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Exchanging Money: Is this a good thing to do?

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Exchanging Money: Is this a good thing to do?

Postby ThePacster » Sat 06.21.2008 4:27 pm

I'll be leaving to study abroad in a few weeks and I'm going over my list and checking it over and over, thinking of any and everything I should ask and research to prepare. I've looked into this a bit, but I thought I would also get the opinion of the forum goers here who may have already experienced this or even live in Japan, since you guys may know something a general website may not mention.

Firstly, I will be in Japan for about two and a half months in a college dorm. I won't have to worry about paying for my room but there was no meal plan so I'll b fending for myself. Because of this I'm sure the nearest 百円 store I can find will become my best friend while I'm there. I will be bringing about $2000 US with me and what I was going to do was perhaps exchange about $100 at the airport when I arrive in Japan, and after I've settled into the dorms, locate a bank where I could exchange the rest of (or perhaps a large portion of) my money to last me a while longer in hopes of getting a better rate than what I could get here in America.

My main questions are:

1.) If I watch my money, would $2000 be enough to last me the trip?
2.) Is waiting to exchange my money at a bank in Japan the right idea?
3.) When I do exchange my money, would it matter if it was in the form of traveler's checks or cash?


Any and all advice and comments here will be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance.
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Re: Exchanging Money: Is this a good thing to do?

Postby spin13 » Sun 06.22.2008 1:37 am

You will get a better rate for traveler's checks than for cash. Even if your home bank charges a small fee for traveler's checks (which might negate the exchange rate benefit), I would still rather carry them for safety purposes.

I would also exchange more than $100 at first. This is a cash society; many people carry between 20 - 50,000 JPY in cash at any given time and they do so for a reason. The banking system, even the ATMs, isn't quite as flexible here as it is in, say, the US. For example, even though it's just an unstaffed ATM, I have to pay an after 6pm surcharge at my own bank and we get locked out at 9.

Other things you might want to consider: where are you living? Are you over (or look over) 20 years old and do you like to drink? What is your main method of transportation? How far is your daily commute?

And do remember to bring your credit card and ATM card. Some places will take the former and the Post Office (if only the main branch of your city) will allow you to make withdrawal's with the latter.
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Re: Exchanging Money: Is this a good thing to do?

Postby ThePacster » Sun 06.22.2008 4:00 am

where are you living?


According to an e-mail I received from the school, I will be located in Nishi-Kawaguchi. I don't have a good understanding of how addresses in Japan work so here's the address if being more specific is helpful.

#-##-# Kizawa, Toda-shi, Saitama ###-#### JAPAN

Are you over (or look over) 20 years old and do you like to drink?


I'm over 20 years old, but no I don't drink ^^;

What is your main method of transportation? How far is your daily commute?


My school is located in Shinjuku, and we've been given this as the general outline for our commute.

Dorm ==> Nishi-Kawaguchi ==> (JR Keihin Tohoku line) ==> Akabane ==> (JR Saikyo line) ==> Shinjuku ==> (Tokyo Metro Marunouchi line) ==> Shinjuku Gyoemmae ==> School

It's supposed to be about an hour commute.


Thanks for the tip on traveler's checks, I'll be sure to get them before my trip. Also, how much would you suggest when I first arrive? I will be arriving on the weekend, and the school will be picking up all the students arriving that day. After we're taken to the dorms and settled in, the first thing I wanted to do was locate a bank nearby to exchange the rest of my money. I don't know how expensive things are in Japan, but ideally I'd like just have enough to make it through the weekend until I can locate a bank. And again, thanks alot for your input. :)
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Re: Exchanging Money: Is this a good thing to do?

Postby Wakannai » Sun 06.22.2008 4:03 am

Someone said a while back that the rates at the airport are actually very good, so you might be better off exchanging most of your money then.
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Re: Exchanging Money: Is this a good thing to do?

Postby spin13 » Sun 06.22.2008 8:53 am

Nishi-Kawaguchi, eh? I hope you're comfortable with prostitution. You might end up needing a little more than two grand though...

It should take less than 40 minutes but will cost you 740JPY round trip from Nishi-Kawaguchi to Shinjuku-Gyoenmae, unless you hoof it the last two stops from Shinjuku, dropping it to 420JPY round trip. I don't know an online site for calculating commuter passes, but you should look into a 3 month pass.
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Re: Exchanging Money: Is this a good thing to do?

Postby fielle » Sun 06.22.2008 9:38 pm

When I went to Japan, I made good use of the post office ATMs for money. As long as you tell your bank ahead of time, most should be fine with foreign withdrawals. There may be a fee, but the exchange rates generally aren't that bad through ATMs. You can also withdraw a relatively large amount of money at a time, since having a reasonable amount of money in cash on hand is not unusual in Japan.
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Re: Exchanging Money: Is this a good thing to do?

Postby ThePacster » Mon 06.23.2008 2:21 pm

I've been looking into the commuter pass, but so far I've come up short on one such as a 3 month pass. But do you suppose I'll be saving money in the long run purchasing one? From what I could tell on the site for japan rail passes, it was not always advantageous to buy them but I may have been reading about the wrong kind of pass.
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Re: Exchanging Money: Is this a good thing to do?

