... where and when to get yen (Japanese currency)
Get yen before you arrive in Japan. I suggest a few hundred dollars (about $500). Even though my school was relatively urban, there were lots of early costs (cell phone, textbooks, meals) that I didn’t expect and I was very very grateful to have a good amount of yen with me before I got my bearings.
1. Online Websites:
for example Travelex or
World First Exchange
Pro- tend to have good exchange rates
Con- takes a week or two so you must plan ahead
2. Local Bank:
Most banks that you belong to will offer to sell you yen
Pro- Fast. while most banks don’t tend to have lots of yen on-site, they can normally have it ready for you in about 2 days
Con- exchange rate is not great
Once you’re in Japan, you are going to need to get some more money. It’s an amazing country but it is expensive and the $500 you brought over won’t be enough to last you a semester.
1. Open a Japanese Bank Account
Pro-can go to most any ATM to get funds, don’t need to worry about the exchange rates
Con- to open the account, your home bank may charge you a large fee to transfer such a large amount internationally (best to check with your bank)
2. Withdraw funds regularly from a 7-Eleven Store
Pro- if the exchange rate is fluctuating regularly (preferably in your favor) then it may be good to be taking money out regularly rather than make that big deposit to a bank account.
Con- Minimal charge each time you make a withdrawal. Even though there are many 7-Eleven Stores, depending on where you are, it may be easier to get money if you have a Japanese ATM card
My experience: At Kansai Gaidai University, we were given the option to open a bank account with SoftBank. We had people from the bank come to our school to make it easy and there were ATMS on campus to access the funds. Some of my friends went this route but ultimately, after I checked with my bank in the States, I realized it wouldn’t be worth it to transfer a lump sum into a Japanese account, that it would be smarter to just take money out weekly. In fact, on my commute to school everyday I would pass two 7-Eleven stores with ATMS so it made it incredibly easy for me to get funds whenever I needed to.