though $4000 is quite a lot!

EDIT I should add 7/11 convenience stores seem to accept many foreign-issued cards. I live in Japan but get paid in Pounds Sterling, and usually withdraw it there. Of course any foreign transaction fees will be applied by your bank. Best to check the terms and conditions of your account.


Japan has ATMs, but couple of things to know

  • Citibank and Shinsei Bank will be the main 2 banks accepting foreigners ATM cards. You can find the map of ATMs on their respective website in english: http://www.shinseibank.com/english/atm/.

  • SevenEleven convenient stores spread al over the country will accept some foreign ATM cards

  • Japan post will accept Visa/Master/Plus cards

Now, in Japan Banks will shutdown ATMs during some public holidays (May and September mostly).

I would recommend taking 2 ATM cards, one always in one of your pockets, the other one in your backpack. Japan is pretty safe, in case you lose anything, report it to the Police (Koban) immediately, they usually find wallets within 1 to 2 weeks. Have a safe trip.


Even if you weren't worried about crime, you'd need to watch out for accidentally losing it.

Japan does have ATMs. Were you asking because you were planning to take in all the cash you needed for your trip?

  • Yeah and to walk around with it. – Switchkick May 10 '12 at 12:39
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    You'll get much better exchange rates by withdrawing from ATMs in Japan than by converting into yen before you leave. – jpatokal May 10 '12 at 23:34
  • Japanese ATMs are notoriously some of the most painful to use in the world, especially for such a developed country. They generally close at night and on weekends. Citibank has the only "normal" ones. In small places only the post office will have one. 7/11 usually has ATMs that are the most useful for travellers, but from time to time they stop supporting foreign cards for unpredictable lengths of time. – hippietrail Oct 11 '12 at 3:05

The largest denomination of Japanese yen (actually pronounced "en") is 10000, lately worth around US$127. In other words, you'd still be carrying around a bunch of those, even if you converted half of your funds into yen.

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