Postby two_heads_talking » Mon 06.23.2008 3:39 pm

ThePacster wrote:I've been looking into the commuter pass, but so far I've come up short on one such as a 3 month pass. But do you suppose I'll be saving money in the long run purchasing one? From what I could tell on the site for japan rail passes, it was not always advantageous to buy them but I may have been reading about the wrong kind of pass.


it depends on how often you plan on using the rail pass as to whether or not it is advantageous to purchase a weekly, monthly or polymonthly rail pass.
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Re: Exchanging Money: Is this a good thing to do?

Postby ThePacster » Mon 06.23.2008 5:30 pm

two_heads_talking wrote:
ThePacster wrote:I've been looking into the commuter pass, but so far I've come up short on one such as a 3 month pass. But do you suppose I'll be saving money in the long run purchasing one? From what I could tell on the site for japan rail passes, it was not always advantageous to buy them but I may have been reading about the wrong kind of pass.


it depends on how often you plan on using the rail pass as to whether or not it is advantageous to purchase a weekly, monthly or polymonthly rail pass.


Assuming I don't get too lost, it would be nice to explore the area around Tokyo since I will have alot of time on my hands after class. The only question then would be how much looking around can you do by foot, and how much looking around can you do taking a quick trip on the train.
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Re: Exchanging Money: Is this a good thing to do?

Postby two_heads_talking » Tue 06.24.2008 10:16 am

ThePacster wrote:
Assuming I don't get too lost, it would be nice to explore the area around Tokyo since I will have alot of time on my hands after class. The only question then would be how much looking around can you do by foot, and how much looking around can you do taking a quick trip on the train.


Well, I don't know about Tokyo, but I do know that in SEndai (which is considerably smaller than Tokyo) you could find bike rental places nearby the larger Ekis, so a short train ride and a bike ride should get you to most places easily. Also, don't forget that buses are quite prevalent, so at least get yourself a bus schedule.
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Re: Exchanging Money: Is this a good thing to do?

Postby ThePacster » Wed 06.25.2008 12:44 pm

two_heads_talking wrote:
ThePacster wrote:I've been looking into the commuter pass, but so far I've come up short on one such as a 3 month pass. But do you suppose I'll be saving money in the long run purchasing one? From what I could tell on the site for japan rail passes, it was not always advantageous to buy them but I may have been reading about the wrong kind of pass.


it depends on how often you plan on using the rail pass as to whether or not it is advantageous to purchase a weekly, monthly or polymonthly rail pass.



I've been googling and googling but I can't for the life of me find any information on such rail passes. Only 7, 14, and 21 day Shinkansen rail passes keep showing up in my results. Any chance you could point me in the right direction.
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Re: Exchanging Money: Is this a good thing to do?

Postby becki_kanou » Wed 06.25.2008 1:11 pm

ThePacster wrote:I've been googling and googling but I can't for the life of me find any information on such rail passes. Only 7, 14, and 21 day Shinkansen rail passes keep showing up in my results. Any chance you could point me in the right direction.


Most train lines (maybe all) offer monthly commuter passes between 2 stations for a slighty discounted price, and there are also shops where you can buy bulk tickets for a discount.

Opening a post office account (as I believe someone suggested) is also a very good idea. You can change most of your money into yen and then put it into a post office account which you can access from every post office in Japan.
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Re: Exchanging Money: Is this a good thing to do?

Postby two_heads_talking » Wed 06.25.2008 1:41 pm

ThePacster wrote:

I've been googling and googling but I can't for the life of me find any information on such rail passes. Only 7, 14, and 21 day Shinkansen rail passes keep showing up in my results. Any chance you could point me in the right direction.


I wish I could help you out. it seems like someone in country (Japan) will be better able to help you. Unfortunately In Virginia my ability is limited to unavailable..

Becki has mentioned a few opportunities. Perhaps someone can get you the links to the railways so that you can look things up.

I apologize that I can't be of any more help with that.
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Re: Exchanging Money: Is this a good thing to do?

Postby ThePacster » Wed 06.25.2008 3:14 pm

two_heads_talking wrote:
ThePacster wrote:

I've been googling and googling but I can't for the life of me find any information on such rail passes. Only 7, 14, and 21 day Shinkansen rail passes keep showing up in my results. Any chance you could point me in the right direction.


I wish I could help you out. it seems like someone in country (Japan) will be better able to help you. Unfortunately In Virginia my ability is limited to unavailable..

Becki has mentioned a few opportunities. Perhaps someone can get you the links to the railways so that you can look things up.

I apologize that I can't be of any more help with that.


Don't mention it, you've been more than helpful. :)
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Re: Exchanging Money: Is this a good thing to do?

Postby Harisenbon » Wed 06.25.2008 8:38 pm

becki_kanou wrote:Most train lines (maybe all) offer monthly commuter passes between 2 stations for a slighty discounted price, and there are also shops where you can buy bulk tickets for a discount.


Wait are we talking about the JR Rail Pass (the one that is available only to tourists) or are we talking about a commuter pass? The two are completely different things.

The JR Rail Pass http://www.japanrailpass.net/eng/en001.html is available for tourists only and allows you to travel around Japan on an JR line for free for the duration of the Pass (7, 14 or 21 day variants).

A commuter pass is what the everyday Japanese Citizen uses to get to and from work. These are set between two stations (in my case nagoya and ogaki) and can be purchased for 1, 3 or 6 months. The cost is about half the cost of riding the train twice a day every day, so it works out well for commuters.

There are also numerous one time tickets or special tickets for short trips within Japan, but there are so many available that listing them all here would be pointless.
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